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Editorial - Does leadership matter?

LEADERSHIP is something we’ve been banging on about here at WA Business News for years.

We’ve run a series on leadership by guest columnist Digby Scott, we’ve focused on the concept of WA’s future leaders with our 40under40 program and, for the past year, we’ve run an events program called Success & Leadership featuring some of the biggest names in the State’s corporate and political arena.

Dare I suggest we have shown some leadership of our own in this respect.

So it is with some interest that I have watched the launch of an events series called Leadership Matters by The West Australian, our much-loved monopoly daily.

Note a hint of irony there?

Given the number of people who approached me at the Leeuwin concert this year to suggest imitation is the best form of flattery, I am prepared to concede that corporate WA understands who has been taking the lead.

But it’s irritating that our lumbering giant of a daily newspaper can’t seem to generate an original thought – or even research other markets and adapt ideas here.

I used to work there, and I know how hard it is for ideas to rise to the top.

I suppose that’s the advantage of small-but-focused operations such as WA Business News – ideas get implemented without stifling bureaucracy.

When you are big, maybe it’s just easier to look around your own market and borrow ideas, that’s if you can’t buy them, such as Quokka, which earned Erik Dansted and his partners an unbelievable $16 million for their good six-year-old idea.

Anyway, enough of that, we welcome the competition in events just as we have enjoyed winning over loyal readers by giving you our brand of relevant local news.

Events are an excellent add-on for a newspaper. Unlike television and radio stations that have regulated protection from competition but can still go into magazine publishing, newspapers have few alternative options to present news and views in another format.

At WA Business News we understand how the emotional engagement of hearing first hand complements the written word.

Getting Wayne Martin as a speaker on the HIH matter was not a bad start for The West’s fresh, new and original idea – except for the timing.

I tried to line up an interview with Mr Martin about the HIH Royal Commission earlier this year. What better read could you imagine than one of WA’s top, if not the top (we’ll have to wait for the Legal Elite voting to finish before we know that for sure), barristers giving an insiders account of the impact of potentially the biggest disaster in corporate Australian history.

Unfortunately, he told me that “the current position at the commission is that we have taken the policy decision that that there will be no more comment or media exposure until the report is handed down on April 4”.

Naturally, when I saw Mr Martin was advertised to be a speaker on HIH on March 26, I thought things must have changed and made inquiries about that.

Not so, Mr Martin told me this week.

Nothing has changed and those involved in the HIH matter remain muzzled by their self-imposed ban.

It seems the decision to have Mr Martin speak before the commission’s report was driven by the newspaper’s fledgling events schedule rather than what he may be able to say.

“I am reluctant to say anything much before the release of the report, and certainly won’t say anything specific,” Mr Martin said.

There are headline acts and there are headlines – I expect we won’t see any of the latter from this leadership matter.

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