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PM urges business, unions to ‘talk up’ economy

31-08-2010
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in 

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard called on business and union leaders to "speak up" about the strength of Australia's economy as a new survey found business conditions had fallen to the lowest level in three years.

"Those of us who know how strong our economy overall really is do have to speak up to be heard," Ms Gillard told an economic forum in Brisbane.

"We know it's in the interest of business that confidence grow and we know it's in the interests of working people that confidence grows too."

Ms Gillard argued productivity growth needed to be lifted, company taxes cut and labour mobility addressed.

It was then possible "we can be the winner in the Asian Century", she said.

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Gillard also reiterated her desire to cut company tax rates at the forum. And she criticised states' stamp duties on home purchases.

Ms Gillard said Labor was willing to revive its promise to lower company taxes, which the party abandoned after the Liberals and Greens pulled their support, if it received support from other political parties.

"I've got no doubt the company tax rate should be lower — and no doubt the revenue base has to be maintained as well," Ms Gillard reportedly said in her speech.

"We've worked on national licensing of professions and trades and on incentives for welfare to work, and now we're turning attention to more improvements to job services, and to issues like state transaction taxes on property as well."

Treasurer Wayne Swan picked up on Ms Gillard's Asia theme in his speech.

There were "fantastic opportunities" if business, unions, the community sector and governments worked together to put the right policy setting in place, he said.

"We can make this the Australian century in Asia.

"A century in which we're just not a passenger along with a lot of other countries but ... a central engine room in the Asian century."

Mr Swan said China and the region were set to become the main drivers of global growth allowing the rest of the world to recover from recent economic turmoil.

But while the Government remains positive, the latest National Australia Bank (NAB) business survey wasn't.

Business conditions didn't get a bounce from the federal budget or a big official interest rate cut in May and have fallen to the lowest level in three years.

The survey, completed before the most recent RBA 25 basis point rate cut and upbeat economic data, saw business confidence sink amid concerns over the euro zone and broader global growth.

Just a handful of firms expected to benefit from the May budget while 47 per cent viewed it negatively and 45 per cent said it would have no impact.

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