Those chosen to represent NZ Inc on the Prime Minister's business advisory council were never going to please everyone, but whole sectors have been left out and some of the names are bemusing.

Of course the green-eyed monster figures in some of the criticism - word is around 500 names were presented for consideration. And who might have been approached but said "no thanks" we don't know because council chairman Christopher Luxon, chief executive of Air NZ, declined to make himself available to talk about it.

There are some respected heavyweights in the mix, but some names and industries are conspicuous by their absence and some seem plain odd choices.

Bunnings for example. It's an Australian company. Consultancy McKinsey & Co's Andrew Grant is another that's perplexed.


His fans say he has a brain as big as the planet, a unique insight into the whole domestic and international business spectrum and is a thoroughly nice, modest guy, but most of us when we think McKinsey, think huge fees and questionable results.

Which brings us neatly to Fonterra, said to have paid McKinsey tens of millions of dollars in recent years. But no matter its much-criticised financial performance and crumbling shareholder confidence, it is New Zealand's biggest company and it would look very odd if it wasn't among the chosen.

That said, Fonterra's inclusion has been greeted with cynicism about the likely effectiveness of the council.

Transport, one of New Zealand's most confronting issues, is hardly represented - unless you count Rocket Lab and an Invercargill-based trucking company as flag-wavers for the sector.

Where is $2 billion Kiwi freight and logistics company Mainfreight? Where is the Port of Tauranga, which handles 41 per cent of all our exports, representing shipping?

One of the most glaring sector omissions is manufacturing - or did the selectors think Fonterra and Bluescope/NZ Steel would do for that?

Exporters reckon they've had a rough deal from the selectors too.

There are other burning questions.


While the Government/council say it's aimed for diversity, are the chosen going to represent real business concerns about Government policies? Like industrial relations reform and the tax and growing cost burden on SMEs which make up more than 90 per cent of NZ Inc? (It's been said the council is the 'big end of town'.)

has the Government simply created a taxpayer-funded echo chamber? Will we end up with all the same messages - just out of handpicked mouths?

The group will meet just three times a year. Sure, these folk are busy people, but what meaningful results can be achieved in three meetings, even with the PM's department and MBIE doing some of the heavy lifting for them?

How many have a track record of being outspoken?

There's some justification for businesspeople thinking this is just another Coalition Government advisory working group. And a political sop to business.

After all, there are plenty of well-regarded business groups and networks like the EMA already deeply engaged in, and deeply researching, the very same matters.

As one business leader says "what are they going to do that hasn't already been done?"

More to the point, has the Government simply created a taxpayer-funded echo chamber? Will we end up with all the same messages - just out of handpicked mouths?