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Celebrate Business Heroes, Says Retiring Chairman

New Zealanders will actively support professional sports people but will often vilify business people for making a profit selling essential services and products, says the retiring Telecom Chairman Peter Shirtcliffe.

In his last speech to shareholders as Chairman, Peter Shirtcliffe told the Telecom Annual Meeting today that New Zealanders need to celebrate business success and embrace the benefits of change.

"Many news media outlets give cover stories to the heroes of the sports field while burying stories about business success between the TV listings and the classified adverts," Mr Shirtcliffe said.

"Yet these business people, whether running small neighbourhood shops, farms, service firms or large corporations such as Telecom, are the heroes who create the nation's wealth."

"The people who are most successful in this era of rapid change are those who are able to most rapidly adapt to change. For 15 years now, a small but constantly growing number of New Zealanders have made a decision to face the realities of our changing world, " he said.

"These people have realised that since the mid-1980s, New Zealand has broadly followed a particular set of philosophies that have left us in pretty good shape. Our economic fundamentals are about right - with low inflation and interest rates and low employment compared to other countries. We have a solid infrastructure - including highly competitive telecommunications networks to provide a wide range of useful and affordable services," Mr Shirtcliffe said.

"Some of what is currently being promoted as 'the way forward' for New Zealand is simply a recycling of tired old methods and policies which have been dusted-off and presented as new. These policies and methods were discarded in the past because they didn't work," he said.

"They didn't work then and they won't work now. The people promoting these policies are trying to undo change. They're trying to sell you a pup," he said.

"It is time for New Zealand to decide both where it wants to be in the world and what it wants to be - and it is time for us to make a positive decision that we can actually achieve success," Mr Shirtcliffe said.


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