Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Roger Corbett takes over from Ron Walker as Chair of Fairfax Media

Roger Corbett AM

In the United Kingdom where the Royal Family of the House of Windsor live, the Royals have a line of successsion; a lineage of blood.  However, I want to remark to-day, in the defacto Republic of Austalia, about the line of influence in the affairs of the nation.

  1. On the top of the tree is the Prime Minister.  Now it is possible that someone can pull the strings of a PM, however it is still the PM who yays or nays some very significant decisions like wars and taxes.
  2. On the second rung I would put the Treasurer together with the Department Head of Treasury.  Their knowledge and control of the nation through its economic well-being or not-so-well-being affects us all.
  3. Coming in on the third rung out of the stable of private enterprise - not the government nor the bureaucracy - is Roger Corbett AM.
Please note, I did not place the Governor of the Reserve Bank in the top triumvirate.  You see, dear Networker, I think that the Treasurer in partnership with the Head of Treasury far outweigh his influence.  But let's take a look at Roger.  

I have remarked on Roger before here.  Here you will fiind a list of his board responsibilities.  To-day it has been announced that Roger has become chairman of Fairfax Media.  Of course, there could be more that I have not articulated in this post.  For instance, Roger sits as a director on the board of Outback Stores.  And there is the biggie: he sits on the Board of WalmartWalmart is the world's largest public corporation by revenue, according to the 2008 Fortune Global 500.

So how does all this make Roger more influential than a lot of other rich Australian men and women?

Roger knows a lot about Australians and knows it intimately.  He knows us as consumers.  He knows us by what we eat and what we drink; by how we spend our money; by how we will in the future spend our money; how our spending is controlled and cajoled and the consumption trends that will take us into the future.  He knows about   media and advertising.  
Classifieds Fairfax Rivers of Gold
Cartoon from here.
The so-called Rivers of God controlled by Fairfax Media through classified advertising have thin streams in the age of the Internet and a plethora of new media - but they still remain one of the best reflections of economic and social times.  So Roger knows all about that too.  This is why Roger is an asset as he sits on the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia.  You and I, dear Networker, might regard ourselves as genuine examples of people of the street but the facts, pure and simple, are that Roger knows more about us than we do - and, in my view, much more than Glenn Stevens does.

Roger knows about the job advertisements; the hatched, matched and despatched classifieds; how we respond to advertising; how to market products to us; and, in my view, I believe he knows what we are prepared to spend on food and how far we are prepared to go.  In short, we can talk big about food and the narrowing of choice and how we want more free range, better labelling and so on and on.  But Roger knows just how far we are prepared to take that.  He knows our limits in terms of day to day economics.  How valuable is that knowledge at the RBA!

It is not enough to know about us.  Walmart is a trendsetter and is venturing internationally.  Roger has this knowledge - of what is here to-day and what is likely to come around the corner in the future.  Another amazing thing is that Roger is not too busy to take his interests to the bush.  He sits on the board of Prime-Ag, clearly with an interest in food as it goes from farm to table and goes to the heart of remote, outback, and black Australia through his position on the board of Outback Stores.

So, congratulations, Roger! Another prestigious appointment to fit neatly the nice jigsaw puzzle of your other appointments.  I just hope you're doing the right thing by us - but I don't see any transparency that let's me see that.


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