Event Jennifer Westacott interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB
Speaker Jennifer Westacott
Date Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Topics Budget 2019
Ben Fordham, host: Jennifer Westacott is the CEO of the Business Council of Australia. Jennifer, good afternoon.
Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia: Hi Ben.
Ben: What's your report card?
Jennifer: Look, I think this is a really strong budget. It's a responsible budget. I think getting back to surplus is hugely important. It really matters. I think a lot of people say it doesn't matter, it matters enormously. Because if something goes wrong or the economy starts to slow or something happens in the global economy, you've got to have the fallback position. So that's one thing, then there's a whole lot of really good pro-growth initiatives. So the infrastructure stuff – $100 billion on infrastructure, lots of great regional projects around NSW, around the western Sydney area, continuing with the airport, the Geelong...$2 billion for the high speed rail. Lots of really significant regional projects in Townsville, all across the country. So that's fantastic. That's about jobs, it's about making people's lives easier.
Ben: As you know, the focus for a lot of people who are going to work every day is the amount of money that they earn that they don't get to keep. So, what's your take on the income tax cuts?
Jennifer: The tax cuts are very important. So there's two aspects to this. First of all, people are going to get, you know, for people with a single income household, they are going to get $1,000 back or up to $1,000 back. If you've got a dual income household, you're going to get up to $2,100 back. That's money in people's pockets Ben, that matters. And then over time, getting rid of these tax brackets that really, you know, they suck the incentive out of people. You know, they work hard, they get ahead and then they find that they're just hit with a tax hike. So, you know, that's fantastic for people. Money in their pockets and that helps them deal with cost of living. There's that energy assistance. You know, albeit it's temporary but people are struggling and we've got to fix the whole energy mess – which is a whole other conversation. But you know, while we're fixing that mess, you know, let's give people some relief to pay their power bills. [crosstalk]
Ben: I mentioned that none of this stuff will be a reality unless the coalition is re-elected. But then again, Bill Shorten has his budget reply speech coming up. What would you say to Mr Shorten ahead of that?
Jennifer: Well I think people have got to, kind of, respond to the issues that the community is concerned about. They want, you know, relief from their cost of living. They want their power bills to go down. But they really understand that we've got to grow the economy, grow it faster. So that we can create jobs and pay people more. People get that. I'm out in the regions all the time, talking to people. They understand that. They understand it's business that creates those jobs. You know, if we've got an anti-business agenda, we're not going to have a strong growing economy. That's the job of public life – is to, kind of, make sure that we set the country up for the future. And look, you know, I thought last night's budget was very, very good. And there's good skills stuff there – 80,000 new apprentices. Boy, you know, what a failure that has been – a long period of time on apprentices. So, lots of good things. Lots of important things. Hopefully, you know, those tax cuts will get matched. But people need relief. They need money in their pockets and they need to keep their money. It's their money.
Ben: Hear, hear. Good to get your take Jennifer, thank you.
Jennifer: You're welcome, thanks.
Ben: Jennifer Westacott, the CEO of the Business Council of Australia.