The Paradox of Wealth

The best thing about departing executives is that they finally find the gumption to say what they think. Knowing that they are about to step off the gravy train and no longer need to worry about stomping on anyone’s delicate little toes, they let loose.

And so it was with departing Stockland boss Matthew Quinn, who spoke at the Property Council of Australia’s annual congress event in Sydney yesterday. Most executives who need to cosy up to government often label doomsayers as pessimists and glass-half-empty types, rather than recognize the points they raise as legitimate and real concerns.

Well, as a (soon-to-be former) head of Australia’s largest property developer, Quinn had to maintain cordial relationships with governments. After all, they massively subsidise his business. But with the finishing line in sight, he’s ready to say what he really thinks.

The following quote comes from today’s Australian. It’s worth quoting from extensively because we think Quinn hits on some very important and fundamental issues for Australia:

‘MATTHEW Quinn, the outgoing boss of the country’s largest residential developer Stockland, has criticised the federal and state governments, saying Australia has turned into a nanny state that has become self-indulgent and lazy on the back of the nation’s mining boom.

‘And he added the federal government’s Asian Century white paper released on Sunday, which outlines 25 key objectives to build stronger ties with Asia, pointed out the “blindingly obvious”.

‘”It was a mile wide and an inch deep… and had all been said before.”

‘Mr Quinn, 50, who departs from Stockland early next year after more than nine years as the listed real estate investment trust’s managing director, said he arrived from England in 1987, in the months after the America’s Cup campaign in Perth, to what was a country with life, spirit and a can-do attitude.

‘”It was a happy country, it was an inspiring country, it was an entrepreneurial country,” he told the Property Council of Australia’s annual congress event in Sydney yesterday.

‘”People were allowed to take risks,” he said. “If you broke rules you were seen as good, because you were bending the rules rather than complying with rules, and the transformation since then to what is now referred to as the nanny state, it’s all about what can go wrong rather than what can go right.”‘


Many people, and perhaps yourself included, can identify with that sentiment. There’s a feeling that something has changed. That despite the increase in wealth, we somehow feel poorer…diminished in spirit. The paradox of wealth, or just a wealth mirage?


Greg Canavan
for Markets and Money

From the Archives…

Investment Horizons – Introducing the Hubble Market Theory
26-10-2012 – Nick Hubble

The Big Fall in the Stock Market is Still to Come
25-10-2012 – Murray Dawes

A Safer Than Super Investment?
24-10-2012 – Nick Hubble

The Lost Generation in the US Economy
23-10-2012 – Bill Bonner

NAB and Australian Banking is Oversized and Under Pressure
22-10-2012 – Dan Denning

Greg Canavan
Greg Canavan is a contributing Editor of Markets and Money and is the foremost authority for retail investors on value investing in Australia. He is a former head of Australasian Research for an Australian asset-management group and has been a regular guest on CNBC, Sky Business’s The Perrett Report and Lateline Business. Greg is also the editor of Crisis & Opportunity, an investment publication designed to help investors profit from companies and stocks that are undervalued on the market. To follow Greg's financial world view more closely you can subscribe to Markets and Money for free here. If you’re already a Markets and Money subscriber, then we recommend you also join him on Google+. It's where he shares investment research, commentary and ideas that he can't always fit into his regular Markets and Money emails. For more on Greg go here.

Leave a Reply

4 Comments on "The Paradox of Wealth"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Australia the nascent nanny state: where the Government ‘cares for you’ (read: intrudes into your life like a parasitic intestinal worm) from cradle to the grave. No wonder we feel poorer!


Totally agree with the man, no surprise there! Glad he spoke out, what a champ :)

But dont wake the zombies please, they are happy eating their curds and whey while they what the next series of The Block…

truth and integrity

Your greatest wealth is your health and your heart.
The government cares not for these but for their false statistics.

Rob CA
Public servants, most of whom have never been in a profession or business, send out letters to professionals and businesses all day threatening them with fines, investigation, audits and custodial sentences based primarily on the “regulations” no parliamentarian ever voted on but all concocted by bureaucrats. However when these same public servants are simply asked by their boss to maybe “do their job” they cry out that they are being bullied and discriminated against which brings on the union, the investigation, the reports, the appeals (never the sacking) and finally a big chunk of taxpayers’ money being paid out. Nanny… Read more »
Letters will be edited for clarity, punctuation, spelling and length. Abusive or off-topic comments will not be posted. We will not post all comments.
If you would prefer to email the editor, you can do so by sending an email to