Business: Turnbull fiddles while Australia burns
As if the country doesn’t have enough to worry about that the most divisive prime minister in history continues his journey of destruction of Australia socially and commercially. Industry leaders are speaking out at last albeit too late. An unsettled climate rife with political wrangling is death to common prosperity. Wages flatline as industry puts progress on the back burner.
The latest episode of Who Wants to be a Prime Minister and the jettisoning of tax and energy policies is testing business leaders, who say they just want certainty.
Leadership uncertainty, scrapping tax cuts and the NEG are bad for business, industry leaders warn
“Instability is the enemy of consumer confidence and our ability to invest, we are keen on having certainty of course,” Woolworths boss Brad Banducci told The Business program this week.
While Mr Banducci can be certain that corporate tax cuts are gone, that’s probably not what he meant.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Government has given up on its plan to slash taxes for big businesses, after it failed to secure the support of the Senate crossbenchers and One Nation.
The Business Council of Australia (BCA) came out firing, saying Australia was kidding itself “if we think we can impose one of the highest tax rates in the developed world on Australian businesses and still expect them to thrive, invest and create jobs”.
“Company tax cuts still have more public support than any political party,” BCA chief Jennifer Westacott said.
BHP’s Andrew McKenzie, meanwhile, said he was disappointed the Government “wasn’t on the team” anymore when it came to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) and emissions reduction.
As a vocal proponent of the tax cut, Mr McKenzie used BHP’s Think Big campaign to win across the Australian community, a strategy that has been laid to waste by the Government’s decision to dump the plan.
“My message to Canberra … is it’s so important to make this country investable,” he said.
“We would invest more in Australia if the incentives were there, if corporate tax rates were lower and if we had greater clarity as to what the energy policy would be,” he told The Business.
Woodside’s chief, and BCA board member, Peter Coleman couldn’t hide his contempt at the leadership kerfuffle and inconsistent policy.
“My message to Canberra would be remember what you are put there for — you are there to govern for the people, all of the people, not simply the people that are sitting in the party room.”
Companies are now being told to start preparing for a Labor Government, who has promised to abolish cash refunds for excess dividend imputation credits.
Labor says this change will only affect 8 per cent of Australian taxpayers, but BHP is sitting with $11.7 billion in stored franking credits, which it will need to rush out the door before an election.
The tax cuts already given to small and medium-sized businesses are also in doubt, after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten did a double backflip on repealing tax cuts for businesses with a turnover between $10 million and $50 million.
Recently installed chairman of AMP David Murray told The Business he has seen plenty of leadership spills and thrills over his time and calls the latest drama nothing but a “big gossip”.
The only certainty in Australian business is uncertainty, he said, and businesses just need to get on with business.