Andrew McKellar interview with Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon, The Today Show

05 May 2022 |

Event: Andrew McKellar interview with Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon, The Today Show.

Speakers: Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon, co-hosts The Today Show.

Date: 5 May 2022.

Topics: 400,000 new small and family businesses pledge, increased costs for business, labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, wages.

E&OE 

Karl Stefanovic, co-host The Today Show: It’s not just households under pressure after the interest rate hike, but businesses are also feeling the squeeze.

Allison Langdon, co-host The Today Show: For more, we are joined by Andrew McKellar from the Australian Chamber of Commerce. Andrew, nice to see you this morning. Just looking at what the Coalition and Labor are going to be talking about this morning, Scott Morrison promising to create 400,000 new, small and family businesses within five years. Your thoughts on that one?

Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: I think it’s a very interesting pledge and I think obviously something that we will want to look very closely at that detail. I think the important issues for business at the moment, one of the biggest issues business is struggling with is the increasing cost of doing business. So what we are really looking for from the major parties, policies that go to address that point and address the critical pressures in terms of how business can get the labour that they need and address the supply chain.

Karl: Look, so many businesses also had to borrow to get themselves out of the mess, and so interest rates going up affects them there. It also affects costs in supply, costs in producing, and then they’ve got their own private costs at home going up. It’s pretty tough for them. And that announcement by Scott Morrison is a little bit overindulgent.

Andrew: I think it’s good to have ambition. So let’s see what the detail is, but you’re right. At the moment, the biggest issue that’s emerging is the increasing cost of doing business. And that’s affecting businesses right across a whole raft of different sectors. I think in the last three months we saw that nearly three out of five businesses faced costs going up more than usual.

Allison: And of course all those costs, they do get passed on to customers. But just in reading too, you’ve got several unions this morning coming out saying, look, they’re going to be pushing for annual pay rises of above 5 per cent. You can understand why when you see where inflation is at, but that becomes a tricky balance, doesn’t it?

Andrew: Absolutely. We have to be very careful that we don’t get into a situation here where prices are rising. Wages are chasing those prices and then we’re seeing that feeding into higher and higher interest rates. That’s really a recipe that we want to avoid. Of course, people want pay rises and businesses are happy to provide pay rises, but they have to be underpinned by productivity.

Karl: The UK is going through that at the moment. It’s an absolute mess, isn’t it? Which industries do you think are struggling at the most?

Andrew: I think at the moment, if you look at what’s happening in terms of cost of doing business, accommodation is an area where pressures are rising, manufacturing, retail trade, construction, and a lot of these sectors have been the ones that have really struggled the most through the pandemic.

Karl: So what’s the end? How long are we talking here? There’s no clear end insight to supply issues. We’re talking years?

Andrew: I think that there’s no quick fix with the supply chain. We’ve got to invest in capacity. We’ve got to look at how we promote industry locally. That’s part of the equation. We’ve got to fix our ports and our infrastructure. Those things can be done. But equally, we’ve got to focus on how we can encourage the labour market, get more skills and training for young Australians, encourage people back into the workforce, lift participation. There’s a lot of things that can be done there. And we will have to look at also being ambitious on things like migration. That’s got to be part of the solution. So these are the things that the major parties need to be talking about.

Allison: Okay. So when we sit here and when you’re sitting here now, how do you feel where we’re currently at? And I sometimes wonder, are a lot of the headlines too negative? We’re focusing too much what is dire or is that just the state of play?

Andrew: Look, you’re right. We have to be careful. I think really the fundamentals of the Australian economy are actually pretty strong, but we’ve got some pressure points there and it’s important that going forward that we do see the major parties putting forward a plan that they can implement in the next three years that will address those critical pressure points.

Karl: Andrew, really good to talk to you. Thanks for coming today.

Andrew: Thank you so much.

Karl: Appreciate it.

Jack Quail | Media adviser

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