Category Archives: Governance

First, Show Us the Evidence

Policymaking is too often based on what someone thinks is a good idea.   Listener:  5 December, 2013   Keywords: Governance; Growth & Innovation;   The Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, has called for the greater use of evidence-based policy formation. It arises out of his medical background, where there has been…
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Commentary on Treasury’s Living Standards: a Short Guide to ‘Managing Risks”

This is a commentary of a Treasury document available at  http://www.treasury.govt.nz/abouttreasury/higherlivingstandards/hls-ag-risks-jan13.pdf             The living standards framework is at:             http://www.treasury.govt.nz/abouttreasury/higherlivingstandards I was asked to do this comment in a hurry. Some of the thinking is as superficial as that of a university professor (as we say in the trade).   Keywords:…
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Volting in a Vacuum

Wellington’s disdain for local councils makes the present elections almost meaningless.   Listener: 3 October, 2013.   Keywords: Governance;   The abolition of the provinces in 1876 made New Zealand one of the most centralised states in the world. Not completely, however – a second level of regional, city and district councils exists that we…
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State Leadership in New Zealand’s Economic Development

Public Sector Conference: 5-6 September, 2013 Published in Foreign Control Watchdog 134, January 2014: p.46-50   Keywords: Business & Finance; Globalisation & Trade; Governance;  Political Economy & History;   If you look at the top ten companies on the New Zealand share market, you will find that half were once owned by the government or…
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Sky Lark

Managers don’t always do what their shareholders want, which may explain the SkyCity deal oddities.   Listener: 30 March , 2013.   Keywords: Business & Finance;  Governance;   Richina Pacific has hardly reported to its shareholders since 2008, according to NZ Herald business columnist Brian Gaynor. By ignoring them, Richina Pacific gave no information to…
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Leaky Legislation

Listener: 15 September, 2012. Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich coined the expression “iatrogenic medicine” to describe illness generated by the actions of physicians. An example is when the doctors prescribe some medicine, with resultant side effects, which are treated by further medication. The cycle repeats until a specialist reviews the patient’s entire record and stops all…
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The Soe Bonus Scheme

Listener: 18 August, 2012. One of the reasons King Charles I was beheaded in 1649 was that, without Parliament’s approval, he raised taxes and spent the proceeds. Forty years later, after the Glorious Revolution, the English Parliament passed the Bill of Rights, requiring that the Crown tax or spend only with Parliament’s approval. That act…
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Water Rights and Ownership

Listener: 4 August, 2012. This column has previously advocated making greater use of market mechanisms to allocate the use of water. New Zealand has a comparative abundance of water, but we benefit if it is allotted as efficiently as possible. Those familiar with the issue acknowledge the argument, but many point out that the “P”…
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Blast from the Future

Listener: 21 July, 2012. Fortunately, the recently instituted deep-earth monitoring observed the magma slowly working its way to the surface. Breaking out, it pushed up a cone not unlike its twin, Rangitoto (some 600 years older), erupting to fill the skies with ash, bombs, rocks and poisonous gases. Given the warning, few lives were lost….
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Convention Centres and Public Subsidy

Listener: 26 May, 2010. Keywords: Business & Finance; Governance; Regulation & Taxation; The row that has erupted over the proposed SkyCity convention centre in Auckland involves gambling, but there are deeper fiscal issues. But this is not a column about gambling, even though a study I was involved with found that pokies were the most…
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Could Auckland Have a Greek Crisis?

Submitted to ‘New Zealand Herald’ but mot published. Keywords: Governance; Macroeconomics & Money; Could New Zealand have a financial crisis like the current Greek one? Anything is possible but the central government has a formidable series of institutional arrangements to reduce the probability of it happening together with prudently committed ministers of finance. History reminds…
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Auckland Council’s Draft Long-term Plan 2012-2022:

ASSESSING THE FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS Paper prepared for Land Solutions Ltd for submission to the  Auckland Council Keywords: Governance; Summary Conclusions and Recommendations S1:       Were I an Auckland councillor or a citizen of Auckland I would be reluctant to agree to the financial components of the Draft Plan. S2:       The Draft Plan is misleading for the…
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Infrastructure Problems in New Zealand

Listener: 17 September, 2011. Keywords: Environment & Resources;  Governance; The cinema may give a good idea about the sewers of Paris and Vienna, but I have little idea what goes on underneath the city in which I live. I just pull the plug or chain and the waste magically disappears. For the citizens of Christchurch,…
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Now Let Me Give You the Results Of an Equally Valid Survey ….

Letter to The Dominion-Post, 10 June, 2011. Keywords: Governance; Lacking the impetus to chase hard stories, the ‘Dominion-Post’ ran a survey of government departments last Tuesday based on the rankings of an arbitrary panel. At the bottom was the Ministry of Culture and Heritage scoring 3.18/7. This reflected that the panel did not contain the…
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Who Wants Asset Sales?

Those who favour privatisation can be divided into four camps … Listener: 5 March, 2011. Keywords: Business & Finance; Governance; Macroeconomics & Money; Ideologues who hate the Government succeeding and want to scale it back, even if it is costly, as was privatising the Telecom monopoly. They would do the same to the three electricity…
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Reserve Bank to the Rescue

The crew worked extremely hard to keep the good ship New Zealand afloat. Listener: 18 September, 2010. Keywords: Governance; Macroeconomics & Money; Political Economy & History; When Alan Bollard transferred from the position of secretary of the Treasury to that of the governor of the Reserve Bank, a good friend announced it was “more pay…
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Another Redisorganisation

Why is the Government proposing public-sector mergers for so little apparent benefit? Listener: 1 May, 2010. Keywords: Governance; At a certain point in the political cycle, governments start following officials’ agendas that make no political sense but meet some administrative need. All policy changes upset the people whose interests are harmed. These changes often reflect…
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Understanding the Fiscal Imperatives

Paper for Towards a Value Driven Public Sector Summit, 15 July, 2009.   Keywords: Macroeconomics & Money; Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy;   Before talking about the fiscal imperatives in the narrow sense, I want to make a couple of general remarks about the rhetoric of policy. .   The first is that the need…
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The Future Of Auckland.

Presentation to Auckland Regional Council: 29 October. 2008. Keywords: Globalisation & Trade; Governance; Growth & Innovation; Aucklanders sometimes talk about wanting to have a ‘world class city’. Since any city can be world class in its class, that is not a very ambitious goal. The issue is in which class does Auckland want to be?…
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