Jack McFaull elected NZAE Life Member (d. 2010)

Jack McFaull, 1922 – 2010

Jack McFaull was a founder member of the NZAE and, after serving as a Council member, he became President over 1968/70. This valuable contribution, together with his distinguished career, were the main reasons for his election as an NZAE Life Member in 2004.

Jack’s reputation was based on hard work, integrity, wide experience and excellent judgement. He was an achiever – not a bureaucrat. He left no academic papers. In fact he was extremely modest and did not strive for personal recognition or rewards. He was no ideologue – pragmatism based on a careful analysis of the relevant facts was his forte. He was a good team player. He did not procrastinate or sit on the fence. He rarely raised his voice. He had a well developed and dry sense of humour. A rugby “nut”, a fast driver who hated being passed, and a dedicated vegetable grower, above all he was devoted to his wife Bette, their four daughters and their families.

In 1939, soon after he turned 16, Jack joined Perpetual Trustees in Dunedin and, apart from Army service (1942/46) mainly driving an ambulance in Italy, he stayed with Perpetual Trustees until 1953 – when he was recruited by the Reserve Bank as an economist. Jack gained an accounting degree from Otago University and later an economics degree – both on a part time basis. This latter study led to his desire to work as an economist.

The Reserve Bank’s Research and Statistics office was mainly comprised of young economists – recently married or about to get married, having children, house hunting, spending weekends gardening/painting/concreting, saving for furniture/fridges/washing machines etc.. No one had much money. Friday night from 5-6pm was spent in the pub (the Occidental), with the social highlight being the annual Reserve Bank Ball held at the Majestic Cabaret – with the wives/partners concealing bottles of “grog” under their skirts!

The dominant influences were the early thirties depression and the very recent 1939/45 war. There was a strong commitment to public policy – if this required government action so be it, but no ideology was involved. There was a general belief that existing widespread economic controls were excessive – though some were clearly required in the current circumstances. There was a high level of ability within this group – most of whom, on leaving the Bank by 1960, achieved considerable distinction in their subsequent careers. Lasting friendships resulted and led to a happy reunion in 2007.

Others in the team:

Alan Catt – Emeritus Professor, Auckland University

Warren Hogan – Adjunct Professor University of Technology, Sydney.

Director Westpac and AMP

John Pryde – Chief Executive, Federated Farmers, Life member NZAE

John Revell – Senior Executive, NZ Dairy Board

Ken Clarke – Chief Statistician ECAFE

Bob Familton – Deputy Treasurer IMF

Jack’s seven years in the Reserve Bank were very important to his professional development. He benefited greatly from the high standard of office discussion and debate, from his close association with the public service – particularly Treasury, Statistics and Agriculture, from contacts with national organisations, i.e. producer boards, retailers, manufacturers, etc., and from the Bank’s (limited) involvement in economic policy.

NZ Meat and Wool Board Economic Service 1960/70:

The Economic Service, a small but first class organisation, was made for Jack – with its grassroots structure, its interesting and worthwhile work combined well with his practical economic/accountancy background. After ten years, Jack had acquired an in-depth understanding of the production, marketing, processing and politics of the meat and wool industries – at that time New Zealand’s major industries.

Jack’s experience and growing reputation led to his appointment in 1968 as Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Agricultural production Council in the National Development Council – a major forward move in his career.

The NZ Wool Board 1970/73:

Jack’s membership of the 1965/73 Wool Marketing Study Group was, to his mind, a failure. He advocated that wool auctions be terminated and be replaced by a wool marketing co-operative which would acquire and market the wool clip. This proposition aroused passionate debate (socialism – over my dead body!!) within the wool industry. Jack lost the battle, the auction system continued, and wool farming has steadily deteriorated – and it is now a shadow of its former self. Jack joined the Wool Board to further his work in the Wool Marketing Study Group – they were the board directly involved. It is generally recognised that the Board, with poor leadership, handled the acquisition proposal very badly by doing very little to create an informed farmer understanding and leaving the opposition to make the running.

NZ Dairy Board 1973 /87:

The NZ Dairy Board was arguably New Zealand’s most important and successful business organisation. Jack was a key member of a very successful Dairy Board senior management team. As secretary, he played a major role in negotiating with Government/Treasury regarding major revisions in the Board`s financing. In addition, there were major revisions to the Dairy Board Act. He was also a member of the Board’s management team which, in his own words “pioneered the development of the most innovative and successful New Zealand marketing

organisation”. Murray Gough has commented, “during my time as CEO, Jack was a wise and politically astute “eminence grise” bringing to the Dairy Board’s young management team a hugely valuable level of experience about dairy industry affairs – and national politics. The Dairy Board’s success in surviving that period intact and subsequently being able to move through deregulation at a sensible pace, owes a substantial debt to Jack`s wisdom”.

Prime Minister’s Department 1976-80:

Jack was an original and long serving member of Muldoon’s “Think Tank “. His major responsibilities covered the primary industries, agriculture, fishing, forestry, etc., as well as the Bahrain cool store. He had an excellent rapport with the Prime Minister and the departmental head Bernard Galvin. Jack`s 25 page chapter in “Muldoon Revisited” (Clark M, Ed., 2004, Dunmore Press) is pure McFaull – no equivocation, factual, absorbing and a great read.

Jack had a major involvement after his retirement with the National Party – particularly on organisational issues. In his own words “I was not a committed party member, I was really doing my own research and few knew or cared what I was doing”. He was totally pragmatic – the acquisition scheme was a replacement of the market system with a co-operative organisation. He was a strong supporter of co-operative organisation in the dairy industry.