The Business Council of Australia has issued its policy benchmarks for this year’s federal election calling on political leaders to display a “new style of leadership” that reflects the interconnection between economic success and community prosperity.
Releasing the publication Economic Success, Community Prosperity: Policy Benchmarks for the 2010 Federal Election at the National Press Club in Canberra today, BCA President Graham Bradley warned there was a temptation before elections to pitch to perceived short-term self-interest, rather than long-term national interest.
He said the BCA’s benchmarks aimed to promote “a different mindset, a more interconnected approach to economic reform and a different relationship between politicians and the communities they serve”.
“I often feel that our national discourse has changed and what has replaced it is a smaller vision for our country. And this, at a time when the right policy settings would enable Australia to achieve not only our economic goals but also our social and environmental aspirations,” he said.
Addressing the proposed RSPT, Mr Bradley said: “With all the opportunities Australia now has at its fingertips, the very real scope of what we can achieve with the right policy settings, here we are in the same old quagmire of bad policy process – a regrettable brawl over an ill conceived, poorly constructed and poorly explained new resource tax proposal.”
Mr Bradley said BCA members beyond the resources sector were concerned with the government’s process in announcing the tax. “This is disappointing, damaging and dangerous. It could have been avoided by a better reform process, and the opportunity for this to happen is not lost.”
Addressing other policy areas covered in the benchmarks, Mr Bradley said:
On population: “Australia’s story has been one of growth and maturation as a community, and I see no reason why we would divert from this course.”
On infrastructure: “Decades of underinvestment in social, economic and public infrastructure have undermined Australians’ once-solid support for a growing population. And our leaders haven’t picked up the baton in promoting its importance.”
On health: “Unlike other big sectors of our economy, we haven’t put a spotlight on how well the health sector is actually working from a hard-nosed economic perspective.”
Mr Bradley also reflected on the role of business in achieving the interrelated outcomes of economic success and community. He said business needed to “better communicate and explain our role and contribution, and to listen to the community’s expectations of us”.
Acknowledging community attitudes towards business had been affected by the GFC, Mr Bradley said the sector needed to rebuild trust and earn back reputation.
“This won’t happen if politicians decide to ride populist, anti-business rhetoric that is really in no-one’s best interest,” he said.
Mr Bradley said the GFC had demonstrated the values Australians share whether they are in business, government or making decisions in their own lives. “The first lesson to take out of the global financial crisis is to have confidence that if we work together, honestly and respectfully, we can come up with the best solutions for Australia.”