And further evidence

This little nugget was in yesterday’s SMH/Age:

Only two months ago CBD noted (outgone Westpac CEO Brian) Hartzer and (acting Westpac CEO Peter) King in Parliament House corridors, quietly stepping out of Frydenberg’s office (and presumably on their way to see Morrison).

Why is it (relatively) easy for the executives of major Australian companies to meet with the PM and Treasurer?  And why is it necessary?

More to the point, why are the PM and Treasurer taking such meetings?  Have they nothing better to do with their time?

The sad truth is that, in as much as we would like to deny it, Australia has more similarities to a centrally planned economy than we would like to admit.  And whilst this is a snippet of the “access”, there is plenty, plenty more unseen.

The mobility of senior politicians, shortly after their “retirement”, to the boards of large Australian organisations is concerning.  As is the mobility of senior public servants to the boards of large Australian organisations.

Yes.  TAFKAS is referring to Dr Ken who joined the boards of NAB and ASX, two organisations that are regulated by the RBA (on whose board Dr Ken sat while still in government).  And yes.  TAFKAS is also referring to Dr Martin who recently was appointed chancellor of Macquarie University – ie the Chairman of the University board.  And how much tax payer funding does Macquarie Uni receive and what were the discussions in the budget committee of cabinet about general university funding.

Shout out also to Jane Halton, former head of the Department of Finance who currently sits on the board of ANZ and Peter Varghese who is on the AMP board – and also the Chancellor of UQ.

Who needs an elected government when there is a shadow government instead.

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26 Responses to And further evidence

  1. RobK

    Australia has more similarities to a centrally planned economy than we would like to admit.
    I agree.
    It wouldn’t be so bad if they knew what they were doing but evidence suggests otherwise.

  2. Youngster

    Like it or not, we have four major banks. Why would it be unusual that bank executives meet with the nation’s Treasurer? They are an integral part of the nation’s financial and economic systems.

    Where else do you expect the Treasurer to get his insight from? Public servants? The media? The Cat (one can only hope…)? Steve Kates (there’s a good idea)? The more time ministers spend actually engaging with the businesses in their portfolio, the better. As long as the Minister in question also has the guts to sometimes tell those executives to take a flying leap.

  3. John A

    Youngster #3246255, posted on November 27, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Like it or not, we have four major banks. Why would it be unusual that bank executives meet with the nation’s Treasurer? They are an integral part of the nation’s financial and economic systems.

    Where else do you expect the Treasurer to get his insight from? Public servants? The media? The Cat (one can only hope…)? Steve Kates (there’s a good idea)? The more time ministers spend actually engaging with the businesses in their portfolio, the better. As long as the Minister in question also has the guts to sometimes tell those executives to take a flying leap.

    If your handle indicates your youth, then I suggest that you go and view Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister episodes relating to the twin issues of
    a) the nature of lobbying – Public Service departments lobby the elected government on behalf of their major constituents as clients
    b) the exit traffic between government, both elected and non-elected, and major industrial, academic and commercial enterprises

  4. Tezza

    I’m with youngster.

    I agree the revolving door phenomenon of private or QUANGO employment after public employment is somewhat concerning, mainly because of too short (or in the case of politicians, practically non-existent) quarantine periods after public life. But look around you: there’s not enough talent in Australia to say there can be no economic life after public employment. To say that is to imply a totally hermetically sealed public sector, even more inbred and incompetent than at present.

    I’m not uncritical (on ideological grounds) of three of the four examples TAFKAS mentions, but none of them is a dope. I wouldn’t mind them on my team.

  5. Snoopy

    none of them is a dope

    I could easily do without ‘Go early, go households’ on my team.

  6. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    Jane Halton

    Yet another unflushable swamp creature with an unparalleled record of unrelenting failure.

  7. Tezza.

    1. Feel free to take them.
    2. They should not have post employment paid careers. That’s what they get the huge defined benefit pensions for. HUGE and for life. With the Ac and m pins to go with.
    3. There is plenty of talent in Australia if you redefine talent beyond the ability capture government for private benefit.

  8. Dr Fred Lenin

    Ken Henry deserves his position at NAB ,he spent a lifetime striving to better the Australian People for little renumeration and even less thanks ,now dispensed with ,living on a miserable pension reluctantly given him by the grasping taxpayers , he is entitled to help NAB improve the standard of living of the ingrates he was employed by. His payment from NAB will help him achieve an average stadard of living , and possibly put a lttle away at present high interest rates , for when he can no longer work ,worn out by years of ill paid toil for the ungratefull governmment . (Public service News an internal newsletter) ”

  9. Des Deskperson

    ‘I’m not uncritical (on ideological grounds) of three of the four examples TAFKAS mentions, but none of them is a dope. I wouldn’t mind them on my team.’

    Peter Varghese certainly, Jane Halton??

    When she was Secretary of Health, her department had the reputation of being the worst run portfolio agency, and from data I saw, I don’t think that was an unfair assessment. Jane is the daughter of Sir Charles Halton, former Portfolio Secretary – Transport IIRC. While I have no evidence that Jane herself took or was given career advantage as a result of this connection, generally speaking it is the sort of bloodline that would ensure a very rapid rise.

    ‘Public Service departments lobby the elected government on behalf of their major constituents as clients’.

    In Australia? really??

  10. Cui Bono

    Andrew Robb taking the very well remunerated Chinese gig

  11. @Des Deskperson

    Always appreciate the insights.

    generally speaking it is the sort of bloodline that would ensure a very rapid rise

    more likely her gender

    ‘Public Service departments lobby the elected government on behalf of their major constituents as clients’.

    More accurately – Public Service departments lobby the elected government on behalf of Public Service departments.

  12. stackja

    Wheeler, Sir Frederick Henry (1914–1994)

    Throughout his long public career, 40 years of which were served at the Treasury, Sir Frederick always tended to be a private man. After retirement he took up business directorships with several companies, but refrained from making any substantive comments on the loans affair or any other aspects of his government service. Officially, he presented himself as a public servant of the old school, apolitical and strict in refusing to discuss public business, even in private conversation.

  13. Cynic of Ayr

    If there is something wrong with Capitalism, and there are a few somethings, it’s that the elite look after their own. No one is allowed in without a family tie, a school tie, or a head of government department tie.
    If you don’t have any of them, then vast riches will buy you a place.
    Was it Winston who said something like, “Capitalism is an awful bloody system, it just happens to be better than anything else.”

  14. What is on display is not capitalism. It is cronyism nepotism socialism communism despotism.

    If Tafkas can channel iampeter, if we actually had capitalism there would be no need for business to meet with government and there would not be any giant businesses, businesses that are giant because of government support.

    Not to mention the small government that would exist would not have the power or resources to lavish its largess on cronies.

  15. Des Deskperson

    ‘I agree the revolving door phenomenon of private or QUANGO employment after public employment is somewhat concerning, mainly because of too short (or in the case of politicians, practically non-existent) quarantine periods after public life.’

    The only restriction that I am aware of on post-official employment by Commonwealth Ministers and Commonwealth Portfolio Secretaries is that relating to lobbying by ex Ministers, where they are prohibited, for a period of 18 months from engaging in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had had had official dealings with in their last 12 months of employment.

    Given that ethicists tell us that perceptions of integrity are as important as integrity itself in maintaining faith in public institutions, there may be case for a broader arrangement requiring both Ministers and agency heads not being employed in organisations with interests in any matter that the former had had official dealings with, with the same governing time frames. The definition and delineation of what ‘interests in any matter’ means may, however, be difficult.

    It is important to bear in mind that Ministers and Portfolio Secretaries these days can lose their jobs very quickly and that at least some of these people are sought out for their management and administrative experience rather than their contacts.

  16. pbw

    Spurgeon,

    Jane Halton

    Yet another unflushable swamp creature with an unparalleled record of unrelenting failure.

    What is she good at, one wonders?

  17. The BigBlueCat

    What is on display is not capitalism. It is cronyism nepotism socialism communism despotism.

    Not necessarily. You don’t know the reasons for the meeting unless you are a mind-reader or have insider information.

    If Tafkas can channel iampeter, if we actually had capitalism there would be no need for business to meet with government and there would not be any giant businesses, businesses that are giant because of government support.

    Yeah, don’t go there (channelling Iampeter) … I’d say you were delusional if you think you can. But I take your point about government. Though business would be freer to grow in size without government regulation. Question is – would that mean we’d all be better off, or just dancing to a private tune rather than a public one?

  18. I would like to assume that they were called into a meeting with PM & Joshie to be grilled about what had been uncovered & to prevail upon them “to do the right thing”. Fat chance, of course.

  19. Kurt

    With the amount of price gouging that goes on in energy costs, bank fees, internet costs etc it feels like we’re well on our way to a US style corporate kleptocracy.

  20. Des Deskperson

    What is she good at, one wonders?

    Jan was reportedly very good at telling Ministers what they wanted to hear.

  21. Gowest

    With the govt surplus being funded by the bank tax, fines and the like, I am sure future meetings will have a different tone now that the personal bonus is in question?

  22. Squirrel

    As others have noted, incestuous goings on between politicians and the business elite is not exactly a new thing.

    What seems to make the effects of those goings on worse now than in earlier times is the now stratospheric remuneration of the top business types (an obvious incentive for upwardly thrusting politicians looking to life after The Bubble) and the resultant detachment from the day-to-day realities of the majority of the public.

  23. This thread is enough evidence to support the notion of shunning the government, adopting agorism, no-go zones for government agents, non-0violent resistance and if ever elected, draining the swamp without mercy and with malicious intent to financially ruin the shadow government and the ruling class of aristocratic lawyers and hereditary public servants that rule over us forever.

    I mean show no mercy, do what must be done, etc.

    Fire them all and strip them of their entitlements.

    Maximise the damage on those who are financially overextended.
    This must be considered warfare and fought on the full spectrum of fronts.

  24. a reader

    I find it concerning that we have so many board sitters in Australian society-people who exist by sitting on half a dozen boards at the same time. I’m not sure this is really in the best interests of listed companies or non-profits.

  25. JC

    I find it concerning that we have so many board sitters

    Fee rakers, not board sitters.

  26. This is why genuine fin tech, bio tech and even chemical manufacturers are interesting to me, as well as junior miners.

    Much, much more likely to avoid these detritus grubs ejected from the horrifically hellish ablutions orifices in Macquarie St and Capital Hill.

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