PKF Australia

Accountants and Business Advisers

Brexit: A lesson in poor governance?

Brexit: A lesson in poor governance?

Posted 11 Jul 16 by Ken Weldin

Wow. What was that quote from Harold Wilson? A week is a long time in politics.....

Well, what a few days we have just seen before, during & after the Brexit referendum.

A few weeks ago I was asked by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland on the view from Down Under in the run up to the vote.

There I urged caution against fear, negative tactics & populism at the expense of rational thought. Access to balanced, informed, rational information is what we were hoping for.

However a review of Twitter, the press (of all persuasions) & the views expressed on radio phone-ins since Friday would suggest that our leaders failed to deliver on both sides of the debate.

One of the key aspects of decisions I speak to my clients about is the importance of the 4Rs. This challenges you to consider what I believe is an essential test of good governance:

To what extent does your decision making process demonstrate a focus on:

  • The 'Right' Information
  • Of the 'Right' Quality
  • Of the 'Right' Quantity
  • Of the 'Right' Timeliness

Whichever way you voted, one of the most intriguing aspects of the reaction since last week's vote has been the apparent absence of the 4Rs.

Consider that in amongst the hyperbole, emotion & for some, shock we heard of:

  • A spike in the number of people Googling "what is the EU?" AFTER the vote
  • Backtracking from Leave as to how much of the GBP350m that they claimed is sent to the EU every week would be immediately redirected to the NHS, balanced by
  • The absence of a threatened 'Brexit Budget' being needed within hours of the outcome
  • Talk of 'buyer's remorse' with an almost instant reaction for some to the Leave decision of 'oh, I wasn't expecting us to win, if I had known that.....'

Without betraying my politics, this seems to be a similar reaction to that seen after the Independence Referendum for Scotland in 2014. With talk now of #Indyref2, have we learned anything here?

Are binary YES/NO, Stay/Leave decisions too simplistic for complex, technical political questions?

With a federal election here in Australia this weekend, are we any the wiser?

In the meantime, what about the decisions taken in your organisations?

  • How successful are you in ensuring balance, fairness & access to the 4Rs?
  • Are some of your decisions too complex for a simple YES/NO assessment?
  • Is 'it depends.....' sometimes the right answer? Or at least until you can get better or 'right' information? 

I would love to know what you think.


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