Get with the programme, Phil (if you win)

Phil Goff should align himself more with business. Photo / Christine Cornege
Phil Goff should align himself more with business. Photo / Christine Cornege

CEOs call on Goff to shake off 'old Labour' mentality and move away from the unions

Chief executives want Phil Goff to act in the best interests of New Zealand rather than factional union interests if he ends up as prime minister of a coalition government.

The Herald asked business chiefs to say how they would like Goff to run New Zealand. Sixty-two bosses responded, several facetiously by saying "from far away".

But the overwhelming message was that Goff should be less influenced by unionists, academics and teachers and align with business and balance the books; strike the "right balance" between welfare and taxation; be "less doctrinaire and embrace economic pragmatism", keep his eye on growth, pay less attention to beneficiaries and support rewarding excellence; maintain a degree of policy stability; develop people around him who could be trusted and rely on his instincts which are "better than Labour's backers".

Reverting to being in the thrall of the unions is a losing strategy - New Zealand has moved on and it's time the Labour Party did as well, was a frequent refrain.

Here are three particularly apposite views:

"Don't for God's sake allow Government spending to increase, either funded (by tax increases) or unfunded. Break any election promises that would lead to this.

"Instead do the same as John Key should: Strong national strategy to address risk to New Zealand from a global meltdown." (Resource sector CEO)

"Shake off the 'class war' mentality and Labour's view that business is the enemy, realise we have to actually earn our living and the Government must promote the ease of doing business.

"Recognising that things like expanding the benefit base, creating public sector jobs and subsidies are bullshit economics." (Finance sector CEO)

"Not run it so we lose more talented New Zealanders. He goes on about the rich. Rubbish, we have few rich. Most New Zealanders have a sense of social justice - we don't want kids unfed, uneducated and unhoused.

"We care about those who are really in need. But don't just waste the taxpayers' dollars, increase taxes and drive out of New Zealand those who can elect to leave, We'll lose the next generation of talent as well if we become a nation where success equates with envy." (Professional services firm CEO)

But CEOs also ranked finance spokesman David Cunliffe and economic development spokesman David Parker equal first as Labour's top performers. Goff was well down the list, below commerce spokesman Lianne Dalziel, deputy leader Annette King and transport spokesman Shane Jones.

The "two Davids" have had considerable exposure to business, likewise Dalziel, King and Jones.

"Shane didn't do too badly considering he was keeping his head down," said one chief in reference to the controversy over pornographic hotel movies.

If Labour loses, Goff is expected to stand down. Cunliffe was singled out as having the best attributes to make a vigorous opposition leader by 32 per cent of survey respondents compared with 17 per cent for Jones, 10 per cent for Parker and 7 per cent for former Labour Party president and trade unionist Andrew Little.

- NZ Herald

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