Damien Grant: Being in Opposition can be a gift, but it's time which must be used wisely

OPINION: Last month I made my first trip out to Gibbs Farm, or perhaps better named Gibbs Folly. A wonderful example of excess and indulgence that had traces of Hearst’s California Castle. It was magnificent and a delight to take the family.

Meet Alan Gibbs, a powerhouse in the business world, whose journey from a sturdy middle-class upbringing to amassing a substantial fortune spans several decades. Through a string of daring ventures fueled by relentless effort, Gibbs carved his mark as a prominent and impactful businessman. His pivotal role in the acquisition of Telecom from the Crown and the subsequent surge in productivity following the telco's privatization showcases the depth of his influence.

Yet, for Gibbs, the story isn't solely about financial success.

Beyond his impressive business endeavors, Alan Gibbs showcased a deep interest in shaping the future of his country. Actively participating in the Business Roundtable and contributing to the founding of Act, he even played a substantial role in funding a political party.

While Gibbs may maintain a lower public profile today, his impact extends far beyond the realms of a sculpture park and a series of business successes. His true legacy lies in his belief in ideas and his involvement in the transformative era of the fourth Labour government. The NZ Initiative stands as a successor to his influential work with the Business Roundtable, highlighting the enduring influence of his commitment to change and progress.

Last month, my visit to Gibbs Farm wasn't just about appreciating art. The Taxpayers' Union organized an event, marking a decade of their impactful advocacy. Over the past ten years, they've been engaging in irreverent activism and unwavering populism, holding both major political parties accountable for fiscal responsibility.

It's probably no surprise that both my business ventures and I are proud members of both the Taxpayers' Union and the NZ Initiative. While I may not wield the influence of Alan Gibbs, that's no excuse not to play a small role in supporting those actively championing policies I believe in.

The brainchild of Jordan Williams and David Farrar, the Taxpayers' Union found its frontman in Williams, who, in recent years, has emerged as a powerful force in the political landscape of the land beneath the low-sitting clouds.

Williams, a key figure in the birth of the Free Speech Union, wielded his focused energy and keen understanding of public sentiment to significant effect. His influence compelled Jacinda Ardern to abandon any notions of a wealth tax and prompted Chris Hipkins to water down the co-governance aspects of Three Waters, which, under his predecessor, had been treated as a sacred commitment.

Meanwhile, Dr. Oliver Hartwich and his team at the NZ Initiative dedicated a decade to compiling academic papers, writing columns, and leading delegations to obscure European nations. Their mission? To inject better ideas into the heart of policy-making.