End politicking, get on with it: business to Australia’s new leaders – The Sydney Morning Herald

Medibank chief executive Craig Drummond said business wanted a speedy resolution on the leadership issue so that everyone could “move on”.

“The whole election cycle and politicking – that’s something were are not focused on,” he said. “We’d like the noise to go away because the noise is distracting for everyone.”

Medibank CEO Craig Drummond

Medibank CEO Craig Drummond

Photo: Josh Robenstone

Mr Drummond was also worried about the current debate on immigration.

Queensland Senator Fraser Anning used his recent maiden speech in Parliament to call for a ban on Muslim immigration, praise the White Australia Policy and urge a plebiscite as “the final solution to the immigration problem“.

Mr Drummond came out strongly against those comments, saying: “I don’t think that’s appropriate – it’s just not appropriate. We are a multicultural society and that type of commentary is not appropriate.”

He said he was an advocate for “sensible levels of immigration”. He acknowledged that the levels Australia had been growing at had placed “some stresses and strains” on the nation’s resources, but said it had also resulted in a stronger economy and greater diversity, which “needs to be celebrated”.

Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison, right, walks with deputy Josh Frydenberg

Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison, right, walks with deputy Josh Frydenberg

Photo: David Gray/Pool Photo via AP

While the domestic economy was growing, he was worried about the global impact of a tit-for-tat trade war between the United States and China. “It’s always concerning when you see the rolling back of free trade,” he said.

Over the past 25 years Australia had been a “massive beneficiary” of free trade, and globally it had helped lift people out of poverty. “Free trade is something that we should be promoting – not artificial barriers being put in place,” he said.

Star Entertainment CEO Matt Bekier said his business was “very leveraged to China,” and he hoped a Morrison-led federal government recognised the importance of good diplomatic ties with China.

“We hope that the position on China will revert to a welcoming and rational stance”,” he said.

Star Entertainment CEO Matt Bekier hoped the new leaders recognise the importance of good diplomatic ties with China.

Star Entertainment CEO Matt Bekier hoped the new leaders recognise the importance of good diplomatic ties with China.

Photo: Paul Harris

Mr Bekier said businesses like The Star, which relied heavily on Chinese tourism, could face volatility if tense relations continued or worsened under a new government.

China’s foreign ministry has already expressed concerns about a decision made this week by Mr Morrison, as acting Home Affairs Minister, to ban Chinese-owned tech giants taking part in the rollout of 5G mobile infrastructure on national security grounds.

“If you look at the history of China’s bilateral relations, South Korea had a spat with China over missiles, and then China turned around and stopped issuing travel permits to tourist groups,” Mr Bekier said. “That stuff can happen.”

Michael Fraser, the head of the Australian gas pipeline company APA which controls the majority of the country’s gas transport, also commented on the changing Liberal leadership and the impact it may have on Hong Kong-based utility firm CKI’s proposed $13 billion takeover of APA.

APA chairman Michael Fraser

APA chairman Michael Fraser

Photo: Supplied

“We’ll just have to wait and see how things go after today,” Mr Fraser said. “The big thing is if there are any consequences on CKI’s proposal through FIRB and the ACCC, we don’t know as we have no line of sight yet.”

“The main thing is we get an energy policy soon.”

EY chief executive Tony Johnson also welcomed Mr Morrison, but said there was still “major challenges for the nation to resolve when it comes to tax reform, international competitiveness, cutting red tape and securing energy supply.”

“Most importantly, the business community needs policy certainty to promote investment and improve business confidence,” he said. “The political turmoil of the past decade has come at the cost of our global competitiveness. We must return to the serious business of economic reform.”

Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox said the economy was in good shape but not without its challenges. “A top priority should be building a stronger economy and inclusive society,” he said.

Deputy Editor, BusinessDay. Reporting on tax and regulation.

Workplace Reporter for The Age

Covering energy and policy at Fairfax Media.

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