He said the COVID-19 pandemic had been a catalyst for enormous change around the world. “The need for private and public sectors to collaborate for better health and economic outcomes has come into focus,” Mr Perreault said.
“It’s important that Australia can rise to meet the after-effects of the pandemic by being pandemic-ready with onshore vaccine manufacturing capabilities, is a globally competitive destination to do business and is an attractive home to a thriving biotech and healthcare sector,” Mr Perreault said.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the government and his company were aligned in wanting to see a more resilient, sustainable and productive economy.
“We need to build a consensus on the best way to sustainably grow real wages for the benefit of workers and the economy as a whole,” Mr Banducci said.
Bolster local supply chains
Rebuilding local manufacturing and supply chains is vitally important.
“The pandemic has sharpened our focus on the importance of our ports, rail and road networks, along with local manufacturing capability, to underpin food security and essential supply,” Mr Banducci said.
“The planned investment through the National Reconstruction Fund and commitment to critical road and rail infrastructure funding will help build much-needed resilience to withstand further shocks”.
Mr Banducci said Woolworths would keep playing its part in driving down emissions, as he backed the more ambitious 2030 emissions reductions target of the Labor Party.
Gary Carroll, chief executive of Australia’s largest listed childcare group G8 Education, said he welcomed efforts to make early learning more affordable, “including the incoming government’s proposed higher childcare subsidy”.
G8 operates more than 450 childcare centres around Australia. Labor went to the election with a $5.4 billion plan to boost government-funded childcare subsidies. The maximum childcare subsidy would rise to 90 per cent for families for the first child in care, while the subsidy rates for every family earning less than $530,000, with one child in care, would also increase.
Mr Carroll said other issues of importance included appropriate care for children with complex needs and “addressing skilled labour market shortages”. Mr Carroll said G8 would try working closely with the government and sector for “the best possible settings for Australian children and families, the economy and sector participants”.
Julia Davison, the chief executive of Goodstart Early Learning, a not-for-profit company which is Australia’s largest childcare group, said it was “very exciting” to have an incoming government whose largest funded policy commitment is to make child care more affordable.
“This is great for families, important for women’s participation in the workforce and good for children,” Ms Davison said.
Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott said there were a string of challenges facing Australia and urged the new government to lift migration levels, pursue action on climate change and ensure productivity levels improve so cost-of-living issues can be addressed.
Wesfarmers owns large retail chains including hardware giant Bunnings, Target, Kmart and Officeworks and employs about 107,000 people.
“As a nation we’d benefit from increased workforce participation, further action on climate change, a resumption of immigration programs and tax reform across the federation, Mr Scott said.
“We’d also welcome measures which respond to current cost of living pressures as well as strategies which support long-term, sustainable gains in productivity, and with that, wages growth.”
Mr Scott said he would work with the new government on a range of important issues and it was clear the government has a “mandate to address these challenges”.
‘Embarrassing’ for Australia
Iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest, who is officially becoming executive chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, said Mr Albanese’s win should result in a much more forward-looking climate policy in Australia.
“For a long time Australia has been a climate laggard. Frankly it has been embarrassing,” Dr Forrest said.
“Our children deserve our leadership, our understanding of science, and they haven’t had it.”
Dr Forrest said that was why he had set up Fortescue Future Industries.
“We chose to take matters into our own hands to rapidly transition to green energy and to be the worldwide heavy industrial leader in decarbonising our company. We want other emitters to follow,” he said.
“We now hope to see a more forward-leaning climate change policy from Australia. We are pushing ahead to turn Australia into a green energy superpower,” Dr Forrest said.
Tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who is trying to block an AGL demerger, said the election result showed that Australia has set its sights “on a brighter future”. “This was an election won and lost on climate,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.
Diane Smith Gander, chair of buy-now pay later company Zip, said the Coalition had “ignored” women at its own peril and had yet to show it could accommodate future candidates.
“For the Coalition, they really need to soul search and they need to increase their diversity. Different voices are the only way they are going to survive. But they have in the past proved they find it hard to bring in new voices,” Ms Smith-Gander said, noting the party room’s previous failure to consider Julie Bishop, a popular and experienced female MP, as its leader.
“Whether the shock of the election result is enough to make the radical change they need, we will still need to see.”
There hadn’t been enough action by the Coalition on the gender wage gap, childcare and parental leave earnings.
Consistency and clarity on climate
Bank bosses are keen to see the new government prioritise getting skilled and unskilled workers back to Australia, to support small businesses seeking to grow following years of pandemic disruption to trading.
National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan said the number one issue for small business owners is finding enough staff and employment shortages are being reported across the hospitality and tourism sectors, to which NAB is a big lender.
“We look forward to working constructively with the incoming federal government to progress policies that support our customers, particularly households and small businesses, and that grow the economy,” Mr McEwan said.
Westpac chief executive Peter King said the new parliament would have a big focus on climate in its policy agenda. “That’s important because clear policy and a long-term plan give you investment certainty,” he said.
He is hopeful of some alignment between the House of Representatives, the Senate, and also states and territories to enable consistent policy. “It’s a massive investment that we need to think through as a country and a clear plan, clear timing between states and federal government will be useful for business and business confidence.”
Steve Johnston, chief executive of insurer Suncorp, congratulated Labor on the election win, saying the insurance-banking outfit would continue “constructive discussions” on better protecting communities from the impacts of natural disasters.
Suncorp operates brands including AAMI and GIO.
“Suncorp will continue to advocate strongly for further government investment in resilience measures that lower the risk and help cost-of-living pressures for people living in vulnerable or high-risk locations across Australia,” he said.
The comments follow widespread devastation from natural disasters, including flooding causing more than $3 billion in insurance claims this year alone. The insurance industry has been pushing for mitigation measures.
Downer chief executive Grant Fenn said the election result won’t alter the long-term macroeconomic trends which are driving much of the demand in the infrastructure sector, with more than 90 per cent of Downer’s work coming from contracts with local, state and federal governments.