Opposition leader Peter Dutton tells businesses to stand up for their interests if they want change

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Katina Curtis
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton has told business leaders they have a moral imperative to speak up on big issues.
Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton has told business leaders they have a moral imperative to speak up on big issues. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Peter Dutton says business leaders have a moral imperative to speak up on big issues, while also accusing the Government of peddling an energy “fantasy” that will never allow for more domestic manufacturing.

The Opposition Leader says it is no use business owners grumbling behind the scenes about policy concerns if they want change.

Boosting domestic manufacturing will be a central theme of next month’s budget, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying on Tuesday he wants more production to be brought back to Australia.

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“We need to be more resilient as an economy. We need simply to make more things here,” he said.

But Mr Dutton will tell a gathering of small business representatives on Wednesday this is nothing but a dream unless the nation’s future energy supplies can be secured.

“The Government’s ‘renewables only’ policy is an engineering feat of pure fantasy. There is zero chance of this roll-out being completed,” he will say, according to a draft version of his speech.

“The Prime Minister can talk all he wants about boosting manufacturing and creating Australian jobs in press conferences and photo ops.

“But the reality is that businesses are going offshore. We will end up having to import commodities and products from overseas at a much higher price.”

The Coalition is developing a policy to establish a nuclear power industry in Australia, rubbishing advice it will be more expensive and take longer to build than other approaches.

It has indicated the plans will include large, modern nuclear reactors built on the site of closed coal-fired power plants.

But Mr Dutton returns in his speech to the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia to an earlier idea of small modular reactors — a technology that is yet to be deployed on a commercial scale anywhere in the world.

The Opposition Leader also uses the speech to chide business leaders for not publicly voicing concerns on issues such as industrial relations, productivity and energy.

“Our economy is in a precarious position. This is not a time to be silent or supine,” he says, adding that CEOs privately express frustrations but in public, “their comments lack the same vigour” or are non-existent.

“I believe there is a moral imperative for CEOs to contribute to these important debates.

“Our generation has been gifted a prosperous country because our forebears spoke up with courage and conviction.

“It is our duty to do the same in the interest of our children and future generations of Australians.”

Business groups, led by the Minerals Council, campaigned actively against the most recent tranche of industrial relations changes.

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