Capital Meets Turnaround Event (Perth, 4 August)
As one of the more powerful thought leaders of our time, hearing the Hon Julie Bishop speak about geo-politics, influencing the policy agenda, levelling the gender field and standing up to Russia was a delight for the sell-out business types who attended the TMA Australia’s Capital Meets Turnaround night on a sharp winter’s night in Perth. Ms Bishop had flown to Perth that day fresh from her conversation with President Zelensky, Ukraine, in Canberra the night beforehand.
Cherry farmer, law leader, politician, ANU chancellor, Prince Charles Trust chair, business influencer, Ms Bishop has always used wit, intelligence, and planning across her many careers to build respect and to bring others to a collective decision. Her wit was on show throughout the night – in 2002 when Julie disarmingly channelled Shane Warne to defuse tensions in Zimbabwe; further to her time as Foreign Minister when she mischievously decided that her accompanying Beijing security ought trot alongside her over a gruelling 10km run, in suits (something the slightly less athletic Boris Johnson of the UK was also enticed to do on another day in London).
Ms Bishop has always used her intelligence to win support from unlikely sources (witness the Russian Ambassador voting in favour of investigations into MH17 after Julie called on the Ambassador to vote as a father and her work with Malcolm Turnbull in ushering in Safe Harbour reform as part of the Innovation agenda). She has made a point of respecting, and being respected in turn, by the leaders of Australia’s near neighbours in southeast Asia, which surely helps her new consulting business.
Cameron Belyea, as former president of the TMA Australia and partner of Clayton Utz said after interviewing the former Foreign Minister over an entertaining 90 mins on stage: “Julie, you are a standout Australian citizen”. Melissa Ferreira, a senior associate of Clayton Utz who brought the night together for the TMA Australia, was happy to agree and the audience, many of whom were dying to spend a penny, clapped their assent.
Of course, the Hon was not alone in speaking to TMA Australia’s members, Henriette Rothschild, partner of KordaMentha and newly appointed member of the Crown Melbourne board (and other enterprises) ran a tight ship with Lachlan Edwards, founder of Faraday Associates and board member of various high profile companies, Jonathan Bloch of ANZ Sustainable Finance, and Robert Wilson, the Head of WA Clean Energy Finance Corporation, speaking about the increasing impact of ESG on investment and funding decisions. The panel agreed that ESG statements are often meaningless platitudes, boards needing to keep in mind that statements of fact need to be verified and opinions or forecasts to have a proper basis. The panel added that climate change, together with the impact of environmental decisions on nature (e.g.: stopping rainforests being decimated because pH levels in oceans would then wipe out species, including our own) should drive the monetisation of re-purposed brownfields. The Cth Govt is firmly supportive of opportunities to help industry change.
Cameron added “TMA Australia is lucky to have such incredible supporters, across industry, politics, capital and participants, promoting the idea that early intervention, across whatever special situation an enterprise finds itself in, helps restore value. Traditionally a board calls for its investment bankers to provide advice to unsolicited bids. Nowadays, a sensible board also calls for its legal and other advisory team to provide unique perspectives to solve unusual crisis. That is the new age of restructuring and TMA AUSTRALIA is here to help”.
Henriette added “We are a community, a broad church, of capital, investors and advisors, each of whom represent organisations keen to see enterprise leaders, as well as our political leaders, focus on change as incrementally beneficial to the generation who come after us. That is why umbrella organisations like the TMA AUSTRALIA are such an important part of the continuing dialogue of ideas, to foment discussion as to what comes next”.