Mood of the Boardroom: Top-rankers suffer from a spell of invisibility

CEOs say the majority of National’s top 10 need to raise their profile.

“I don’t know them,” says the CEO of an IT company. “Hardly heard of most of these people,” says another. An agricultural boss reckons “many of them are not visible.” From a winemaker: “It is not appropriate to comment — I am unfamiliar with their efforts.”

For this reason,  a high proportion of respondents gave “Unsure” votes to National’s highest ranked MPs.

For example, MPs including Shane Reti, Chris Bishop, Louise Upston and Scott Simpson all received “Unsure” responses from over 20 per cent of respondents.

Some of this will likely be due to the fact that the leader inevitably overshadows the rest of the caucus — Judith Collins received the top score with an average rating of 3.55/5.

“She is more decisive and articulate than her two immediate predecessors,” says a top lawyer.

“Her leadership qualities were immediately obvious from her first press conference as leader, and from the way in which she ranked her front bench, incorporating both Simon Bridges and Todd Muller,” says a director.

Recently appointed health spokesperson Shane Reti has clearly benefited from the ongoing Covid-19 health and border response coverage. Those who know who he is have given him the second highest score of 3.29/5 — almost eclipsing Collins.

Meanwhile National’s deputy leader Gerry Brownlee received a score of 2.79/5 — taking a hit due to the comments he made around the Government’s Covid-19 response.

In a press conference last month alongside Collins, Brownlee outlined several events and said they were an “interesting series of facts”. They included the Government’s plea to the public to prepare for a possible outbreak, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s visit to a mask factory, and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield’s public Covid-19 test just hours before announcing the community outbreak in Auckland.

“Gerry Brownlee didn’t do himself any favours by coming across as a conspiracy theorist,” says the head of a commercial law firm. “There is enough of that sort of nonsense around and an apparent endorsement from the deputy leader of the opposition is unhelpful.”

Heading into the 2017 election, Bill English’s top 10 combined received an average rating of 3.34/5 in the Mood of the Boardroom survey. This year, the combined average is 2.99/5.

Some of National’s most high-profile talent have departed politics this term — including Anne Tolley, Paula Bennett, Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams — and comments from some respondents suggest that this may have contributed to the lower score for the top 10 this time around. “This weakened team hardly fills me with confidence,” says a fund manager. “I see no depth in this party and no ability to sing from the same song sheet. I have no idea what they stand for, other than negativity and dirty politics,” says an IT CEO.

“There are pockets of ability and lots of some who haven’t quite worked out where they are going at the moment,” says a lobbyist. “They are a party in transition who — like Labour numerous times in the Key era — panicked over leadership when confronted with a PM with charisma and talent.”

Suggests one professional director: “We need to see the energetic young Nats coming through — Nicola Willis, etc.”