Ben Thomas NBR column
The winter of business discontent
Things used to be easier for cub reporters looking for "business" opinion on an issue. A quick call to the Business Roundtable's energetic chief executive Roger Kerr, a soundbite about the need for more deregulation, and that was commerce and industry listened to for another day.
But Kerr was seen as emblematic of the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s whose image, if not substance, Clark wanted to move away from. He was also seen as a chief agitator in the "winter of discontent" that followed the election of Helen Clark's Labour government in 1999. In this period, business interests threatened to rebel against the social democratic-styled programme of the government, including its employment law reform, and confidence plummeted.
The pragmatic Clark knew that a three-year stand-off with business would make for a rough ride in government. But despite the protestations of some of Clark's natural constituency, government always trumps business in displays of naked power, and so an uneasy consensus was forged through the work of Clark's business contacts like Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall.....