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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Failing to make a difference? New Zealand on the UN Security Council

Grant Duncan

In October 2014 New Zealand was preparing for its two-year term on the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key was making an unconvincing case for sending soldiers to Iraq in a training capacity to assist with the fight against the Islamic State. And unarmed civilians were being killed
 
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The Waste Levy, a waste of time?

Sustainable Business Network & Andy Kenworthy

The $10-per-tonne Waste Levy was created eight years ago to fund waste management innovation and cut landfill. Some say it must increase to be effective. Others claim good progress in the sector amid economic turbulence.   So who’s right? The Waste Minimisation Act was a Green Party Private Members’ Bill led by MP
 
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Minimising waste

Jeff Seadon

Whenever a waste issue arises a common response is, “The government should legislate…”. While legislation is useful to either start a process or fill gaps, it is not the panacea for all problems. Think of how many people always drive below the speed limit on the road. New Zealand has
 
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A Run on the Bank

Dave Hansford

In September 2008, the sprawling global bank, Lehman Brothers, collapsed. As it toppled, it struck dominoes all about, triggering a fission that rippled along Wall St then mushroomed over the world’s financial system. Around the globe, Governments announced rescue spending in the tens of billions. Here in New Zealand, the
 
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Pale, male and middle-aged: Auckland Council’s lack of diversity

Karen Webster

We’ve all heard the adage describing the traditional local councillor as “pale, male and middle-aged”. So, just how true is this for the Auckland Council? Research undertaken at AUT following the 2013 and the recent 2016 local government election compared the gender, ethnicity and age (2013 only) of local candidates
 
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Subjective Assessments of the Super City

Charles Crothers

Auckland continues to be New Zealand’s bold experiment in local government reform. Is the Super City a success, a disappointment or something in between? In 2013 researchers in the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at AUT set up and ‘populated’ a monitoring framework based on one developed by
 
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Young People, Civics, and Political Literacy

Andrew Chen

There is an intergenerational democratic deficit, most obvious in voting statistics. The Electoral Commission reports that only 62.7% of enrolled voters aged 18-24 voted in 2014, in comparison to 86.3% of enrolled voters aged 60 or older. This situation looks even worse when we include the fact that only 66.4%
 
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‘Mental disorder’, autism and human rights

Hilary Stace

  There is a well-known saying that a society can be judged by how it looks after its most vulnerable citizens. People with impairments are not inherently vulnerable but are at particular risk of negative interactions with the State for a range of reasons, such as a lack of strong
 
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No silver bullet: Online voting and local elections

Julienne Molineaux

Local body election time is over for another three years, and even before polls closed, there were laments over low turnout. A low turnout undermines the legitimacy of the winners and can point to wider problems: disillusionment with democratic processes, institutions and actors. It is also problematic because some groups
 
 

Contact

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