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Chief Executive Officer's Address - Trans Tasman Business Circle Auckland

It’s always a pleasure to be back here in Auckland.


Although I have to say as someone who is here by way of Hong Kong, having spent most of my life in Asia, and now is headquartered in Melbourne, things do get a bit confusing. 


On top of that Graham Hodges tells me we are doing our part to support the long history of Trans-Tasman rivalry. ANZ is the major sponsor of the Black Caps in cricket. I am a bit hesitant to raise this …., but we also support the ANZ Netball Championship where the Sydney Swifts beat Waikato Magic recently.


But I hope you’ll forgive us given our sponsorship of what could be the deciding game in the Bledisloe Cup in Hong Kong in November. At least for the time being anyway.


As an outsider I don’t completely understand the New Zealand-Australia rivalry but there is a competition that is even more important.


That’s the race for global competitiveness. Here the news is not so good for both countries.


Over five years New Zealand has slipped from the tenth most competitive to the twenty fourth. Australia from being the fifth most competitive country in the world to the nineteenth.


The more competitive an economy is, the faster it will grow in the medium and long term and real incomes will rise. The only way to make an economy or an organisation more competitive is to raise productivity.


When you think about the difference between growth rates in developing and OECD economies; when you look closer to home at the weak economy in New Zealand and the softening economy in Australia, my own view is that reversing this dramatic decline in productivity has never been more critical.


First, that’s going to involve some difficult decisions to expose our economies to more competition. This involves resisting the temptation to introduce protectionism and allowing anti-competitive forces to develop during the difficult times we are now in.


Instead, we need to foster forces that ensure we get better at the things we can do well and get out of things we don't do well. In short, we need to encourage resources in the economy to shift from industries and businesses where they aren't used productively to industries and businesses where they can be. 


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