Politics holds us back: ASX chief

The head of the country's dominant stock exchange has criticised the state of politics in Australia, and warned the economy is starting to take on characteristics of Europe's malaise.

The head of the country's dominant stock exchange has criticised the state of politics in Australia, and warned the economy is starting to take on characteristics of Europe's malaise.

Elmer Funke Kupper, chief executive of the Australian Securities Exchange, said Sydney's lack of a second international airport was an example of the political problems hindering national economic progress.

He also backed a proposal to introduce a tax credit for mining exploration, similar to the scheme that has encouraged exploration and discoveries in Canada, saying this would help to generate more stockmarket listings activity.

"If you look at successive governments over the last 30 years, up until the last decade, they've done good things, Labor and Liberal: flogging the dollar, independent Reserve Bank, superannuation, GST - big stuff," Dutch-born Mr Funke Kupper said.

"They didn't seem to spend as much time on the little stuff. [But now] it sort of feels a bit like Europe to me, that's where I come from, and we can't afford that."

His comments came as the ASX posted a full-year profit on Thursday of $348.2 million, up 2.7 per cent on the previous year.

Mr Funke Kupper said the exchange benefited from a boost to trading activity, helped by loose global central bank monetary policies that encouraged investors to return to the market.

Operating revenue was $617.4 million, up 1.1 per cent on the previous corresponding period. "As we saw in the previous year, revenue fell in the businesses directly linked to equity trading activity," Mr Funke Kupper said. "[But] the decline in these businesses was more than offset by revenue growth in ASX's other businesses."

These include listings and issuer services, derivatives, technical services and Austraclear.

Mr Funke Kupper said he supported the Business Council's economic "action plan", which lays out a 10-year blueprint.

Such a plan was better than anything Australia's political leaders had developed in the past decade, he said.

"How long have we been talking about a second airport in Sydney?" he said. "How long are we going to keep talking about it? We have to make a decision: either do it or don't do it. The question about a second airport is all about what's going to drive the economic success of Australia for the next 20 or 30 years, and if we need the capacity can we just build it?"

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