A briefing for the incoming government

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
6 October, 2017

We do not know what government will form after party negotiations move past the Phoney War stage.

But we do know the problems facing any incoming government.

And so here is our very brief Briefing for the Incoming Government.

Fixing housing must be the incoming government’s highest priority as the housing crisis underlies many other problems, from hardship and inequality to difficulties in hiring teachers in Auckland.

Sustainably improving housing supply requires aligning local government incentives with the national interest. Options that do not change incentives do not change the game – they only encourage councils to invent new ways of imposing old restrictions.

In the meantime, infrastructure funding, easier immigration for construction workers, and easier import of building materials from trusted countries could help.

We also need better comprehensive freshwater management.

The system must ensure that draw rates from aquifers are sustainable and that the rivers flow. It must also ensure that emissions from urban areas, from agriculture, and from industry do not overburden lakes, rivers, and bays. And it must find the least costly way of achieving those goals.

We think the most promising approach is a Cap and Trade system, administered at the catchment level, that recognises the property rights inherent in existing consents.

In education, higher teacher salaries should come through an improved teacher appraisal system so that high calibre candidates will know their efforts will be rewarded. And parents deserve better information about the quality of their children’s schools.

Finally, the incoming government should be bolder in implementing the Social Investment Approach advocated by the prior National government, but that began in different form years earlier.

The government must harness the power of civil society and non-governmental organisations to deliver better outcomes for those in need. Those organisations often know what will work in their communities, but are hamstrung by procedural compliance paperwork. There is untapped opportunity in giving NGOs flexibility to deliver while holding them accountable for outcomes.

Oliver Hartwich’s Manifesto 2017 compiled policy solutions from the Initiative’s research in areas like housing, education, and local government. Our next three-year research plan takes on further work in areas such as education, transport infrastructure, water management, and health policy.

We are lucky to live in a country where every party is driven by their vision of what is best for New Zealand. We look forward to helping the next government find policy solutions that work.

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