Reference: G. Niness quoted in Georgina Murray and Douglas Pacheco, ‘Think Tanks in the 1990s’, Australian National University, 2001; 'Statement of Purpose', NZ Business Roundtable, 2009.The most influential business group is the NZ Business Roundtable which has been described as ‘the most powerful (of the) driving forces of free market economic reforms transforming New Zealand’. Its membership mainly comes from chief executives of the nations major businesses: "Members represent most of the large business interests in New Zealand and are drawn from all parts of the business sector. Their organisations comprise listed and private companies and other types of business enterprise, both domestically and overseas owned, primarily in the private sector."
During the 1980s it produced reports and led ‘the government through its agenda of reforms’. It was headed by a former Treasury economist and it actively pursued an agenda of market ‘liberalization’. Its members were ‘the direct beneficiaries of New Zealand’s asset sales program.’
The Roundtable’s agenda included reduced government spending ‘to make room for private sector expansion’; privatization and corporatization of government enterprises; labour market deregulation in the name of flexibility; and the avoidance of ‘unjustified new regulations in areas such as the environment’.
The relationship between the Roundtable and the NZ government was so intimate that one reporter joked that Roger Douglas and the Roundtable were ‘so close you couldn’t slide a Treasury Paper between them’. And indeed a member of the Roundtable claimed ‘that over ninety per cent of any decent policies that have come out of government in the last seven years have had a hell of a lot to do with the intellectual contribution of the Roundtable.’
The current executive director of the Roundtable is Roger Kerr, formerly in the NZ treasury and an strong advocate of Rogernomics (named after Roger Douglas) and referring to neoliberal policies in New Zealand. His belief in the absolute morality of unfettered markets is argued in his 2008 paper, Moral Markets.