Pollies head west to meet CCI members

10 May, 2017

CCI members got the chance to speak to two key politicians last week when Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher and Small Business and Financial Services Shadow Minister Katy Gallagher spoke at separate functions.

Fletcher spoke at CCI’s business breakfast event on May 5 and didn’t hold back about Roe 8 protestors.

“Obviously, the Perth Freight Link we think is a good project, we committed substantial funds to it, the productivity benefits in allowing trucks to get much better access to Fremantle port were significant,” he said.

“We had a clear position that it was a good project and it is reflective of a troubling phenomenon.

“You can get these well-organised protest groups that get a lot of media coverage and as a general proposition they’re articulating the agenda of people in affluent inner city suburbs, they’re not terribly concerned with the desirability of better transport connectivity of the outer suburbs.

“This is a pattern we’ve seen here with the Perth Freight Link, we’ve seen it in Melbourne with the cancellation of the East West Link, it was a very similar story. We almost saw it with WestConnex in Sydney.”

He also addressed the advent of automated vehicles.

“There’s a lot of talk about vehicle sharing or ride sharing and it’s argued by many that as driverless vehicles come along, we’ll move to a mode in which we no longer own a vehicle, but when we need to use a vehicle, we’ll summon it with a smart phone,” he said.

“They certainly say that’s how the city will go, but we make the point that the technology of sharing, the challenge of moving to a sharing model should not be underestimated.

“Unless that’s a smooth easy process (to summon a car), people won’t give up the individual vehicle.

The previous day, Gallagher, a Labor senator, joined business owners to get an overview of their priorities to help formulate Labor Party policy for the next election.

She told the forum the top three issues raised at almost every forum including the desire for more customers, confidence in the economy, and cashflows, including issues around paying times.

Business owners also raised concerns about internet connections, 457 Visas and trainees not receiving relevant training at the form.

Gallagher says she joined the Federal Labor Party two years ago after 14 years in the ACT government, where she served as minister of almost every portfolio during that time.

She gave her insights into planning rules and regulations that come at the municipal level but was on a mission to find out what issues small business are facing.

Gallagher says not having local governments would make it easier for tax reform.

“Whenever I hear people moaning about local government, and it is something that comes up everywhere I go, I always think the most modern parliament created is the ACT and it was created without any councils. It does bring some very good benefits to not having councils,” she said.

“For example, we’re doing tax reform in the ACT and I genuinely think that’s easier in the ACT because we haven’t had to negotiate with a local council.”

“There are ways you can run that pretty efficient government without local government.”

Gallagher told business owners one of the challenges of the Small Business portfolio was that businesses varied and had different needs.

“To try and get a unified voice on what priorities are is more difficult than, say, health,” she said.

►Want to find out what’s around the corner for WA business? Join CCI and the Hon Mathias Cormann, Federal Minister for Finance, to hear how the recently released 2017 Federal Budget will affect the WA business community.