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Remarks at the B20 Taskforce Dinner, Remarks at the B20 Taskforce Dinner, Davos, Switzerland



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PRIME MINISTEROF AUSTRALIA

THE HON TONY ABBOTT

REMARKS AT THE B20 TASKFORCE DINNER, DAVOS, SWITZERLAND Tuesday, 21 January 2014 Davos, Switzerland Prime Minister E&OE Richard, Robert, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you so much for making me so welcome and thank you so much for the contribution that you are all making to the welfare of the wider world. I’ve often said back home and let me say it again, that without business people striving mightily every day to invest, to employ, to produce, to create, we simply could not live and it’s very easy for people in public life, people in the media to forget the absolute centrality of successful private business to the prosperity, to the life, to the decency, to the fairness and to the justice of the societies that we live in. I just want to make it very clear that as far as I am concerned, people in private business are not just a part of our community, they are the very foundation of our community, because without an economy to sustain it, you cannot have a society, you cannot have communities and you can’t have an economy without successful private businesses. So, I want to just very briefly talk about what we are doing in Australia as a new government and then very briefly talk about some of our objectives for the G20 year of Australia’s presidency. As a new government, we are determined to do everything we humanly can to strengthen economic growth and that means getting taxes down, getting regulation down, getting productivity up, because if we can do all of those things, we’ll get greater growth; that means more jobs and more prosperity. So that, in a nutshell is the ‘raison d’etre’, it is the whole mission of the new government in Australia. As far as the G20 is concerned, we want to do everything we can to promote good economic policy and to ensure that all of the world’s major economies are not just ‘talking the talk’ but are ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to promoting private sector led investment and growth. This is where the B20 is so critically important, because if the policies that governments are pursuing don’t actually work for you - the businesses of the world - they don’t work at all. They do not work at all if the economic policies of our countries do not successfully promote and foster profitable private businesses, they simply do not work. And, it’s very easy for government to get so wrapped-up in its own activities; it’s so easy for government to think that economic activity happens by accident, that wealth is something that we can just take for granted. Well, none of this happens unless people like yourself are out there every day, investing, employing, creating, producing. What we want to see in our G20 year are individual national economies that are dedicated to growth, but are pursuing growth in sensible ways and I think this is something that should come to fruition this year arising from the good work that happened in St. Petersburg a few months ago. These individual national growth plans will be discussed in a candid and I suspect fairly robust way by finance ministers, by officials and ultimately by national leaders in Brisbane in November. We also want - Richard, you’ll be pleased to hear this - to rigorously promote a freer trade mindset, multilaterally, plurilaterally, bilaterally. We want everyone working in reality and not just in theory, for freer trade. Yes, it’s important to try and repair the leaky tax bases that we all suffer from in government, but we can’t do it in ways which overregulate the people who we rely upon to produce the wealth that we all need. Yes, we need to get more investment into infrastructure to address the $800 billion infrastructure deficit that Australia alone has, let alone the $50 trillion infrastructure deficit that the OECD estimates the world has. And of course, we have to ensure that our financial system is safe and secure, but we also have to accept that it can’t be so safe and secure that it never takes a risk and this is one of the big challenges we’ve got; trying to ensure that we balance risk and reward, that we balance safety against opportunity, because what we can’t do is

wrap the world up in cotton wool, what we can’t do is so regulate things ourselves that no one out there in the creative and producing world feels that they have the ability to take the initiatives that they need. So, it’s quite a challenge, but it’s great to be here at Davos to take the pulse of the people in this room, to I guess hear your views as to what governments - individually and collectively - can best do to make your life easier. This is my first visit to Davos. For many of you I suspect you’ve been here multiple times and I’m looking forward, in the course of the next few days, to becoming a ‘Davos man’, not just in the sense that I ‘talk the talk’, but in the sense that having come to this place and benefited from it, I can make a difference because that’s what it’s all about. It is about making a difference for the people who we are duty bound, all in our separate ways, to serve. Obviously, in the course of the G20 year, many of you will have a lot to do with my distinguished friend and colleague, Treasurer Joe Hockey. Some of you will get the chance later on in this Davos meeting to catch up with my distinguished friend and colleague, Andrew Robb, the Minister for Trade and Investment. I’ll finish on this note. When I asked Andrew to do the trade job, very deliberately we added investment to the title. It’s probably the only minister who has an additional handle, because I am against, as a general rule, title inflation, but investment is so important an element in trade. The point I want to make in closing to all of you is that Australia is under new management. Australia is open for business and we want the world, as far as is humanly possible, also to be open for business. Thank you. [ends]