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Scoop Opinion: Scoop Talks Coast Issues With Jim

At the signing of the Heads of Agreement in Greymouth yesterday to transfer $120 million to the West Coast, I had the opportunity to personally talk, for the first time, to Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Anderton. John Howard writes.

I was not a Labour or Alliance supporter at the last election but I do regard myself as a down-to-earth commonsense person who like most people, I guess, want to see nothing more than the best for our country and our people.

After nearly 60 years of being influenced by media and polls indoctrination I'm definitely cynical of politicians, but my impression yesterday was far different.

I've listened and watched the debates in mainstream media about the changes this government has made in the last few months and I've seen the polls which indicate doom and gloom, particularly from the business sector.

After talking to Jim Anderton, and listening to Dr Cullen speak, I can't help but think some New Zealander's in high positions in the business sector, and elsewhere, are narrow-minded people.

In my opinion, what Dr Cullen and Jim Anderton were saying was nothing more than good old kitchen-table commonsense ideas tempered with reality and humanity.

I saw nothing of the broad-brush of crushing ideology or the anti-business agenda with which they are often painted.

As anyone versed in the study of the arts of body language will tell you, a person will give themselves away in seconds if they are not being as honest and sincere as perhaps they should be.

During the course of a conversation which perhaps lasts' just minutes, a person has to be an exceptional actor to get away with insincerity - yesterday, I saw none of that - actor or insincerity.

Perhaps it's time for some of our mainstream journalists to be schooled in the arts of body language and to enter a press conference with an open mind before they frame their questions.

In one sense, it is like a game of cat and mouse - on the one hand the journo looking for the angle or a way to trap the "victim" into making a statement which might be considered front-page, and on the other, a politician wary of a cynical media who probably has its own agenda - there can be no real winners in that scenario, public, politician or media.

Sure, there are evil power-hungry ideologes in politics, just as there are in every walk of life - and there are probably a few of them in our Parliament. But these two men did not give me that impression at all - in fact, quite the reverse.

One of the major complaints I do have with some of our politicians is that they take far too long to answer an email request and some don't answer at all - in the computer information technology age and with staff to help - that's inexcusable and downright rude. It makes me bloody angry as well so I make a record for future reference.

Finally, I want to offer the following advice to those business people who are critical or their Government.

No one has the patent rights to continuing business success. But I venture to suggest a few fundamentals which all of us might find helpful to keep in mind. These 10 fundamentals seem to me to hold the key to lasting business prosperity.

1. Pay labour the highest possible wages. Prosperity for all is intimately related to a liberal wage scale.

2. Treat labour as a business partner. Successful industry depends more on human relations than upon the organisation of money and machines.

3. Conduct business in the full light of day. Public confidence and public suspicion is often seperated only by a door.

4. Remember, the law of supply and demand is inexorable. And it would also be well to remember that there is no necessity for producing an excess.

5. Live and help live. Even prosperous industries cannot afford to have backward industries far behind the procession - prosperity to be permanent must be equally distributed.

6. Welcome new ideas. To establish permanent institutions we must always be prepared for change.

7. Never be satisfied that what has been achieved is sufficient. Smugness and complaceny do not promote progress.

8. Operate business on the most economical basis. Price-cutting, over-expansion, uneconomical methods of distribution are just as harmful to business and the public as price-fixing and monopolies.

9. Look ahead and think ahead. It's easier to avoid depressions than it is to cure them.

10. Work upon the basis that the fundamental purpose of business is to promote the happiness of human beings.

Perhaps we should all start believing in ourselves and ask not why, but, why not?

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