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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Recent Trends in Public Spending

Brian Easton

Despite the public’s desire for more government spending there has been little increase in the aggregate level of government spending relative to GDP over the last 20 years. There was a slight rise immediately after the GFC, because GDP stagnated. Government spending as a percent of GDP is now lower
 
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Timing is Everything

Cameron Preston

I was asked give a Canterbury perspective on whether I expected government services to be cut to fund tax cuts in 2017. The answer is not as straight forward as the question. In May 2011, only three months after the Christchurch Earthquake – our biggest natural disaster – the government announced
 
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Spend and Tax

Brian Easton

As a general rule, New Zealanders want more public spending. Surveys (such as the 2014 Election Survey) show consistent support for increases in spending, particularly in the areas of health, education, housing, law enforcement, public transport and the environment (in that descending order) as well as favouring reduced income inequality.
 
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Stuff-Me: The newspaper gobble-up

Julienne Molineaux

The proposed merger between NZME and Fairfax New Zealand is the latest instalment in the increasing concentration of ownership in New Zealand’s newspaper industry. There is much commentary about the merger; the purpose of this paper is to provide some history.   In New Zealand, concentration of newspaper ownership via
 
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Valuable information? Decision-making tools for students

Hannah August

The decision about which course of study to follow is an increasingly important one for tertiary students. Their choice will affect both their future and the future shape of tertiary institutions whose course offerings are enabled by student demand. Yet the information being provided to students to aid their decision-making
 
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It’s Not Just The Economy, Stupid

Richard Shaw

What’s the problem? The humanities and social sciences – collectively described here as the Arts – have been under sustained assault in Aotearoa New Zealand for years, too often derided by policy-makers, parents and pundits as irrelevant, frivolous and indulgent. The primary purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the
 
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Whanau as first teachers

Dr Kathie Irwin

The hundred year journey from Nuhaka to Harvard   The Story In May, 2014, a Harvard University graduation booklet included the tribal names of Ngati Porou, Rakaipaaka, and Ngati Kahungunu. It was a Harvard Law Graduation and a young Māori woman was graduating Master of Laws, one of only a
 
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Schooling in an era of economic inequality

Liz Gordon

In mid-2015 I published an article revealing the effects of 25 years of ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ on the schooling system in New Zealand. It showed that, as a result of families choosing ‘up’, socially and economically, the schools serving New Zealand’s poorest communities were now, on average, 2.5 times smaller than
 
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Working conditions in the early childhood education sector

Andrew Gibbons, Sandy Farquhar & Marek Tesar

Introduction In April 2015 New Zealand Herald reporter Kirsty Johnston ran a week-long series of reports on the status of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand. The key matter for public concern was the quality of education and care provided for children up to the age of five. A
 
 

Contact

If you, as members of the public, have issues that you would like to see addressed then contact us.
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