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"Business confidence is down - no s**t!": Foley cuts loose on Business SA "squawk box"

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Outspoken former Treasurer Kevin Foley has unleashed a social media tirade against opponents of the Weatherill Government’s bank tax, declaring former Queensland Premier turned Bankers Association boss Anna Bligh “destroyed” her state’s Labor Party, and calling Business SA an ineffectual “squawk box” whose members should abandon it.

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Foley, who was embroiled in the tax controversy earlier this month when he alleged bank employees lobbied him to publicly oppose the budget measure, posted a series of missives on his LinkedIn profile last night teeing off against Business SA, who he said was “not taken seriously by either side of politics”.

The state’s peak business lobby this week released a survey showing business confidence plummeting in SA.

But Foley, who left parliament after Jay Weatherill became premier in 2011, suggested Business SA had contributed to the malaise, after a series of public statements “talking down the economy”.

Hey, business could make an easy cost saving – ditch membership of Business SA!

“Since the State Budget you and [the Australian Bankers Association] have been pounding the news cycle with massive spend talking down the economy, and guess what – your survey says business confidence is down… no shit!” Foley muses.

Of his former party colleague Bligh, he noted: “Anna Bligh was clearly not satisfied in destroying Labor in Queensland, she wants a crack at Labor in SA.”

In an earlier post, he reflected on a full-page newspaper ad taken out by the Association “purporting to show business confidence falling of a cliff with an arrow pointing straight down the page”.

“Anna Bligh must have got that idea from electoral polling charts after her election wipeout in Queensland,” he wrote.

Australian Bankers Association CEO Anna Bligh addressing the National Press Club last month. Photo: Mick Tsikas / AAP

Addressing Business SA boss Nigel McBride, Foley wrote: “Oh boy, I need a holiday – Nigel, Nigel, Nigel… as CEO of Business SA you are, in my opinion, a much better contributor to public economic debate than you have shown in the past 12 months.”

“I really respected your corporate leadership over the nuclear waste debate in SA… although Business SA did run the white flag up the pole very quickly when the State Libs announced their opposition,” he said.

“Business SA complains that members are experiencing and fearing wage increases… [I’ve] got to tell you, Australia and SA are currently experiencing stable or indeed negative wages growth – I actually read that data weekly for my various roles.”

Along with various consultancy roles, Foley is chair of Funds SA and a board member of the Motor Accident Commission.

“If SA business is fearing wage growth above 1 to 1.5 per cent, then it’s their own fault for negotiating bad wage deals,” he bluntly asserts.

“Business SA had been nothing but a Squarwk Box [sic] forever, not taken seriously by either side of politics.

“Hey, business could make an easy cost saving – ditch membership of Business SA… I have no idea what benefits they deliver you!!”

He later followed up with a postscript in which he opined about the “weird way they go about serving their membership”, and noting McBride “was on TV and other media outlets probably 12 months ago from memory, crying out loud that SA unemployment may reach double digets [sic]”.

“Give me a break – the latest number was around 6.2 per cent,” he wrote.

“I am not suggesting things are perfect in SA… we have struggled as a small economy for most of our existence and both sides of Politocs [sic] must always makes the economy number one on their respective policy lists.

“But when you have the peak body of Business in SA joining up with the most protected business sector in Australia – the big four banks – and pounding the news cycles, talking down our economy, you start to wonder why business talks their own economy down… to help a bunch of bankers who are out there every day screwing many of your members.

“Weird shit in anyones book!?” he concluded.

McBride told InDaily in a statement: “It’s not Business SA’s policy to engage in late night social media exchanges.”

“We don’t think that’s constructive and we will continue to engage in positive policy discussions,” he said.

The Australian Bankers Association declined to comment.

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