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ANZ chairman John Morschel. Picture: Dione Davidson/The West Australian.
ANZ chairman John Morschel. Picture: Dione Davidson/The West Australian.

Prominent Australian business leaders have called on the nation's politicians to stop hurling insults at each other and focus on promoting Australia's positive aspects.

The chairman of the ANZ bank, John Morschel, said that his hope for 2013 was that political debate focused on opportunities for the country.

"In other words, not give a voice to all this political grandstanding that's going on and making sure that the ministers and the opposition leaders focus on the growth of the country in the future," Mr Morschel told an Australian Financial Review business lunch.

"We need a very clear message out of the politicians - a positive message.

"That will, hopefully, encourage people to adopt a more positive attitude about the country and confidence in it and start spending again."

Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted said that in 2013 he wanted to see leadership across the board and politicians to have sufficient trust in business to have engaging conversations.

"Business doesn't want handouts, but it does want consistency, it does want the frameworks to be right to give confidence," Mr Maxsted said.

The chairman of global insurer QBE, Belinda Hutchinson, said there had been too much brick throwing by politicians, unions and business, which had not been helpful, particularly for business.

"Business is critical for the government's budget, it's critical for our economic growth, it's critical for raising our GDP (gross domestic product)," she said.

"I think it is about not actually throwing brickbats at each other but actually being supportive and working together."

Telstra chief executive David Thodey said there were issues in Australia that needed to be addressed, such as labour competitiveness and "too much" regulation.

But Australia also needed to ask itself what was is its vision as a country.

"We need a bigger agenda, and that's what I hope for in 2013," Mr Thodey said.

"I hope that we as a country can rally around something about Australia."

The leaders follow Twitter comments from Atlas Iron chairman David Flanagan yesterday complaining that politicians and voters were focused on short-term policies.

"What will it take to increase the quality of political debate in Australia? Are Australians demanding enough," he said.

"We often complain about our leadership but maybe we get what we deserve.

"We need a government. We just need them to know what they don't know. No one knows everything but most of the answers are out there."