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Business backs spending plan -

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Reporter: Brendan Trembath

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The country's major business groups had moved quickly to support the Federal
Government's proposed spending package.

The groups have said it's broadly in line with what they wanted the Government to do.

The Business Council of Australia represents the chief executives of 100 of Australia's leading

Melinda Cilento is the group's deputy chief executive and chief economist and joins me from

Well, the Opposition is not on board. How concerned are you about this political deadlock?

MELINDA CILENTO: Oh look, I think our view is that the package that's been put forward by the
Government is a good one, we support the package. We think it's timely and decisive in its
composition and scale are broadly right.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Do you think there's room for compromise?

MELINDA CILENTO: Oh look, we like the structure of the package as it is now, as I said we think the
size and the composition of the package is right for the times.

The focus on supporting consumption in the immediate term, we think it is important to keeping the
economy going.

And there's a substantial part of the package directed towards infrastructure spending which has
the dual benefit of supporting growth now; but also delivering longer term benefits.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: So do the members of the Opposition need their heads examined in that case? Will
you be speaking to them?

MELINDA CILENTO: Well, we'll be delivering the same message that we're delivering to all political
parties, which is that we think it's a package worth supporting.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: $42-billion is a huge amount of money by anyone's estimation, why spend that much

MELINDA CILENTO: Look it's clear that there's been a very sudden and sharp deterioration in
economic and financial circumstances around the world, and it requires decisive action to do
everything we can to mitigate the impacts of that on the Australian economy.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Melinda Cilento, if the Opposition does succeed in blocking this, and the
Government can't get it through, what are the consequences for the Australian economy, in delaying
this, or having it dumped altogether?

MELINDA CILENTO: Well look, we think the package is important to supporting growth, particularly
over the next 12 to 18 months. Our priority would be to see the measures having an impact as soon
as possible and really over the next three months we'd like to see the money start flowing.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Speaking of money flowing, we've had the latest Retail Trade Trends figures for
December, and they showed the largest monthly increase since August 2000. Is that a good example of
what we're talking about here?

MELINDA CILENTO: Look our view on the previous temporary stimulus package was that it did have an
impact, it had a timely impact. And it did exactly what it was supposed to do, which was provide
support for consumption at a time when the risks were clearly to the downside, and we were looking
for some support for economic activity.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: So that stimulus package, the current one, do you think we need another one in
the pipeline somewhere in the future?

MELINDA CILENTO: Look, they're very uncertain times at the moment, we think the Government's taken
the right approach and they've already indicated that they're prepared to consider further actions
down the track, which I think is a sensible thing.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Melinda Cilento thank you very much, the deputy chief executive of the Business
Council of Australia.