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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2016
100 FORUM 2016 State of Play Michael Photios, Chairman, PremierState Against the backdrop of a looming federal election and a number of major transport and infrastructure projects underway around the country, Michael Photios, Chairman of PremierState, gave an overview of the political landscape at the federal and state levels. Photios reinforced the need to ensure that our industry understands the political realities facing our sector if we are to be successful in influencing public policy. Photios discussed the New South Wales Government’s approach to infrastructure, and its strong performance at the last state election, which, he predicted, will be replicated in 2019 when New South Wales next goes to the polls. Central to the Premier’s appeal, Photios said, is that the electorate does not perceive him as a politician, nor is he beholden to any specific faction in the NSW Liberal Party. Moving to the federal level, Photios said the political paradigm is drastically different. A hostile Senate and a relatively short electoral cycle mean that the challenges facing the current Coalition Government are significant. There is a lack of stability, and both sides of politics are in constant election mode, which does not necessarily lead to good public policy. Photios speculated on the likelihood of government calling a double dissolution election, and the potential of a seven-week election campaign. He said the government needs a national action plan to get the initiative back, and to kickstart its poor showing at the polls. Photios predicted that, should the Coalition be re-elected, Prime Minister Turnbull would find his spark, like Baird has in New South Wales. Photios reminded industry that the federal government wants bold policy ideas, but, at the same time, it is desperate to balance the books; therefore, proposals need to be cost neutral. He also encouraged companies not to forget oppositions during the electoral cycle, and to focus on establishing personal connections, and attending official and unofficial events. Turning to the United States, Photios said the presidential race is demeaning for the country, and is cabaret at its best and worst. He said that, despite the fact that the Republican debates are tearing down respect for the country’s leaders, the prospect of Donald Trump winning the Republican candidacy is a growing possibility. Michael Photios