PMs negotiating with corporates

October 30th, 2010 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

A Dim-Post reader asked:

When was the last time a prime minister directly negotiated with a multinational?

In the comments, Matthew Hooton made an interesting point:

All prime ministers meet often with executives from multinationals who tell them what their intentions are in NZ and what policy changes if any might encourage them to increase (or decrease) their investments here.

Prime ministers might then comment on that, or get their ministers to, and a letter might be sent back, and there might be a further letter … or the ideas raised in the meetings might just get integrated into future policy development without acknowledgment.

This is not only to be expected but essential given NZ’s low savings rate and dependence on foreign capital.

However, as far as I can remember, the idea of a prime minister being in the room, looking them in the eye, negotiating backwards and forwards, over a short period of time … well, as far as I know, that is extremely unusual, mostly because of the sheer political recklessness of it. If it goes wrong, you as prime minister are in the room when it goes wrong and are therefore accountable.

The situation we’ve seen this week relies on:
1. The prime minister believing themselves capable of carrying out the negotiations
2. Their staff believing their prime minister to be capable of carrying out the negotiations, so not scheduling things to prevent it
3. The prime minister in fact being capable of carrying out the negotiations when they began
4. The prime minister being prepared to carry out the negotiations (ie, not being so haughty as to think such negotiations were below his or her station.)

In my view, only Key, of recent PMs, gets four yesses to these questions.
Clark would have been yes, yes, yes and no.
Shipley would have been yes, yes, no and no.
Bolger would have been yes, no, yes and no.
Moore would have been yes, no, yes and yes.
Palmer would have been yes, yes, no and no.
Lange would have been yes, yes, no and no.
Muldoon would have been “The SIS has got pictures of you and I’ll change the law to make you make the movies here.”

Heh that Muldoon theory is on the money.

Anyway let us look at those suggested qualities one by one, according to Matthew:

The prime minister believing themselves capable of carrying out the negotiations – all of them

Their staff believing their prime minister to be capable of carrying out the negotiations, so not scheduling things to prevent it – Key, Clark, Shipley, Palmer and Lange but not Bolger & Moore

The prime minister in fact being capable of carrying out the negotiations when they began – Key, Clark, Bolger and Moore but not Shipley, Palmer and Lange

The prime minister being prepared to carry out the negotiations (ie, not being so haughty as to think such negotiations were below his or her station – Key and Moore but not Clark, Shipley, Bolger, Palmer and Lange

It’s an interesting analysis.

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Years in Parliament until they became PM

June 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

When looking at the weekend at the lengths of terms for party leaders, I also had a look at how many years it took for an MP to become Prime Minister. The results are below:

  1. John Key 6 years
  2. David Lange 7 years
  3. Jenny Shipley 10 years
  4. Geoffrey Palmer 10 years
  5. Bill Rowling 12 years
  6. Mike Moore 12 years
  7. Richard Seddon 14 years
  8. Sid Holland 14 years
  9. Gordon Coates 14 years
  10. Robert Muldoon 15 years
  11. Norman Kirk 15 years
  12. William Hall-Jones 16 years
  13. Michael Joseph Savage 16 years
  14. Jim Bolger 18 years
  15. William Massey 18 years
  16. Helen Clark 18 years
  17. Joseph Ward 19 years
  18. George Forbes 22 years
  19. Peter Fraser 22 years
  20. Keith Holyoake 25 years
  21. Thomas Mackenzie 25 years
  22. Jack Marshall 25 years
  23. Walter Nash 28 years
  24. Francis Bell 32 years

I’ve only included Prime Ministers, not Premiers.

It is interesting the fastest six are all from the modern era, and before that the fastest riser was Seddon. I’m not sure anyone will ever beat John Key’s record of six years.

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