“The unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years. And, last year, women filled 72 percent of all new jobs added.” – President Trump
Article courtesy of the Estevan Mercury.
Each year the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has its Red Tape Awareness Week.
Remarks by President Trump and Vice President Pence in a Roundtable on Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Accomplishments12 December 2019
December 6, 2019
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everyone. King Salman of Saudi Arabia, he just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place just recently, just this morning, in Pensacola, Florida.
The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter and that this person, in no way, shape, or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people so much.
So that was just given to me by the King of Saudi Arabia. And I can tell you, it’s a horrible thing that took place. And we’re getting to the bottom of it. All of the investigators are there now, and they’re studying it very closely. And a terrible thing. And our condolences go to the families and to everybody involved, including the wounded. We have some badly wounded people also. And we have to extend our condolences to them, and we’ll be working with them all very closely.
So I just wanted to let you know that was from King Salman.
And today, we’re here to talk to some of the very hardworking citizens who are benefitting from our historic record-setting campaign to eliminate job-killing regulations. I will tell you, the market is up 325 points today on great job numbers. The numbers have been phenomenal, actually. Some people said — so spot on, so good — that they’ve actually never seen anything like it. And it’s a long way from when people were rooting for a recession because they thought they could maybe win an election. But we don’t root for a recession; we root for success. And we’re having tremendous success.
I want to thank Vice President Mike Pence, who’s here, right here — Mike, thank you — as well as Secretary Gene Scalia, Secretary Elaine Chao, Acting OMB Director Russ Vought, and Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton. Thank you all very much for being here. Appreciate it. Appreciate it very much.
It’s been an incredible period of time, economically, for our country. Probably the best ever. And we have the best unemployment numbers in over 54 years. We have the best numbers for African Americans. This came out today. Again, African American, Hispanic, Asian American — the best numbers we’ve ever had. Numbers for women are at a record number. We think that it will probably — if it keeps going like this — very shortly be totally historic. But they’re at numbers that nobody ever believed possible. Nobody would have believed it. Frankly, in the campaign, I would have never said it, but I felt we were going to do very well.
That’s despite the fact that we’re paying interest to people that have their money in the bank and other countries are not. So they have a great competitive advantage, and yet we’re, by far, far and away, the most successful economy anywhere in the world. We’re doing better than any other economy in the world. And, you know, we’ve created many trillions of dollars of wealth since the election. Other countries have lost many trillions of dollars.
We’re, by far, the largest economy in the world, and that was going to change. For many years, they were saying that was going to change, we were going to go to number two during this presidency. That was years ago. And I guess that — the wrong President got elected from the standpoint that there are a lot of people very unhappy about it. So they wish — they certainly think it was the wrong President; they would have rather had somebody else because they’re not number one. We’re number one. And we’re so far ahead that people can’t even believe it.
So we’ve had tremendous success. We’ve had it together. This has been a great group of Cabinet members. And the people in the administration have done a really good job.
It was just reported that we added another 266,000 jobs in November and we’ve also had very favorable numbers outside of the 266 [thousand], including some of the past numbers have been corrected in a very positive way also. So we have 266,000 jobs, plus we’ve created 7 million jobs, since my election. Unemployment is at the lowest rate, as I told you, in many years. And in many ways, I think we can probably, very soon, say “historically.”
A record 158 million Americans are now working. That’s the largest number in the history of our country. We’ve never had 158 million people working. And we should be breaking the 160 million magic mark fairly soon.
The stock market today, as you know, it’s up 325. We’ve hit another record high. I believe that’s 128 times — something like that — that we’ve broken the record, the all-time record for stock market highs. And think of that: about 128 times, and we’ve been here for less than three years. So it’s — and that, I can tell you, is a record.
2.5 million Americans have been lifted out of poverty. African American, Hispanic America, Asian American poverties — poverty levels, in the positive sense, have hit record lows. That’s something that nobody thought was going to be possible in a short period of time either. So they’ve all hit record lows.
Our regulatory reform efforts are delivering prosperity to forgotten men, women, and children of America. We are seeing a middle-class boom led by blue-collar jobs. And that’s one of the things that’s so great: The blue-collar workers — great workers of our country — they’re really benefitting tremendously from what we’ve done with the tax cuts and all of the other things that we’ve done.
And very big, I think, is the regulation cuts. Because even before we were able to get the tax cuts so successfully from Congress, we started cutting regulations immediately, and that had a big impact. And that’s why we went up so much between the election victory. So you’d say, really, from November 9th, the day after the election, up until January 20th, the Inauguration, the stock markets and jobs went — literally, went through the roof. And if the election were lost, it would have gone right through the floor. It would have been a disaster.
The soaring stock market is boosting pensions, 401(k)s, and college savings accounts at record levels. We’ve added $10 trillion in value to the economy, helping the small businesses that create two out of three new jobs. Nearly every single state has seen record numbers. Almost every state — I can tell you, every state I’ve been to in the last three months is having the best year they’ve ever had. And that’s because of the federal policy. And they’re very thankful. The governors are very thankful. The senators are very thankful. They’re all very thankful.
So things have happened that nobody thought would be possible. But, literally, every state I go to is setting a record for their state — individual states. And one of the states had just reported, and it’s because of our actions, not because of their actions, this I can tell you — because their actions are very negative. California is doing much better than anyone anticipated because of what we’ve done at the federal level. So, I’m very happy about that.
Next year, we will continue our bold deregulatory campaign. We’ll remove costly burdens to make cars safer and more affordable. I don’t know if you know what’s going on. We’re in a dispute with California. California, in order to save a tiny amount of fuel, of which we have plenty — and we have numbers that nobody would have believed possible. We’re the largest energy producer now in the world, and we’re an exporter of energy for the first in our history, really.
But we can make cars much less expensive, much better, much stronger, and about the same, from an environmental standpoint. Very close. But then, when you realize that many old cars will be taken off the road because they don’t want to get rid of them because they don’t want to buy the new cars because, frankly, they don’t work very well. That little — like this: You take that. (Points at a glass of water.) Sometimes, it’s about that much gasoline.
It’s a difference between $3,500, extra computers put on the engines, and all of the other things that you have to do. But the cars are much safer. Our cars are much safer. They’re much cheaper. They’re much better. And the reason they’re safer is because they can be heavier because, right now, the cars are made out of papier-mâché. (Laughter.) And ours are actually — we allow steel content. (Laughter.)
And so people are getting very excited about it. We have some good support with the auto companies. The only ones that don’t support are the car companies that want to be politically correct. But we’ll end up in some litigation with California. But just remember: Our cars are safer — and they are much safer, by the way — and they’re better. They operate better.
And, in every way, we think it’s going to be terrific. And we have a lot of support from the car industry. And you’re talking about a saving of $3,500 on average, per car. That’s a tremendous saving.
And one of the other things, from an environmental standpoint, many of the old gas guzzlers are — that are spewing out bad things are going to be coming off the road. Cars that are 10 years old and older, people will be going to the new cars because the pricing is better. And the net result of what happens environmentally is a very positive result because a lot of old cars are going to come off the road. And they won’t come off the road with the California standard, but they’ll come off the road with our standard. So you have a better car for less money, and it will be safer.
We’ll end the regulatory assault on franchise small businesses, which a lot of the people around the table want to do, because they’re very, very strongly affected. We’ll provide greater financial freedom and flexibility for U.S. truckers. The trucking industry has gotten — right, Elaine? — out of control. You might want to say a few words about that in a minute. But it’s gotten out of control.
And we’re doing other things. The lightbulb: They got rid of the lightbulb that people got used to. The new bulb is many times more expensive. And I hate to say it, it doesn’t make you look as good. Of course, being a vain person, that’s very important to me. (Laughter.) It’s like a — it gives you an orange look. I don’t want an orange look. (Laughter.) Has anyone noticed that? (Laughter.) So we’ll have to change those bulbs in at least a couple of rooms where I am in the White House. (Laughter.)
But we’re going back to the — it’s a double standard. We have a standard of the new bulbs, and we have the old bulbs. And they’re already making the old bulbs. Many people were complaining that the new bulbs were much, much more expensive. Many times, in some cases, more expensive. And the other thing, they’re considered a hazardous waste that, because it’s largely a gas technology, when the bulb is disposed of, you’re supposed to bring it to a hazardous waste site. I said, “How many people do that?” “No- — nobody does it.” And, you know, that’s a bad thing.
So you probably heard about it. You probably read about it. And you’ll be able to buy lightbulbs that actually are better lighting, in the opinion of many — and, I tell you, in my opinion — and for a lot less money. And so we’re doing that. But you’ll also be able — if you want, you can buy the other bulbs also. And I’ll tell you, even the bulb companies are very happy about that.
But together, we’re defending the American workers. We’re using common sense. We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on — in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it — and you don’t get any water. You turn on the faucet; you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. It’s dripping out — very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion.
You go into a new building or a new house or a new home, and they have standards, “Oh, you don’t get water.” You can’t wash your hands, practically, there’s so little water comes out of the faucet. And the end result is you leave the faucet on and it takes you much longer to wash your hands. You end up using the same amount of water.
So we’re looking at, very seriously, at opening up the standard. And there may be some areas where we’ll go the other route — desert areas. But for the most part, you have many states where they have so much water that it comes down — it’s called rain — (laughter) — that they don’t know — they don’t know what to do with it.
So we’re going to be opening up that, I believe. And we’re looking at changing the standards very soon. And that’s a little bit like the lightbulb, where you get a bulb that’s better for much less money. We go back — but you have the other alternative. And you’ll keep the other alternative with sinks and showers, et cetera, too. But that’s been a big problem.
So a lot — a lot of the things we do are based on common sense. Somebody said, “Is that a conservative, is it a liberal thing? Is it — what is it? What are we doing?” I said, “It’s a commonsense thing.” In so many — so many of the things that we do, it’s based on common sense, like the car. The car will end up with that net tremendous saving, environmentally, when you think of all the cars, the old cars, that will come off the road. You’ll end up with a very — a better car. And you’ll end up — environmentally, it will be ultimately much better.
So, with that, I’d like to introduce Mike Pence, our great Vice President. And, Mike, you might want to saw a few words and, very importantly, go around the table with a couple other people you want to introduce.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We will. Thank you, Mr. President. And it’s a great day in America, where we cleared the threshold of 7 million jobs created. And I assured all these business leaders and owners around the table earlier, Mr. President, that they have a President who understands that, while you — you’ve advanced tax cuts and tax reform at a historic level, unleashed American energy, fought to open markets, free and fair trade, and rolled back regulation at a historic level, that — that you, as someone who built a lifetime in a business and grew up in a family business, understand that it’s — it’s businesses that create those jobs.
And we really have a group around us that’s done an incredible job, being a part of that extraordinary economic boom that’s underway.
But I assured them that, for all that we’ve accomplished, it’s just what you consider to be a good start. And today, several of them have welcomed the opportunity to share their stories of what, particularly, cutting federal red tape has meant to their businesses and how we can continue to build the momentum in this economy through more regulatory reform.
I’m going to introduce all three of them first, and then they can just go at — at their timing and yours.
Barb Smith is the President of Journey Steel, which was founded 10 years ago and based in Cincinnati. Ryan Newby is Vice President of the Bank of Laverne in Laverne, Oklahoma. And Drew DeWalt is Co-Founder of Rhumbix, Incorporated — a field data capture company that’s revolutionizing aspects of the construction industry — and also a Navy veteran.
And I’ll also encourage you to hear from Dana Weber, whose family business was started 50 years ago by her dad. And she told me she’s worked there for 48 of those years, growing up, and is a part of a burgeoning and growing pipe business in this country that’s benefitted by the efforts that you’ve taken on steel.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Yeah.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So these are great job creators. And I’ve told all of them how grateful we were to have them here, for what they’re doing, and how anxious you are to hear how we can continue to build the momentum in this booming economy.
THE PRESIDENT: Please. Yes.
MS. SMITH: So, thank you very much, Mr. President and Vice President, for giving me this incredible opportunity to be at this session. As said, my name is Barb Smith, and I’m the President of Journey Steel. Journey Steel is a self-performing steel fabrication and erection company. We’re headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.
My partner and I established Journey in 2009, built on passion, integrity, and dependability. We provide on-time, safety-driven, in-budget projects to our clients, while also impacting the community.
We have a year-round paid, pre-apprenticeship program that targets inner-city high school seniors. So upon their graduation, we get them started on their career in the construction industry.
My company is certified 8(a), WOSB, MBE, and, on a state level, EDGE and DBE, which — these programs are put in place to help small, minority-women-owned businesses to grow. However, some of the regulations that are in place really hinder that opportunity for us.
If I may share an analogy —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, go ahead.
MS. SMITH: I’m Dorothy. The ruby-red slippers are the certifications that I have. And the agencies point me on the yellow brick road. I’ve made a lot of friends along the way. They’ve been very supportive on my journey to the Emerald City. (Laughter.) But when I got to the Emerald City, those big doors closed in my face because of some of the regulations that told me to go back, jump through some wicked hoops —
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MS. SMITH: — which I managed to do. Got back; the doors were then opened, only for me to find another set of regulations behind the curtain.
So my ask of this administration would be: Remove those regulations. Let us get to the man behind the curtain who knows the power and those ruby-red slippers that they’ve given us to open those doors for contracts so that we can truly unpack them.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, did you write those regulations down? Did you think they’re — I assume you think they’re unnecessary. Because some regulation is needed.
MS. SMITH: They’re not — I won’t say they’re unnecessary. Like I said, great people in the SBA. I’ll use that as part of it. Like I said, they are tremendous. They know their job.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you know the ones that Barb is talking about?
ACTING ADMINISTRATOR PILKERTON: I gave her my direct line and e-mail. So we’re going to talk about that afterwards.
MS. SMITH: We’re going to talk about that later.
THE PRESIDENT: Is that right?
ACTING ADMINISTRATOR PILKERTON: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
MS. SMITH: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: And if we can do it, you do it.
ACTING ADMINISTRATOR PILKERTON: Yes, sir.
MS. SMITH: Yes. And they’re just simple. With the regulations, with a new 8(a) firm, being small, minority-women-owned, some of the things that we need — the biggest thing we need is a mentor. And in order to get a mentor who has the past performances, who has the bonding capabilities, who knows how to work for the government, which is one of the biggest spins in the construction industry, as you know; you spend billions and billions of dollars.
But for the small, minority-women-owned business, who can’t get to that company that’s already been there, the regulations are in place where these agencies can’t give me a list, they can’t help me find that mentor. And even though I may knock on the door, I may not get to the right person.
So that’s just a simple regulation that hopefully would be able to be removed — because if we’re able to get to the right people, understand that, get the mentors in place that help us grow so that we can hire more people, change the economy, get more people to work, that would truly benefit — which is what these programs, I believe, was established for to begin with, is to help the minority, small businesses be able to access federal contracts.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Good. Thank you, Barb, very much. Thank you.
MS. SMITH: Thank you. Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. That’s great.
MR. NEWBY: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, thank you for the opportunity and your time today. I appreciate it very much. Ryan Newby, from Laverne, Oklahoma — northwest part of the state. I represent a small community bank in the Oklahoma Panhandle. And I say “small” — we’re $58 million in total assets, $26 million in loans.
A few points that I wanted to hit on was the reform and repeal of Dodd-Frank. We, like a lot of other banks in Oklahoma, got out of the mortgage-lending business due to the compliance red tape that we were having to deal with. Forty percent of the banks in Oklahoma got out the mortgage-lending business at that time.
And with your deregulation, we’ve been able to get back into that and serve our customers. We were sending them, you know, 40, 50 miles down the road to competition. So that’s been a big plus for banks like us.
A couple other points I’d like to make are — it probably don’t seem like big things to other people, but longer exam cycles for well-capitalized banks — you know, 18-month exam cycles, which helps cut down on compliance costs. We don’t have to deal with examiners as much; we can serve our customers. And also, the corporate tax rate being lowered from 34 percent to 21 percent saves us thousands of dollars a year to reinvest in our community and make more loans for our customers.
So, again, thank you —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Ryan.
MR. NEWBY: — for everything you guys have been doing.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job you’re doing. I’ve heard some good things. Great. Thank you very much.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
MR. DEWALT: Thank you. Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here today. My grandfather was a World War Two Navy veteran and spent the rest of his career running a small business — a construction company. And so I guess you could say I followed in his footsteps.
I’m also a Navy veteran. Got into construction afterwards. I actually developed into building large infrastructure projects and then started my own small business. It’s a technology company providing technologies for construction companies to operate more efficiently.
I really think, until we started our business, Rhumbix — my co-founder is actually a Navy veteran as well.
THE PRESIDENT: Great.
MR. DEWALT: So until we started our business, nobody had built technology and software solutions for the men and women actually building construction. You don’t get it built and somebody’s hands get put on it. So that’s what our business does to really drive efficiency in the construction industry.
And through this experience, I’ve gained a great appreciation for the construction industry — all the good that it does. But, as you well know, with all of your building completed, it’s a — it can get pretty complicated, costly, and inefficient. So I love the dereg- — deregulation approach we’re taking here.
As part of my business, I get to go to construction companies — boots on the ground — across the country. And I’ve seen the drag that over- — overdue-for-a-good-look regulation has on the industry.
That being said, none of the builders that I meet with and work with have ever seen the industry booming as much as it has right now. They have the largest work backlogs that they’ve ever had. And the only thing constraining the industry right now is finding enough people to do the work.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
MR. DEWALT: So if we can — sidebar — drive more people and encourage more people to join the trades, which is a lucrative individual business and can prop up this part of the economy, that would be welcomed.
But there’s still more issues to be solved. You know, I think — I see a lot of companies doing federal contracting work that have added costs to their business — of specific software and overhead and head count just for compliance. No other economic result on the business, other than making sure you’re compliant or you’re going to get fined later.
THE PRESIDENT: Sure. It’s too much. I agree.
MR. DEWALT: And then I see good projects getting done, and they’re still not out of risk, because — I had a contractor tell me: About six months after a job being completed, they got sued for payroll noncompliance. They had to fly somebody from the U.S. to Australia to dig through the garage of a former employee for a legal box, looking for the right paperwork to verify so they didn’t get sued.
You’ve done enough building, I’m sure you’ve been in a similar situation. It’s crazy. These inefficiencies still exist, and I think there’s just such a good opportunity.
I think what I do on the technology front is important for taking an industry that’s trying to move forward, actually to take that next step. But I think the regulation piece, candidly, is a bigger opportunity — that everybody is championing around this table — so that you can actually look for opportunities to remove duplicative regulations from the federal, state, and local level that actually drive even more efficiency. Because it’s the second-largest industry in the nation, and if you can put more juice in the tank there, you can get even better results.
And I’d love to help anyway I can, but I appreciate you inviting me here today to share my story.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Yeah, thank you very much. Good job. Good job you’re doing.
You know, we have a lot of things that we’re working on. One of them is — to build a road can take 22 years to get approvals. And we’ve got it way down now. We had — we have roads where they’ve been going for many, many — they’ve been going for decades. Elaine knows this better than anybody. And at the end of 20 years —
SECRETARY CHAO: I’m taking notes. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Right? At the end of 20 years, you’re literally — you go for a vote, and you get turned down. So they’ve been trying to get an approval for 20 years, and then they get turned down, like 3-2 or something.
And we’ve got that process down to four and a half years. It’s going to be — I think it’s going to be two years. We’re going to try and get it down to almost one year. That doesn’t mean a road or a highway doesn’t get approved. But if they don’t get approved, it goes quickly, so they get rejected quickly.
MR. DEWALT: Right.
THE PRESIDENT: But they also, mostly, will get approved quickly.
And Elaine is doing a fantastic job in bringing that down. We’ve had so many — so many examples of roads that took 17, 18, 19 years to get approved. And by the time they get approved, they cost 50 times more and they have to do all sorts of turns to get out of certain areas, from an environmental standpoint, instead of being a straight and much safer road.
So we’ve been able to do that. And I think those people in the steel industry have been greatly helped by the tariffs, because the tariffs made the steel industry — it’s incredible what’s happening — the money that is being spent on steel today. I don’t think we would have had a steel industry. If I — if I didn’t get elected, you wouldn’t have a steel industry, because, ultimately, every steel mill was closing. They were dumping steel at a level that nobody has ever seen before. And they were dumping it in order to, really, destroy our steel industry so that we had to buy from them.
And now the steel industry — if you look at what’s going on, the industry is doing incredibly well. They’re building a lot of extensions. They’re building brand-new plants where they never — you know this, Russell — they never built a new plant. I mean, they hadn’t built one in years, and now they’re building new plants all over the country. They’re expanding existing plants all over the country. And the steel industry is doing great. And it will start doing even better with what we’re doing.
So it’s been very exciting, especially since the economy is now even stronger than at the beginning.
And I think what I’d like to do is ask Larry Kudlow — the great Larry Kudlow — to say a few words. The numbers came out today — the job numbers and —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: If I may, just based on what you just said, Dana Weber is in the steel industry —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Let’s go. I hope you back me up.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — and had a few things she wanted to share before —
THE PRESIDENT: I hope I get backed up here. (Laughter.)
MS. WEBER: I am absolutely going to back you up.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.
MS. WEBER: I’m going to tell you that — first of all, you’re the first President in the 40 years plus I’ve been in this business that’s actually stood up for manufacturing. And I want to say thank you.
The tariffs and the trade policies that you have, have made a huge difference for us and a big difference. We are investing at record levels — we have over the last three years. We are paying profit-sharing bonuses and wage increases at record levels over the last years. And we are having companies, customers come out of the woodwork that we didn’t even know existed — coming to us because — to inquire and to buy steel from us. We made specialty steel tubing.
So you have made a tremendous difference.
THE PRESIDENT: Great, Dana. That’s great.
MS. WEBER: And that’s on top of all the tax relief and the regulatory burdens that I just want to — as I said earlier, please keep doing what you’re doing for at least five more years. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Good. We love the word, “at least,” — the words. (Laughter.) They like to hear that. Thank you, Dana.
No, it’s been a big difference in the steel indus- — and many industries. But the steel industry, in particular, was — we weren’t going to have a steel industry. And that’s so unacceptable, even from a defense standpoint. I mean, can you imagine if we have to — if we need — if we need steel and we have to go to another country to get steel? And that was what was happening. Everything was closing down — and very unfairly and done with purpose. I mean, these people were coming in with a purpose — a negative purpose.
So they’re not too happy, but our people are very happy. And the industry is doing fantastically well. It will soon be at numbers that will be almost like the old days and maybe like the old days.
Larry Kudlow, you also had good manufacturing numbers today. I noticed 50,000 jobs or something created over a short period of time. And the previous administration said — manufacturing — “you’d need the magic wand.” You know, we’ve all heard the statement. But they basically said it was a dead business, when in fact it’s one of the most important sets of jobs I think you can have anywhere.
Could you give a little discussion as to what took place today when they announced the numbers early in the morning?
Mr. KUDLOW: I would be happy to. Thank you, sir. By the way, you’re right; we’re still running over 500,000 new manufacturing jobs. So that’s a big plus.
Just a couple of quick ones: The report today was plus-266,000 jobs for the month of November, but the prior two months were revised higher by 41,000. So actually, today’s number is 307,000. After you and I spoke last night, I went back and crosschecked. And sure enough, this is the fourth-straight month of upward revisions from the prior period. And that’s a leading indicator of a strong economy.
A couple of other quickies on this: 3.5 percent unemployment rate; that’s near the 50-year low. Since you’ve been President, the average working family — right? — husband, wife, two kids — after inflation, after taxes, has gone up $5,000. That’s take-home pay — $5,000. The prior two administrations were basically flat.
And then, part of this worker boom — this American worker boom theme — so since you’ve been President, the production workers are increasing their wages at a 3.7 percent annual rate. Okay? Production workers: 3.7 percent annual increase. Their managers’ wages are rising 1.6.
So, the folks on the line — the folks wearing the blue collars or whatever, the folks getting their hands dirty — they are working so well, their wage gains are almost twice the gains of their own managers. You know what? I’ve never seen it before and, as you know, I’ve been around three or four centuries. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. You did great this morning, too.
MR. KUDLOW: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: A lot of shows, and really did fantastic. Well, they’re easy numbers really to work with, aren’t they? Those numbers were great.
MR. KUDLOW: It’s a sunny day, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. No, it’s very good. Really, very good.
Elaine, maybe you want to discuss a little bit about transportation and, in particular, the highway and the building of the highways and the roads and everything that we’re working on so hard?
SECRETARY CHAO: Well, this is a President that really cares about the condition of our infrastructure. And we continue to want to work with the Congress on a bipartisan basis. You’ve always said that.
As a down payment to the President’s proposal — infrastructure — the Department spends about $70 billion every single year to address, to refurbish, rehabilitate bridges, roads, highways. And so we remain very focused on our goal, as the President has wanted. He has also asked us to look at the permitting process and how important that is to, I know, several of you around this table and others, of course, who are in this business.
So, he’s been a very strict taskmaster. He has asked that for every two new — every one new regulation, we’ve got to withdraw at least two. And I think the whole administration has done much better. Brooke mentioned that, for every one new regulation, about 7.5 — seven and a half regulations have been withdrawn. So, this is a tremendous, you know, lifting of the burden on people’s backs — small businesses in particular.
And I want also want to mention one other thing the President mentioned about the Safe Vehicle Act. You know, when we have — we all care about the environment, but when cars cost too much people, don’t trade in their cars. And when that happens and people keep older cars, that’s actually unsafe.
So our new fuel economy standard will be one of this administration’s biggest legacies, in terms of a deregulatory action. And it’s going to introduce and improve safety on top of that, because also cars that are too light are not safe.
So, Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: And you’re working on — yeah.
SECRETARY CHAO: — you’ve also led the way on that.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And you’re working on air traffic control?
SECRETARY CHAO: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: And that’s something that, to me, is very important — because we have a system that’s obsolete. It’s ridiculous. It’s a ground-based system, which nobody can even imagine because that’s a 40-year-old system. They’ve spent billions and billions and billions of dollars over the years trying to upgrade it when you can buy a new system — brand-new, with the top of the line. There are basically four companies that are in that business. But you can buy a new system for less money than it costs to renovate little pieces of this old, obsolete system.
I’ve been in planes where the pilots don’t even want to use our system. They use another country’s system to land in New York City or to land in other parts of the country, like Oklahoma. (Laughter.) But they’ll use somebody else’s — they’ll use somebody else’s system. Air traffic control — it’s obsolete, and we’re working on a project where we make a deal to get a great system. And we’ll — hopefully, we can meet on that soon. Maybe with your people we’ll talk about it, okay?
SECRETARY CHAO: May I ask —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, please.
SECRETARY CHAO: I have one more thing. The Vice President and you are both here. You have a tremendous interest in commercial space. And six years ago, the U.S. was way behind all other countries. In the last three — two and a half years, under your leadership and the Vice President’s leadership of the Space Council, America is once again number one in commercial space launches.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Number one. Number one by far. So, we’ve done very well with space.
Gene Scalia, you’ve done a good job in that first short period of time. Right? Secretary of Labor. You want to just say what’s going on? I know you called me this morning to say how great the numbers are.
SECRETARY SCALIA: Yeah. I called you this morning. I’ve been in this job two months. I mean, it’s such a treat to be able to report these numbers —
THE PRESIDENT: What a job — what a job he’s done. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY SCALIA: Four hundred and twenty-two thousand jobs in the two months that I’ve been in the position. And I get to talk to the American people about these results.
And, you know, this is cause and effect, right? It’s cause and effect. The effect is unprecedented numbers. They’re spectacular. And wages. I mean, that’s so important. And wages at the lower level are going up more, as Larry was saying.
And the effect and the cause, we know what it is. Right? It’s what we’re here talking about. It’s the tax cuts. It’s the deregulation. And so it’s cause and effect.
And I bet you, if we went around the table, apart from wanting to deal with regulations, and keep at that — right? — apart from that, I bet that one of the biggest things on these folks’ minds right now is finding workers. That’s a challenge to small business. That’s how strong our economy is. When you talk to business people, one of the biggest worries they have is finding workers.
And so, we heard — Michael was talking a little about helping with reentry. Barb, you were talking about apprenticeships. Those are things that, Mr. President, you’re focusing on, and the Vice President, too. So we’re addressing that, but I mention it just to show how strong the economy is right now. And you know — and again, that’s the effect of the things that you’ve been causing through these policies.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. Great job.
So thank you very much, everybody. Very successful period of time for our country. The most successful probably in the history of our country. We’ve never done anything like that. We’ve never had these unemployment numbers or employment numbers. And we’re very happy about it. A lot of hard work.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
Q Mr. President, what can you tell us about the shooter in the Pensacola incident?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s all being studied now. We’ll have a full report on it very shortly.
Q Is this — could this be considered a terrorism act?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re not going to report on that yet, but we’ll be talking about it very soon. It could — we have a lot of great people looking at it and interviewing people in depth. And it’ll be a report, and the report will come out very soon.
Thank you all very much. Thank you.
Q How do you plan to respond to Jerry Nadler’s invitation? Jerry Nadler’s invitation?
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Q What’s your thinking about the tariffs, Mr. President?
Q (Inaudible) five o’clock? Five o’clock?
THE PRESIDENT: Could be. Could be.
Q Jerry Nadler’s invitation?
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Article by Daniel Wild courtesy of the West Australian
Momentum is building for bi-partisan reform between the WA State Labor Government and the Federal Coalition Government to cut red tape and boost economic growth.
As reported in these pages on November 27, the McGowan Government has reached out to the Federal Government to establish a “one-stop shop” for environment approvals.
This means that WA would be able to conduct the environmental assessment on major projects in the State, such as gas, gold, and iron ore developments, removing the need for assessment at the Federal level as well.
This is a very important development which could reduce the approval time of major projects by up to six months. The fast-tracking would not alter environmental standards because it is the duplication between State and Federal regulations that is to be removed, rather than reducing underlying regulatory obligations.
In announcing the initiative, Premier Mark McGowan said “industry has been crying out for bilateral approvals and we are responding to these calls.
This plan ensures we maintain the highest environmental standards, but don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy.” This is an example of Team WA working across party lines to achieve sensible economic reform. At the Federal level, red tape reduction is being led by the highly capable Ben Morton, who is the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and the Federal Liberal member for Tangney.
The bipartisan initiative comes at an important time. Across the nation business investment is just 10.9 per cent of GDP, which is lower than it was during the Whitlam years and is slightly above the recessionary lows of the early 1990s.
New private sector business investment in WA is 54 per cent below the 2013 peak which is holding back productivity, employment, and wages growth.
While there are non-policy reasons for this decline, it is red tape which has caused the decline to business investment to be deeper, wider, and more protracted than it otherwise would be.
Recent research by the Institute of Public Affairs estimated there are 107,817 regulatory restrictions contained in WA legislation alone.
To put this in context, New South Wales has a population around three times that of WA, yet has slightly fewer regulatory restrictions on the books.
Regulatory restrictions refer to instances in legislation which restrict or compel behaviour, including words such as “should”, “must”, and “shall not”. Importantly, IPA research found that the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety was responsible for imposing the most regulation on the West Australian economy with 17,097.
This was followed by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation with 16,272 regulatory restrictions, and the Department of Justice with 15,226 restrictions.
It is a big problem that the two departments which have primary oversight of the WA resources sector and job creation, respectively, are also responsible for imposing the most regulation. This will undermine the ability of the McGowan Government to achieve its ambitious objective of overseeing the creation of 150,000 new jobs in WA over the next five years, which includes some 30,000 new regional jobs.
To understand the problem of red tape in the resource sector, consider the Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara. The Roy Hill project required some 4967 licences, permits, and approvals for the pre-construction phase alone, approximately 79 per cent of which were imposed by the State Government.
And while Roy Hill has been able to successfully navigate the reams of red tape, many other projects, particularly those being undertaken by smaller businesses, cannot.
To further build on the encouraging bipartisan effort to cut red tape, the WA and Federal Governments should also introduce a one-in, two-out approach where two regulations must be repealed for every new one introduced.
This will place a binding constraint on bureaucracy to ensure there is a steady decline in regulation.
Daniel Wild is Director of Research with the Institute of Public Affairs
Article by Salomae Haselgrove courtesy of Australian Mining
Gina Rinehart has praised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan to cut green tape for mining projects.
The Hancock Prospecting chairperson, speaking at the National Mining and Related Industries Day (NMRID), urged the industry to pressure the Western Australian Government to follow the Australian Government’s lead.
Rinehart said she had been “actively waiting a long time” to hear an Australian Prime Minister make an announcement of this sort.
“If high-cost Australia wants to remain internationally competitive and encourage investment to grow its exports, we need our government to cut its onerous, investment deterring burdens of government tape and taxes,” Rinehart said.
“Let’s encourage the West Australian Government’s ‘Streamline WA’ initiative to emulate this Commonwealth drive by reducing duplication and regulation at a state level.
“Let’s help our government to focus on and progress significant tax and tape cutting.”
Morrison last week outlined a government plans to create a digital environmental approvals process, pushing a large pipeline of major projects forward during the next decade.
The nationwide digital platform will help projects to start faster and make it easier for businesses to interact with the government directly.
Rinehart believes that cutting government tape and taxes is essential to create jobs for Australia’s growing population and bring revenue via exports to the nation’s economy.
She noted the industry’s importance not only to those directly involved with it, but the many other industries that reap the positive benefits of a strong mining industry.
“Mining contributes more to our nation than any other industry and in turn, it is the foundations of the many related industries which rely on our industry,” Rinehart said.
“I could list things for hours, there’s very little that doesn’t contain minerals or is fabricated by steel equipment, made from minerals and coking coal.”
She applauded the NMRID’s guests for the “massive contribution” they make to the industry and therefore Australia as a whole, providing it with essential resources used every day.
Address to the Australian Agribusiness: Global Opportunities – Local Expertise Conference by Senator the Hon Matt Canavan22 November 2019
It is a great honour to be here as part of the third National Agriculture and Related Industries Day. Thank you to Tony Seabrook and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association for organising this conference today. I would also like to recognise Mrs Gina Rinehart, the founding patron of the National Agriculture and Related Industries Day, and Mr Kim Beazley, the Governor of Western Australia.
I have just got off a 31-hour (with stopovers) flight from Washington DC, so please excuse me if I am a little slow this afternoon! On Monday in DC, I met with the US Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt. In his office there is a beautiful painting of the construction of the Hoover Dam.
The Hoover Dam was more than just an enormous engineering feat, it also helped change the world’s view of agricultural development. The dam had been the idea of John Powell, a veteran of the Battle of Shiloh, were he lost an arm. Despite only having one arm, John led the first American expedition of the wild Colorado River and the Grand Canyon in 1869. In 1878, John Powell produced a report on western US agricultural opportunities titled The Report on the Arid Land of the Arid Region of the United States – and remember Powell supported the development of this self-described arid region!
He did disagree, however, with some of the common views of the time. Then, there was a view that the west could be developed according to a Jeffersonian ideal of small,
independent, yeoman farmers without the need for government involvement that would dilute Americans’ well-known aptitude for individual enterprise. Powell disagreed. He became a champion for large government-funded dam projects as the only way to harness the wild rivers and irrigate the arid lands of the Colorado Basin.
Powell did not live to see his vision become a reality. Technological and political developments in the early 20th century, however, did result in an amazing manifestation of Powell’s dreams in the form of the then named Boulder Dam – later renamed the Hoover Dam. In opening the dam in 1936, President Roosevelt paraphrased Julius Caesar “I came, I saw and I was conquered”.
What are the lessons of this for us? I think they remain that the opening up of new agricultural areas has always involved a healthy degree of large scale government investment.
A few years ago the CSIRO looked closely at a number of agricultural initiatives in Northern Australia and found that: All four of the continuing large scale (> 10,000 ha) irrigation schemes (Ord, Burdekin, Emerald and Mareeba-Dimbulah) have received significant government investment … With the exception of Katherine and Lakeland Downs, all of the private agricultural development schemes that had little or no direct government investment, particularly in infrastructure, have not persisted.
That is why the Federal Government has been leading the push to build the water infrastructure that will help double our agricultural production by 2030. When we came to government six years ago, no one was talking of building dams and we had lost a generation with no dams being built. We have changed the conversation and things are now happening.
This week construction of the Rookwood weir in the Fitzroy Basin near Rockhampton began.
Last month contracts were signed to begin the Hells Gate Dam near Townsville, and the Federal Government announced investments of over $500 million in three dam projects in New South Wales. All up now the government has invested around $1.5 billion in new water projects across the country.
There is lots of opportunity here in Western Australia too. Last year, the CSIRO completed a major study for the Australian Government on the opportunities for additional water infrastructure in the Mitchell (in North Queensland), Darwin and Fitzroy (in Western Australia) catchments. Given the location of this conference in Western Australia and the limits on my time, I will concentrate on the Western Australian angle.
The CSIRO concluded that almost 200,000 hectares of land could be irrigated in the Fitzroy using a combination of on-farm dams and groundwater. To put that in context that is more than six times the size of the Ord. There is enormous potential.
We are often told to listen to this science. Well the science is in. We can develop the water and soils of our vast country and do so in a way that grows more food without damaging the environment. These conclusions were drawn by 100 of our top scientists at the CSIRO working for over a year. Of course, the naysayers were out of the blocks quickly, that respected scientific organisation GetUp! said on the release of the report that dams “wreak havoc on ecosystems”. While the Labor Party dismissed the report as a “thought bubble”.
What the CSIRO’s work shows is that it has never been a lack of good soils or lots of water that has restricted intensive agricultural development of our north. It has been a lack of people. The lack of people in Northern Australia in particular has limited the size of the market to make it hard to get a diverse agricultural districts up and running.
We are not going to be able to create towns of millions of people in Northern Australia overnight but we can provide better market access to the countries of Asia where there are billions of people.
We have worked hard to open new markets and over the last few years. Since 2013, the Australian Government has concluded eight new trade agreements and the vast majority of our exports are now covered by free trade agreements. Key wins for agriculture have included better beef access to Japan, Korea and China, and more consistent access for the live cattle trade with Indonesia.
The latest free trade agreement was only concluded last month and the Regional Cooperation and Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is the largest free trade agreement ever concluded, covering 30 per cent of the world’s GDP.
It is unfortunate that India could not reach agreement to be included in the final agreement.
However, I remain hopeful of stronger trade ties with India in the future. There is a logical, synergy between the development of the Fitzroy basin in Western Australia and the growing food needs of the subcontinent. There are three main reasons that WA agriculture and the development of the Indian economy make sense: geography, diet and weather.
The Kimberley faces the Indian Ocean with easy access to Indian ports. The Kimberley has a similar climate to the subcontinent, making for ideal growing conditions for the pulses and grains prevalent in Indian diets. And finally, the Kimberley has counter-seasonal and counter-cyclical growing conditions.
The seasons are at different times of the year and the Indian Ocean dipole effect means that when it is wet in north-western WA it is often dry on the subcontinent, and vice-versa. Thinking of India and Western Australia as a connected food bowl makes abundant sense.
Making such a partnership will have to be approached carefully. Australia can never replace the farming needed in Asian countries. Even today Australia only produces enough food for about 60 million people. We hope to double that by 2030 but even if we do we will then feed just over 120 million. We will be a long way from being able to feed India, let alone many of the other countries we already supply.
Still, India will face a major challenge feeding itself as its demand for high quality proteins increase alongside its economic growth. As a recent academic paper concluded last year: Under India’s current self-sufficiency model, our analysis indicates severe shortfalls in availability of all macronutrients across a large proportion (>60%) of the Indian population. The extent of projected shortfalls continues to grow such that, even in ambitious waste reduction and yield scenarios, enhanced domestic production alone will be inadequate in closing the nutrition supply gap. We suggest that to meet SDG2 [Zero Hunger] India will need to take a combined approach of optimising domestic production and increasing its participation in global trade.
What Australia can do though is provide an important buffer to guarantee a country’s food security during droughts and other interruptions to a nation’s food supply. We are helping do that right now in China as they respond to the swine flu crisis.
We also suffer our own interruptions from time to time and we are seeing that starkly at the moment with one of the worst droughts in our history. There is so much suffering for many in the farming community and it is hard to see. What we can do is provide assistance to relieve suffering, however, governments can never completely remove it.
We have provided over $8 billion of funding towards the response to this drought. As the drought has gotten more severe we have made a greater response. Just a fortnight ago we announced that we would fire up the Adelaide Desalination Plant so that we could provide more water to desperate farmers. The capacity of this plant is only 100G a year so it will not help everyone, but it will make an important contribution. We will ensure that this water goes to those doing it tough and it will be used to grow fodder to keep livestock alive (especially the all-important breeding stock) and to help the dairy industry.
A double blow hit the other day when farmers already suffering with drought have been hit by bushfires. One of the fires started just around the corner from where I live. It has destroyed over 10,000 hectares of farming land and an entire lychee orchard.
There are those saying that climate change is increasing fire risk in Australia. I think the evidence for this is more complicated than is often made out, but there is enough there that we should make some response.
The key point is, however, that if the risk is higher, we should be doing more to mitigate and reduce that risk. That means more cool burns, that means more fire breaks and that means less restrictions on farmers clearing their own land. Instead state governments, like mine in Queensland, are doing less to reduce fuel loads, and they are putting more red tape on farmers just trying to manage their own land. We have to hit reverse on these wrong-headed policies in light of these fires.
It is the same with the broader ideas I have placed here to expand our agricultural opportunities – too often government red tape holds our farmers back from reaching their true potential. I started this speech by recounting how a one-armed man overcame his disability to help contribute towards the building of perhaps the greatest dam in history.
Our farmers are a bit the same except they have governments who tie one arm behind their backs. Like John Powell, our farmers still get things done. Look at what Gina has achieved in agriculture and mining despite the thousands of regulations she has had to navigate.
But imagine what we could all do with two arms. I am committed to doing what we can to remove that red tape, to fulfil our potential to develop our great country and to help provide food to a growing world.
November the 22nd signifies National Mining and Related Industries Day 2019, an important annual day that will be celebrated this year at Kings Park in Perth, Western Australia.
A time to reflect, consider, appreciate & champion the mining community and the myriad of benefits to all Australians that result.
Co-sponsored by Roy Hill, Rio Tinto and BHP, this year, as prior years events, will be truly remarkable.
Aside from enjoying world-class entertainment throughout, this year’s 3,000 strong audiences will have the opportunity to listen to National Mining and Related Industries Day Patrons Tad Watroba, Hancock Prospecting’s Executive Director and the pinnacle of the mining industry, Gina Rinehart, Hancock Prospecting’s Executive Chairman.
Special guests at the event include the Federal Resources Minister, the Hon Senator Matthew Canavan as well as leaders from BHP, Rio Tinto and Roy Hill whom will each speak in contribution and in celebration of our industry. Each of which acknowledging just how significant mining and its related industries are to investment, job creation and ongoing significantly enhanced Australian living standards.
This annual celebration presents a brilliant opportunity for us all to show genuine appreciation for Australia’s mining and related industries – as they remain ultimately, one of our country’s most significant and necessary sectors, essential to the ongoing quality of life experienced by every Australian.
Article courtesy of CEO Magazine
Australia’s top executives gathered to celebrate another remarkable business year at The Palladium at Crown, Melbourne for The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards.
Dressed in their finest black-tie attire, hundreds of industry leaders trickled into the country’s largest ballroom to recognise the 22 inspiring category winners (plus the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award), as well as the striking success of the many finalists.
As soon as guests arrived at the prestigious venue, they captured the moment against the media wall before venturing into a Gatsby-inspired cocktail room complete with blue velvet armchairs, gold tables, dozens of fresh bouquets and, most importantly, a captivating Maserati poised in the centre.
With a refreshing glass of The Dalmore Old Fashioned cocktail or flute of Moët & Chandon Champagne in hand, business leaders, including the talented guest judges, mingled as others signed up to participate in the evening’s silent auction. Of the incredible items being auctioned off was the incredibly rare A$12,000 bottle of The Dalmore 35-year-old, with all proceeds being donated to the Children’s Cancer Institute.
Following the red-carpet arrivals, guests including Gina Rinehart trickled into the breathtaking ballroom ready for an evening of festivities, presented by Channel 7’s charming Larry Emdur.
Between mouthwatering dishes of slow-cooked lamb loin, hot-smoked king salmon, pan-seared barramundi, 12-hour braised Riverine beef cheek and delectable sweets including mango tarts with passionfruit foam, raspberry and milk chocolate mousse and lemon meringue tartlets, guests were entertained by a variety of enthralling acts.
Impersonator Ben Price had the room in stitches as he satirically took on the personalities of some famous faces. Later in the evening, mesmerising aerialists elegantly danced with silk ribbons as Hanna Oblikov, who has played with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Chet Faker, delighted the audience with her magical cello performance.
And it wasn’t just a night of beguiling acts. Almost 30 extraordinary business leaders were recognised for their outstanding efforts.
The guest judging panel – Sportsgirl CEO Colleen Callander, BMX CEO Dave Fenlon, OzHarvest Founder and CEO Ronni Kahn, Salesforce CEO Australia and New Zealand Pip Marlow, Maserati Australia, New Zealand and South Africa COO Glen Sealey, Wilson Group CEO Operations Jose Da Silva, Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman, The CEO Circle CEO John Karagounis, Twitter Australia MD Suzy Nicoletti, Europcar Australia and New Zealand MD Ron Santiago and 2018 CEO of the Year winner Mark Nielsen – named MLC Life Insurance CEO David Hackett the 2019 CEO of the Year.
The eighth annual Executive of the Year Awards was given an extra special touch this year, with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Gina Rinehart in recognition of her outstanding contributions and accomplishments throughout her career.
The AFR View, courtesy of the Australian Financial Review
By learning how to guide the direction of the business and how to lead by communicating the company story today’s CFOs will develop the skill set that can make them the CEOs of tomorrow.
The message from The Australian Financial Review CFO Live 2019 summit is that the role of the CFO of the future will focus on transforming companies to deal with the complex challenges – from big data to social licences and populist politics – confronting business.
The summit made it clear that what CFOs want from government is not cheap advice about the need for more investment, but for government to get out of the way and cut the red tape and over-regulation that make their jobs even harder.
Opening the summit, the nation’s CFO – Finance Minister Mathias Cormann – reassured the nation’s chief financial officers that the government’s fiscally responsible budget strategy has left consumers and businesses with more money in their pockets to spend and invest, to stimulate growth. This record clearly hasn’t impressed Cochlear chief executive Brent Cubis, who said the best way to encourage business to invest would have been for the government not to have given up on cutting Australia’s internationally uncompetitive 30 per cent company tax rate. His most damning statement, however, was that in hindsight CSL – one of our most internationally successful companies – ‘‘wouldn’t set up in Australia’’, to avoid the past decade’s reform-shy, anti-business political environment.
There was also little sympathy among CFOs for Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s demand that business slash investment hurdle rates and give less back to shareholders, to kickstart the economy. Wesfarmers CFO Anthony Gianotti said that business could both invest and return capital to shareholders.
Investment decisions were based not just on cost of capital or a single fixed ROI number, but also on a range of complex, long-term risk factors, including political instability and regulatory complexity. And baking in lower interest rates into investment decisions would mostly inflate the prices of assets. Woodside CFO Sherry Duhe agreed that cutting red tape and providing certainty was the key factor in business and investors having the confidence to greenlight and finance major projects.
The summit heard that the forces reshaping the role of business are also reshaping the role of CFOs. Rather than simply filling the traditional role of overseeing company finances, CFOs’ control over the purse strings is allowing them to drive decision-making around companies’ social and environmental purpose. Andrew Porter, chair of Group of 100 and CFO of the Australian Foundation Investment Company, said that while CFOs still had to do their core work right, they also need to partner with others across the business to ensure companies operate in the sustainable way that investors and stakeholders expect.
PwC’s Matt Graham suggested CFOs will be at the forefront of ensuring that companies develop the systems needed to accurately measure and report on their social impact. Jessica Fries, head of the The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project, agreed and said that the response to automated accounting should be to reimagine the role of CFOs and finance teams by using data to drive performance across companies around sustainability, and to also measure the value that operating sustainably adds to the business. This would put CFOs at the forefront of developing the business lens through which companies should view their social licence, according to Coca-Cola Amatil’s Alison Watkins.
The CFO of the future will be engaged across all aspects of the business and developing the corporate strategy. As Gina McNamara, CFO of SAP, put it, CFOs will no longer be known mostly for their technical skills and trying to get the numbers right, but for being able to use data to lead a company.
As enterprise leaders, said IAG’s CFO Nick Hawkins, they will use the data to understand the business and its customers, what needs to change and why, and to get people on board with the transformation process.
And ASX’s Gillian Larkins explained that CFOs who used to just read the company by the numbers will now be challenged to take a much bigger seat at the table. By stepping up to the leadership opportunities, CFOs will transform not only their present roles but their career paths. By learning how to guide the direction of the business and how to lead by communicating the company story today’s CFOs will develop the skill set that can make them the CEOs of tomorrow.