High Altitude
Sir Jim McLay, On leadership: believe in something, do it for the right reasons, plus politics, climate and world peace

Sir Jim McLay, On leadership: believe in something, do it for the right reasons, plus politics, climate and world peace

July 14, 2019

Sir Jim McLay discusses topics frankly and openly; as diverse as Public service, NZ local and national politics, leadership, conservation, whaling, climate, the UN and the law:

  • How to spot and grasp opportunities to serve your community; the dos and don'ts,
  • MMP vs. first past the post,
  • Why he wouldn't recommend politics as a career but it’s worth doing for the right reasons and with life experience 
  • When to throw your hat in the ring for local or national government
  • The minimum requirements for joining politics - local or other
  • Creating opposition by "not saying yes enough"
  • 3 vs 4 year government term - 4 years is too short for a good government, 3 years is too long for a bad government
  • Why it’s good that youth are worried about climate change - which is a "risk management" issue based on the science
  • The glacier in the Antarctic that is named after him and how it happened
  • Whaling - the history and what next  - Iceland, South Korea, Russia and other's stance and why it's a worry
  • United Nations - The campaign for a seat on the security council, the veto, eating for New Zealand, Rwanda - the Singapore of Africa or nearly and why the 3rd largest standing force in the world deserves recognition and support despite sometimes failing.

Jim was born and educated in Auckland completing a law degree in 1967. He worked for a period in the profession before entering public service and successfully standing for the New Zealand Parliament as a candidate for the NZ National Party in the Birkenhead electorate in 1975. A long-time member of the National Party organisation he was clearly seen as a future minister and leader and within three years of his election to Parliament he was appointed by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon to the posts of Attorney General – the youngest ever to hold the role – and Minister of Justice. Six years later he became deputy leader of the Party and Deputy Prime Minister.

In that same year National lost power in a snap general election. Muldoon was seen to be out of touch by younger members of the party and was challenged for the leadership with our guest taking out the contest. In a difficult post Muldoon period there followed a further leadership challenge which he lost and our guest subsequently retired from Parliament in 1987. It was post Parliament that he began the most interesting period of his career working commercially in numerous board and advisory roles, serving as a permanent representative to the United Nations and winning a place for New Zealand on the Security Council of the organisation. He became New Zealand’s representative to the Palestinian Authority and acted as special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has held and influenced at a national level through roles too numerous to mention.

He has received recognition and honours for his public service that range from honorary doctorate to knighthood and, significantly, has a glacier in Antarctica that bears his name. This recognises his work on the International Whaling Commission – particularly his advocacy that led to the establishment of a whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean.

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