Judy Sahay

Thought Leaders & Game Changers

Australia’s New PM Malcolm Turnbull a Friend of Business

PM Malcolm Turnbull

PM Malcolm Turnbull

5 Prime Ministers in 5 Years

Australia has its fifth Prime Minister in just 5 years following the sudden but not entirely unexpected elevation of Malcolm Turnbull into the nation’s top job on Monday evening, following a Liberal partyroom leadership spill. The member for Wentworth in Sydney’s salubrious eastern suburbs and former Minister for Communications hails from the “Small l” Liberal wing of his party and replaces former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch conservative who had lost the support of his colleagues following a series of unforced political blunders which have bled his popularity and tested the publics’ patience with politics in general.

A Case for Economic Leadership

Pitching his case for the leadership of the nation ahead of Monday’s spill, Turnbull highlighted his economic credentials and business experience in arguing for a substantive shift in the government’s direction – “the prime minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs…. of providing the economic confidence that business needs” Mr. Turnbull said. So what can the business community expect given one of this country’s most accomplished businessman is now in control of the treasury benches?

Economic Challenges Ahead

With the Australian economy growing at it’s slowest pace since the 2008-09 slowdown following the GFC (GDP expanded by just 0.2% in the June quarter) and unemployment at is highest rate since 2003 (currently sitting on 6.2% for August), the nation faces considerable challenges in maintaining, let alone improving upon the high living standards we’ve come to take for granted. Business is reluctant to invest, in large part due to a lack of confidence in the nation’s political system to deal effectively with these economic challenges by implementing much needed reforms to our health, taxation and welfare systems. But with the unveiling of a new look Malcolm Turnbull-led Liberal government just days away, the business community is cautiously optimistic we now have a Prime Minister and a team who is willing to re-shift the government’s focus on arguing the case for substantial economic reform, and ideally winning the public’s mandate to enact these reforms.

A Man Made for These Times

With the new PM remarking in his maiden speech “we have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility in change is our friend…. if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.” Business leaders are already hailing Turnbull and in particular Australia’s start-up sector (whom he has developed a strong relationship with) as a man made for guiding the nation at a time of great global economic and technological disruption. Turnbull’s success in uniting his party around his leadership, effectively arguing the case for economic reform amongst the general public and gaining a mandate for that reform at election is yet to be seen. But given his undeniable gravitas, oratory skills, extensive business experience and his broad popularity across the general community, Australia may finally have a leader to inspire confidence and pull us out of the political malaise which has dominated these past few years.

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