“We welcome the opposition’s recommitment to the values of open trade and international co-operation and its rejection of protectionism.” Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said today in response to Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong’s address to the Lowy Institute.
“Senator Wong’s commitment to lower trade barriers and focus on economic growth is welcome in an era in which those calling for protectionism are becoming increasingly vocal.
“At its core, Senator Wong’s speech acknowledges that Australia must be positioned to take advantage of international opportunities for investment if it is to remain economically secure.
“Senator Wong rightly sees Australia’s foreign policy as intrinsically linked to our economic wellbeing and national security.
“She also correctly identifies Australia’s ‘abiding interest’ in having constructive, broad-ranging engagement in our region by the United States, which remains our biggest source of foreign investment.
“Australia simply cannot afford the inward-looking protectionist policies of the past in the competitive global market for investment.
“An open trading system is Australia’s lifeblood. It is the best avenue we have to increase real incomes and living standards for all Australians.
“The opening of our economy under successive Labor and Coalition governments unleashed our country’s energy and creativity, enabling real incomes per person to grow by three-quarters.
“A more open market, coupled with a vocational training and education system which prepares Australian workers with the skills they need, will help build a modern economy.
“While this commitment to foreign investment and trade is welcome, it must also be matched with a commitment to an internationally competitive tax system and incentives for investment and productivity growth.”