Media mogul Rupert Murdoch says red tape and self-serving politicians are stopping businesses delivering on growth.
Rupert Murdoch has warned governments there is still too much red tape stifling economic growth during a meeting of world business leaders.
The News Corporation executive chairman endorsed a call from Prime Minster Tony Abbott for business to publicly argue for economic reform, while also saying governments needed to “take a back seat” and let free markets deliver growth.
“For businesses large and small there’s simply too much red tape and too many self-serving politicians stifling economic growth and entrepreneurialism,” Mr Murdoch said on Thursday.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the B20 forum in Sydney, Mr Murdoch said that business had a role to play in shaping public policy, even if its arguments were not successful.
“If we feel we have a contribution to make to the debate we should do so. Certainly my newspapers do so every day and we far from regularly win the argument,” he said.
“It’s very important that, if we live in a democracy, with real entrepreneurship, you’ve got to have a world of ideas to debate.”
Mr Murdoch said he believed “business does have a role in shaping public policy” but that it was “mainly in helping limit the size and scope of government”.
Mr Abbott earlier told the B20 summit, comprising business leaders from 400 companies across the world’s 20 biggest economies, that profitable businesses, not governments, would create growth.
He said business had to guide government decision-making but also had to argue publicly “for policies that encourage trade, strengthen the economy and adhere to sound business principles”.
“Business can’t legitimately ask government to introduce policies that it’s not prepared to argue for in public as well as in private,” he said.
Mr Murdoch said private discussion with governments was acceptable, as long as there was complete transparency.
“It doesn’t mean to say that you can’t have dinner with a cabinet minister. But you should be quite prepared for every word to be made public,” Mr Murdoch said.
The B20 is working on four priority areas: financing growth, human capital, infrastructure and trade.
A key concern about human capital – or workforces – has been education, particularly whether school curricula are teaching skills needed for the future.
Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said his company struggled to recruit staff with science and technical knowledge in major developed countries.
Mr van Beurden said business had a role to play in encouraging students into science but if graduate workforces didn’t improve “business has no choice but to vote with its feet”.
“Unfortunately in some cases we have found that the only way to access talent was to go to places like India, where there is a tremendous amount of talent available,” he said.
Mr Murdoch said business had to speak out loudly about arresting the decline in education standards – mentioning Australia and the United States.
“Every country has a tremendous vested interest … in having a well educated population,” he said.
“The truth of the matter is, in a lot of democracies – big ones – education has gotten worse in the last 30 or 40 years.”
The B20 will present its recommendations to government on Friday.