Home' Charter : 0811 Charter Aug Contents Lead > Big 4 CEOs
40 Charter I August 2011
where we can do well. But are we going to
have the courage to make the most of that
opportunity? Or will countries that are more
hungry for success outperform us?
I continue to be concerned about the
number of our companies bought by
organisations outside of Australia, while
our own companies are not making those
investments. I just think one day we will look
back and say ‘how did this happen?’. I’d like
to see people more courageous in the way
they invest because they believe in the future
of this country.
GW: I’m a glass half-full person all the
time, so I’m very optimistic and a bull in
relation to Australia. We have enormous
opportunity, but to deliver the prosperity
that this country is capable of over the
next 10-20 years, there are some tough
issues that we have to tackle. These include
strategic engagement with Asia, getting the
right level of productivity into our economy,
closing the infrastructure deficit (the $700
billion of infrastructure that the country
needs) and focusing on a national energy
plan that’s sustainable. And it’s not just the
government’s responsibility. There needs
to be a partnership between government
and business to tackle some of the tough
challenges we face.
CHARTER: What is the best way for
Australian firms to reach out and do
business in Asia?
GW: The key is to have local expertise on
the ground, have people engaging with
those countries, local language and literacy
skills, high-level cultural awareness and an
understanding of regulatory and government
environments. But most importantly, having a
good understanding of how you do business
in each country, because the rules of the
game for business are often very different for
each country in Asia.
MJ: The key thing is you have to invest, you
can’t expect it to happen overnight. You
have to really want to build relationships and
you have to accept that you’re going to need
to be agile and adapt.
GS: It’s about being able to access a global
network. Although we are separate member
firms, we have a close-knit global leadership
team, common standards and cross-border
services across more than 140 countries.
Therefore, the investment by a client is a
Deloitte investment, not a Deloitte Australia
CHARTER: What type of improvements
will be vital to ensuring Australia’s
MJ: I think tax reform is a major issue.
It’s obviously close to our hearts. We’re
concerned that our tax system is
uneconomic and the OECD reckons we
don’t do as well as we should. It’s a complex
system, there are too many taxes, there’s
not enough support in our tax system for
innovation and research and development
RM: I’m an advocate of an underlying
laissez-faire approach. I have a great deal of
confidence in the markets and the freedom
of markets to work out what is in the best
interests of an economy. That leads to a
minimalist approach to regulation. Regulation
increases the cost of doing business and
therefore needs to be minimised. Most
OECD economies, including Australia, run
the risk of being overregulated in my opinion.
Governments need to be continuously
vigilant to minimise the extent of regulation.
Secondly, keeping taxes to a minimum
is very important. If the tax rate is
significant, that’s a handbrake on economic
performance. Tax rate is a function of
government spending. The challenge for all
western economies is to keep government
spending to a minimum because there
are significant political pressures to keep
GS: I think our regulatory environment is very
complex and the way we go about assisting
people wanting to set up business is very
complex. I also think we have to get our
minds around gender equality. We just don’t
have the skills in this country to have the
luxury of the current way of managing with a
male-dominated environment. I have invested
a lot of my personal time, and the firm has
done a lot, in the advancement of women in
business. If we don’t do that, we won’t have
the resources and skills to move forward.
And it is the same with cultural diversity.
I think cultural diversity is a topic that’s not
discussed that often. People who emigrate
here were schooled differently and think
differently. If we don’t learn how to lead them,
we’re not going to maximise their potential.
Coming from South Africa, English was
not my first language and I was schooled
differently and I understand how easy it is for
some people to withdraw when people don’t
understand how you need to be led. We’re
doing a lot of work around Gen Y and
Gen X but there’s a great silence on the
cultural issue. We want to take our cultural
diversity program to the same level as our
aspiring women program.
GW: A key point is how do we as a country
develop a formal plan for engaging with
Asia? China, for example, has a massive
growth plan ahead of it. They need resources
but they need many other things that
Australia has to offer in order to sustain that
growth. They don’t need our capital, but they
are looking for support in education, food
security, and lifestyle.
From a KPMG perspective, our former
Australian chairman, Michael Andrews,
will take over as global chair of KPMG in
October. He’s the first Australian to hold that
role, and he has chosen to be based in Hong
Kong and that’s very deliberate. He’ll be
leading the global firm from the heart of Asia.
This presents a great opportunity for us as a
CHARTER: What are the big-ticket items
we need to get right?
RM: I think we need an open financial capital
border as well as a reasonably free human
capital border. We should shun any anxieties
over foreign capital entering Australia and
we should realise that if we shut that capital
out or discriminate against it, it will only
reverberate by way of higher interest rates for
GS: I think we need to get our minds around
the fact that technology, the use of data and
digital delivery are changing the way the
world functions. I would like to see a way
To deliver the prosperity that this
country is capable of over the next
10-20 years, there are some tough
issues that we have to tackle.
Geoff Wilson FCA
Most OECD economies, including
Australia, run the risk of being
overregulated in my opinion.
Rob McLeod FCA
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