Biggest Election Issues 2011 for Business

As a business leader I felt it was important to post two important perspectives from my view on the 2011 election and business. I am the HoD of the Department of Management and Marketing and Unitec. My views do not represent Unitec and they are my own personal opinion. I express this opinion in terms of my academic freedom and the post really does not have anything to do with politics.

These issues have largely been ignored and it has been disappointing that most of the policy on the table involves significant expenditure. Existing policy appears to be very internally focused. We are an externally focused country and it is time government policy reflects that orientation.

1. The link between education and business. There is a big gap and no one is filling this. Our solution with the support of others comes from two directions; (1) the support of the business curriculum in secondary and primary schools as well as the programmes of the Young Enterprise Trust. However, a bridge needs to be built and I believe that a simple solution to this is a comprehensive internship programme, a little like our Industry Based Learning course in our Bachelor of Business. This could be applied to the secondary school context. This approach is used extensively in Europe. I believe the problem is a lack of understand between business and learners. It is like they speak a different ‘language’ with different expectations. Attitude is the biggest issue. Interns help this translation process and it builds understanding and relationship.

2. The sale of NZ assets. I am not talking about state owned assets and I support the free market. As an example; the potential sale of Turners and Growers to an overseas owner. For $216 million. That is very cheap. The biggest loss here is in the intellectual property. If Turners and Growers went offshore then this could tell us something about current government policy and the will and ability of local investors to take-up such an offer. These assets are like our land.

On asset sales; my person view is that strategic national assets should be majority controlled by New Zealanders and/or through the NZ government shareholding of them. We need though some international investment through free market mechanisms. I think the ownership of Air New Zealand has worked well. This does not mean that a proportion of them should not be sold as is being proposed to help fund schools, health etc. I like the idea of working hard to build up assets and then realising some of that value to fund socially important projects. It is important to note for example; Kiwibank. This organisation was in essence just and idea and brand. Worth nothing. Today it is worth more than $400 million. That is a very good return. Instead of boring more; lets leverage some of that investment for the future of our countries services. We can do that with other business ideas. What about a Kiwisure?  This idea is old-school. It is simply based on the good philosophy of paying for things through your own hard work.

Good luck for 2012

Robert Davis

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