Final Oliver Hartwich

Dr Oliver Hartwich

Executive Director

Oliver is the Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative. Before joining the Initiative, he was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, the Chief Economist at Policy Exchange in London, and an advisor in the UK House of Lords. Oliver holds a Master’s degree in Economics and Business administration and a PhD in Law from Bochum University in Germany.

Oliver is available to comment on all of the Initiative’s research areas.

Latest reports:
Submission: Future of Tax (2018)
Submission: Overseas Investment Amendment Bill (2018)
Go Swiss: Learnings from The New Zealand Initiative's visit to Switzerland (2017)
Manifesto 2017: What the next New Zealand Government should do (2017)
Why Europe Failed (2015)

Phone: +64 4 499 0790


Recent Work

Compass and map

How the West was lost

Almost a decade ago, I published an opinion piece that called for the abolition of what was then the G8, the group of the seven largest industrial nations and Russia. After the dramatic conclusion of last weekend’s G7 summit in Canada, we may be a step closer towards this goal. Except I am not happy about it. Back in 2009, I was dismayed with the G8’s zealous ineffectiveness. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
15 June, 2018
Full wallet

Labour newspeak

George Orwell would have had fun with the terms of reference of the Government’s Fair Pay Agreement Working Group. Practically none of these terms can be taken at their literal value, starting with the stated purpose. According to the document, the working group is meant to “make independent recommendations to the Government on the scope and design of a system of bargaining to set minimum terms and conditions of employment across industries or occupations.” So this is not an exercise... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
8 June, 2018
Katharine researchED

Revolutionary common sense

The counterrevolution started in Auckland last night. That is when the Initiative hosted British educator Katharine Birbalsingh for a dinner lecture in front of an audience of almost 300 teachers, school trustees, business leaders and politicians. What made this event revolutionary was the fact that Birbalsingh re-introduced some much-needed common sense into New Zealand’s strange education debate. Auckland-born Birbalsingh is a thoroughly modern woman who believes in equal education opportunities for all students regardless of gender, race or social background. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
1 June, 2018

To the Government's credit

If politicians could make companies more productive and innovative by decree, they would have done so a long time ago. That did not stop the previous government from actively trying to steer companies’ research and development activities. In 2008, it abolished R&D tax credits and introduced innovation growth grants administered by Callaghan Innovation in their place. As widely expected, the new Government axed these grants in last week’s Budget and wants to revert to a tax credit system. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
25 May, 2018

The price of diplomacy is worth paying

Government spending decisions can be popular or unpopular; they can be justified and unjustified. We all like to criticise the government for unjustified spending to increase its popularity.Conversely, we should then also be prepared to defend government’s unpopular spending decisions where we believe them to be justified.The boost to New Zealand’s diplomatic capacity is just such a decision.Foreign Minister Winston Peters would not have expected the extra $190 million for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) over the next... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
The National Business Review
18 May, 2018

An assault on representative democracy

Otto Wels. That is the name that came to my mind when I read through the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill. It is the proposed law that would allow party leaders to undermine representative democracy and enforce an imperative mandate over their MPs.Colloquially known as the Waka Jumping Bill, it sounds almost as harmless as the Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich, the infamous Enabling Act of 1933. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
The National Business Review
11 May, 2018
Auckland waterfront

Caution needed on value capture

Last week, the National Business Review reported that the New Zealand Government is considering introducing so-called land value uplift charges to finance new infrastructure projects. Papers obtained by the NBR under the Official Information Act show that the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport are weighing the pros and cons of making property owners bear the costs of projects that increase the value of their land. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
4 May, 2018
Monkey Selfie

Monkey business

I have never been the greatest fan of PETA, the radical animal rights organisation (“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”). Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, usually medium-rare. But PETA’s opposition even to sheep farming for wool leaves me cold. Their science behind linking dairy products and autism is milky. And depicting women Playboy magazine-style may be an attractive but not necessarily effective way of protesting against fur. However, PETA’s latest publicity stunt made me rethink my prejudices. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
27 April, 2018

Will the Living Standards Framework replace budgetary analysis?

According to Oscar Wilde’s play, Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), “a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”This quip has since migrated to refer to the economics profession.It tells us much about how economics is perceived. Not just as an overly technical, mathematical and calculating exercise but also as an amoral, or even immoral and downright cynical way of looking at the world.Nothing seems to confirm such prejudices more than the way economists... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
The National Business Review
17 April, 2018
Taranaki oil

Drilling further into the Government's hole

When you are in a hole, stop drilling. That must have been the Government’s motivation for stopping oil and gas exploration. To say that the past weeks were not quite ideal from the coalition’s viewpoint would be an understatement. The Radio NZ saga, the farce over Russian spies and dubious events around the Provincial Growth Fund did not make it look like the most competent of administrations. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
13 April, 2018

The Reserve Bank in Wonderland

Humpty Dumpty would have fun with the Policy Targets Agreement (PTA) between Finance Minister Grant Robertson and the new governor of the Reserve Bank, Adrian Orr:“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
The National Business Review
3 April, 2018
reserve bank

Changing the monetary guards

This week, the Reserve Bank finally got a new Governor. Adrian Orr, formerly chief executive of the Super Fund, replaced caretaker-governor Grant Spencer.So first of all, congratulations to Adrian Orr who gave up the best-remunerated job in the public sector to serve as the Reserve Bank’s Governor for the next five years. With his financial experience in both public and private sector, he is the most obvious person the Minister of Finance could have chosen.But beyond this changing of the... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
29 March, 2018

A question of optics

Few countries run as much on informal relationships as New Zealand. It is both due to our small size and our aversion to hierarchies. But that makes it even more important to adhere to good governance practices. Which is why Shane Jones’ spat with Air New Zealand is so damaging. In any other country, a rogue Minister commenting on the board and management of the national airline would be a minor annoyance. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
23 March, 2018

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates