About

This website began hosting a series of Briefing Papers from early in 2014. The papers are focussed on assessing the state of the country as the basis for public discussion and debate. A group of writers has been assembled to write short briefing papers based on extensive research programmes and presented in a form that can be easily understood by the public at large.

The Briefing papers are aimed at providing the public with an overview of critical issues facing New Zealand society in the 21st century. The goal is to promote informed discussion and debate, so crucial to economic and social development, with the central question being:

how is the public


interest being served?

The public interest is central to policy debates, politics, democracy and the nature of government. It is a key factor in assessing jobs and the cost of living, educational opportunities, housing options and the way in which the policy makers of today are protecting the interests of future generations.

In order to address these questions, the Briefing Papers are designed to examine the underlying assumptions on which policy options are based and what interests, public or private, are being served. As Herbert Gans once suggested, this means both understanding and assessing, who benefits?

 

The Papers

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The plight of the beneficiary

Alicia Sudden

To be a beneficiary in New Zealand is to be innately separate from the rest of the population. It comes with connotations about who you are as a person, your motivations, your worth. This is the result of decades of homogenising and dehumanising discourses. And these have very real impacts
 
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New Zealand’s tax system: Internal coherence is not enough

Deborah Russell

The New Zealand tax system is largely robust.  It taxes most forms of income and consumption at rates that are by and large perceived as fair. The overall tax take sits at about 30% of GDP, a rate that compares well with other OECD nations. Most people pay their taxes,
 
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Cost is not Price: The impact of Productivity and Design in Housing Affordability

John Tookey

Circa 2005-2006 the Auckland housing market was dubbed ‘unsustainable’ and a ‘dangerous bubble’. Six years post-Global Financial Crisis (GFC) we are in a very different place – in many ways a worse place. The government response to GFC was pressure on interest rates downwards, making expensive mortgages significantly cheaper, thus
 
Auckland Council logo on door

The South Auckland Experience under the Super City

Ben Ross

With the Super City approaching its sixth year and Aucklanders about to go through their third elections for the unitary Auckland Council, how is South Auckland faring? The new Auckland Council earmarked two areas for regeneration: the central city; and Manukau, in a project called the Southern Initiative (TSI). The
 
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Too big, too often? Mergers and competition in New Zealand

Donal Curtin

The proposed merger between NZME (formerly Wilson & Horton) and Fairfax’s New Zealand media operations has brought us squarely into the middle of a growing international issue: are industries getting too concentrated, with too few competitors? Are consumers being offered too little choice?  Have competition authorities been too lax in
 
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Over-investing in housing

Brian Easton

While housing obviously fills a need – people need somewhere to live – it also has an investment aspect. How this investment is treated by the tax system influences the housing market, and the investment available for other purposes, such as business ventures.   There is an implicit tax-subsidy to
 
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Social versus state housing

Alan Johnson

‘It’s why we talk about “social housing” rather than “state housing”, because you no longer have to live in a state house to get a high level of government housing support. It’s an important change.’ – John Key, State of the nation speech to Auckland Rotary Club, January 2015.  
 
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Social housing?

Philippa Howden-Chapman

There has been a steady fall in the number of state houses since the change of government at the end of 2008, both in absolute numbers and in relation to our rapidly growing population. Like state schools, the state housing stock is a critical part of our social infrastructure. State
 
 

Contact

If you, as members of the public, have issues that you would like to see addressed then contact us.
To receive updates via email when we post new briefing papers you can sign up here.

 

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