Posted by Martin McGahan on Jun 13, 2020
Phil is the Managing Director of Iron Duke Partners. He is a global business leader and advocate. He is Chair of the Board of Business at OECD,(a representation of businesses in OECD member states), based in Paris. Phil is involved in the work of the B20 - advising G20 leaders. He is formally a member of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). He has acted in a governance or advisory capacity to a number of New Zealand and overseas organisations in  areas as diverse as trade, sustainability,  diversity, pay equity, manufacturing,  tertiary education, child poverty and the future of work. Until recently, Phil was a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) based in Geneva. Previously he was Chief Executive of BusinessNZ, New Zealand’s leading business advocacy group, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes.
In a wide ranging and informative address, Phil covered the geo-political environment in light of Covid 19 and how it could affect New Zealand and our ability to trade around the world. How the big two, USA and China, will likely use their influence to leverage future trade access and diplomatic connection.
He talked of Australia being the bright spot for us, having remained largely open for business through C19, and the immediate benefits likely for us. As a small trading nation we need our borders open to sell to the world. We need to put faces in front of faces to make the impact we require to survive.
On local politics Phil emphasised how our PM is the centre of focus, but he doesn’t think this will last. He is concerned about the government’s attitude to business, but did make the point of highlighting Grant Robertson as being a good friend of business in these times. He talked of how Covid 19 helped re-glue an otherwise disfunctional administration.
Phil thought the wage subsidy was the right thing to do, but doesn’t agree the second round is appropriate. Further, he sees the unemployment benefit schemes as a result of C19 are biased favourably for some, but unfairly for others.
Phil questions the government’s plan for recovery post C19. What is it? Whereas Australia has a Recovery Commission, we have no such similar structure.
In Phil’s view a recovery plan should:
· Improve and incentivise R&D
· Push scientists further into business connections
- Accelerate depreciation on capital development
· Ease the requirements of the RMA. While the govt has done this recently for it’s own “big ticket” items, these advantages don’t apply to the rest of NZ private sector.
· Open the Border
· Strengthen Trade Commissions and Representation
While we need to sell our products overseas, we also need to buy overseas. Without full ships bringing inbound cargo to NZ, it is likely there will be fewer available to take our goods to our markets.
On a local level (Auckland), Phil expressed concern about the council austerity programme post C19 and the likelihood of central government stepping in and exerting greater influence in NZ’s biggest city/local authority. He emphasised the disconnect between Wellington and Auckland, unusual in light of the number of “urban liberal” members of this government.
This is only a potted summary of Phil’s address, which showed clearly what a strong and focused view he has about New Zealand’s future.