Business demands early election policies

With the election date set, Australia's business community is urging both sides of federal politics to quickly start fleshing out their corporate policies.

Business groups and investors on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of a September 14 poll date, saying it gave them some certainty.

But they now want policies fleshed out sooner rather than later.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and Australian Industry Group want issues including infrastructure, productivity improvements and tax reform addressed.

Also on their policy wishlists are ways to reduce red tape, the high Australian dollar, energy costs and what to do once the resources boom ends.

"On the back of the early disclosure of the election date, there should be an early disclosure of policies, plans and visions for a stronger economy and a bidding war about who can do better on that score," ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said.

Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd urged the government not to take its eyes off managing the economy in the eight months before polling day.

"Both major political parties will be tempted to make rash promises to simply win the election, but with rising costs and many businesses under pressure from the high dollar, policies must be economically responsible and support growth and jobs over the long term," he said.

Investors and businesses hope the election will deliver a majority government.

However views are mixed about whether businesses will put off making some investment decisions until after election day.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia chief economist Saul Eslake said the long lead up to the election date was unlikely to have a significant impact on the economy.

"I know retailers in particular always say that an election is bad for consumer spending, but I have never in my life met a soul who said `oh there's an election coming I don't think I will buy a car or a TV'," he said.

"However, it wouldn't be surprising if some businesses perhaps put off an investment decision until after the election, particularly if it was a decision that might be affected by the carbon tax."

A lengthy campaign could also hurt consumer confidence, CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said.

"From a consumer perspective I think a long, drawn-out campaign could distract from what looks set to be a very upbeat 2013," he said.

City Index chief market analyst Peter Esho said the decision to go to the polls in September could indicate the government was not too concerned about its budget situation.

He said there had been no policy announcements accompanying the announcement of the election date, which may indicate the government had some surprises up its sleeve when Treasurer Wayne Swan announces the federal budget on May 14.

The Australian stock market and dollar had muted reaction to Ms Gillard's news having no effect on their trading sessions on Wednesday.

However, one business leader who was surprised by the announcement was Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder.

"Isn't that a footy final, or semi final?" he said.

"It's going to be a long campaign."

IG Markets institutional dealer Chris Weston believes that media stocks could benefit from the long lead to polling day.

"The long lead time should in theory benefit some of the domestic media names because of the amount of money that will be spent on advertising during that course of time," he said.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9327-0.0005-0.05%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5555-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6753-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg