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Big end of town to advise PM on high-level economic issues

Big end of town to advise PM on high-level economic issues

By Paul McBeth

Oct. 18 (BusinessDesk) - The Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council will focus on high-level economic matters and the government's wider economic agenda.

A work programme hasn't been finalised, but it will canvass: ways to grow the economy and improve productivity and living standards; address issues that affect people's everyday lives; and bridge the gaps between government and business. The programme will also work on issues at the heart of New Zealand's prosperity and social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the 13 members, chaired by Air New Zealand chief Christopher Luxon, were a diverse cross-section of the business community and their work would complement work underway with the Small Business Council and the Tripartite Forum.

"I will also be asking the council to gather advice from their peers in the domestic and international business community on some of the most important issues facing New Zealand including how we best grow and share our prosperity, support regional development, and transition to a clean, green New Zealand," Ardern said.

The council includes Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean, who has been grappling with an internal digital transformation without leaving people behind. Westpac also holds the government's banking contract. Former ASB Bank boss Barbara Chapman is a member. She is now a professional director sitting on the boards of IAG New Zealand, Fletcher Building and the New Zealand Initiative. She was recently appointed chair of Crown-controlled Genesis Energy.

Mercury NZ, another Crown-controlled company, will be represented on the council through chief executive Fraser Whineray. Jocelyn O'Donnell of Invercargill's family-owned HW Richardson, and Maori food firm Kono's chief Rachel Taulelei are also council members.

Australian-owned New Zealand Steel chief Gretta Stephens, who until recently was in charge of the Tiwai Point smelter, and Wesfarmers' Bunnings NZ boss Jacqui Coombes are also on the council.

Fonterra Cooperative Group's recently-appointed acting chief executive Miles Hurrell is on the council, as is McKinsey & Co partner Andrew Grant.

New technology-based firms will contribute through Xero's chief product officer Anna Curzon, Rocket Lab's Peter Beck, and Pango Productions chief Bailey Mackey.

The unpaid appointments are for up to two years and at the PM's discretion. The chair will speak on behalf of the council. The group is expected to meet with the PM three times a year.


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