Small Business

Why the Government needs to follow the Keating example

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The problem with governments is they don’t think outside the square and get in touch with their business side. It’s a great failing of the current federal Government and it would do well to learn from the Paul Keating example.

By the way, not his current example but his old Treasurer example.

Last week delivered a number of seemingly unrelated business stories but after deeper analysis a common theme emerged.

To me the standout news item involved Jobs Minister, Chris Evans, who hailed the ‘strong’ job figures.

Now generally I’d applaud a politician talking up the economy but at the moment this is not the game both business and consumers in debt want to hear.

If the economy is as strong as Evans implies, consumers and business will say, “alright that’s it for interest rate cuts.” But that won’t help the economy, because right now we’re all saving and not spending and one rate cut won’t change that.

By the way, jobs growth was only 10,100 new jobs in October and more significantly the annual employment growth rate eased from 1.1 per cent to 0.9 per cent. This is the weakest growth rate in 23 months.

The next story that grabbed me was the case of Scooter Angels, which is a business started by Kailene Squire, which rescues drinkers over the limit and drives them home.

The business model is based on foldaway scooters that can be stored in a car boot as the ‘angel’ drives the responsible drinker home.

Interviewing her on SWITZER on Sky News Business Channel, I asked about her challenges. She explained how the Department of Transport kept insisting on checking each new scooter imported, despite the fact that they have already given the green light to others, which are exactly the same. This is red tape madness.

This Government is out of touch with their business side. I put a challenge to the Small Business Minister, Nick Sherry, on my program to look into it but I bet I hear nothing.

Now to Paul Keating. I reckon Keating was the most courageous Treasurer we have ever had though he made mistakes such as his interest rate policy ahead of the 1990 recession.

That said, everything from the floating of the dollar to financial deregulation to privitisation of the likes of CBA and Qantas to the Accord, as well as compulsory superannuation were Keating plays. Bob Hawke as Prime Minister also had a role but Bob and Paul have different views on Bob’s involvement.

Their team, which included the likes of Senator John Button, got Labor in touch with their business side and that’s why they lasted from 1983 to 1996.

Alas, Keating has lost a bit of his business side and I found that out when I asked him for an interview for his new book After Words. I was told Mr Keating is giving limited interviews, which I bet his publisher is dirty about.

In contrast, John Howard is giving lots of interviews for his book Lazarus Rising and that’s why his book will outsell Keating’s by a country mile.

Of course, Howard understood business and Australians better and that’s why he lasted longer as a prime minister.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

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