Apr 18, 2013

Shepherd’s vision: kamikaze politicians delivering for business

Tony Shepherd's economic vision for Australia ignores what we've already achieved and relies on politicians delivering for business regardless of what the electorate wants, write Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane.

With the political cycle having lately taken a (pleasing) turn toward policy, Business Council chief Tony Shepherd yesterday joined in with a major speech outlining the council’s forthcoming economic vision for Australia. As a speech, it was long on rhetoric — yes, entrepreneurship and innovation are great things, Tony. It was also studiously non-partisan, with Shepherd by and large seeming to blame the whole political class for a lack of vision.

You can take issue with or choose to like individual items on Shepherd’s wish list, in accordance with your preferences. He predictably insists Australia’s labour productivity is “still poor” and we need IR deregulation to fix it, despite productivity constantly growing for over a year under the Fair Work Act, while it fell significantly under WorkChoices. He wants nuclear power to be in the energy policy mix, not “excluded on ideological grounds”, which seems to forget that for Australia nuclear power is excluded on simple maths — it’s hideously expensive, compared even with renewables. Or you can wonder what level of government intervention in business Shepherd wants in order to achieve his laudable goal of 50% of board positions filled by women.

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28 thoughts on “Shepherd’s vision: kamikaze politicians delivering for business

  1. Roger Clifton

    Nuclear electricity is excluded in Australia by a Federal Law, not because it is expensive. That Federal law was emplaced on ideologically grounds, the only country so hostile to such change. It would be straightforward for a newly-elected government to strike out the law, and leave it to commercial interests to do the sums to find out whether it really is expensive or not.

    Comparing mass produced solar panels with first-of-a-kind nuclear reactors is mixing apples and pears. Australia would certainly be better off buying turn-key factory-built nuclear reactor designs. Mass produced “SMR” reactors, are fraction of a gigawatt. For example, the MPower come in units of 180 MW, so would be installed one-by-one without busting a State budget.

    The climate needs non-ideologically-driven governments to be committing forward purchases to mass production of conservative, well-proven designs. As far as cost is concerned, the mass produced Liberty Ships of World War II were a small fraction of the cost of once-off ships of similar capacity.

  2. klewso

    “Labour productivity is poor”?
    But managerial is …..?

  3. Achmed

    You don’t need to strike out the law to enable commercial interests to do their sums.

    They could do the sums ignoring the law and show that it is commercially viable and then argue the law needs to be repealed

  4. Achmed

    The type of thing that needs to stop: Qantas stopped paying dividends to shareholders, while at the same time spent $440 million buying its own shares to provide the Board and CEO with a share bonus.

  5. Achmed

    klewso – everyone knows that when share values drop, profits become a loss or a poor investment decision is made its the fault of the wokers not the CEO or Board of Directors. For example Rio’s $700 billion failed investment in Africa. One CEO “let go” and sackings of other employees to recoup the loss


    Globally, coal burning is outgrowing everything, and emissions are increasing every year.

    Nuclear is hideously expensive compared to cooking the planet?

    So far the biggest wind installation in this country is less than half the size of one average coal station, and that is its maximum output rating. It would need about 3 of them due to the capacity factor (wind is usually 20-35%) to make that half, so six of them to replace just one coal fired station.

    Oh, and 50,000 hectares for every gigawatt of wind.

    Good luck replacing coal with wind.

    Don’t get me wrong, we need all non-carbon sources, but that MUST include nuclear. As James Hansen said recently, without nuclear we just are not serious about cutting emissions.

    Nuclear is the only non-carbon energy source that can actually do the heavy lifting of replacing coal, not just slowing down its rate of growth by a small amount.

  7. [email protected]

    Unless things have changed considerably since the Switkowski Report Nuclear is not more expensive than renewables. There may be other reasons to avoid its use but cost is not one.

  8. Achmed

    Then there was the clothing compnay that within 12 months of getting a bailout package from the Howard Govt to help keeps the jobs in Australia promptly moved overseas. The CEO and Board awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses. The amount they gave themselves could have provided each of the 150 sacked employees with a $30,000 redundancy

  9. John Bennetts

    Rio might be pretty poor managers, Achmed, but $700 BILLION?

    That can’t possibly be correct. Think again.

    They did manage to sink $36B or thereabouts on aluminium over the past several years and they have just experienced a huge landslip into one of their mines in USA, the largest hole in the ground Mankind has ever dug.

    They have dropped just about every pass sent their way recently, but $700B is dead plain wrong. Try the odd billion – it’s still a classic stuff-up.

  10. Achmed

    Sorry that should be Million – dont know what came over me…

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