It is looking likely that Anna Bligh will become Queensland’s next Premier, following the surprise resignation of Peter Beattie yesterday afternoon.
Will she be good for business? Heather Ridout, chief executive of Australian Industry Group, says yes. “I think Anna Bligh has worked very hard on her relationship with business as Treasurer. Business has liked what she has done and will work well with her.”
But she acknowledges there is still work to do. “There is unfinished business. The rollout of the infrastructure planned and giving more of a 21st century perspective to the Smart State strategy, keeping the growth going in Queensland, keeping the entrepreneurial flavour that they have valued in the state through lower regulation and giving business a go.”
Beatrice Booth, the president of Commerce Queensland, said she is looking forward to talking to Bligh about growing state taxes. “We are no longer the lowest-tax state and I’m sure Anna will want to regain that title. We will be looking for reductions in payroll tax, increasing the threshold.”
She is hopeful that Bligh will reconsider the forced council amalgamations. “The majority of our members have expressed concern at forced amalgamations, particularly in the smaller councils where loss of a council could mean the death of service providers in those regions.
“Businesses would like to see a new leader repeal the forced amalgamation legislation and return to the SSS (size, shape and sustainability) process that was in place.”
After being anointed by Beattie yesterday, Bligh has declared she wants the job and told the Courier-Mail she has been pleased by the response of colleagues to her campaign for the top job. The vote will happen tomorrow.
Bligh told the newspaper Queensland voters could expect a more forward-thinking government under her leadership, in the wake of the health, electricity and water crises. “I’d like our government to be better prepared for some of the challenges ahead,” she said.
She has indicated she is willing to borrow to fund the much-needed water, health and road projects. And she has been supportive of public-private partnerships, despite being a member of the party’s Left faction.