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.