Jennifer Westacott - Sydney Doorstop

Event: Sydney dootstop
Speaker: Jennifer Westacott
Date: 24 October 2017
Topics: Premier Berejiklian's speech to the Business Council, business conditions, wages, productivity, South Australian bank tax and energy 


Jennifer Westacott, chief executive, Business Council: The Premier of NSW has just given a master class on what it takes to create a better society – strong investment, creating more jobs, creating better wages, creating better jobs. But also she’s emphasised really importantly that collaboration with business, rather than conflict with business, is the best, indeed it’s the only way, to build a more prosperous and better country for our citizens.

Reporter: Hearing the Premier speak today obviously it sounds quite optimistic in terms of business and moving forward. What are some of the challenges that are facing businesses currently?

Jennifer: Australia and across the world we are going to see just a massive transition as we go into artificial intelligence, robotics, as we see the centre of global economic power move more to Asia and less to the North Atlantic and Europe. These will be huge changes, as will the ageing of our population. But business and government have to work together; they have to work together to create the conditions to employ more people, pay them more.

It (the challenge) is about productivity, it’s about investment, it’s about lower wages and there’s just simply no way we can pay people more – we want to pay people higher wages in this country – if we don’t have productivity and to have productivity you need business investment. And what I mean by productivity is working smarter, working better, working more creatively, unleashing the potential of people – that’s about productivity. But that is the way we’ll have higher incomes for people.

So there are big challenges out there, but we’re not going to solve them if business and government aren’t working together. And I think the Premier has just made the really important statement that you can’t do this if you can’t collaborate.

Reporter: So businesses are finding it difficult to increase wages? I mean wage growth has remained –

Jennifer: Absolutely

Reporter: – fairly stagnant of late. Is it just difficult for them?

Jennifer: Business investment is at the lowest share of the economy since 1994, just off the recession. We have to get business investment up. This is why we are such strong supporters of lowering the company tax rate so that we encourage investment, which will encourage greater productivity and innovation which is the only way we can create the conditions for higher incomes.

And the Premier today has outlined her plans for that, but we need that across the country. We cannot have state governments burdening business with lazy taxes like a bank tax in South Australia. We cannot have state governments holding up important reforms in energy for political reasons when someone this month is trying to pay that winter power bill and they don’t know how they’re going to pay it. That’s why we would encourage other state governments to take the lead from NSW about creating the right conditions so that business and government work together and that we create the conditions for investment which will create the conditions for higher incomes.

Great, thanks.