Good appointments

Simon Tong (Fairfax)

Bad news vs good, horror films vs comedy, complaints vs plaudits – few people find balance in these, or even in perceptions of which is dominant.  I criticise more often than I praise on this blog, though I'm generally optimistic, with much more to be glad about than to complain about.

It seems that complaint issues press more for expression.

So I'm glad to praise two great appointments announced this week.

Simon Tong's agreement to become M.D of Fairfax NZ may raise eyebrows among his journalist employees.

Though clearly not a "money man" he could be destined for automatic tribal suspicion, because he'll make no pretense of infused media consciousness.  But even the deepest-dyed news hounds have no agreed prescription for saving their industry.

So the intelligent and dedicated people whose futures will now be influenced by Simon should breathe through their noses before judging him.

I know him. He can inspire extraordinary business loyalty, because that is what he offers, down and up. He listens, his ego does not blind him and he'll do his best to keep at bay any 'bullshit castle" culture of head office, despite being capable of spinning out management jargon out if that is what his bosses demand.

The other reassuring appointment is that of Rod Carr to as chairman of  the Reserve Bank.

There have been worrying signs that our Reserve Bank is not the world leading institution it was for several decades. A lack of engagement by its thought leaders with New Zealanders worried about uncritical copying of failed overseas regulatory prescriptions has led to muttering that it could be a question of capacity.

I think it is more just unwillingness. The GFC has been an excuse for conferring much greater power on regulators despite many of them having failed more uniformly than the institutions they were ordering to do silly, pro-cyclical things. So they are encouraged to feel they no longer need to persuade, They can just decree.

Rod Carr is not afraid to query sacred cows, to challenge orthodoxy. If the RBNZ has started to lose that capacity for critical challenge to dopey consensus, there could not be a better appointment to restore board support for it.

Former ACT MP turned National Party candidate Stephen Franks is principal of Wellington commercial and public law firm Franks and Ogilvie. He blogs at www.stephenfranks.co.nz.

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As a member of the RBNZ board when Rod Carr was deputy governor to Don Brash (and between them they made a great team) I agree completely.

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