The chairman of BlueScope Steel and member of the Reserve Bank of Australia board, Grahame Kraehe, addressing the Press Club yesterday:

“Unfortunately, it is very clear that the business round-table is a sham process… It is not a real consultation; in the middle of that process we get an announcement … that again we are going to have a carbon tax in a few months. I have had extensive experience in dealing with the Hawke government, the Keating government, [and] with the Howard government on a range of policy issues. What we have today absolutely bears no comparison… I think it is fair to say that the trust between government and business is not good.”

But what is the meaning of “consultation” in Kraehe’s mind? And what is a reasonable expectation from business when it comes to consultation with government?

Did the holy trinity of Hawke/Keating/Howard do it differently? Was there a golden age of polite consultation between business and government?

Well, no. Richard Farmer, today:

“Any grievances the business community has today about not being consulted (and what they really mean is that their arguments are not being accepted) pales into insignificance compared with the outcry at Bob Hawke’s accord with the trade union movement and the savage cutting of tariff protection. And what about the business reaction to Paul Keating’s recession we had to have?”

Sometimes it helps to have a long memory.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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