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Dalziel: 100th Anniversary NZICA

Hon Lianne Dalziel
Minister of Commerce, Minister for Food Safety,
Associate Minister of Justice, MP for Christchurch East

15 September 2008 Speech Notes

100th Anniversary NZICA

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel's speech to mark the 100th anniversary of the Act that founded the professional body that is today the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Parliament Buildings, Wellington

I am delighted to welcome you all to Parliament today. It is a pleasure to host this event to mark the 100th Anniversary of the signing into law of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants’ founding Act. As you can see from the guests here, today we celebrate the past, the present and the future.

I understand there is another birthday being celebrated today – happy birthday to Linda Turner, who is NZICA's 1st vice president, which is the title that has been chosen for the office holder who will move into the president's job as of the 1st January next year. That means that next year Linda will become the third woman in the Institute's history to hold the top post.

Having a woman in such a position was not something the Attorney-General had in mind in mind 100 years ago, when he said that the Bill was designed to protect the public to some extent against incompetency on the part of accountants. He said:

“Just as in the legal profession, the medical profession, in dentistry, and so on, we have required that certain qualifications shall be possessed, so that the public may have some means of knowing whether a man is qualified or not, so here it is sought to give the public an opportunity of knowing whether a man is a registered and qualified accountant.”

Although we now take the role of women for granted in all spheres of society, we should remember that 1908 was only 15 years after the suffrage vote was taken – an event we celebrate this Friday.

I would like to acknowledge the huge contribution the Institute has made to New Zealand over the past 100 years. With nearly 30,000 members and a party to a global accounting alliance it really is a significant achievement.

The founding legislation was called the New Zealand Society of Accountants Act 1908. This Act was amended over time until the body corporate was reconstituted as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand (ICANZ), which itself more recently has been renamed the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.

As indicated from my quote before, the 1908 Act established standards and regulated the accounting profession in New Zealand, giving protection to the titles ‘registered accountant’ and ‘public accountant’. The Act provided the Institute with the power to train, examine prospective members and to promote the efficient practice of the accountancy profession.

From the very beginning the Institute recognised the importance of the education of the next generation of members and in 1911 the Society reached an agreement with the University of New Zealand to provide a new Bachelor of Commerce degree that would include the subjects of the accountancy professional course.

It is encouraging to see that almost 100 years later the Institute still believes in the importance of educating the next generation and has gone beyond the Universities and teamed up with Enterprise New Zealand Trust to become a platinum corporate sponsor in the Lions Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme and the Student Enterprise Learning Link Programme.

I applaud Enterprise New Zealand Trust's vision of contributing to New Zealand’s future economic prosperity by graduating an enterprise-capable generation. I have taken a personal interest in the work of the Trust, because it is they who have taken the business experience into our schools in a way that is relevant to young people. By setting up their own companies they experience being directors, and learn skills in decision making, reporting, communication, risk management, marketing and teamwork. This is a great opportunity for the next generation to develop these skills while being mentored, motivated and advised as they proceed in their projects. And it helps address my concern that levels of financial literacy are poor in New Zealand. There is no danger of these young people knowing the relationship between risk and return.

It is great to see the Institute and the Enterprise Trust, along with other key sponsors encouraging and mentoring New Zealand’s future business leaders in such a manner. Not only does the Institute sponsor the Young Enterprise scheme but it has become involved in setting the criteria for awards, participating in judging, selecting and presenting awards and helps the students by mentoring and presenting seminars on particular aspects of the business plan.

I would like to wish all the students participating in the young enterprise scheme the best of luck as the year draws to a close and I will look forward to hearing about the successful outcomes from the National Awards to be presented at the beginning of November.

Finally back to the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, I know whenever I attend events that encourage young people to think about their future, we often hear that we have plenty of lawyers and accountants, and having qualified as a lawyer myself I sometimes feel we are under-valued for what we contribute to the business sector – seen as a cost rather than a contributor. But when I think of how important is the accurate reporting of the financial standing of a company when it is fundraising from the public and how investors need to be able to rely on what is a true and accurate report on a company’s financial status, then I say that accountants are important.

If businesses are the engine of commerce and if capital is the oil, then accountants must be the petrol pump that ensures that the oil can flow to the right place. I haven’t found a metaphor for lawyers, mainly because I suspect it wouldn’t be as complimentary and could have more to do with the brakes than the engine.

I also cannot imagine how our SME sector would survive without the skills you bring to their businesses – we know that you are their most valued advisors.

Finally I believe it is fitting today to acknowledge all of the voluntary work that accountants do in the community apart from the mentoring of the young entrepreneurs I have already mentioned – helping out on Boards of Trustees, assisting community organisations, undertaking pro bono audits, and most recently providing free assistance to those caught up in the Blue Chip debacle. The fact that so many chartered accountants have been willing to step up to the plate is a tribute to your professionalism.

So, congratulations on reaching this important milestone in your Institute’s history and thank you for all that you do for commerce and for society in general.


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