Baillieu’s out: Business reacts to Victorian Premier’s shock resignation

The Victorian business community says the resignation of Ted Baillieu as premier may represent a good opportunity for the state government to be more open about its intentions with regard to any change in business policy.

The shock resignation occurred last night following a decline in support for Baillieu, both among his colleagues and the general public. The decision followed the resignation of Liberal backbencher Geoff Shaw and ongoing controversies regarding his deputy Peter Ryan.

Denis Napthine, the Minister for Racing, Ports and Major Projects, won the leadership battle yesterday and is now the state’s premier.

The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry told SmartCompany this morning the shock resignation and leadership change has been a dramatic turn of events, but the organisation is confident it can work with Napthine.

“Clearly, Denis has been part of cabinet for a number of years and is familiar with the things that are important to business,” chief executive Mark Stone told SmartCompany.

“We’ve met with him regularly. He’s a seasoned campaigner, so he’ll just need a few weeks to sort out his style and way of managing and we expect to see some results.”

Stone says the change in leadership is a good opportunity to seek some transparency from the government regarding future plans – something he feels has been lacking.

“Even if Denis came out and said they aren’t going to do anything about a particular project, there’s a greater degree of certainty there. The more certainty we have regarding government affairs, the better it is for business.”

Napthine has been eager to emphasise the fact Ted Baillieu “was not knifed”.

“Ted Baillieu was not knifed. Ted made a decision of his own volition to step down as leader of the Liberal Party,” he told 3AW this morning.

“It was his decision … I don’t comment on what happens in the party room.”

Baillieu intends to remain as a backbencher. He has faced criticism over the past year for the scandal involving Police Minister Peter Ryan, who oversaw the resignation of Police Commissioner Simon Overland.

Baillieu has also been the target of criticism over his negotiations with unions over teachers’ and nurses’ pay, both arguments having led to strikes since his election in 2010.

The Victorian Coalition remains in a precarious position. With backbencher Geoff Shaw now becoming an independent, the Liberals and Nationals hold just a one seat advantage over Labor, with a by-election in the seat of Lyndhurst to take place next month.

However, VECCI says it isn’t excepting any major changes to business policy.

“There’s a lot of talk in the media about the general lack of confidence. So any degree of stability and consistency is good for business.”

This story first appeared on LeadingCompany’s sister publication, SmartCompany.

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