The Inside Word

In the business of relationships

Xin Nian Kuai Le – Happy New Year!  Last night, SAS Group China Director Victoria Qiu and I had the pleasure of being guests at Chinese New Year celebrations hosted by Dr Ruan Zongze Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Brisbane. The event hosted 400 Chinese community and business leaders, the Queensland Governor, the Deputy Premier, many state and local political representatives.

The Chinese Lunar New Year starts on Saturday the 10th of February and will be celebrated for at least the next week. The Chinese zodiac sign for the year is the Dragon, a creature with energy, intelligence, ambition and luck. 

I am sure these are the traits that Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers are hoping Australians focus on over the year ahead, rather than last year’s challenges in the Year of the Rabbit.  

The Prime Minister will be hoping the breach of his word, his bond with Australians, over the Stage III tax cuts will been seen as the intelligent thing to do, delivered with energy, focusing on the ambition of Australians to have a few more dollars in their pockets, all wrapped up with a dose of good luck. And because of these reasons, I think the Government will get away with it, ‘this time’.  

We won’t have to wait for long to find out if this is correct. The by-election on Saturday the 2nd of March will be a test as to whether voters accept the Prime Minister’s Year of the Dragon charms, or not. 

The Coalition will end up supporting the revised tax package (though will try for some changes). This will negate the Greens who have already called to further increase our nation’s burgeoning welfare bill (which by-the-way is a burden increasingly falling on those people most hurt by the Stage III broken promise).  Peter Dutton finds himself in a hard spot but needs to plot a path through these changes that allows him to hold on to some credit for delivering tax relief to most Australians at the same time as encouraging the aspirational in our nation.  

So, why did I mention ‘this time’?  Buoyed by the positive public reaction to the proposed new tax changes, we are already hearing about revisiting Bill Shorten’s 2019 election policies attacking negative gearing and family trusts. Whilst only speculation, where there is smoke there is usually fire. Whether it being taxation or other key policy areas, the Government will need to be very careful about anymore broken promises and breaches of trust with the public. 

Building trust is a cumulative process, which normally occurs gradually over time. Destroying trust does not. If the goodwill, the relationship, or in this case the financial incentive, is enough, Australians are likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. But when the tipping point comes, the precipice is usually very steep and the fall is very fast.  

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