Interview with Patrick Condren

9 February 2015

Subjects: Leadership ructions in Canberra, destabilisation and Queensland election

CONDREN: Alex Malley is in charge of the CPA in Australia. Alex, good morning.

MALLEY: Good morning Patrick, how are you?

CONDREN: Very well thank you. The leadership ructions in Canberra, what effect is that having on business?

MALLEY: There’s no question that anything that gives an instability in the sense of the minds of business people you’re going to have trouble. It’s going to impact employment. We just can’t afford this sort of destabilisation Patrick.

CONDREN: Given that it has been decided in Tony Abbott’s favour now, is that the end of the matter as far as you’re concerned, do you think that will give the stabilisation that you crave?

MALLEY: Well I think if politicians from both sides of the fence wanted the best for Australia, it should, and we should move forward however, the reality is in politics, particularly in today’s climate, that result isn’t helpful, that’s a lot of people who’ve voted against the sitting prime minister and remembering that about 40 of the votes are locked votes from people who are already in ministries and parliamentary secretaries so, of the 60 remaining, 39 have voted against so, that’s going to continue, unfortunately, a destabilisation scenario for Australia and that’s the most important issue.

CONDREN: How does that destabilisation, how does a lack of business confidence, how does that filter down to the electorate, to Joe Public wandering around doing their daily business today?

MALLEY: What it does is it just starts to impact on Joe Public from the point of view that if I’m an employer who’s got an ambition to grow my business, I’m just holding back thinking, look I don’t know quite what’s going to happen politically here and I don’t know whether this government or previous governments are in a position to do what they say they’re going to be able to do. So therefore I’m a bit nervous about that, I don’t think I’m going to employ any additional staff. Then if you’ve got a business that’s perhaps inefficient and has a few extra staff and hasn’t been running their business well, they may well use this destabilisation as an excuse to shed some stuff. So, to me, all politicians should be in government or opposition for one purpose and that’s for the employment of Australians and all of this does nothing to give people a sense of security around employment.

CONDREN: Can I localise it a little bit further and ask what impact is it having in Queensland, given the political uncertainty that we’re facing here?

MALLEY: Well look, you’ve got a very interesting scenario ahead of you, because you have a former opposition that I think probably felt that they would win a lot of seats but not actually take the government’s position up this round. So you’ve got a leader who’s obviously very passionate but she’s now got to put together a plan and in all fairness who would have ever thought that you would have a new government in Queensland so quickly. So, you have the fragility of the electorate having changed direction here that you’ve got a government that’s now got to reset itself, you’ve got some former ministers which they’ll probably use as well as they can from experience but you’ve effectively got an inexperienced group coming in to run the state, so that has its own challenges as well but if you have a former government that didn’t bring the people with them, they’ve contributed to that scenario.

CONDREN: So would business like to see the LNP stay on in a caretaker role until everything is decided once and for all, or given that Labour is going to claim at the close of business tomorrow 44 seats plus the support of Wellington to claim government in their own, you know to claim minority government, would business prefer to see that scenario?

MALLEY: I don’t know there’s a line that would equate to business’s view on that particularly but, I think they’d accept that it appears as though the ALP is going to run the state so what business would want is for that to be effected as quickly as possible and more the point, to crystallise exactly what the first 12 months is going to look like. You’ve got to understand that a lot of Australia’s success has been on the back of small to medium enterprises and too often, governments of all persuasions are willing to kiss the lips of the very big businesses in Australia…

CONDREN: Ewww, that’s an analogy I don’t want to be thinking about.

MALLEY: Well, I did well with that I thought.

CONDREN: Yeah, well you’ve got Twiggy Forest and Gina Rinehart…

MALLEY: Well, they’re important to the employment frame of the country…

CONDREN: But I’m just thinking about kissing them on the lips, that’s what I’m thinking about…

MALLEY: I know, I’m leaving that with you Patrick. It’s too early for me but the fact is that we forget we talk about it all the time that small to medium business in Australia has wildly been a successful country but we don’t treat that factor very well and they’re the ones that are in real trouble with these things. They’re filling a real sense of uncertainty and we owe them more than that.

CONDREN: Okay Alex, thank you for your time this morning. Good to talk to you again.

MALLEY: Thanks Patrick and of course I’ll leave those images with you and you alone.

CONDREN: And our millions of viewers. Millions of listeners, I forgot where I was there for a moment.

MALLEY: I knew they were millions. That’s the only reason I’m on air.

CONDREN: Good on you mate, thank you for that.

MALLEY: Cheers mate. Bye.

CONDREN: Alex Malley who is the head of the CPA