Interview with Marius Benson
17 May 2012
SUBJECTS: Jac Nasser speech, Budget
David Bradbury it looks like Jac Nasser doesn't like your industrial relations policies or Labor's tax policies is that a concern for you?
Look, I think it is no news to anyone to hear that there are some people in the business community that don't necessarily see eye-to-eye with the Government on the question of industrial relations, these are challenging issues for any Government, but we have always said that we support and industrial relations system that provides a balance and it is appropriate to maintain that balance. Sometimes when we hear people talk about pendulums swinging and perhaps not achieving that balance, there is not always a very clear focus on what they think it is that should happen to the system. I think we need to be clear about this, that if we are talking about re-introducing AWA's, if we are talking about providing mechanisms to cut, to take away the ability of workers to access penalty rates and mechanisms of that sort, then clearly these are matters that the Labor Government, as you would expect the Labor Government to be, has taken a very strong position on and that is one of the reasons why we campaign so vigorously against the Work Choices laws, came into office and ensured that we put in place a system that restored some balance in that regard.
Jac Nasser is also warning of attacks on individuals by the Government, is it time for Wayne Swan to lay off individuals, obviously he is referring there to Wayne Swan's tax on billionaires like Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart.
Look, I think we have a very robust democratic debate in this country and that is appropriate and there are occasions where people engage in debate and start to make points that require response from Government. I think it is entirely appropriate that Government respond in the appropriate fashion. I think that one of the general points that seems to be made in some of the current debate and I should note that Mr Nasser gave a very big thumbs up to the Government's return to surplus and our Budget policy and that is something that hasn't received a lot of coverage in the reporting today, but he gave a very big tick to our return to surplus policy. But I think one of the things I think needs to be acknowledged, there is a debate going on at the moment about whether or not the balance has been achieved in terms of wealth creation and wealth redistribution. Can I make this point that there is no Government in the world that stands prouder than ours on the question on wealth creation, we have achieved growth in our economy of 7 per cent from pre GFC levels, there is no other advanced economy in the world that has growth in the order of that magnitude. That is because we are a Government focused on growth, focused on wealth creation and focused on job creation, now the record stands for itself, of course in the context of managing that economy, managing a strong economy we are determined to make sure that all Australians get some of the benefit of a strong economy and that is why we are spreading the benefits of the mining boom, we make no apologies for that. But to the extent that people are making a criticism or an allegation here that we are not about wealth creation, the record stands for itself: 7 per cent larger today as an economy than pre-GFC, show me another advanced economy in the world that comes close and then perhaps there may be some merit in those suggestions, but clearly there is not.
Jac Nasser also says that the mining boom is winding down, is he right? Has the boom peaked, is it winding down now?
Well certainly, we take the view that the demand for our resources, particularly from the Asian region will continue to be strong for some years into the future: $456 billion worth of capital investment coming into the resources sector. So to the extent that this question of the future prosperity of the resources sector is one that people want to pass comment on and I think people are voting with their feet and voting with their money in terms of where they are prepared to invest in which sectors, which economies, which countries and that speaks volumes I think, where the private sector at least believes that the future in terms of the resource boom and economic opportunity in this region rest.
David Bradbury, thank you very much
Always good to talk to you Marius.