Grow up, business tells warring Coalition MPs

Tony Abbott at the National Press Club in Canberra. Stefan Postles/Getty Images

Liberal Party backbench MPS need to stop whispering and destablising the Abbott government, says Kate Carnell, CEO of peak business group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

Carnell, herself a former a former senior Liberal Party figure and chief minister of the ACT, says a return to stability is needed.

“They (MPs) can start by growing up,” she told Business Insider.

The ACCI Business Expectations Survey for the December quarter shows confidence at a low in a period before the current talk of leadership challenges in Canberra.

“This impacts on business confidence,” she says. “There’s no doubt.”

Faltering business confidence has been a long-standing drag on the Australian economy. Most experts attribute this partly to the transition in the economy following the mining investment boom, but also to political uncertainty triggered by the hammer blow to consumer confidence last year and the government’s subsequent inability to pass its budget savings measures.

The uncertainty has been ratcheted up in recent days as it has emerged the Prime Minister’s leadership is under threat.

Carnell says Abbott will survive if he delivers, as he said in his National Press Club address on Monday, no more captain’s picks, more consultation and a budget which is seen to be fair.

“But if he doesn’t deliver and it’s more of the same then he’s gone,” she says. “However, he’s made a range of commitments and I have no reason to believe he won’t deliver. It’s up to him now.”

Carnell says business is saying they want a government which is going to get on with the job of bringing in the budget.

“When backbenchers start worrying about their seats they can get a bit fragile but there needs to be a level of discipline,” she says.

“Having debates about leadership, about who’s got confidence and who doesn’t… can not only destablise the government but the community in general.

“With [interest] rates and petrol prices low, there’s going to be more money in consumer pockets and business desperately need consumers confident enough to spend it.”

She says a party room spill could be just the first of many such destablising spills, along the lines of Julia Gillard when challenging Kevin Rudd.

“What we’ve got to do is get the Liberal Party backbenchers to get their fingers off the SMS… and off all the mutterings happening at Parliament house at the moment,” Carnell says.

“Don’t sort it out on nightly television.”

Chris Ridd, MD Australia at accounting software firm Xero, which has more than 150,000 small and medium-sized business customers in Australia, said the uncertainty would be postponing decisions for business leaders. “Any leadership or political instability can manifest its way into the business sector,” Ridd said. “We need stability in our business sector to make sure businesses can grow and thrive. There is uncertainty and while there is uncertainty small businesses can be reluctant to hire, export or make investments – it’s not ideal.”

READ ALSO: Malcolm Turnbull’s office denied he is canvassing support for the Liberal Party leadership

READ ALSO: Julie Bishop tells Tony Abbott she won’t challenge for the leadership

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.