DONALD Trump’s domestic economic policies when he takes office as President of the United States are likely to generate growth there, but his protectionist trade attitude might hurt Australia, the former head of the Commonwealth Bank believes.
David Murray looked into his crystal ball in Wagga on Tuesday as guest speaker at a business lunch organised by the Hume Bank.
“I think the key question (about Australia’s short-term economic outlook) is international trade because we run an open, international economy and it is hurtful for us, hurtful or everyone if he (Mr Trump) reduces trade,” Mr Murray said.
On the brighter side, Mr Murray said China’s shift to a consumer economy made prospects of Australia’s agricultural sector stronger.
About 140 people attended the lunch, with Hume Bank donating proceeds of $3500 to Country Hope.
As the former chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank, Mr Murray presided over branch closures.
As Junee residents grapple with the ANZ pulling out and Leeton angry about St George’s closure, Mr Murray said bank branch closures were part of a wider problem facing smaller communities.
“I understand that bank closures in a rural town is symbolic, but I think it’s just driven by other factors that have been in place for decades,” said Mr Murray, citing transport changes and shopping trends.
Mr Murray, who conducted a federal inquiry into Australia’s banking system, rejected calls for a royal commission into the banking sector.
He said the only reason for a royal commission would be to investigate a serious flaw that has cost people dearly across Australia, and that has not happened.
Mr Murray said NSW was leading the world in selling public assets to build new infrastructure and that a fast-train inland rail was quite fundamental to the country’s future.
“Bulk rail freight is 30 per cent cheaper than bulk road freight,” Mr Murray said.
Mr Murray, who operates a beef and sheep farm in the Hunter Valley, said Australia should have multi-peril insurance for the agricultural sector.