KEVIN Rudd (pictured) may stem federal Labor’s bleeding after toppling Julia Gillard as Prime Minister overnight, but Gold Coast business leaders fear it will do little to garner political or economic stability.
An early election is the only answer, according to a Gold Coast Business News snapshot of business leaders.
Tourism, real estate and development industry figures have all called for an immediate election to end the stand-off that has plagued federal politics for three years.
“An election will reinforce confidence and certainty for the property market,” says CBRE senior executive Mark Witheriff.
“It will give us a government that can actually rule compared to the Parliament we’ve had in the past three years,” he says.
Tourism industry figure Shane O’Reilly says the business environment has been especially challenging since Gillard announced the federal election for September.
“Because the election has been set so far out, instead of creating certainty it has created a longer period of uncertainty,” says the Queensland Tourism Industry Council chairman and managing director of O'Reilly's Rainforest retreat.
“As this goes on and the election wages on, business confidence slumps, planning grinds to a halt and businesses stop spending money due to the uncertainty.”
Sunland chairman Soheil Abedian also sees an early election as a “necessity” but he fears neither political party has the answers to address the structural problems that have crushed Australia’s competitive edge and made it among the most expensive countries in which to do business.
“The mindset of Australians is that the country is on the edge of recession,” Abedian says.
“I don’t believe the change of political leadership of any party has an effect on the business community because it is the policy of the party that dictates the direction they take.”
The Sunland founder says both political parties are to blame for “putting all their eggs in the (resources) basket” and presiding over a blowout in wages and costs for business.
“I believe no single party can address this one key issue.”
O’Reilly believes Labor in particular needs to undertake a some ‘navel gazing’.
“Labor needs to reinvent itself, it needs to have a focus on business, productivity and the economy to ensure it actually creates jobs for workers.”
Meanwhile, the Business Council of Australia sees Rudd’s resurrection as Prime Minister as a chance to end to the “politics of division”.
BCA president Tony Shepherd has urged Rudd to restore “shaky business and consumer confidence by immediately marking out an agenda focused squarely on jobs, investment, competitiveness and growth”.
“The community is tired of divisive politics and policies which are aimed at shoring up political survival rather than the future prosperity of the nation.
“Now that the leadership has been resolved there is a need for decisive action in key areas to restore business and community confidence.
“That includes lowering the carbon price to the international level, withdrawing the damaging the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill and the amendments to the Fair Work Act, committing to an audit of government spending, repealing the recent flurry of anti-business and anti-growth legislation including tax laws and environmental approvals, and ensuring policy development acknowledges the role of business in creating growth, jobs, and wealth for Australians to share.
“The government must commit to a comprehensive growth agenda that can only be achieved by working in partnership with businesses, large and small.”
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