A Surprise from Jim Bolger

Jim Bolger will have surprised a few people this week.  In an interview with Guyon Espiner of National Radio, the former National Prime Minister expressed the view that “neo-liberal” economic policies have failed, and that an important aspect of that failure has been that most of such new wealth as has been created has gone […]

When the Chief Banker Gets it Wrong

It is no surprise that a former Governor of the Reserve Bank should seek to defend the banking system from its critics.  It is less expected, however, that Don Brash should do so while displaying an apparently complete – and certainly shocking – ignorance of the subject.   In attempting to deny the accuracy of […]

Did SBW Get It Right?

It’s not every day that monetary policy dominates the news.  It is normally seen as a technical issue, very much within the realm of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, and – apart from the odd unexpected move in interest rates and therefore impacting on mortgage rates – of not much significance to anyone else. […]

Public Spending Cuts Hurt

Voters have been conditioned over recent years to applaud governments when they cut public expenditure – and they do so, not just as taxpayers, but because they have been persuaded that the government’s own finances should be treated as assuming a special importance. Individuals, families and businesses, and – even more importantly – the country […]

Public Services Matter

Public services are never far from the headlines.  Whether it is inadequate police numbers in Northland, or a shortage of social workers in Child, Youth and Family, or a possible failure of border bio-security that allowed PSA to decimate our kiwifruit industry, we are constantly reminded of the fact that effective public services are essential […]

The Lessons of Kaikohe

Humankind comes with many different characteristics, and it is sometimes informative to consider how those can be categorised.  Some people, for example, will be extroverts, others introverts, some romantics and others realists, some optimists, others pessimists. I have devised a test that I think can be used to make another – and, I think, important […]

We Need to Shift the Focus of Health Care

The report released last week showing that more than half a million New Zealanders cannot afford to see their GPs, and that the underfunding of the doctors themselves threatens a shortfall in the numbers of GPs we need, will have alarmed many – and not just those unfortunate families who are denied adequate primary health […]

Convenient Fairy Stories

Bill English has made a sound start as Prime Minister.  He seems to be down-to-earth, and a straight-talker – a welcome change from his predecessor.  But, at the same time, he seems to be prone to making statements based on prejudice and anecdote; we have a right to expect better. He was quick, for example, […]

What Price Public Service Broadcasting?

I had the privilege of serving for a number of years on the board of TVNZ.  The company had a dual mandate over that period – first, as a state-owned enterprise, it had to turn a profit by competing with commercial rivals and selling advertising time, so as to pay an annual dividend of at […]

No Excuse for Offensive Behaviour

So-called “casual racism” hit the headlines recently, following the publicity attending the Mad Butcher’s reported remarks to fellow-visitors to Waiheke.  As Dame Susan Devoy, our Race Relations Commissioner, pointed out concerning that incident, racism may not seem “casual” to those who are its target. “Casual” racism may in some senses actually be even more damaging […]