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Business leader's warning of "seismic" change

November 15, 2021

Bevan Slattery, Kate Vidgen and Tom Seymour at Bond University’s Titans of Industry forum

The world is experiencing its highest level of volatility in a century, and Australians need to prepare themselves for “seismic” regulatory change, according to one of the country’s leading business minds.

Price Waterhouse Coopers Australia chief executive Tom Seymour made the comments at Bond University’s Titans of Industry forum, alongside Bevan Slattery, founder and chairman of Megaport, NEXTDC and Superloop; and Kate Vidgen, global head of industrial transition and clean fuels at Macquarie Group.

While Covid-19 remained at the forefront of everyone’s thinking, Mr Seymour said the pandemic was not the sole cause of the current once-in-a-century levels of global volatility.

“The volatility in the world today is probably the highest it’s been in 100 years.

“There’s massive geo-political volatility, obviously Covid has created massive volatility, supply chains are disrupted, technology has accelerated more quickly than ever before, governments have deficits like they’ve never had before, so there’s a huge amount of volatility in the world.

“I think you’re going to see government policy reform like you’ve never seen. In the next decade you’ll see policy reform by governance on steroids. We’ve often bemoaned there’s been no great reform in Australia since Howard and before that Keating and Hawke - you’ll see massive reform in the next ten years, seismic reform.”

Mr Seymour said tax reform was likely to be central to this change.

“You can’t just go back to the old well over and over again.

“You’re going to have to tax other things, it may be consumption of energy, it may be land, it may be wealth, and if we do go into an inflationary cycle and you see a massive inequality arise…you’re going to have to tax something other than the wage or the profit of a company, and you’re going to see that through consumption taxes, energy taxes, I think you’ll see land taxes, you’ll probably see some sort of death tax emerge.”

Earlier in the forum, Ms Vidgen said Covid had also affected how businesses ensured they were able to attract the best talent.

“Covid has actually got the good organisations really thinking about a global pool of talent as opposed to a geographically proximate pool of talent.”

While living on the Gold Coast herself, Ms Vidgen had spent the past six months developing business in the Netherlands, and said Macquarie Group was happy with that approach.

“We’re doing that all over Europe. People live where they’ve grown up, they may have spent a bit of time in London, and they want to go back home. We just make it work.”

With the global workplace constantly evolving, Mr Slattery said it was important for people entering the workforce to embrace disruption.

“Whatever your job or career is, don’t do it on the side of tradition, do it on the side where the disruption is happening. I wouldn’t necessarily want to be working in a traditional newspaper journalism role, I’d want to be a in a new media role, I’d want to be on the disruption side of that.

“There’s disruption everywhere, and all I’d say is, be part of that.”