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

What should be done about Child Poverty?

Susan St.John

Budget 2014 was presented in an environment of economic recovery and growing optimism. A more buoyant economy provides an opportunity to repair the damage to the social fabric suffered during the recession by policy measures aimed at reducing child poverty and inequality. What is deeply troubling is that there no
 

The Purpose of Government

Bryan Gould

The proper role of government is perhaps the most central and hotly debated issue in democratic politics. Even during the immediate post-war era, which we can now see in retrospect was the heyday of confidence in government and its power and legitimacy, contrary voices warned against the threats to personal
 

The Conversation

Ranginui Walker

The longest running conversation on the New Zealand Constitution between Māori and the Crown is climaxing in our time towards mature nationhood. The conversation began in 1840 when the rangatira, the sovereigns of the soil made it clear to the British Resident James Busby they would not surrender their mana
 

Population Matters

Natalie Jackson

It is ironic that as Paul and Anne Ehrlich were writing their influential book The Population Bomb (1968), the global population growth rate was beginning to fall. Driven by declining birth rates, it has continued to fall, and today is half its 1960s’ level of 2.2 per cent per year.
 

The Purpose of Social Policy

Ian Shirley

Social policy in New Zealand from European settlement to the present day has fluctuated between two dominant traditions. The first can be traced back to 1547 when the city of London imposed a compulsory tax on the rich in order to alleviate poverty. It was an imported model based on
 

The Purpose of Economic Policy

Brian Easton

The annual May budget is a public spectacle. The Minister of Finance is photographed holding aloft a copy of his speech while those from political parties and sectors dominate media discussions debating the significance of economic growth targets, the level of inflation, and the fiscal deficit – there will even
 
 

Contact

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

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