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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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
 
House - NZ - large + new - pixabay

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
 
Greys Ave flats no 139

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.  
 
Garage dwelling

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
 
B+W pic of cogs

Think Big: Auckland, immigration, and the absence of income growth

Michael Reddell

Of the biggest cities in each advanced economy, Auckland has been one of the fastest growing. Just in the last 15 years, Auckland’s population has grown by 30 per cent, while the population in the rest of the country has risen by 13 per cent. Many argue that big cities
 
Auckland houses - posh

House-busters

Arthur Grimes

This article first appeared in The Spinoff on 4 July 2016.   In March 2016, the REINZ Auckland median house price reached $820,000. Four years previously, it was $495,000 – that’s a 66% increase in 4 years. What’s more alarming is that in 2012, many people considered that house prices
 
home-on calculator - pixabay

Filling the land tax void

Ranjana Gupta

The tax system plays multiple roles. In addition to being a fundamental instrument to raise revenues that finances government expenditure, it also acts as an instrument to achieve the economic and social aims of government, and redistributes income on a socially acceptable basis.   Classical economist Adam Smith developed the
 
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COP21 and the race to stay below 1.5°C

Julie Anne Genter

The outcome of the COP21 climate talks in Paris last December was important and encouraging. It was the 21st annual United Nations meeting to discuss climate change and agree on what countries will do to avert the worst. A great deal of work went into preparing this meeting, as did
 
antactic ice shelf - graphic stock

Trade unions and the climate change fight

Julie Douglas & Peter McGhee

We [unions] have to stop running away from the climate crisis, stop leaving it to the environmentalist, and look at it. Let ourselves absorb the fact that the industrial revolution that led to our society’s prosperity is now destabilizing the natural systems on which all of life depends – Naomi
 
 

Contact

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