Promoting values adds to good governance

Sir Anand Satyanand –

First Recognition: Guest Speaker Graeme Wheeler, Governor, Reserve Bank of New Zealand; Master of Ceremonies, Professor Sekhar Bandyophyday, Head of the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington; and Rod Oram, Business Journalist and Summation Speaker.

I start acknowledging the two larger than life figures who currently husband Indian Newslink, which regularly each fortnight, in quality fashion, covers a number of issues of particular interest to New Zealanders of Indian origin – owner, Jacob Mannothra and Editor, Venkat Raman.

This is the sixth occasion when I have commenced proceedings at this Lecture which bears my name. It continues to be an unusual experience being present for an occasion more often associated with people who have become deceased and passed on to another jurisdiction. It is more usual then for an event, such as a Lecture bearing their name to be planned and delivered as the so and so “Memorial” Lecture.

May I say with the enthusiasm of one who is very much living and enjoying it, how much more pleasant it is to be at a lecture without any word like “memorial” being in the title.

Worthwhile Contribution

This Lecture, now in iteration number Six, has developed the idea of delivering to a discerning audience, a worthwhile contribution to the general discourse about governance and the principles which underlie it.

The contributions in the past years – from then Foreign Affairs Secretary, John Allen, then Business New Zealand Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly, international businessman based in New Zealand, Vino Ramayah, international civil servant Sir Don McKinnon and Westpac Chairperson Jan Dawson, have certainly filled that bill.  Each Lecture has probed the need and basis for governance standards and their maintenance.

Each of those lecturers has identified an element of New Zealand business or government or way of life, offering comment and compliment, as well as challenge.

Three Statutory Roles

July 2016 seems to me to be a very suitable time for you, Graeme Wheeler, as Governor of the Reserve Bank to be the lecture deliverer.

The Bank sits, as those who have followed contemporary events will know, at the junction between business and government with three statutory roles, first to manage monetary policy to maintain price stability, secondly to promote the maintenance of a sound and efficient financial system, and thirdly to meet the currency needs of the public.

Touching on the last item for a moment, it is amazing to think, as we recognise easily and use regularly the well-known Kiwi banknotes, with Sir Ed Hillary and Kate Shepherd and Sir Apirana Ngata (and occasionally at least for those of us in Wellington, the 100 dollar note with Lord Rutherford on them), that they have been with us since 1934 when the Reserve Bank began operations.

Before then, any Bank could and did issue their own banknotes.

High Value System

Touching on the second item, New Zealand can claim a sound financial system that commands high value and which is regulated by the Reserve Bank.  To start up and operate a Bank or an Insurance company, for example, requires compliance with strict oversight that is provided by the Reserve Bank.

The third element of the Reserve Bank’s remit has been much in public attention in recent times – namely the management of monetary policy – interest rates, loan to value ratios and so forth.  With characteristic zeal, Venkat Raman you and those who continue to advise you, like Dr Rajen Prasad, have identified this time to be a suitable opportunity for the Reserve Bank’s approach to its obligations to be described, and for the ways in which its discipline is exercised, to be explained.  Hence has arisen the invitation to you, Graeme Wheeler, Reserve Bank governor now for nearly four years – and a little ahead, commentary to be offered by Rod Oram, respected columnist, broadcaster and adjunct professor in business.

Clean Reputation

In the article I wrote for the Indian Newslink earlier this month, I made mention of our country having developed, over time, an internationally respected reputation for accountability and transparency of institutions which has ensured, for example, a prominent and positive placement on the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, which has been published since 1993.

I wrote, that for a relatively small country, comprising 268,000 square kilometres and housing 4.6 million people with a small economy, and a GDP generating $240 billion, has required continued activity by a number of players.  An Important contributor in that regard is our Reserve Bank.

What our Lecturer, commentator and others will all say, will be both interesting and challenging, I have little doubt.

The proper focus for this year’s Lecture is on another aspect related to good governance in our country. The values we consider important in life are not any birth right. They are grounded in the values of those who have preceded us, formed and shaped through education and through interactions with peers, colleagues and role models.

I hope that my curtain raising has made anticipation of Graeme Wheeler’s address something that will remain memorable.

In conclusion, adopting the risk of repeating something I said at last year’s Lecture, I am one who has long admired the phrase of Robert Louis Stevenson which is becoming a byword for this occasion: “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.”

Sir Anand Satyanand is former Governor General of New Zealand (August 2006 to August 2011) in whose name we conduct the Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture every year. He is currently Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation, London.

The above is an edited version of his address at the Sixth Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture held on Monday, July 25, 2016 at Pullman Hotel Auckland. For full text, please visit www.indiannewslink.co.nz

Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Graeme Wheeler was the Guest Speaker with Victoria University (Wellington) Professor Sekhar Bandyopadhyay as Master of Ceremonies and Business Journalist Rod Oram as the Summation Speaker. Reports and pictures on this formal, Black Tie event appears elsewhere in this issue and in our next (August 15, 2016) issue.

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