The least we can expect from our business leaders is to form coherent arguments. This effort from Premier’s Mark McInnes ain’t it:

“[Consumers] lack confidence and we require a bit more leadership from the government to be honest with you …

”We need the government to own up to the problems they have created in the lack of confidence in the consumer environment. People have actually got the money, employment is good, the savings rate is high but there is a fear and a lack of confidence out there and, for discretionary retailers, that’s a real issue.

”And, when you add to that a real lack of confidence in the current government, be that the carbon tax, I mean, what is that? Who understands that?”

Pardon? To be honest Mark, we don’t understand the question. You may be suggesting the government lead some kind of community awareness program around the benefits of Just Jeans acidwash. Perhaps Gillard could lead by example by opening her wallet and donning a Jay Jay’s fluoro tee. Hell, make it bipartisan. Get Joe Hockey into Smiggle to fork out for a bunch of rainbow crayons for the kids.

Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and pretend this is more than a whinge designed to distract from your own company’s performance detailed in the latest Premier annual report. We think, perhaps, that buried in that statement may be a point about the state of politics as a whole — about the confusion peddled on both sides about the carbon tax and how that’s trickling down into consumer confidence.

That fact is undeniable. So too is the fact that Treasury’s first line-by-line estimate of price impacts of the carbon tax (minimal save for energy bills) hasn’t got much of a look in. Except of course with headlines like the Herald Sun‘s “Electricity Prices Will Soar for Decades“, which is based not on the Treasury modelling but the Baillieu government’s commissioned report by Deliotte Access Economics. Which is just a natural extension of The Daily Telegraph‘s superb coverage, aided and abetted by both the federal opposition and NSW government, of the impact of the carbon tax on transport costs.

So what you’re trying to say, Mark, is that consumers are so scared witless about the carbon tax that their wallets have been hermetically sealed. So how to charm them back into purchasing your pants again? A combination of a media who accurately reports information, a Coalition which doesn’t wilfully distort facts and a government with the skill to counter those distortions would be a start. And perhaps business leader who can discuss these issues coherently and responsibly.

Peter Fray

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