Jennifer Westacott interview with Peter Stefanovic, First Edition, Sky News

Event          Jennifer Westacott interview with Peter Stefanovic, First Edition, Sky News 

Speaker       Peter Stefanovic, host; Jennifer Westacott, Business Council chief executive

Date            7 October 2020

Topics         2020 Federal Budget

E&OE

Peter Stefanovic, host First Edition: We're live with Jennifer Westacott, the CEO of the Business Council of Australia. Jennifer good to see you, thanks for joining us. So much of this budget is based around business confidence. Is it there?

Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia: Look this budget is absolutely the right budget for the times.

Peter: Bit of a protestor going around here folks.

Jennifer: The bulk of jobs that have been lost have been in business. The million Australians who are out of work have overwhelmingly worked for a business. And this budget is about getting business back on track. It's about getting businesses investing again. It's about making sure that people get those jobs back. It's about encouraging businesses to employ those people who are at higher risk through those wage subsidies. It's about a massive skills package. Huge infrastructure package. So I think if you take it in total, this is about a real focus on those million people who are out of work and getting them back in to jobs.

Peter: Okay, did well to concentrate there. Jennifer, we have a protestor here, but police are dealing with that situation at the moment folks. There is some criticism about this morning Jennifer about perhaps there being disincentives for people aged over 35. There's a lot of targeted measures for people under the age of 35. Do you see those concerns and are they warranted?

Jennifer: I understand the concern, but I think we've got to remember where have the bulk of job losses been? And they've been in that group of people who are under 35. In industries like hospitality, tourism and retail. And so it was really important to target those measures and we know that they're very high risk of not getting back into the workforce. What's got to happen though is with people over 35, the focus has got to be on getting businesses going again. Getting businesses investing again. And then, of course, you've got these skills packages. 50,000 short courses which are really important for people to retrain, reskill, get back into the workforce. The most important thing we can do to get people working again is to get businesses going again. Get those jobs created.

Peter: With the instant asset write-off scheme, is there a danger though, as you know, we all know business has been decimated throughout this pandemic. Is there a danger that they can't afford, that businesses just can't afford to buy anything?

Jennifer: Well I don't think so because you've got two measures here. You've got the loss carry back so people can claim losses from profits they've made in previous years. That's going to put cashflow into businesses pockets. That allows them to keep people working. That allowsthem to stay going. Then you've got this instant asset or the immediate expensing that's been announced. We're talking a lot of money here - $27 billion. What that will mean is that people will start ordering equipment, upgrading their equipment, putting people on, creating a work order for somebody else in a smaller business. And the other really important thing Peter is that it covers the whole of the economy. I mean we're talking businesses large, medium, and small. All of those are going to generate activity. And the other crucial thing is that we know as we open the economy up, as we stay the course in careful reopening of the economy, many of those jobs come back. I don't know anyone in business though who doesn't want to expand and grow. And so what they've been looking for is this big confidence boost and that's what this budget gives them.

Peter: Is there any businesses that miss out here? Do you have any concerns?

Jennifer: There's some very large businesses who miss out.

Peter: Banks and miners?

Jennifer: Yes it's businesses with turnover over $5 billion. But we would have preferred for this to apply across the whole of the economy. There's no doubt about it those companies have very, very large balance sheets. They bring a lot of activity forward but that's the work now that's got to be done of making our total business tax system more competitive into the future. But this will have a huge effect, the government's announcement last night. And it does cover and enormous part of the economy. And I think you will see that confidence-boosting, that investment, that decision making by businesses which has this flow-on effect that has this job-creation effect. And I think to the Treasurer's point it's a game-changer.

Peter: Okay, Jennifer Westacott appreciate your time this morning, thanks so much for joining us. We'll talk to you again soon.