Jacinda tries to reassure the business sector

Jacinda decided on her first day back from maternity leave that she was going to tackle the ‘elephant in the room’ of a significant drop in business confidence. As far as she was concerned, there was no problem. It is just that business hates Labour governments, and they just have to get over it.

Business owners simply take it in their stride of course, when a whole industry is cut down, or when significant labour reforms (that will take us back to the 1970s) are signalled, but this is just business hating Labour governments. Nothing to see here.

Yesterday was the day for her to have her significant ‘conversation’ with business leaders.

I thought it was most appropriate that they presented her with a toy.

But, as?Stuff?reports, she is handling the crisis in true Jacinda fashion.

She is setting up an advisory group. Another one. quote:

The head of a new business advisory council says the exercise will not be a “talkfest”.

A new Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council is to be formed as Jacinda Ardern battles to get business on side.

The council, chaired by Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon, aims to build closer relationships between government and business. end quote.

I am uncomfortable with Christopher Luxon being involved in this. As the head of one of our largest listed companies, and our airline, I do not believe he should be showing political bias. quote:

Ardern said it would provide her “high-level free and frank advice” on key economic issues and harness expertise from the private sector to develop the Government’s economic policies. end quote.

Advice that she is not going to listen to unless it fits with her agenda. quote:

Luxon said it would not simply be a talkfest. “CEOs don’t join talking shops.” end quote.

But politicians do nothing else, so I’m not sure how you are going to change that. quote:

He said many international prime ministers and presidents had a similar council. “It’s a really good idea and an exciting move and it does give us a conduit between government and business.”

The council would choose five big topics to inform its agenda, he said.

“The council will provide a forum for business leaders to advise me and the Government and to join us in taking the lead on some of the important areas of reform the Government is undertaking,” Ardern said. end quote.

Exciting… quote.

Ardern said it appeared that business confidence was not so much impacted by economic indicators but the need for certainty.

“I understand the desire for certainty in order to make decisions big and small, ranging from the risk of taking on an extra hire through to multi-million dollar investment decisions.” end quote.

I doubt if she really does understand it, but at least she acknowledges that uncertainty is a killer of business confidence. That is a move in the right direction. quote:

Luxon said he was looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m excited to chair this important initiative because I think building a better, more sustainable New Zealand is a cause well worth putting all our collective efforts and energy behind ? business leaders working together with government.

“I believe all New Zealanders, regardless of our backgrounds, are united in wanting to see a more prosperous economy, a more cohesive society, and an enhanced environment. At the end of the day we will all get the country we deserve.” end quote.

There is just a teensy little problem with all this ‘excitement’. There are 150 or so working groups currently in operation, that must be coming up with a whole raft of new policies, some of which will affect the business sector. No one knows what they are going to propose. This is just yet another working group. How can there be an improved certainty when so much is up in the air?

If you are starting to feel even slightly optimistic that the government has listened to the leaders of business, there is another aspect to this that you may want to consider.

Andrew Kirton stepped down as the General Secretary of the Labour Party earlier this month to take up a position with Air New Zealand as Head of Government and Industry Affairs. At the time, it was seen as him being removed from Labour after the disastrous Young Labour sexual assault scandal.

Now he is a lobbyist for Air New Zealand, whose CEO, Christopher Luxon, has just been appointed to lead the new Business Advisory Group.

Jobs for the boys?