What business wants from new Labor ministers

Craig Emerson, Lindsay Tanner and Kim Carr will hold key business related ministries in a new Labor line-up that has been widely welcomed by Australia’s business groups.

Craig Emerson will be the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy and will assist Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner in implementing Labor’s business deregulation agenda.

Labor’s focus on seeing a national fibre to the node broadband network rolled out is reflected in Victorian Senator Stephen Conroy’s newly named portfolio of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, while Kim Carr will continue to be responsible for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

And Julia Gillard will be the minister for industrial relations and education, a mega-portfolio that will see control some of the key levers of the Australian economy.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout says it will be crucial that Gillard manages her portfolios adroitly.

“We look forward to continuing to work constructively with Deputy Prime Minister elect, Julia Gillard, who has been given responsibility for two of the biggest issues on the Rudd Government’s agenda: education and workplace relations. As the Prime Minister elect has stressed, these two areas are central to good economic management both in the short and medium term. Adroit approaches will be very important if the Labor Government’s objectives are to be met.

NSW Business Chamber chief executive Kevin McDonald says Rudd’s move to bring education and industrial relations together makes sense.

“Business has long recognised the inter-relationship between education and workforce skills. Business needs an education system that is responsive to the wider need for skills across the economy”, McDonald says. “I am hopeful that in putting these portfolios under the responsibility of the Deputy Prime Minister that real change in this area can be driven.”

Australian Information Industry Association chief executive Sheryle Moon says Labor’s focus on on cutting business red-tape is “absolutely welcome”, and could be of particular assistance to SMEs in the ICT sector.

“Rather than nine contracting and procurement jurisdictions we’d love to have one, so the recognition of deregulation of the business environment is quite important in that respect,” Moon says.

Moon also says it is important that Stephen Conroy will continue to be the driving force behind Labor’s broadband plans.

“He will hit the ground running on broadband which is fantastic, AIIA has been quite outspoken on the need for an accelerated execution on broadband and to ensure not only pervasive access, but also price points for broadband that will make it accessible to SMEs, so it’s great to have a minister who is aware of those issues,” Moon says.


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