Big 4 firm identifies pressing governance issues

The Australian national chairman of one of the big four accounting firms has warned that a sentiment around the failure of national governance is beginning to manifest in Australia.

Speaking at a lunch event earlier this week, KPMG Australia national chairman Peter Nash spoke about the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.

Mr Nash said that participants at the forum identified the five most pressing business risks they are facing.

This year, those risks were unemployment or underemployment, energy price shock, fiscal causes, failure of national governance, and profound social instability.

Mr Nash said that the fourth risk, failure of national governance, was a topic that needs addressing.

“We used to think that was the domain of developing countries with dictators seizing power,” Mr Nash said. “Now it seems to be manifesting in a rather more sinister fashion in countries and governments that we think of as highly sophisticated.”

Mr Nash said this is evident in the likes of the US, the Netherlands, France, and even to some extent Australia.

“I think Australia, quite frankly, is a long way from a Donald Trump [situation], and maybe it’s because our multi-party system allows people to turn on the relief valve without doing something really stupid,” he said.

“I think in Australia it is starting to manifest, but I think we probably have better ways of dealing with it.”

Further discussion at the World Economic Forum was around four key areas of policy focus.

They were the renewed pursuit of global economic growth, the need for capitalism to re-establish its credibility, mastering the fourth industrial revolution, and strengthening and re-imagining global co-operation.

“That discussion around risks was done through a different mechanism than the identification of the four key areas of policy focus, but there's a very high degree of correlation between what business is worried about and what really needs to be addressed in a policy sense,” Mr Nash said.

“Remembering the policy issues were all about the society and community as a whole, not focused on business, so the point being that what's good for the community, in a policy sense, is generally really good for business.”

 

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