Jennifer Westacott interview with Brooke Corte 2GB Money News

06 November 2020

Event: Interview with Brooke Corte, 2GB Money News

Speakers: Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia; Brooke Corte, host 2GB Money News

Topics: NSW Jobs Plus plan, COVID-19 economic recovery

Brooke Corte, host: Jennifer Westacott, she’s the CEO of the Business Council of Australia and she’s with us again on Money News, good evening Jennifer.

Jennifer Westacott, Business Council chief executive: Good evening.

Brooke: Now, the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian in New South Wales has unashamedly said she's out to steal jobs from other states. How does the Business Council feel about this?

Jennifer: Well, I think this is a really good initiative of the government because it's not just about relocating businesses from one state to another, this will be about getting businesses back to Australia. This is going to make New South Wales the best place to do business in the country. And that's going to create jobs, that's going to create more activity, that's going to increase the prosperity of people living in New South Wales. But don't underestimate the amount of businesses that the government is trying to get back to Australia, not just to get from other parts of Australia.

Brooke: So you see that as more of the push on the international side of it, do you?

Jennifer: Yeah, I think a big part of this is that there are many companies now post-COVID looking for new headquarters, new places to put their growth facilities, relocate some of their activities, and this is going to be very attractive. But I think the other really important part of this, Brooke, and this is something that we've been arguing for, it's not just about relocation, it's about bringing forward extra activity and giving companies an incentive that if they do extra stuff, the government will support them and help them and that's going to create more jobs.

Brooke: Yeah. I mean, you've got the national view and that's the view I was taking as I looked at this. I mean, obviously there's a lot of tension between states at the moment. But if you look at it from the perspective of New South Wales trying to steal jobs from Queensland or Victoria, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. What's the point of losing 10 jobs in Victoria or 10 jobs in Queensland and then creating those 10 jobs in New South Wales? What's the point? Why are we competing against ourselves?

Jennifer: I think this is more about creating those extra jobs, bringing that activity forward. So if I want to bring forward the opening of some facilities, I want to expand my operations, if I want to bring forward a factory upgrade, that's the way I see it. That's where I think the real rubber is going to hit the road on this, it's going to encourage businesses to bring stuff forward and that's going to create more jobs.

Brooke: Yeah. And the idea is that you give payroll tax relief for up to four years to businesses that create new jobs, but don't we have to point out the payroll tax is an absolutely stupid tax anyway?

Jennifer: Of course, it is. Of course, it is.

Brooke: I mean, isn't that the thing we need to be talking about? You tax businesses when they employ people.

Jennifer: Sure. It's a tax on jobs and we should really reform that tax. But look, I think New South Wales is the one state that really wants to do tax reform, by the way. So that's a bigger suite of reforms that have to be done. But in the interim this is saying, if you put some extra jobs into New South Wales, we'll give you some payroll tax relief. And trust me, that means a lot to businesses. That's a big drain on their expenditure and it's a big drain on their cost structure, and I think absent of getting rid of the thing, this is a really good idea.

Brooke: Well, it's a good idea for other states to copy and pretty easy too, right? Payroll tax reductions, cheaper rent, fast-track planning. They should all do it.

Jennifer: Of course, they should. And that's why we've been so supportive of it. I think your point is right. You want to see jobs created across the country, not just in New South Wales. But the reason we're so strong on this is if every state did this, we would get the kind of activity that's needed to really power up the economy. And then you add that with the investment allowance that the federal government announced at the federal budget, that starts to really change the investment equation for lots of businesses and they think, okay, I can really ramp that up and that's extra people I'm going to give a job to.

Brooke: Thank you so much. Jennifer Westacott, the boss of the BCA.

Jennifer: Thanks very much.



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