Business quiet over election

NO matter how much notice is given, election time always appears a bit frantic as all the major stakeholders try to maximise the impact of their messages in the critical few weeks before the poll.

This year's State election is no different.

Not only are the parties releasing a policy a day in a bid to get full impact for their platforms but the spoilers, too, are trying to clutter the process with their alternative massages.

We've seen the blow up of the Wilkie drama which has been distracting for Labor in the initial stages of the election build up and the big concerns about control of Woodside being lost to the State.

And now we see the Greens raising questions about coastal development at Ningaloo in a bid to put the environment on the agenda.

Among all this sits the business community.

This poll appears to be an unusual one for industry in terms of just how they can influence the process.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has quite obviously refused to take sides, perhaps a diplomatic move ahead of a vote which many pundits think will be close.

Then again, Geoffrey Gallop and his Labor policies have moved to a more business friendly position, a more central "third way" like Dr Gallop's close mate Tony Blair forged to win government in Britain.

It should be noted just how many of Labor's policies are reform-based. Hopefully, they would deliver such promises if they won office.

On the other side of the ledger, the Liberals have not always done what the CCI would like them to do during the current term. Generally, considered pro-business, Richard Court's Government has sometimes moved in the opposite direction to business thinking. A case in point being the controversial Convention Centre.

Then again, perhaps the conservative side of politics has identified social issues as the key to the February 10 poll and the wily folk in business land have considered it opportune to lie low this month.

The concern with this is that both major parties appear to have decided that it is time to invest in a social dividend after years of general good economic management.

While the level of pork barrelling is hardly unprecedented, it seems to be going without the rigorous comment expected from the business community - a sector which is generally comfortable with the role of playing auditor.

On top of all this is the possibility that no-one cares and the general lack of business comment reflects the fact that they have largely had their way during the past two terms of government.

Whatever the case, business should at least be reassured that both parties appear to have taken business seriously enough to respond quickly to Business News' inquiries this week.

Industry may not be top of the agenda but, these days, any government which ignored its needs would most likely regret it.

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