AMAZING RESOURCE: Outgoing World Leadership Alliance president Wim Kok holds the floor at the Coolum resort yesterday as the alliance’s general secretary, Clive Palmer, looks on.
AMAZING RESOURCE: Outgoing World Leadership Alliance president Wim Kok holds the floor at the Coolum resort yesterday as the alliance’s general secretary, Clive Palmer, looks on. Warren Lynam

Coast plays host to 100-plus ex-PMs and presidents

WIM Kok, Vaira Vike Freiberga and Jennifer Mary Shipley.

These might not be household names in Australia, but in their day they were among the heavy-hitters of international politics.

This weekend they were among 100-plus former presidents and prime ministers from around the world attending a conference of the World Leadership Alliance - Club De Madrid on the Sunshine Coast.

The dignitaries are guests at Palmer Coolum Resort, where they are being hosted by the alliance's secretary general, Clive Palmer.

Any difficulties in determining the effectiveness of the international group were put to rest yesterday by Ms Freiberga, the organisation's incoming president and a former president of Latvia.

"When you are in office as either a president or prime minister your primary concern is the fate and welfare of your country and your people," Ms Freiberga said.

"Once you leave office and take off, as it were, this mantle of responsibility, you can become a citizen of the world and I think many of us, even before and during our presidency or prime ministership, we are the sort of people who have always felt citizens of the world, essentially members of humanity before anything else.

"We have been freed from the obligation to stand up for our country as our primary job and responsibility. We can now stand up for the interests of human beings every where."

Delegates are discussing the varying degrees of unemployment across the world and will present their findings and recommendations to the G20, the Group of 20, regarded as the leading international forum for discussing economic co-operation and decision-making.

Australia hosts the next G20 leaders' summit, in Brisbane in November next year.

Mr Kok, the alliance's outgoing president and a former prime minister of the Netherlands, said the group

represented a unique and val

ued leadership resource.

"They're all aware that there is life after being in power and they are, perhaps more often than current politicians, able to think not only about the next elections, but to think and reflect about longer-term issues and

longer-term challenges."

Ms Shipley, a former New Zealand prime minister, said ex-leaders were often

regarded as mentors.

"As trusted advisers in this unique position, often we find ourselves in that special mentoring role, and to be honest, I don't know who else can do that," she said.

"You can write about it and study it, but when you've had the heat of the fire at your feet, that's often what current leaders are looking for."


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