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12

Feb

A truly honourable occasion: attending John Key’s Australian Business Delegation

It’s not every day that you get an invitation to join the New Zealand Prime Minister on a trans-Tasman business delegation, so when the invite came through it was a no brainer answer. (Although I must admit I did question the validity of the invitation initially!) I was also not entirely sure what the trip would involve, nor the extent to which we would be looked after by the RNZAF. 

There were visions of being perched on a bench in a cargo hold. Those concerns quickly disappeared once I arrived at the Air Movements terminal at Rongotai. It was a real novelty to be on the other side of an airport that I am very familiar with.

The RNZAF crew took great care of us and the B757, while a little dated, was more than suitable for the trip. It has been a long time since I have been provided full catering on a domestic (WLG-AKL) flight. I also suspect that it will be some time (if ever) before I land at Whenuapai Air Force Base again.

Another short hop across the ditch and we were at the private arrival area of Sydney airport. Another of a long list of firsts on this trip.

The next of these was the motorcade – cars, lights, road blocks, outriders – the whole nine yards.  It was certainly the fastest trip from the airport to Sydney CBD that I have ever done and am ever likely to do. I’m sure the crowds were looking into the darkened bus to catch a glance of Lorde but they were somewhat let down (not that they could actually see who it was).

All of this excitement preceded a busy and memorable 36 hours. Delegates followed a full agenda that included a breakfast briefing with the Prime Minister and his supporting ministers; Hon Bill English, Hon Steven Joyce, Hon Judith Collins, Hon Tony Ryall, Hon Amy Adams, Hon Michael Woodhouse. I had the privilege of sitting next to Minster Amy Adams (whose ministerial portfolio includes Communications and Information Technology) during the breakfast which presented me with an ideal opportunity to discuss Intergen’s successes and concerns.

A business briefing followed which included presentations and a panel discussion facilitated by Peter Biggs – Chief Executive Officer, Clemenger BBDO, with panellists including:

  • John Mumm – member of Advisory Board at Buildcorp Australia Pty Ltd
  • Dr Ric Simes, Director Deloitte Access Economics
  • Tony Shepherd, President Australian Business Council

This provided a great (and at times humorous) insight into the Australian market.

Following this we attended a trans-Tasman business group lunch where Tony Abbott and John Key were guest speakers. A key theme here was recognition of New Zealand’s economic performance which was great to see and hear. It isn’t very often that you get the chance to hear an Australian PM talk about how well New Zealand is performing and he isn’t talking about sport! John Key did New Zealand proud by graciously acknowledging the recognition.

I shared the privilege with a number of New Zealand business leaders and visionaries including some that I have personally looked up to for some time. I was able to thank one in particular, Sir William Gallagher, for providing me with insight into the opportunities with electronics way back in the early 80s when I was part of a site visit organised by Waikato Polytechnic (now WINTEC).

The last formal aspect of the trip was cocktails at Kirribilli House – which has a view to die for. It would be hard to sit on the deck and do anything but simply gaze at the harbour and related activity. The official invitation from Prime Minister Abbott will be framed and hang at home with pride.

Love him or hate him, John Key did New Zealand proud on this trip. Not only was he well-spoken but he understood the needs of the delegation, spending some of his valuable time to mix and mingle. The consensus from the team was that John Key was the better of the two speakers. It is an election year and one that no doubt will be hard-fought, so I don’t envy the road ahead for him.

NZ Trade and Enterprise’s support was nothing short of brilliant. Managing and organising a delegation of 50 of the most senior business leaders from New Zealand without their EA’s being there to “herd the cats” is nothing short of a job well done. Intergen has been engaging with NZTE on several fronts recently and they have been both supportive and helpful. From support with our public safety and emergency management product Signal (www.getsignal.info) to setting up networking meetings, it’s great to have this assistance with a number of our offshore activities. It is welcoming to see the focus being on how NZTE can help New Zealand business succeed. Well done Peter, you have a great team and I look forward to continue working with them on a number of fronts.

All in all a memorable, successful and unforgettable trip that made this kiwi very proud.

Posted by: Wayne Forgesson | 12 February 2014

Tags: Amy Adams, NZTE, Trade, Trans-Tasman


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