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?
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