Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hockey to business: You're scared of Labor

Coalition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey has slammed business for what he says is "hand out mentality" that prevents it standing up to Labor.

Answering questions at a business function in Brisbane Mr Hockey said some corporate leaders were "far more quiet" than they should be.

"I am concerned about the hand out mentality in business," he said.

"In part it has made some business leaders far more quiet in the public policy sense than they should be. We don't – sadly – anymore hear of a lot of business leaders that are prepared to stand up and take a public policy position on industrial relations, or taxation or national savings."

"They are muted voices, or they hide behind the industry associations. I think that is a great cost to the nation."

Quoting the catchphrase of the television series Star Trek Mr Hockey called on business leaders to "boldly go where no man has gone before".

"In fact the new series it says, where no one has gone before," he added...

"It is no accident that Gene Roddenberry called his star ship the Enterprise. The spirit of enterprise was succinctly captured by that opening phrase."

"Australia's greatest days lie ahead of us and not behind."

Questioning the legitimacy of the government's Henry Tax Review he said it should have been fronted by a business figure rather than the Treasury Secretary.

The five-person review panel includes the cheif executive of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout.

"I can think of a number of names of individuals that have made huge policy contributions when they were leading their companies in past years. Today, instead of appointing a business person to review the impact on business and enterprise and families of government taxation, they appointed the Secretary of the Treasury."

"Now the Secretary of the Treasury is a good man and he is a capable man but he doesn't pay the tax, he collects the tax. And now, not only has he drafted the report, he is drafting the response."

Both the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have strongly supported the government's stimulus measures and attacked the Coalition's parental leave proposal. Both have accorded the Henry Review legitimacy by making submissions to it.

The government appointed Heather Ridout to the Henry Review and the ACCI's Greg Evans to the Cooper superannuation review.

Mr Hockey said Australia's enterprising qualities "must never be extinguished despite the best endeavors of some governments and some political philosophies to reshape our destiny."

He said he learned while in government that the best ideas did not come "through the air-conditioning ducts of Parliament House."

Some of the best ideas were found in Queensland and Western Australia.

"It is that often Queenslanders and Western Australians say – get government out of the way, we don't want a grant and we don't want this. Just get out of the way, reduce our tax and let us get on with it."

Published in today's Age

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