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Business plea to unite and prosper
Business plea to unite and prosper

The man who represents the nation's biggest companies wants a new formal accord between business, unions and politicians to end political infighting.

Business Council president Tony Shepherd said in a speech last night that corporate Australia wanted a "different way" to resolve key national issues.

The original accord was a series of agreements between the Hawke and Keating governments with the union movement that traded pay rises for a better so-called "social wage" that included tax cuts and family benefits.

Mr Shepherd, whose group represents the nation's 100 biggest companies, said it was time for businesses, the Government, the Opposition, unions and community groups to stop seeing each other as "combatants".

Australia needed an inclusive, positive vision that could be developed along the lines of the original accord, when different sectors agreed on common purposes to foster productivity, competitiveness and growth.

"We believe that it's not just business people who are looking for a different way of talking about and resolving important issues," he said.

"We want our approach - and the sincerity, the rigour and the values that underpin it - to help build a coalition of people who share a positive vision."

At the same function, Prime Minister Julia Gillard revealed the Government was looking at more spending cuts to get its Budget surplus.

Describing the Budget as one of the "seven economic wonders of the modern world", Ms Gillard said further savings would improve schools and deliver the national disability insurance scheme on a sustainable footing.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox will today call for sweeping changes to the nation's industrial relations framework.

He will tell a conference in Melbourne the nation had gone the wrong way down a one-way street for too long.

He believes the Rudd and Gillard governments have agreed to too many union demands, undermining the ability of businesses to survive with the strong Australian dollar and in tough trading conditions. He will say businesses need to be lean, agile and competitive globally.

He wants "important changes" to the Fair Work Act to remove barriers to business flexibility and productivity and to address legitimate employer concerns.

Both Mr Shepherd and Mr Willox say the Government and Opposition, which is committed to not changing the Fair Work Act, need to agree on IR reforms.