New South Wales Business Forum Opening Remarks | Thursday 31 October 2019

Opening remarks by Senator Andrew Bragg | Liberal Senator for New South Wales

New South Wales Business Forum | Thursday 31 October 2019

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

Welcome to the inaugural Tony Shepherd Oration.

I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present.

I would also like to acknowledge some dignitaries in the room with us this evening: 

  • Tony Shepherd AO
  • Mike Baird, Chief Customer Officer of nab’s Consumer Bank and former Premier of New South Wales 
  • The Hon. Natalie Ward MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the New South Wales Attorney General
  • The Hon. Warwick Smith AO, former Member for Bass
  • Paul Espie AO, newly elected Chair of the Menzies Research Centre

This is the first Shepherd lecture and will be delivered by Tony Shepherd AO.

I established this event, which will be hosted by the New South Wales Business Forum, to do three things:

  1. Acknowledge my friend Tony Shepherd’s enormous contribution to public policy development in Australia
  2. Bottle and document the Shepherd approach 
  3. Encourage more people in business to follow him

There are few people like Tony Shepherd. He has been prepared to put it on the line in the name of good ideas. He has flown the flag for business.

Without people like Shep, Australia would face a policy formulation duoply of the public service and unions or think tanks.  

Enterprise and private investment underwrites our economy and, in turn, our nation’s success. 

We want big and small businesses participating in policy development.

9/10 jobs rely upon it. Yet the bulk of policy formulation does not emanate from the private economy. 

We have avoided becoming the next Argentina because we have embraced the market. Our success as an economy has relied on 

  • Cutting taxes
  • Deregulation 
  • Trade deals 
  • Attracting foreign investment 

The unions today are not the unions of the 1980s that supported the Hawke Government’s excellent reforms. 

They are fundamentally anti business. They oppose all measures to improve our competitive position whether it be a tax cut or a trade deal. 

Accordingly we need more Tony Shepherds. We don’t need cheerleaders for the Liberal Party (although a few extra supporters doesn’t go astray).

We need people who will argue the case for a private economy and what is required to keep it competitive. 

We cannot have our own facts. We will always rely on foreign capital and foreign people for our prosperity. This is a good thing. It makes us an open, dynamic, proud nation.

The Senate Inquiry I am chairing into FinTech is a good example. 

In the age of mobile capital, we can either see technology as an employment creator or killer. If we give up on technology, we give up on our future because no other nation will turn their back on innovation. 

Giving people more power over their own data so they can choose a different bank account is so good and so Liberal. 

I think the PM’s support for FinTech shows how he genuinely connects with the Quiet Australians. 

I wanted to thank NAB and Allens for hosting us tonight. I promise the FinTech Inquiry won’t disrupt you too much. After all, you’ll always have four pillars! 

We chose two people who worked with Tony in government and business to open and close tonight. 

Mike Baird, will introduce Tony and CCA CEO Alison Watkins will offer the vote of thanks. 

Ultimately I will judge the success of this endeavor by whether we create an environment where more businesspeople enter the area of policy formulation in Australia.

Tonight is the start of a special event. 

Next year our New South Wales Business Forum will select the first Shepherd lecturer. 

To get us underway, allow me to make way for the 44th Premier of New South Wales, Mike Baird.