Shorten says Labor “won’t be dictated to by business”

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Edited by Nelly Tawil

Bill Shorten has criticized Labor stalwart Keith DeLacy over his reproach of the opposition’s anti-business agenda, mocking the former state treasurer as a company director who wants a tax cut, as business leaders called for an end to class-war politics.

Mr. DeLacy said the opposition’s stance on corporate tax cuts was the “most anti-business policy I’ve ever seen federal Labor put to an election”. Mr. Shorten’s response to the Coalition’s proposed business tax cuts is driving a wedge between the opposition and corporate Australia.

Four of the nation’s most respected business leaders questioned Labor’s divisive election tactics and called for a higher standard of political debate when the Opposition Leader declared on Monday that he would not be “dictated to by business.”

Warnings of Labor’s recent policies gave few in business confidence the party had learned from past “debacles” such as mining, and carbon tax cam from Graham Bradley, former Business Council of Australia president.

Wesfarmers and Woodside chariman Michael Chaney lamented the “scaremongering and divisive approach that’s taken in modern political campaigns” that was pitting “battlers versus well-off, rich versus poor, have versus have-nots, rather than working to achieve a greater pie for all”.

Mr Shorten targeted comments from Mr. DeLacy, the Goss government treasurer from 1989 to 1996, “shock horror, a company director saying he would like to see a company tax cut for his company,” he said, afterwards insisting that Labor “won’t be dictated to by business who want to see…a handout from the taxes and from the budget of Australia”.

On Monday Mr. Hawke stepped into the fray with the intention of neutralizing the growing storm. “I know from my conversations with Bill that he is keenly aware of the need for Labor, in government, to so-operate with both business and the trade unions to optimize conditions for creating growth,” he said.

“Labor has the legacy of the poorly conceived mining tax and carbon taxes to overcome, but its recent policies give few in business much confidence that the lessons of those debacles have been learned,” Mr Bradley said. “For example, Labor’s recent opposition to the China Free Trade agreement was inexplicable and its expensive renewables targets will impose power high costs on businesses and consumers.”

Mr Chaney insisted that cuts to company tax were likely to lead to “increased investment, increased employment, increased profitability and increased tax overall and increased dividends which end up finding their way back into the economy”.