Outgoing Chairman of Shell Australia, Ann Pickard has told CEDA's State of the Nation 2013 that "conviction in making hard, long term decisions" is needed to keep Australia competitive and prosperous into the future.
"I believe that right now Australia has an unprecedented opportunity to continue to lock in its prosperity and high living standards for future generations," she said.
"But I also believe that Australia does face some difficult choices.
"In my view, historically, Australia has been able to make the important and hard decisions when required to keep internationally competitive."
Ms Pickard said in order to maintain our prosperity Australia's international competitive must be at the top of every government's agenda.
"Second, Australia must remain an open economy, managing demands against the inflow of foreign capital or labour," she said.
"Together, business and government need to confront hard issues. We need to ensure we are setting Australia up for success, for continued success.
"Putting the right long term policy and frameworks in place and ensuring we can compete confidently in a very competitive and dynamic global market.
"I urge you to harness the can-do attitude that has defined Australia for the last 200 years."
Before introducing the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Ms Pickard spoke of her time as a woman in leadership.
"I can tell you, as a woman who breaks a glass ceiling, there's a lot of damage sometimes," she said.
"It's hard work breaking through the glass ceiling and we, as women around the world, celebrate your successes as the first female Prime Minister in Australia."