Roger Kerr RIP

October 29th, 2011 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

I was greatly saddened to receive the news that morning that had died, inevitably losing his battle against cancer. My thoughts go out to Catherine, Nick and the rest of his family.

I first met Roger around 20 years ago, when we invited him to speak to a Young Nats conference. He always accepted our invitations, and through his leadership the Roundtable always took a keen interest in getting young people interested in public policy.

I’ve had a lot to do with Roger and the Roundtable over the years, and regarded him as a friend. He was a nice guy whom I never knew to get abusive or nasty about anyone – even those who demonised him. For him, it was all about policy, not personalities. And his intellect was astonishing. He could debate any issue to great detail, and was a walking library of references.

Roger had a great love of New Zealand. I have no doubt he could have earnt much more money if he had not devoted the last 25 years to establishing and growing the Business Roundtable. While of course his views were controversial and often unpopular, Roger was only motivated by a genuine desire and belief that they would make New Zealand a better place. Please note that this thread is not for people to debate whether or not they agree with those views.

An issue which I knew Roger had strong views on was the decision to abolish the youth minimum wage in 2008, as it priced young people out of the jobs market. He wrote on it often, as did Eric Crampton, myself and others. I’m not sure if he was aware of it, but am glad he was still alive on Friday when National announced their policy to partially reverse the changes made in 2008. One final victory for Roger. Of course Roger would have pointed out that in typical fashion National did a compromise, rather than a full reversal.

I will miss Roger very much. Farewell.

UPDATE: Richard Harman has put this out:

On April 16 Sean Plunket did a long interview with Roger Kerr. Roger knew then he was dying. Bue he faced Sean the same way he confrtonted his disease, with boldness and good humour. The interview was intended to be something he could leave behind which would set out his own life story and his core beliefs and hopes. I am sending it out again, as a tribute to a man who believed passionately in debate and who was  never afraid  to stand up in the media to argue his case.His death is a great loss to us in the media and to anybody who believes in the importance of a well reasoned discussion on public policy. 

The PM has also said:

“Roger made a significant contribution to New Zealand business, public policy and the wider economy over several decades,” says Mr Key.

“He was a man of integrity and energy, who was not afraid to debate important issues passionately and often controversially.  But he did it calmly and focused on the issues at hand, rather than making the debates personal.

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24 Responses to “Roger Kerr RIP”

  1. Nick K (1,066 comments) says:

    An intelligent, generous, very polite and humble man. It’s very sad news.

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  2. lofty (1,303 comments) says:

    Goodbye to a gladiator who was not afraid to scrap for the business progress of NZ.

    His articulate advocacy on behalf of a more prosperous and efficient NZ, and the ability to work across political lines, will be sorely missed.

    RIP

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  3. southtop (262 comments) says:

    A truly sad day. Roger always wanted what is best for NZ. A skilled communicator with the desire to build a better country. I can only echo Nick K & Lofty. Condolences to the family. RIP Roger Kerr.

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  4. jaba (2,089 comments) says:

    NZ can’t afford to lose people like him

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  5. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Yes indeed, a sad loss for New Zealand. What an extraordinary person. I was shocked to read the news. His final blog post went up yesterday.

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  6. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    i hope i have it in me to blog ’till i drop…

    ..you gotta tip the hat to him for that..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  7. kiwi in america (2,432 comments) says:

    I met Roger several times at a symposium held each year in the Marlborough. He was bright and articulate and a formidable debater. Since the symposium brought together notable figures from the left and right and people from the media, academia, politics, industry and other sectors he was always a target for know it all lefties. I remember one segment where he and Prof Jim Flynn (a noted lefty from University of Otago) had a real go at each other. Kerr got the better of the exchange as I recall.

    He will leave a very big hole as he WAS the BRT.

    May he rest in peace and my condelences to his bereaved family.

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  8. big bruv (13,217 comments) says:

    RIP.

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  9. Manolo (13,327 comments) says:

    I met Roger as well. A good honest man has died.
    Condolences to his family.

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  10. slijmbal (1,210 comments) says:

    Only the good die young

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  11. Peter (1,577 comments) says:

    RIP, Roger.

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  12. Johnboy (14,911 comments) says:

    Will be greatly missed.

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  13. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    A true supporter of capitalism and free-markets.

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  14. DJP6-25 (1,268 comments) says:

    RIP Roger

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  15. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Good bye Sir…..put ya feet up,enjoy a well earned break…we’lll take it from here.

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  16. Courage Wolf (559 comments) says:

    Shocked.

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  17. freedom101 (462 comments) says:

    A very sad day for New Zealand and for his family. He played the game with total integrity, as has been noted by supporters and opponents alike. His contribution to the body of knowledge around the NZ economy is second to none, by a long shot.

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  18. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Yes a sad day. The man talked a lot of common sense which always got up lefty noses, they don’t do common sense well. Will be missed.

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  19. orewa1 (428 comments) says:

    Roger was an inspiration among lobbyists. He was never afraid to state a view even if he knew it would be unpopular. Yet despite that, somehow he avoided the nastiness that usually comes with the turf – whatever the political vews, just about everyone liked and respected him on a personal level. He is a real loss to New Zealand.

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  20. aitkenmike (94 comments) says:

    Although I disagree with a lot of his solutions for the country’s issues, I certainly have a great deal of respect for him, and for the level of debate that he inspired. Sad that he went so soon, and to such an awful disease. My condolences to his family and friends.

    RIP.

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  21. John Ansell (861 comments) says:

    The free market is a little less free today, and sense even less common.

    Thank you Roger for being one of the great champions of truth, freedom, fairness and excellence. Condolences to Catherine and family.

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  22. Bob R (1,335 comments) says:

    US Economics professor & blogger Tyler Cowan has a nice tribute:

    “Here is the obituary, this is very sad news for me. Roger had a huge influence on my life. I spent a good deal of time working for him and with him at the New Zealand Business Roundtable in Wellington and he was always up for a discussion and an argument. He seemed to have boundless energy, and he played a key role in making New Zealand a sounder and better country. A lot of my interest in economic policy comes from my time spent with Roger, most of all my interest in the institutional design of central banks but not just. Roger expected you to be ready to discuss anything, at the drop of a hat, and I consider my time with Roger a major influence on my blogging. He exposed me to the New Zealand classical liberal tradition and from that I saw a lot of deficiencies (and some strengths) of the North American traditions. Roger will be missed but we all know that his influence extended far.”

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/10/roger-kerr-passes-away.html

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  23. hj (6,342 comments) says:

    He won’t get to know if Julian Simon was right, although obtaining energy from lesser sources such as oil sands muddies the picture.

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  24. david@tokyo (262 comments) says:

    A group of people came up to Tokyo for a meeting of a free market think tank or something a few years back, and I had been asked by one of them to take them to a restaurant where they could get a meal of (that taboo stuff) whale.

    The folks who came along were Aussies, and when I told them I was an ACT voter (then at least) they put me on the phone to Roger, to invite him along as well. Not every day someone puts you on the phone to Roger Kerr to invite him out for a meal of whale…

    Of course he’d have had no clue who the hell I was, and was probably thinking “who the hell are these people wanting to eat whales”, but he was quite well humoured and polite in turning the invitation down.

    I hadn’t heard he was ill, so got a surprise when I read this news the other day. RIP Roger, and hopefully others will attempt to step up into those shoes and carry on the good work.

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