Business lobby sticks to its guns with call for early election
The business community has renewed calls for an early election, despite Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's attempts to repair Labor's relationship with business.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Rudd met the Business Council of Australia for the first time since being reinstated as Prime Minister. He promised last week one of the first things he would do as leader was work "very closely" with business.
Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said the meeting was useful and constructive but said he still wanted an election as soon as possible.
It has been suggested Mr Rudd wants to delay the election beyond September 14.
"We believe an early election would be a good way of settling down business confidence," Mr Shepherd said after the meeting.
"I think that business is on hold at the present time, and the sooner that that can be resolved, the better it will be for everybody."
Since replacing Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, Mr Rudd has distanced himself from the rhetoric of former treasurer Wayne Swan, who alienated business leaders by lashing out at billionaires, including Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart.
Besides abandoning the former treasurer's rhetoric, Mr Rudd is understood to be considering at least one policy change favoured by business. He would prefer to abandon the carbon tax and move quickly to a floating price on carbon, linked to global markets.
In his first speech after the leadership spill, Mr Rudd made a direct plea to business: "Let me say this to Australian business: I want to work closely with you."
Mr Rudd reminisced about how closely he worked with business in the past, particularly during the global financial crisis.
Mr Shepherd was cautious when asked whether he thought Mr Rudd had changed and would listen more to business.
"We'll see that play out in the future," he said. "But it was a constructive meeting ... I think it's an opportunity to hit the reset button."