Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Super Minister's plan

Steven Joyce says better organised Government agencies will be better for business. Photo / APN
Steven Joyce says better organised Government agencies will be better for business. Photo / APN

Rising political powerhouse Steven Joyce will become a "Super Minister" leading a new agency that aims to build a more business-focused Government arm.

However, Joyce says the agency "won't on its own create jobs".

He said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would give stronger leadership to the Government's "business growth agenda" and make it easier for the private-sector to engage with policy makers.

It will pull together functions of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Department of Building and Housing.

Joyce, as Economic Development Minister, will oversee the "Super Ministry" which will begin to merge the four other agencies from July.

Although Joyce said the bureaucratic shuffle would not create jobs or boost productivity on its own, it would help the Government produce better policy and "achieve greater momentum".

"The point of the exercise is that Government departments have a role in setting the agenda for business ... obviously a better organised set of Government agencies will actually help achieve that," he said.

Asked why the Government had decided to make a move now, Joyce said: "We got to the point quite early on in this term, particularly with the range of portfolios I've been given [where] it made it reasonably easy for me to see how these agencies were working together and where there were challenges in terms of the momentum we were achieving because of the sheer number of independent agencies involved."

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said the private-sector would welcome Joyce being at the helm of the new Super Ministry.

"I think overall business will see it as very positive that you've got one minister - a very senior minister and number four in Cabinet - looking after [the agency]. My experience with Mr Joyce is that he's a very practical sort of character. I look forward to dealing with him," O'Reilly said.

New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association chief executive John Walley said establishing the new ministry was a good move, but said "what matters is targets met and economic growth supported".

"I wouldn't disagree with any of [the Ministry's] targets, but I would ask who's going to be fired if they don't deliver on them," he said.

"Aspirational targets are only the starting point ... talking about growth is not the same as delivering economic gains. The fact is targets are worthless unless backed up by genuine policy reforms."

Business incubator The Icehouse's chief executive Andy Hamilton praised Joyce's merger as "courageous", but said that Government "doesn't create growth".

"[Government] is all about creating the conditions that enable people to create wealth. The Government doesn't have the answer to how Icebreaker or Fisher & Paykel Healthcare are going to be successful all they can do is optimise those conditions for those firms to go out there," he said.

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's deputy chief executive John Ballingall said the Super Ministry should ensure the Government has a more cohesive set of policy recommendations and a renewed focus on lifting productivity.

Steven Joyce

Age: 48.

Born: New Plymouth.

Family: Married, two children.

Career: Steven Joyce, the man picked to head the new Ministry of Business, made it big in the cut-throat world of commercial radio before entering politics.

* The son of Taranaki grocery store owners started his first radio station - New Plymouth's Energy FM - at the age of 21 after completing his zoology degree at Massey University in Palmerston North.

* Over the next 17 years he built up the RadioWorks network of stations and retired as its chief executive upon its sale to Canada's CanWest in 2001.

* The sale left him a multi-millionaire at the age of 38.

* He joined the National Party soon after the CanWest acquisition and chaired the party's 2002 strategic campaign review, before becoming its campaign and general manager.

* From 2006 to 2008 he was the CEO of Jasons Travel Media.

* Joyce entered Parliament as a Cabinet minister in 2008.

* During the party's first term he held a number of portfolios including Communications and Information Technology and Transport.

* In 2008 Joyce said his skills were financial and organisational and he had a strong understanding of the pressures facing small New Zealand firms.

- NZ Herald

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