The complete breakdown in confidence between the Gillard government and the small and large business communities is now the major factor holding Australia back. It ranks higher than the level of the Australian dollar.
Accordingly, if Tony Abbott is elected on September 14 by a big majority you will see a surge of business confidence and employment.
Reserve Bank reductions in interest rates no longer help much – what’s needed is a change of government.
ANZ chief executive Mike Smith said this diplomatically in his KGB interview (but was careful not to favour any party).
However the response to my seven deadly sins commentary showed just how deep the anti-Gillard government feeling has developed in most areas of business (Seven deadly Gillard sins, April 30).
There was special emphasis on the decision of Gillard to block many new ABN numbers, so stopping Australian innovation.
To my seven deadly Gillard sins, my readers have added at least another 20. One of the criticisms readers handed out to me was that I did not go far enough. So here are the 20 I have extracted:
– In three years, not passing one single growth policy. Because we were in a GFC "Kev and Julia" had the once in a lifetime chance to spend on infrastructure to build the nation (not footpaths and school halls). But they stuffed it. We spent billions and got absolutely nothing visionary for it (except for the NBN, which was not part of the spend anyway).
– Divisive policy that favoured unions over business. Compare what the current government has done with what Keating and his Industry Commission did to understand mining and energy in Australia. Businesses like Orica and Rio Tinto implemented single status work force under Hawke/Keating government resulting in massive gains in productivity and salaries that underpinned the mining boom. Those businesses would have failed in Australia before the mining boom if they had stayed unionised.
– Opening the boat people can of worms that John Howard had managed to seal.
– Good programs like housing insulation were poorly managed.
– Education. Spending money rather than looking at the causes of our disappointing (and slipping) education performance. Why have standards fallen during a period when spend-per-child went up?
– Using optimistic forecasts of variable tax revenue, based on commodity and carbon to create recurrent spending programs and 'compensation' handouts, leading to a massive structural budget deficit.
– The biggest terms of trade boom in history (never to be repeated) was wasted. And Australians have been saddled with debt for future generations to repay.
– Too much focus on headlines and not enough on implementation and consequences. For example, the announcement of asylum seeker camp in East Timor. We find out later East Timor was not consulted and not interested.
– Class warfare: out to divide the nation instead of unifying.
– Spending too much time acting as if they were in Opposition and attacking the Opposition.
– Disrespect for voters: Attacking those who they thought would oppose them instead of trying to find common ground.
– The NBN was off budget, not given a business case, loaded with political imperatives, and presented in a very populist manner as if the cost of the network is free.
– The MRRT: Ross Garnaut says it will not likely raise much money yet it was supposed to fund programs.
– Defence: The joint strike fighter mess, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
– Continuing the blame game in health, education and GST split.
– Duplication with states: Canberra employs more than 4,000 public servants in education and 5,000 plus in health because our states act in all those areas as competing, independent countries. The German Federation employs about 50 public servants per 1,000 inhabitants. Why do we have a 100 plus in federal and state administration?
– Media regulation: a conceptual and parliamentary fiasco.
– Too much spin, deceit and lying.
– Water policy: A lot of federal money went to buy back water. We find out later that we don't know where this water is.
– Climate policy: Acting as if Australia alone could fix the global climate, not explaining policy in terms of benefits to the world environment, discounting Australia's OECD ranking for the cleanest air in our cities, discounting the relatively vast land and girt by sea areas to absorb CO2, discounting our relatively sparse population as if total population has no bearing on pollution, and cornerstoning climate policy on the single statistic of the emissions per capita.
And these remarks sum up the problem: “As part of an industry suffering from lack of consumer and business confidence plus structural inefficiency driven by union domination resulting in the lowest construction activity in decades. I can tell you first-hand as an industry representative to government that they could not hear because they don’t understand the challenges confronting working men and women, let alone what was really happening in the wider economy.”
“And the other side ain’t much better at listening either.”