9th June 2020

Australia needs to move quickly on its COVID-19 recovery plan to ensure the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic are managed, according to Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed.

Mr Reed, who was speaking at the QUT Business Leaders’ Forum today via webcast, said the nation had to act with purpose and ensure it was unified in the goal of creating meaningful employment opportunities.

“There is a danger that because of the amount of government stimulus being pumped into the economy that we stand back and say ‘Actually it hasn’t really been that bad,’” Mr Reed said.

Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed.

But he said the reality is that that the stimulus packages were debt-funded and would not be sustainable if continued.

“And that’s why we need to act with haste and think about what will drive job growth because by far and away the best thing to do would be to get people back working,” Mr Reed said.

Mr Reed, who joined the Business Council of Australia in November 2019, also spoke about his leadership journey which began after he completed an MBA at Harvard University. He headed to Silicon Valley in the early 1990s and then returned to Australia to take up the reins of MYOB, where he spent 12 years.  He transformed the company from desk-top solutions to an online subscription business valued at $2 billion with more than 1900 employees.

He said his leadership journey had been one of learning from mistakes and successes, and ensuring he picked the best talent to make up his team.

“And one of the best things about our response to COVID-19 has been the way in which our leaders have listened to the advice from the subject matter experts from the beginning, and the way in which they built a degree of trust amongst themselves because they were unified by a common goal,” he said.

Mr Reed said many businesses could start looking to the future, and work to consolidate what they had learnt during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I desperately hope we see more people working from home as things start returning to normal," he said. “We have spoken about businesses becoming more digital and flexible for years and we are starting to see this.

“We’ve also seen businesses make changes in three weeks that we thought would take three years.  We have become more local, more direct and more community spirited.”

Mr Reed outlined how the Business Council of Australia planned to position the country as a globally competitive place to do business, by focusing on tax regulatory reform, building workplace skills and better managing energy to reduce emissions.

And he said he was looking forward to seeing consumers buy and holiday locally.

“We have become more community spirited during the past few months as we realise we are vulnerable as individuals. It’s only through the collective strength of a compassionate and connected community that we can live the lives that we want to,” Mr Reed said.

The QUT Business Leaders’ Forum was moderated by journalist Kerry O’Brien.


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