Now in its 30th year, the New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust has been addressing the knowledge gap between Members of Parliament and the business community through a range of training programmes, attachments and seminars.
The Early Days
A one page ‘Proposal for the setting Up of a New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust’ formed the basis of the early discussion with parliamentary and business leaders. A prerequisite for the successful establishment of a trust to bring politicians and the business community closer was the imprimatur of the leadership of Parliament. In June 1991 the late Sir Patrick Goodman then chair of Goodman Fielder Wattie and a special trade ambassador for New Zealand and Lindsay McCallum, then general manager of the PR firm Network Communications, presented their proposal to Acting Prime Minister the Rt Hon Don (later Sir Donald) McKinnon MP and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Robin (later Sir Robin) Gray MP. Both were supportive of the concept.
These approaches to key political and business leaders in New Zealand resulted in the establishment of the New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust, with the Speaker of the House of Representatives as President and a representative of the Corporate membership as Chairman.
At the core of the Trust’s proposed activities aimed at developing improved reciprocal understanding, influenced by the British model of the Industry & Parliament Trust were parliamentary seminars for business people and attachments of MPs to corporate members.
The Trust was registered as a Charitable Trust on 25 November 1991 and launched on 11 December 1991, with Foundation Members approved from early 1992.
The first Trust Board met on 11 December 1991 and comprised seven members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and six business leaders.
It adopted the following as its main objectives:
- to enable MPs to widen their commercial experience in and increase their knowledge of business;
- to improve business managers’ understanding of how government is exercised through Parliament.
A full programme of Trust activities started at the beginning of 1992.
Sir Patrick Goodman and Lindsay McCullum, can without question be identified as parents of an organisation that now celebrates two plus decades of acknowledged achievement.
The 20th anniversary of the Trust was celebrated on 4 April 2012. A book on the History of the Trust, entitled Towards a Better Understanding written by John R Martin was written to mark the occasion.
In 2017 a revised history was published to mark the Trust’s 25th anniversary. In the Forward by the President of the Trust, Rt Hon David Carter MP, states “that the Trust has gone from strength to strength over the years. The Trust has a rather unique role in advertising Parliament to its Corporate members via the Parliamentary and Select Committee Seminars and to schools via the Travel Assistance programme for school visits to Parliament scheme. It is pleasing to see the increase in membership of the Trust and despite the pressures on the time of both Members of Parliament and Corporate members, the interest in the Business Study Programme attachments continues to grow”.
Copies of these histories are available free of charge from the Trust’s Secretariat.