Business Council of Australia

Our member CEOs are highly skilled leaders who generate national wealth, create jobs and ensure the Australian economy keeps pace with rapid, ongoing change.

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A YEAR IN REVIEW 2014–15

Who we are

The Business Council of Australia facilitates the contribution of more than 100 of the country’s business leaders to public policy and employment best practice in the interests of the nation and all Australians.  

The companies we represent employ one in every ten Australian workers. They connect Australia with the global economy, cutting edge innovation and opportunities to create business models, jobs, skills and services that will shore up living standards and keep our country strong.

Message From

BCA President

Catherine Livingstone AO

BCA Chief Executive

Jennifer Westacott

Business Council of Australia - Our Board 2015

Our Board

ACHIEVEMENTS – DIRECTORS’ PERSPECTIVE

Phil Edmands

The BCA’s main achievement this year has been to keep the reform fires burning in the face of considerable reform fatigue and drift. Our most significant area of influence has been to fundamentally reposition the debate on innovation, digital disruption and building Australia’s comparative advantages.

The BCA is highly regarded as a voice of reason that is considered, thoughtful, compassionate and informed.

Phil Edmands Managing Director,
Rio Tinto Australia
Elmer Funke Kupper

In the last 12 months, the BCA built important bridges between business, unions and community groups on the case for comprehensive tax reform. While we may differ on the path and priorities, we seem much more aligned on the long-term objectives.

The standing of the BCA is growing beyond its traditional membership, and the views of the BCA are respected by government, regulators and community groups. This gives us a better chance to positively influence the long-term economic agenda.

Elmer Funke Kupper Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer,
Australian Securities Exchange
Richard Goyder

Over the last 12 months, the BCA has led the discussion in Australia on the imperatives of economic reform - tax, productivity, fiscal consolidation - gaining traction across the community.

The BCA is now seen to be more than just representing the interests of big business, and has gained the support of other sectors to push the need for reform.

Richard Goyder AO Managing Director
and Chief Executive Officer,
Wesfarmers Limited
Alan Joyce

The BCA has put forward a positive economic narrative focused on innovation at a time when our economy is clearly going through a rebalancing process. It has given business a strong voice on the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement and contributed to a more informed public debate on the benefits in terms of growth and jobs.

The BCA does a good job of synthesising complex issues into a clear narrative and policy agenda – as a business, that’s just what you want your industry body to be doing.

Alan Joyce Chief Executive Officer,
Qantas Airways Limited
Gail Kelly

Through bringing to the fore the impacts of digital technology, significant demographic change and globalisation, the BCA has strongly argued the case for reform. The consistency and clarity of message, delivered so ably by both the President and CEO has been heard.

The BCA has put forward clear, pragmatic policy positions, and engaged in effective advocacy across major parties, industry groups and the Australian people, coupled with effective engagement with and communication with members.

Gail Kelly Honorary Member, Business Council of Australia, former Chief Executive Officer of Westpac
Grant King

The BCA has enhanced its standing and influence as a source of thoughtful and coherent contribution to discussion and debate on matters contributing to Australia’s long-term prosperity.

We have engaged with a broader range of industry but, importantly, community and employee stakeholder groups to move towards a more shared vision for change. That vision has been reflected in government policy and actions.

Grant King Managing Director,
Origin Energy Limited
Alison Watkins

In a year when our political leaders have struggled to play the leadership role some have expected on many topics, the BCA has continued to be a catalyst for the conversations the country has needed to have.

The vital role the BCA has played this year in challenging our leaders and pushing the debate in areas critical to the long run competitiveness of our country, including trade, energy, competition law, tax reform, skills and innovation cannot be underestimated.

We are not afraid of honest conversations but we are also balanced in our objectives, understanding that prosperity must be shared across society in order for our strength as a country to be sustainable.

Alison Watkins Group Managing Director,
Coca-Cola Amatil Limited

Our Members

Our Members as of November 2015

Honorary Members

“They’ve [the BCA] been there certainly to represent the interest of big business but they have done it within the framework of what’s best for Australia as a whole”
– The Hon. Bob Hawke AC, Former Prime Minister

Special thanks to FOXTEL for producing the video.

BCA 2015-16 Budget Submission: A 10-Year Plan for Growth

Our submission set out what’s needed to slow the trajectory of major spending programs, while improving their delivery and effectiveness.

“We welcome the contribution of the Business Council of Australia to the debate about the economy and the Budget today. We agree that it is incumbent on everyone to take a medium to long term view about the state of our public finances and about where we're heading when it comes to the economy, jobs and opportunities for everyone to get ahead.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann,
Doorstop Interview, 3 March 2015

“Labor supports the underlying principle in the Business Council of Australia’s budget submission this week and welcomes a discussion about the structural challenges facing the budget.”

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen,
The Australian, 9 March 2015

CEO’s speech at Australian Unity’s Great Australia Day Breakfast

In outlining the BCA’s policy priorities for 2015, the CEO described her vision for an Australia that is the best place in the world to live, work, learn and do business.

“Yesterday’s presentation by Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott should be required reading for all politicians, business leaders and just about anybody with a serious interest in the future of this country.”

Editorial, The Daily Telegraph,
27 January 2015

“We have seen no more urgent or constructive call to action than the speech delivered on Australia Day by Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia...Not just the government needs to be listening, but the opposition and the crossbenchers in the Senate. If ever there were a credible clarion call against complacency, this is it.”

Editorial, The Sydney Morning Herald,
29 January 2015

President’s speech at Universities Australia Higher Education Conference

BCA President Catherine Livingstone described the changing role of universities in equipping individual Australians and the nation for a radically changed global economy.

“It is rare that the biggest, most important questions are asked about Australia’s tertiary education system but Business Council of Australia President Catherine Livingstone hit the mark in her speech to the Universities Australia annual conference last week.”

Tim Dodd,
The Australian Financial Review, 16 March 2015

Submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry
into the Workplace Relations Framework

Our submission offered a fresh approach to workplace relations that rises above the ideological issues of the past, and outlined a forward-looking system that enables enterprise agility, and is fit for purpose for the changing needs and preferences of workers and consumers.

“The Business Council of Australia has laid out an ambitious road map for workplace policy change.”

Ewin Hannan,
The Australian Financial Review, 20 March 2015

President’s speech at the National Press Club

In her first address to the National Press Club, BCA President Catherine Livingstone made the case for a mindset shift in designing policy that will enable Australia to respond and thrive in the face of unprecedented forces of disruption.

“Business Council of Australia President Catherine Livingstone said Australia desperately needed a 10-year 'transition plan' for the economy and a new approach to political leadership that is ‘characterised not by positional power and a preoccupation with the political present,’ but one in which the country's long-term interests take priority.”

Sydney Morning Herald,
29 April 2015

As Livingstone recognised in her speech, the deficiency in STEM skills can't be repaired overnight, which is why she calls for a 10-year plan. And if we don't start now on the task to give the current generation of children this new set of skills, jobs are likely to be scarce for them.

Australian Financial Review, 3 May 2015

 

“It was during a speech to the National Press Club in April that Catherine Livingstone’s leadership quality became strikingly apparent.”

Boss Magazine, 14 August 2015

President named as a True Leader

The Australian Financial Review’s Boss Magazine named BCA President Catherine Livingstone as one of their ‘True Leaders’ for 2015 alongside other prominent Australians including NSW Premier Mike Baird and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.

 

“A leader trying to steer through the Australian policy paralysis is Business Council of Australia president Catherine Livingstone. At a time when many business lobbies work for sectional rather than national interests, Ms Livingstone called for more informed policies, especially on science, technology engineering and mathematics education, to drive innovation.”

Editorial,
The Australian Financial Review, 14 August 2015

National Reform Summit

Alongside the ACTU, ACOSS and other groups, the BCA and 10 of our member CEOs took part in the National Reform Summit to contribute to a conversation on key drivers of economic growth.

“The summit has given political leaders important space to consider retirement incomes, the broader tax agenda, the budget and the importance of boosting national productivity. Whether they identify that gift is yet to be seen. But the summit has created a new era of consensus and relationships between some of our most powerful voices, and they plan to keep talking.”

Laura Tingle,
The Australian Financial Review, 29 August 2015
Photo: Louie Douvis

Contribution to the tax reform debate

In collaboration with the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the BCA released a set of key messages on tax reform to encourage political leaders to approach the task of tax reform in an open, inclusive and transparent way.

We released our initial submission to the tax white paper process, outlining seven key directions for reform. We argued that reform cannot be about increasing the overall tax burden to plug holes in a broken system, but should address how the system can drive economic growth, investment, job creation, and a sustainable social safety net.

“I think that we need to have an understanding that for politicians it is hard to do these reforms, and so we certainly want to cheer on politicians that are prepared to hold the line, who are prepared to come into the rooms and to work with stakeholders outside, like ACOSS, like the Business Council, like others who are also saying we can’t avoid, the solution is not ‘do nothing’ because it all looks too hard.”

“It’s not to say we have a fixed position right now, that’s been agreed between the business community and ACOSS but we are both saying that we are prepared to look at it and have those debates to see how this works as an integrated approach to tax reform.”

Dr Cassandra Goldie,
Chief Executive, Australian Council of Social Service on ‘Mornings with Linda Mottram’,
702 ABC Sydney, 21 July 2015
Photo: Louie Douvis

BCA Members Dinner and Signing of the MoU – 8 September 2015, Sydney

BCA Members Dinner and Signing of the MoU – 8th September 2015, Sydney  

Quarterly BCA member meetings attracted record attendance from CEOs and diverse, high-profile guest speakers including the Deputy Prime Minster of New Zealand, Bill English; the new head of CSIRO, Larry Marshall; and NSW Premier, Mike Baird, who co-signed an MoU with BCA President Catherine Livingstone around public sector secondments to member companies.


China - Australia CEO RoundTable – 17th November 2014, Canberra

Australia–China CEO Roundtable Meeting – 17 November 2014, Canberra

The fourth Australia–China CEO Roundtable, co-convened by the BCA, took place on the day the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping signed the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement.

The roundtable was described by President Xi as the pre-eminent business forum for progressing mutually beneficial opportunities from the agreement.


Disability Report Launch event – 29 October 2015, Sydney

In October we launched a report about business and the employment of people with disability. The report contains findings from an inaugural member survey that identified key aspects of good practice in workplace disability inclusion. At the launch, Microsoft US’ Dan Hubbell, President of the American Assistive Technology Industry Association, spoke about the strong and growing business case for accessible employment and customer practices.

Creating the settings in business and policy for better workforce participation for people with disability will help address Australia’s productivity, participation and growth challenges.


President Francois Hollande meeting – 18th November 2014, Sydney

President Francois Hollande meeting – 18 November 2014, Sydney

In Australia for the G20 meeting in November, the BCA was approached to host events for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande.


A focus on innovation – June 2015 Silicon Valley, USA

DA focus on innovation – June 2015 Silicon Valley, USA  

The BCA’s focus on promoting an innovation-led growth agenda encompassed intensive study tours of the Catapult Centre network in the UK and meetings with US and Australian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, as well as masterclasses for members with international speakers on digital disruption.

Our Priorities

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS AGAINST OUR ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN

The right environment for innovation

  • Vastly more prominent national conversation on innovation
  • Government industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda
  • Establishment of industry growth centre
  • Bipartisan support for STEM skills policy with an innovation focus

Tax, fiscal and federation

  • Tax reform white paper process
  • Federal Budget consistent with key goals in the BCA’s Budget Submission
  • Federation reform white paper process

People and workplaces

  • Productivity Commission review of workplace relations
  • VET system reform being tackled across the federation, with close BCA involvement

Rethinking regulation and governance

  • Regulation repeal days
  • Reform of coastal shipping arrangements
  • Mandated regulation impact statement for new regulation
  • Statements of expectations for regulators
  • One-stop shops for environmental approvals
  • Regulator performance framework

Embracing global engagement

  • Completion of three North Asian free trade agreements and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Australia–China Roundtable, endorsed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, as the premier business-to-business consultative body

Planning for population and cities

  • Commitment to permanent and temporary skilled migration
  • Federal cities and the built environment agenda
  • Northern Australia white paper

Providing infrastructure

  • National Infrastructure Audit
  • White paper on Northern Australia
  • More independent Infrastructure Australia
  • 15-year national infrastructure plan
  • Innovative financing mechanism e.g. Westconnex
  • Asset recycling initiative

Coherent energy policy

  • Energy white paper
  • A more durable Renewable Energy Target

A strong, stable and competitive financial system

  • Financial Services Inquiry

A CRITICAL YEAR AHEAD

Forward priorities

Members Data