Ken Henry AC is the former Secretary of the Commonwealth Treasury. It was his “measured” advice to then Prime Minister Rudd and Treasurer Swan, that in one swoop took Australia’s net debt from negative to positive (a negative net debt means is a positive net equity, ie saving).
Ken Henry also gave new meaning to Keynesian economic with his specialist branch of Henryism. Whereas Keynes advocated for the government to pay 1 set of workers to dig holes and another to fill those same holes, Henry came up with the “go early, go hard, go household” concept. An economic concept that was the foundation of the economic policy highs of the Rudd government including, but not limited to $900 cheques, pink bats and cash for clunkers.
In addition to his comfortable, but underfunded defined benefit public service pension, Ken Henry is currently the Chairman of the National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia’s 4th largest bank by market capitalisation and largest business bank. He is also on the board of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
In an interview with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), in the context of a discussion around the banking royal commission, Dr Henry is quoted saying:
… part of what’s required is for businesses to do a better job of ensuring capitalism produces social and environmental outcomes that are sustainable, enduring and benefit the community at large.
Yes. The former chief economic adviser to government believes that it is the role of business to produce social and environmental outcomes. It seems that the business of business is no longer business. According to Dr Henry, the business of business is sugar and spice and everything nice.
One might wonder what Dr Henry’s views on the role of business would be if he sat on the board of a company that was not a regulated monopoly or a regulated oligopoly, both with the benefit of an implied government guarantee; within a financial system architecture designed and deployed by the government agency he used to lead.
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