Are you cut out to be a board director? Ask yourself these 7 questions

Co-founder & CEO of Future Directors Institute Paul Smith

There are millions of board directors in the world. Every company and organisation has them. Let’s be honest, many of them deserve their seat at the table. They bring huge value. Unfortunately, many do not.

“Just because you think you can be a director, doesn’t mean you should.”

Before getting started on a boardroom career, there is one question that every potential director needs to ask themselves: “Am I director material?”

There is no simple way of telling whether you will cut it, but there are certain attributes and skills that those who make a successful go at it tend to have in common. To help you answer this simple, yet direct, question, I’ve broken the it down into seven questions.

Please don’t think you must tick every box to make it as a board director. In fact, you don’t even have to tick any boxes. There is not one way to measure your readiness but, if you are leaning towards the “correct” answers on most of the questions below, you’re going to be at an advantage when it comes to being an effective director. Good luck!

Question 1: Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

If you answered the latter, then congratulations, the boardroom could be for you. There is a bit of solo work in being a director (for example, your meeting preparation) but most of it is working as a team. Oh, and don’t expect the team environment to be plain sailing all the time. Hopefully, they’ll bring a diverse set of views and skills and this could lead to some healthy debates. To quote management expert and author Ken Blanchard: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Question 2: Do you have time to spare?

I haven’t met many who say they are not “busy”. I’ll admit to using the word. What impresses me are those that aren’t busy, or are trying not to be. This might sound harsh, but busy isn’t a badge of honour.

As a director your time commitment is not just board meetings. Your time includes sub-committees, planning days, networking events, stakeholder representation, training and building relationships.

Every board is different but assume, for a non-executive role, between 5-50 hours per month, with most boards needing an average commitment of 10-20 hours per month. If this is something you can spare, you are ready.

Question 3: Do you like to learn?

True, we are starting to see more and more young board directors but the majority are still senior. They could be forgiven for thinking that they know everything they need to know. Not anymore! We live in non-linear and dynamic times with increasing pressures from many more quarters. As a board director you cannot remain static. Yes, you’ll have skills that you bring to the table and you might even be top of your game. But, you also need to learn new skills to round out your role.

This isn’t just financial skills. Increasingly you need to be across customer-centric design and be up to date on the latest technology impacting your company (and soon your job). What are the latest marketing or HR trends? This makes it easier for you to ask good questions, provide the right level of support and remain relevant.

Question 4: Are you used to getting your own way?

Yes? Then get out of here. The boardroom is not the place for dictators. It is the place for influencers but as part of a team, you’ll often need to put your ego to one side and be open to having your mind changed, or to go with a majority view. There are too many egos in boardrooms, we don’t need anymore.

Question 5: Do difficult decisions impact you?

As a director, the buck stops with you. You must be willing to make tough choices and make decisions.

However, it is a bit of a trick question. If you think no is the best answer, then you perhaps do not care enough to be a director. If it’s yes, then perhaps you don’t have the steel to make the tough choices you’ll have to make. Boards often have to way up competing priorities and stakeholders. You cannot please everyone all the time when “acting in the best interests of the company”.

The ideal answer is “Yes, they impact me, but not for long”. This means you have a nice balance of mental toughness and empathy to handle the burdens of being a director and contributing to decisions that will affect many people. Balance is key. Try not to dwell on decisions, you’ll probably not have the time.

Question 6: Do you prefer to listen or talk?

This is a bit of a trick question. Listening is important as a director. Listening to management and their needs, listening to the views of your fellow directors, listening to the needs of your stakeholders (which extend beyond owners to your staff, customers and community). Yes, listening and analyzing what you hear is vital. But, so is talking. Having a view, when it’s qualified, is your job. Asking the right questions at the right time. Being considered, helpful, challenging yet supportive is the role of a director. Can you “communicate with two ears and one mouth”

Question 7: Do you take pleasure from helping others?

Simple answer please. Yes! Being a board director is all about being in service to others. You’ll give your time and skills, often for no financial reward. The reward is the service.

Remember though, it’s not just others that gain from you being a director. You do too. You’ll learn new skills that will make you a better person, better employee, better director. You’ll meet new and interesting people and who knows where that will lead. You might get paid but if you don’t you’ll probably earn more elsewhere because of these new skills and relationships.

How did you do? As stated at the start there is no right and wrong way to be a director. There are rules that govern the job. There are also expectations that will vary from board to board.

Paul Smith is the Co-founder & CEO of Future Directors Institute, www.futuredirectors.com.au.

Youngcare: Giving back young lives to young people in the disability space

Youngcare Profile Feature - Albany Creek Apartments opening with new resident-The Australian Business Executive

Anthony Ryan is the CEO of Youngcare, a not-for-profit which has received national attention for their work in establishing and facilitating living spaces for people with disabilities between ages 18 and 65, and working toward a future where young people are given the “young lives”.

Mr. Ryan believes they deserve. We spoke to Mr. Ryan about how Youngcare are embracing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), running their not-for-profit business like a corporate, and why on every whiteboard in their office Youngcare have written the phrase “Make ourselves redundant”.

While Mr. Ryan asserts that Youngcare was “born out of a gap that existed in the social infrastructure of Australia.” He also mentions that the company was incited by a real need, when Mr. Ryan’s friend, Dave Conry, realised first-hand the failings of the Australian disability space, while looking into care options for his wife who had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 

“During that time he found it more and more difficult to look after her and, started looking for care models, finding only nursing homes and aged care facilities. Ultimately that drove him to really start engaging government and media, to say ‘Well is this really all that’s out there to help young people who have been given a really hard journey in life?’” Mr. Ryan said. 

Mr. Ryan joined Youngcare in 2016. Three close friends, also mutual friends of Dave’s, had left their own successful careers to form Youngcare thirteen years ago, and finding he admired what they were doing, Mr. Ryan felt honoured to join them. Saying, “When I was asked whether or not I would consider becoming CEO of Youngcare, it just felt like this incredibly natural progression, but it was also an incredible honour. Because I saw four of our mates, four people who had done something so well, and brought attention to the issue and led the issue nationally, I thought I could carry on their good work.”

Youngcare

Mr. Ryan says that Youngcare are not themselves care providers, but find their strengths in building networks, setting up stakeholders, “looking at the gaps,” in Australia’s disability space and finding real and viable solutions. They define young as between ages eighteen and sixty-five, maintaining that these are the ages in which an aged care facility is not an adequate support space for people with disabilities. 

“We don’t think a person who is 45 wants to live in a nursing home.” Mr. Ryan said, “They want to live somewhere that gives them access to facilities, gives them access to pubs, shops, cafes, movies concerts, sporting venues, things such as that.” Mr. Ryan and Youngcare believe these availabilities are vital to make people feel energised by where they live, and Mr. Ryan notes statistics which have said that a young person living in an aged care facility will be visited less than three times a year. This isolation is something that no young person should be feeling, regardless of their care needs. 

“I couldn’t think of anything worse,” Mr. Ryan says. 

Youngcare - editorial image Team shot in the Australian Business Executive
Youngcare has the motto “Make Ourselves Redundant” written on each of the whiteboards in their office

Youngcare has worked with Cox Architecture in designing fully automated spaces which also celebrate youth, independence and choice. Their work in designing spaces and designing homes “people want to live in,” has led Youngcare to become experts in other fields within the disability space. Mr. Ryan mentions that their previous work has enabled them to expand with other services including Youngcare Connect, a free support line to inform people trying to navigate themselves through the disability space. “We have people who man the phone and assist them in how they navigate through the best care, residential options, even other people they can connect with.” Mr. Ryan says. 

As Youngcare establishes themselves as knowledgeable thought leaders within the disability space, individuals, families and other not-for-profit companies have come to them for information. Youngcare are happy to share their information. An attitude which has established them as an impactful and innovative organisation, and has resonated with many media bodies. 

Youngcare has the motto “Make Ourselves Redundant” written on each of the whiteboards in their office, and Mr. Ryan says this attitude instils a sense of personal responsibility. “That’s what drives us.” Mr. Ryan says, “We don’t want to be feeding ourselves into a role. We all know, that if we’re successful in what we do, in ten years’ time there will be no need for Youngcare.”

Media Attention

Mr. Ryan credits the way Youngcare has engaged with media bodies to tell the stories they believe aren’t being told, saying, “We’ve been able to tell the story very well, and people in Australia get surprised by that. They get angered that people on their watch are getting treated in such a negative way.” He suggests that the company’s mission to make themselves redundant has resonated with media agencies and corporations, who feel a responsibility to use their role in helping Youngcare achieve their goal.

“It almost becomes infectious, this energy around us. We have had movie stars, rock stars supporting us because we communicate well with them. We let them feel impassioned with our idea, but we also say to them, our success will mean the death of our organisation.” Mr. Ryan said, adding “We don’t want to grow, we just want to be loud, we want to disturb, we want to solve the issue and then move on.”

Mr. Ryan lists Channel Nine as one particularly supportive media outlet, who identify with their own responsibility to Youngcare’s cause, “I walked out of Channel Nine two weeks ago, as I got into the car and drove away, I was almost numb by what they had just offered us. We went down with 12 ideas to try and build our relationship.” Mr. Ryan said, “Some of them we thought were outlandish, but at the end of the meeting not only had Channel Nine agreed to all twelve, but they actually suggested three others. They want to tell the stories of the people who need support. They want to, in some ways, create a little outrage in Australia.”

Whilst Youngcare aims to disturb and to create a sense of outrage amongst Australian people, Mr. Ryan says that they at Youngcare are not angry at the Australian Government. He is instead interested in working with the Government, and feels that the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an indication that the Government is willing to proceed with positive changes within the disability space. Mr. Ryan called the NDIS a “quantum leap,” in the right direction.

Youngcare Editorial image - Anthony and team with award-The Australian Business Executive
"We believe our media presence needs to drive that sense of optimism.”

NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme aims to move the focus of disability services away from institutions and toward the individual. This refocus on the individual treats people with disabilities as “customers, rather than numbers”, and seeks to work based on individual needs.

“A lot of organisations are going to be impacted in quite significant ways [by the NDIS],” Mr. Ryan says, “because the way they set up their structure relied on grants and Government funding, and acting as a not-for-profit rather than as a corporate-minded organisation looking after their own sustainability.”  

The NDIS challenges the private sector to take part within the disability space, and as many Government and corporate bodies have little or no experience with the disability space, Youngcare’s role will be in uniting Government, developers, investors and corporations, building toward a platinum standard of care and housing.

“We believe our media presence needs to drive that sense of optimism.” Mr. Ryan said, “We will be, over the next three years, utilising our space, network, and voice to sit down with Government. We realise we’re in a privileged position where we’ve been asked our opinion, and we think our biggest space is in assisting in the SDA component of the NDIS.”

The SDA is a Specialist Disability Accommodation package available to close to fifty percent of young people with high care needs. The package incentivises developers and investors to build for people who possess an SDA package, and Youngcare is able to bring their experience into the equation.

As Youngcare further intertwine their expertise with Government, corporations, individuals and carers within the disability space, the company are steadily working toward their end goal of young lives for young people, and a world which doesn’t need Youngcare. “One of the things which drives me every day as I get out of bed is that we can be part of solving a social issue that has always been part of the Australian fabric.” Mr. Ryan says, “We’ve got this window of time where we can solve this together, and to be part of that is something absolutely special.”

Find out more about Youngcare by visiting www.youngcare.com.au.

Australasian Body Corporate Management MD Chaz Burdett on how Queensland strata is leading the way

Australasian_Body_Corporate_Management_ABCM_MD_Chazz_Burdett_897x494

Director of Australasian Body Corporate Management Chaz Burdett spoke to The Australian Business Executive about the growth, change, and competitive edge in the strata management industry.

Now in its 32nd year, Australasian Body Corporate Management manage over four hundred complexes throughout Queensland and New South Wales, with unprecedented annual growth in excess of 25%.

How did you come to be involved with the industry?

Presently I am partner and managing director of Australasian Body Corporate Management, overseeing the operation of the Brisbane and Gold Coast offices. I have been involved in the Body Corporate/Strata industry and property services industry since 1996. Prior to join Body Corporate/Strata management I was involved in commercial investment sales and leasing, employed with Colliers International and later joined Jones Lang LaSalle when I relocated to Brisbane in 2007. Both rolls involved facilitating the sales and leasing of regional and major shopping centres, office buildings and various commercial facilities and sites throughout Queensland and New South Wales. In 2007 I purchased an apartment located in New Farm, Brisbane and joined the Body Corporate Committee, taking on the Treasurer and Secretary roles. Playing an active role and undertaking major capital works to the complex, including exterior re-painting, exterior lighting upgrade and building security upgrade. Over a six-month period, working closely on these major projects and with the Body Corporate manager of our complex who was also the director of the company. This business relationship lead, to an employment offer with this particular company and this is where I commenced my career in Body Corporate management.

And this led to your involvement with Australasian Body Corporate Management?

In late 2013 a decision was made to explore opportunities in the setting up of a Body Corporate/Strata management company or purchasing an established company. It was further decided that Sydney or Brisbane would be the preferred locations given the growth rates, particularly Brisbane. Following several months of investigations an opportunity arose in Brisbane to purchase Australasian Body Corporate Management. The company held a solid foundation in the market place, had been established 28 years at the time, and employed a small team of 8 staff members. All of which appeared attractive, as we knew we could grow the portfolio to a size where we felt comfortable.

So how is your offering different from others in the space?

Now established 32 years and growing the portfolio to a comfortable size, we aim to deliver our clients the highest financial, legislative and facility management services available. We ensure client satisfaction is achieved and to continue to remain a sought after and respected organisation in the market. Within our organisation comes a diverse range of talent from industries such as building, construction, property services, finance, facilities and project management. Our team is small, however we personally know all our clients and deliver same day service. Our Brisbane office holds 10 staff members and our Gold Coast office holds 5 staff members. Both offices hold facilities to accommodate owner’s attendance during General Meetings and Committee Meetings, as some meeting attract up to 40 owners in attendance. We accommodate attendance in person, teleconference and Skype.

And where is the business headed?

Australasian Body Corporate Management operates in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and is licenced and operates in Sydney and Northern New South Wales. Presently we hold the management of over 400 complexes with growth rates exceeding 25% annually.

Would we know of any of your properties under management?

Three properties which come to mind are our Allegra development in Southport, Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley, and the Merrimac Heights Estate. Allegra is a mixed-use development in the corner of Scarborough street and Nind street comprising 117 apartments over sixteen levels, including retail shops on the ground floor.

Cathedral Place is an inner city complex spanning an entire city block and comprising 550 apartments in Brisbane, and which has been registered under BUGTA and comprises a Principle Body Corporate known as the CBC, five Body Corporate schemes known as BUP’s and a commercial precinct comprising of 21 shops and first floor offices.

Finally, Merrimac Heights Estate is a secure gated complex of 150 townhouses, two tennis courts, two swimming pools and ten areas of landscaped grounds.

From an industry standpoint, what changes are taking place in the sector?

Following the announcement of the New South Wales new Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 which came into effect from 30 November 2016, several changes include; The Annual General Meeting, Committee Meetings, Finance, Legal, Insurance, By-laws, Repairs and Maintenance and Strata Management Agreements. Some examples of these changes include:

Notices of the Annual General Meeting must be provided to Lot owners and tenants at least 7 days’ notice prior to the Annual General Meeting. A vote can be held to determine when the owners can hold their Annual General Meeting during the financial year. Should a quorum not be achieved after 30 minutes of the notified commencement time of the Annual General Meeting the Chairperson may adjourn the meeting or may declare those present achieve a quorum and commence the meeting accordingly. Voting on matters may be conducted by secret ballot, however under certain requirements only. Owners in large schemes may receive the Minutes of a General Meeting within 14 days, however only if requested. A maximum of one proxy per person for schemes under 20 Lots and for schemes greater than 20 Lots a person cannot hold proxies for more than 5% of the total number of Lots in the scheme. One co-owner of the same Lot may be elected to the Committee only. A sole owner of a Lot may not nominate more than one person to the Committee unless they own more than one Lot. An explanatory note of not more than 300 words is required when requesting a motion to be placed on a general meeting agenda. Motions must be included on debt recovery management, annual fire safety assessments, known commissions and training services, as well as an estimate of any commissions to be received during the financial period. Owners may requisition motions upon a General Meeting, whether their levies are paid in full or an amount is outstanding.

Australasian-Body-Corporate_Management-BCM-Queensland-Staff_897x494
Australasian Body Corporate Management (ABCM) has been providing strata services for over 30 years throughout Queensland and New South Wales

The Sinking Fund has been renamed Capital Works Fund. Auditing of financial year end statements is compulsory and must be carried out prior to the Annual General Meeting and the distribution of the agenda documents to Lot owners, for schemes greater than 100 Lots and or with an annual budget of more than $250,000. For a scheme greater than 100 Lots, when preparing annual financial budget, a specific amount for each item of expenditure is required and any variances to the 10-year capital works plan must include a reason for the variance. The capital works plan is to be used in budget preparation and should be followed as close as possible. The financial budget will include contributions raised, income received and all known expenditures.

So what are the most important issues facing the strata industry?

A Body Corporate/Strata complex may see a variance in occupancy ‘resident owners or tenants’. Complexes that hold a high tenancy ratio, generally see a low attendance rate during General Meetings. These factors greatly impact the decision-making process and therefore decisions may take longer to determine than normal. The importance of owners participating in the voting process is paramount. Whether owners attend meetings in person or by voting paper, the importance of their vote is valuable.

What are the business lessons you’ve learned?

We recognise that Body Corporate/Strata management is a service based industry therefore our team is committed to working together to ensure all service levels are reached and reviewed where necessary. Ensuring these service levels are achieved is of the upmost importance as our business growth is dependent upon this. The majority of our business growth is received by a referral from an existing client which is a direct result from our service levels. Our team continues to stand by our motto “Our Knowledge is your Body Corporate” to ensure our retention and growth rates are achieved. Furthermore, educating owners of their responsibilities when owning a property within a complex is valuable. Therefore, providing owners of the By-laws that govern the complex ensures all residents are aware of who is responsible and the provisions pertaining to certain aspects of community living.

What misconceptions about the industry do you have to deal with?

Misconceptions in the industry may vary, however a common misconception is that some owners believe their levy contributions paid, all go to the management company, which is not the case. The levy contribution owners pay, is a payment towards all expenses the complex will incur or save during its financial year. The administrative fee paid to the Body Corporate manager is only a small portion of the levy contribution owners pay and it is as small as 5% of the total contribution.

Are there particular issues strata owners should better educate themselves on?

Owners need to be aware of various issues pertaining to their complex and to better educate themselves. Particularly in By-laws, Enforcement of By-laws & Obligations of a Body Corporate and Committee members. Our office regularly distributes information factsheets pertaining to these obligations which include; What is a Committee, What is the role of a Body Corporate Manager, What is the role of a Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and Ordinary Member of the Committee & How does a person nominate for Committee positions. Furthermore, matters pertaining to By-law enforcement are included which cover topics such as; What are By-laws and the responsibility of the Body Corporates to enforce its By-laws. Australasian Body Corporate Management finds owners are receptive to receiving these information factsheets which in turn assist owners, property managers and their tenants to better understand who is responsible for what in a complex, therefore directing their enquiries to the correct person.

Operationally, how is Australasian Body Corporate Management different from other providers who work in this space?

Firstly, from a management perspective we emphasis the importance of ensuring our staff are treated with respect. We feel that ‘happy staff equals happy clients’ therefore we ensure each member of our team is provided adequate support in their role to ensure they are not overloaded and able to provide the required service levels our clients require and expect.

Our role is to assist the Committee in administering all Secretarial and Treasurer roles. Under the direction of the Committee, our office assists in the preparation and distribution of all Agendas and Minutes. To ensure effective meetings are conducted, clear communication between our office and the Committee is held in the lead up to any meeting. Draft Minutes are circulated to the Secretary within 7 days or sooner after the meeting for review and approval, prior to distribution. All action items from the meeting are clearly identified upon the Minutes of the meeting and detail who is responsible for what. Our office can assist with these tasks within a timely manner.

Furthermore, our office will assist the Committee, particularly the Secretary in all communication to owners and residents when required and implement any legislative requirements. Given our experience in the creation of By-laws, our office can value add to your existing By-laws if or when needed to help uphold the integrity of the complex.

We pride ourselves in financial management. Our financial controller assists the Treasurer during the financial year to ensure the financial expenditure falls in line with the approved annual budget items and if not, those notations are recorded for transparency to owners. Our financial controller will provide a monthly status report exclusively available to the Committee detailing all payments drawn, payments received, bank account balance, bank statements, financial statements and roll changes.

The Committee may require a review of its operational services. At Australasian Body Corporate Management our office can assist the Committee to obtain alternate options from service providers ensuring the complex is maximising its position. Operational services may include; security services, fire safety services, insurance services, electricity services, gas services, internet services, grounds & garden services, pool services, lift services, cleaning services, remedial repairs and ongoing general maintenance.

Australasian Body Corporate Management can confidently administer all communication to and from all service providers to ensure all owners receive the best possible outcomes. Furthermore, between our office and our legal team we hold a 100% success rate in debt recovery relating to overdue levies including metered energy.

Many of our complexes have saved 50% of their secretarial fees in the first 12 months after appointing Australasian Body Corporate Management.

ABCM Partners

Australasian Body Corporate Management holds a longstanding reputation in Body Corporate Management. When it comes time to recommend external service providers we prefer to recommend Body Corporate Brokers for their ability to obtain competitive insurance renewals, and their assistance during insurable events.

PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) CEO Paul Brennan podcast

A global medical device company, PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) is focused on delivering improved patient outcomes through the use of innovative polymer technology.

CEO Paul Brennan discusses their growth opportunities for this wound technology including their FDA approval in the USA and anticipated listing on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) in the second quarter of 2018.

Sirtex Medical (ASX:SRX) CEO Andrew McLean podcast

Sirtex Medical (ASX:SRX) is an Australian global life-sciences company developing and delivering effective oncology treatments through innovative small particle technology.

Considered a global leader within the rapidly growing market of Interventional Oncology, this field of interventional radiology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer using targeted and minimally-invasive procedures.

After a challenging 2017, the company has worked hard to restore shareholder value and grow earnings.

In this podcast CEO Andrew McLean discusses this turnaround, and the markets Sirtex Medical is making strides in.

Youngcare CEO Anthony Ryan podcast

Anthony Ryan is the CEO of Youngcare, a Not-For-Profit (NFP) company dedicated to bringing young people with disabilities out of aged care facilities and into purpose built spaces which celebrate youth.

In this podcast he talks about gaining and leveraging media attention, running a Not-For-Profit like a corporate, and facilitating a unity between government, corporations, and individuals with carers within the disability space.

Anthony also discusses Youngcare’s unique and privileged position, and the lasting positive changes they’re creating in the Australian disability sector.

Lions Clubs Australia Executive Officer Rob Oerlemans podcast

Rob Oerlemans is the Executive Officer of Lions Clubs Australia, a self-described “Good ideas organisation,” with a footprint encompassing community, environmental, medical and disaster relief initiatives.

Lions Clubs comprise an apolitical and secular organisation of 1,200 clubs nationally and an international membership of one and a half million individuals.

In this podcast Rob gives an introduction to Lions Clubs many operating areas, and speaks about how Lions Clubs are embracing new challenges including digitisation and changing volunteering habits amongst younger generations.

Governments need to do their part in disability employment

Vision_Australia_CEO_Ron_Hooton_740x460

At Vision Australia, we know that in order to affect change, we need to not only to talk the talk, but also walk the walk. That’s why one of our company KPIs is to have a workforce engagement rate for people who are blind or have low vision of more than 15%. And I can proudly say that in January 2018, we were sitting at 14.8%.

I know firsthand that people who are blind or have low vision are no different from their sighted peers in that they make passionate, committed and efficient employees. Yet, despite this, research shows us that more than 50% of people who are blind or have low vision, and who want to work, are unemployed.

One of the ways all the governments across Australia can help decrease this percentage is through the mandating of Australian Standard EN 301 549, for the procurement of accessible Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

AS EN 301 549 was formally adopted in December 2016 as a part of the Federal Government’s procurement policies for ICT and serves as advice for state and local governments. It’s an incredible document that can be used to assess the accessibility of any technology that is acquired and requires suppliers to identify how they meet this standard when asked.

Unfortunately, the standard is voluntary, except in NSW where in December 2017 they made it compulsory. We’re advocating for the remaining state governments and the Federal Government to legislate that all departments must procure ICT that is truly accessible to increase the employment opportunities available to people with disability, across Australia.

Ron Hooton
CEO
Vision Australia

Barry Goldwater Jr. on government, renewables and President Trump’s first year

Barry_Goldwater_Jr_Romulus_Business_Services

Barry Goldwater Jr. is a former United States House of Representatives member serving from 1969 until 1983. He now employs a lifetime of experience in government and business as CEO & Chairman of Nelson Taplin Goldwater consultancy, assisting businesses to navigate local, state, and federal legislative issues.

Mr. Goldwater gave his thoughts on the relationship between business and government, renewable energy for conservatives, and his evaluation of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and first year of presidency.

Government and Business

Mr. Goldwater assists businesses by providing insights from his roles in both government and business. Mr. Goldwater said many of the businesses he works with are unaware of the impact government can make on their operation. “Whether they like it or not, in their business they have a partner in the name of government, and if they’re not watching government, government is watching them.” Mr. Goldwater said.

“It’s important that in their dealings and activities as businesses they need to focus some of their attention on government and get to know and develop relationships. Especially with those areas of government which impact their business.” Mr. Goldwater said.

A lifetime of relationship building has given Mr. Goldwater an edge when dealing with local and federal government. “I belong to a number of different associations which allow me access to various subject matter or agencies.” Mr. Goldwater said, “For instance, I belong to the association of governors, I attend their quarterly meetings around the United States, and have the opportunity to get one on one with many different governors, so over the years I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them, and as a consequence it’s easier to do business in those states.”

“I do a lot of business in almost all fifty states, and make it a point to know the legislators, to know who the speaker of the house is, who the president of the senate is, the governor, the attorney general, I make it a point to develop those relationships.”

Mr. Goldwater’s relationships serve to speed up dealings with government, which he says, “has no real incentive to be efficient.” He notes that government doesn’t have a sensitivity or business bottom line which requires it to operate quickly.

“Too often when you’re dealing with government you have to go through various levels of government bureaucracies and channels before you’re getting answers. Government moves slow. Just to get an appointment with the secretary of energy, you first have to meet with some of the underlings, and then eventually if you really push it hard you can get your meeting with the secretary.” Mr. Goldwater said, “That can be modified if you already have a relationship with that government appointed Secretary, and in the case of the Department of Energy I happen to know and be very friendly with the former Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, who was appointed by Trump to be the secretary of energy, so I have an easy time getting to the secretary of energy because of my relationship.”

Mr. Goldwater includes political donations as an avenue for many businesses to get their foot in the door, “I recall when I was a Congressman nobody was going to buy me, but if somebody took enough interest to contribute to my campaign, the least I could do for them was give them the time to come in and talk.”

Renewable Energy and Conservatives

“I think conservatives have got to get up to speed with what’s going on with technology, and realise that we need to support renewable energy. Not only because it is economic, but also because it’s clean.”

“I’m a conservative, but I like clean. I think mankind has dirtied up this globe too much. It’s time that the business community, the conservatives and those who are sceptical about renewables need to understand that this is good, not bad. The future is here, and we better get on board or we’re going to miss the train.”

Mr. Goldwater’s support for renewable energy originated during his time in congress. “Back in 1974 the United States experienced an oil embargo from Saudi Arabia, president Jimmy Carter at the time stood up and declared war on energy independence.” Mr. Goldwater said, “The congress where I served at the time created renewable energy programs and subsidised it heavily with price guarantees, guaranteed purchases, tax treatment, depreciation treatment. We did everything that we could to accelerate past what would be normal market growth.”

“Today, because of those subsidies, renewable energy is competitive with gas, coal, and nuclear.” Mr. Goldwater said. He points out that the subsidies which he oversaw have also gone away as the technology brought the cost of the devices down.

“Today, for instance, you can build a 100mw solar electric generator out in the deserts, and sell that electricity for 3 cents a kilowatt, which is very competitive to gas, which would sell for 3-4 cents a kilowatt. We invested heavily in renewables, that investment is now paying off.”

Mr. Goldwater sees government subsidisation is a positive means to grow technologies and national interests beyond regular market growth. Saying, “If our government determined that it is in the national interest to invest in a certain kind of technology, whether it is to cure cancer, diabetes, or provide energy or even weapons of defence, those are investments that I think are reasonable and acceptable.”

“If we find that it’s an important need, I don’t have a problem with government subsidising that technology. Then, when it comes to applied research, get the government out of it. Let the private market take over that technology and put it to work.”

“I don’t want to see government in the applied area. The conservative policy is that we don’t want government doing for people what they can do for themselves.” Mr. Goldwater said.

President Trump

Drawing on his years of political and business experience, Mr. Goldwater gave insight into Donald Trump’s candidacy and the first year of his presidency.

“Candidate Trump came along and recognised that Americans were mad.” Mr. Goldwater said, “They were mad and angry over the loss of jobs, stagnant wages, loss of productivity, student loans going through the roof, graduates living at home, government regulations that prevented risk-takers to start small businesses, banks whose loans you can’t qualify for, the affordable care act which was unaffordable. Candidate Trump recognised this feeling within the country, and as a result said he would do something about it, and he was elected.”

“He was a populist, and it was a populist reaction to the phenomena which existed in the United States. Here we are a year later, and what’s the scorecard? If you scrape away all of the dialogue and commentary and look at what he’s been able to do, he gets a pretty high mark, the economy is booming, we’re starting to see higher wages, the stock market is going through the roof, he’s been able to get rid of a lot of regulations which stagnate businesses, he has surrounded himself with pretty smart people.”

“You might look at his popularity and think maybe he is suffering. But once you get away from the liberals and out in the country, those folks like what Trump is saying and doing. He talks their language.”

Detailing the conflicts between American conservatives and liberals, Mr. Goldwater said the dynamic is not only historically consistent but integral to the freedom of the United States, “In every free nation you are going to be challenged by those who want more government and those who want less. It takes you back to the beginning where we had our founding fathers Hamilton and Jefferson. Hamilton advocated more and Jefferson wanted less, that dynamic continues today”.

Mr. Goldwater said he is also unperturbed by much of the negative media attention the Trump Presidency has received, saying, “If you go back to other administrations, to President Obama, the Republicans beat the hell out of Obama, President Clinton too, the Republicans beat him up. That’s politics, and that’s to be expected. The opposition is going to try and make whoever is in power look bad, that’s what Democrats are doing here in the United States along with the liberal media, and I’ve got to say they’re doing a pretty good job of defining who and what Donald Trump is. It’s sad, but it’s nothing more than politics.”

In closing, Mr. Goldwater lent his predictions on the future of the Trump presidency and on Donald Trump’s intentions to run for a second term, “The Democrats’ message so far is all anti-Trump, they don’t have a platform or a message of what they bring to the table, what they’re trying to sell and what they can do for this country. That’s going to hurt their chances.”

“Trump at least has some accomplishments that he can point to, and Republicans can run on those accomplishments. This is his second year, and normally the party in power loses some of their power. The predictions now are that the Democrats are going to make a lot of gains, but it’s still early and my prediction is that the Republicans will hold their positions of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”