What to do with a former CEO is always a problem for a company board and his mates in the Business Council of Australia.

Take the current BCA head Grant King — long-time (and first) CEO of Origin Energy, which is a BCA member. He lasted many years, despite billions of dollars in asset write-downs and other losses.

So with Catherine Livingstone’s term as BCA president coming to an end last year, Grant King ended up in the role — a soft landing from his gig at Origin.

Now long-time Wesfarmers CEO Richard Goyder is in a similar position of retiring after a long time at the top of a major company. Goyder is stepping down later this year and is a similar headache for corporate Australia — what to do with him? The BCA push swung into action and hey presto, Goyder was named as a director of Qantas yesterday. And guess who sits at the same table as Goyder in the BCA boardroom — why, it is Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

The Qantas gig is Goydor’s second — he has already been found a home on the board of Woodside (Perth’s No. 2 blue chip after Wesfarmers). And guess who chairs Woodside? Wesfarmers’ chair, Michael Chaney, who was also a former president of the BCA a decade ago (2005-2007).

Goyder will leave Wesfarmers when he retires later this year, but the BCA connections won’t end there, with Chaney at the head of the board table, and BCA executive director Jennifer Westacott a few seats away.

Now just imagine the outrage if a senior trade union or ALP figure were to move to the board of a leading industry fund or another organisation allied to that side of politics. The faux rage would nauseating from the BCA, the Turnbull government and the shills at the various News Corp papers. Business is different, though.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey