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The Atlases shrug, ‘I dunno’

Written By: - Date published: 9:28 am, March 4th, 2009 - 14 comments
Categories: economy, employment, spin - Tags: ,

In the Dom yesterday, Hollow man star Richard Long was full of praise for the Key’s PR team, who managed the Jobs Summit. He was right to praise them, the media lapped it up –  ‘cycleway!’, ‘packed lunches, and no cream for the apple pie, how thrifty!’ (since when did you get get cream, or dessert at a conference lunch anyway?), ‘twenty top ideas!’

Funny thing is, none of the media actually listed the top twenty ideas. Anywhere. I wondered why. I thought we would be poring over each one in detail. I mean these are the top twenty ideas from the “movers and shakers of NZ Inc” (sorry for using that disgusting phrase, just quoting Colin Espiner). There ought to be some good stuff in there. These people are the Atlases of our society; they’re the ‘wealth creators’. Surely, there would be heaps of great ideas.

Well, it took some doing but I got a list of the top twenty. [Update: Here is the only online source]

Retain and upskill with a nine day fortnight.
Intra-national migration to remove barriers between employers and seasonal workers.
Keeping people in education and creating jobs through education and training.
Improving matching of supply and demand for training
Redundancy and transition support for people who lose their jobs.
Enhance the use of Maori iwi assets.
Ensure government services reach Maori effectively
Urgently develop and implement new sources of bond funding
Reduce regulatory compliance costs and impediments
A return to big project fast track.
A freeze on rule making by government agencies and regulators
Boosting tourist traffic funding (guess this is the cycleway)
Accelerate energy, environmental and water initiatives for employment and productivity improvements
Streamline regulatory approval processes for major projects
Access to working capital delivered via an extension of the Export Credit Office
Level the playing field to New Zealand firms for local and central government procurement
Super-charge the debt market by streamlining reporting and disclosure requirements.
Develop a government/bank equity investment fund
Commitment by banks to provide capital to New Zealand firms.
Banks to significantly invest in financial literacy.

Some of these ideas are good, some are pretty evil stuff dressed in cute terms – “Reduce regulatory compliance costs and impediments” means removing air and water quality standards, seriously. But overwhelmingly, they’re just so mundane, so vague, so petty, so ineffectual at dealing with the problem.

I mean, if these are the top twenty, what didn’t make the cut?
21) Don’t fire jokers (unless you’re want to increase your profits)
22) Free frisbee every time you hire someone
23) Reintroduce slavery
24) Get this country moving again!

14 comments on “The Atlases shrug, ‘I dunno’ ”

  1. ieuan 1

    OK – maybe your criticism is fair but hell it is easy to criticise.

    So Steve, how about you come up with some suggestions for dealing with ‘the problem’.

    • Felix 1.1

      I’m very confidant that if we gave Steve $65,000 and told him to invite 200 of his best thinkers he’d come up with a lot more than this.

      • Chess Player 1.1.1

        I think the issue is probably wanting ‘better’ not ‘more’ ideas, isn’t it?

        The trick would be to come up with ideas that didn’t require any borrowing. That’s the real challenge as I see it.

        • Felix

          Yes I should have said “better”.

          Although I have read some research into brainstorming techniques which showed that the ratio of useful to less-useful ideas increases quite dramatically with the total number of ideas.

          But yeah, I meant better.

    • Ianmac 1.2

      Don’t be ridiculous. If a body puts up claim to lead and develop ideas and they don’t do it, then the criticism is valid. Given the $68,000 cost and the attendance of the Top Men and a very few Top Women who had time to prepare propositions and ideas beforehand, then how sad.

  2. Jono 2

    I haven’t seen anyone talk about exchanging equity in a business for a pay cut to get them over the hump, rather than reducing hours or laying off staff. I would consider a pay cut in the short term, in exchange for a small share of the SME I work for because its a good company that has a good future and has made small but consistent profits in the past, some of which have been returned to staff as bonuses. I know that other much larger companies in the same sector I work in have provided a stake in the company to employees in this manner, as a matter of course.

    Or is this a dum idea which is why nobody else is raising it? I am happy to admit to being a skilled technician rather than a managing director (albeit one who has been self-employed).

  3. Felix 3

    Hardly surprising that they weren’t going out of their way to publicise it.

  4. Matthew Pilott 4

    A freeze on rule making by government agencies and regulators

    Does this mean none of the other 19 could happen?

  5. the sprout 5

    I’d just like to know where the $64,000 for the event went. It can’t cost more than 20k to hire the venue for a day, and if there’s nought being spent on lunch, accommodation or airfares, what did the rest of the cash go on?

    PR and event management perhaps?

  6. Snail 6

    Matthew Pilott — Does this mean none of the other 19 could happen?

    Very good.

    I am reminded of the bright spark at an Environment Court Hearing who pointed out that only evidence before the court can be considered.

    Before which the applicant, a sizeable corporate with its QC entrain, had been doing everything possible to avoid presenting their memorandum of understanding with certain regional entities..

    Well, next day it was promptly produced.. to the commissioners and any interested parties.. which necessitated a hundred or more copies (amusement all round).

    But the last laugh went to the applicant and its cute QC who had gone to considerable lengths overnight to blackout all the embarrassing bits yet leave entirely untouched a short clause (at # 15). Which read to effect that all preceding clauses could/might fail save this one. And this one alone – would you believe – contained powers to revoke all preceding clauses..

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