On Thursday and Friday last week the Business Roundtable held its 6th Dunes Public Policy Symposium for Emerging Business Leaders (pictures to come). It attracted a most impressive group of upcoming senior executives interested in a serious engagement on the principles of good public policy. A perspective that is often misunderstood but that was fully grasped by the group is that the drivers of successful businesses are quite different from those that underpin sound public policy.
The calibre of this group – and their enthusiasm for the topics and the concept generally – convinced me of its value and that we should continue to run these forums. It was a shame we had to turn some would-be attendees away. The speakers also entered into it in the right spirit, including ministers and MPs who weren’t into political grandstanding but wanted instead to shed light on public policy processes.
There are few business leaders better qualified to speak on public policy than Roderick Deane, whose presentation The New Zealand Economy: Challenges and Opportunities was one of the symposium’s highlights. Also well worth highlighting was Don Brash’s Answering the $64,000 Question aka catching Australia by 2025. If Don could get these facts out to wider New Zealand I’m convinced the public would be clamouring for change. A good task for public service broadcasting?
For me, and for many of the attendees, a welcome break from public policy and a star turn of the two days was a riveting after-dinner talk by Fletcher Building chairman Ralph Waters exploring risk – its history, mitigation and management, its manifestation in current Australian politics, and its place in his own early career.