Don Argus and the business of running the nation

First Published: MARCH 20,2013

There is no doubt that a conversation with Don Argus is never boring. The strength of his views and breadth of experience make him one of Australia’s most accomplished professionals.

His views on managing a balance sheet – whether it is a company or a nation, are practical and based on hard experience with 40 years at the NAB. Don Argus believes we have gone too far into debt as a nation, and that free cash flow is the biggest sign of value add in business.

In talking to Don and gaining insight into a range of issues from managing leaders to our political landscape, you have to wonder why resources like Don are not more utilised as part of our nation’s decision making agenda.

Don believes that government should be making policy by undergoing research and issue exploration with the business community.  Making decisions in isolation of this means policy can be ill formed and not considering all implications, financial and otherwise.

 He also believes that what leadership stands for has changed for the worse in our political landscape – not just in Australia, but across the world.  Perhaps because of a lack of real collaboration between politics and business, and a concern with the issues of the minute and popularity rather than the big picture and longer term view of where things are headed and what opportunities can be capitalised on.

At the end of the day, listening to Don Argus talking feels like good old fashioned common sense. His saying “we are up to the pussy’s bow in debt” has a charm to it while not hiding the underlying warning – that Australia needs to watch the management of our balance sheet or we may get in over our heads.

Whether you are in business, politics or any other walk of life, spending half an hour with Don Argus will be guaranteed to teach you something, even if it is to manage your own household budget!