New Treasurer Chris Bowen Welcomed and Supported by Business
CHRIS BOWEN, who served as Assistant Treasurer from late 2007 to mid 2009, and was also minister for immigration, tertiary education and small business, was installed as Treasurer on Thursday. The high office rewards the 40-year-old from Sydney for his strong support of Kevin Rudd.
Asked about the economy in his first question time as Treasurer on Thursday, Chris Bowen did something extraordinary. He spoke succinctly and sat down. It wasn't because Bowen was unprepared. He had the facts at his fingertips (as well-briefed Treasurers always do) and he deployed them as well as anyone who has gone before him.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson said, ''He told me he was sincere about wanting to repair relations with the private sector. It felt like starting over.'' Asked for the one word that best described the new Treasurer, Mr Anderson picked ''serious'', saying, “He gets down to work”.
Business Council president Tony Shepherd said Bowen was “straightforward, pro-business by inclination and one of those people you can talk with rather than get caught up in the politics of division.''
Peter Strong of the Council of Small Business said Bowen was the most impressive minister he had met, saying, “He gets Business…... It might come from having grown up in Sydney's western suburbs and having been mayor of Fairfield. There's nothing negative about him.''
Excerpts from Chris Bowen Interview on ABC Radio 730
Mr. Bowen said, “Kevin Rudd is the best person to make the case, the strong case for Labor now at this election and into the future”, pointing to Mr. Rudd’s track record and “the plans he put before the caucus for making Labor competitive at this election”.
The new Treasurer advised “Every new Prime Minister, every new Treasurer, every new minister will have a fresh set of eyes and a fresh approach to some questions”.
On current deadlines Mr. Bowen said that Mr. Rudd is “being briefed on a whole range of issues...... and I know he's been taking calls from foreign leaders and he's also looking forward to meeting the premiers and talking through the issues that are outstanding in terms of implementation of important reforms”.
On critcisim of Kevin Rudd, Mr. Bowen said, “....his story retains a very high regard in the Australian community. And anybody who says otherwise I don't think has walked through the main street of Fairfield with him like I have or been into the community with him, as many MPs have done. Mr. Bowen added, “Kevin's been given what very few people get: a second chance at being Prime Minister. He certainly intends to be entirely consultative and he's shown that already in his first day as Prime Minister in the way he's been interacting with key cabinet colleagues.”
Chris Bowen Proactive on Safeguarding Australia’s Economy
Australia's new Treasurer Chris Bowen was welcomed by business figures on Friday 28 June, as he hinted at policy changes amid recession fears following an unprecedented Asia-mining boom.
Chief economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Saul Eslake said one of Bowen's first challenges would be to improve relations between the government and business, which has had to absorb divisive mining and carbon taxes in recent years. Eslake told Agence France Presse, "I think Bowen probably needs to do things to shore up the credibility of the budge”, adding this would be a delicate balancing act given the economy was likely weaker now than when the budget was announced in May.
Bowen, a career politician with a degree in economics, said the new leadership will see some continuity but also change ahead of the yet-to-be-announced election date, originally scheduled for September 14. Rudd was due to unveil his full cabinet late Friday.
"If you are asking us... to say we are never going to change any government policies, we're never going to discuss any change to government policy in the future ... well we are not going to do that," he told Network Seven.
Eslake warned that Australia, which dodged the global financial downturn was under risk of recession in 2015-16 due to falling investment in the energy sector and the government needed to do something to fill the gap.
Bowen told parliament on Thursday, "We do need to recognize that Australia's economy is in transition, we are moving from the investment phase to the production phase in the mining industry, this does have a very big impact on our economy."
(Re-written by Middle East Times from various sources)