Business Advisory Council is a government echo chamber

Andrea Fox at?a newspaper?writes about the membership of Jacinda’s latest working group – the Business Advisory Council.

You may remember that this was working group number (approximately) 1181, intended to improve business confidence. quote.

Those chosen to represent NZ Inc on the Prime Minister’s business advisory council were never going to please everyone, but whole sectors have been left out and some of the names are bemusing.

There are some respected heavyweights in the mix, but some names and industries are conspicuous by their absence and some seem plain odd choices.

Bunnings for example. It’s an Australian company. Consultancy McKinsey & Co’s Andrew Grant is another that’s perplexed. end quote.

Bunnings. Suppliers of building materials and components. quote.

His fans say he has a brain as big as the planet, a unique insight into the whole domestic and international business spectrum and is a thoroughly nice, modest guy.

Which brings us neatly to Fonterra, said to have paid McKinsey tens of millions of dollars in recent years. But no matter its much-criticised financial performance and crumbling shareholder confidence, it is New Zealand’s biggest company and it would look very odd if it wasn’t among the chosen.

That said, Fonterra’s inclusion has been greeted with cynicism about the likely effectiveness of the council. end quote.

Fonterra had to be represented on the council. It is our biggest producer and exporter by far. Yes, they have had some problems recently, but they also have a strong knowledge about our export earnings and the current situation in world trade. quote.

Transport, one of New Zealand’s most confronting issues, is hardly represented – unless you count Rocket Lab and an Invercargill-based trucking company as flag-wavers for the sector. end quote.

Rocket Lab? Spare me. Yes, they are dynamic and innovative, but how can they contribute significantly to a forum like this? quote.

Where is $2 billion Kiwi freight and logistics company Mainfreight? Where is the Port of Tauranga, which handles 41 per cent of all our exports, representing shipping? end quote.

These companies would probably campaign for more roads or more fossil fuels and we can’t have that. Mainfreight is one of the most successful companies on the NZX, followed by Port of Tauranga. Why they were left out is glaringly obvious.quote.

One of the most glaring sector omissions is manufacturing – or did the selectors think Fonterra and Bluescope/NZ Steel would do for that?

While the Government/council say it’s aimed for diversity, are the chosen going to represent real business concerns about Government policies? Like industrial relations reform and the tax and growing cost burden on SMEs which make up more than 90 per cent of NZ Inc? (It’s been said the council is the ‘big end of town’.) end quote.

I’m starting to think that the members of this council have been cherry picked. Our ‘open and transparent government’ wouldn’t do that, would they? quote.

The group will meet just three times a year. Sure, these folk are busy people, but what meaningful results can be achieved in three meetings, even with the PM’s department and MBIE doing some of the heavy lifting for them?

There’s some justification for businesspeople thinking this is just another Coalition Government advisory working group. And a political sop to business.

After all, there are plenty of well-regarded business groups and networks like the EMA already deeply engaged in, and deeply researching, the very same matters. end quote.

It was always a political sop to business. It was a way of getting business to toe the line. Business confidence has dropped, and in spite of so many people insisting that this attitude is political, there is a good reason for a lack of confidence in this government.

I don’t suppose the oil and gas industry is represented on the council, for example. quote.

As one business leader says “what are they going to do that hasn’t already been done?”

More to the point, has the Government simply created a taxpayer-funded echo chamber? Will we end up with all the same messages – just out of handpicked mouths? end quote.

Of course, that is it. It was always going to be like this. Just another waste of taxpayers money, to try to make the most incompetent government we have ever had look good. Christopher Luxon, CEO of Air New Zealand, is the biggest sycophant of them all.

I have heard suggestions that Luxon is going to be a serious mover and shaker – possibly a future leader – in the National party soon. In spite of whatever changes happen in the party in the near future, Luxon looks to me like a Jacindaphile through and through.