Think Tank Head: economic woes misdisagnosed

Published in the National Business Review of 6 August
The head of New Zealand's latest think tank doubts the benefits of the reforms of the 1980's and 1990's and believes that they tackled the wrong problems.

Dr David Skilling, now Chief Executive of the newly formed New Zealand Institute, worked for a short period for the New Zealand Treasury on the Economic Transformation Project.

His papers from 2001/2002 show that he did not accept the prevailing Treasury view about the reforms, and that this put him at odds with his colleagues.

The Pitch: Email harassment versus the right to communicate

Published in the New Zealand Herald on 5 August 2004
It's difficult to defend spam, not least because it annoys so many people. But plans to outlaw it need careful consideration.

Everyone with an internet connection spends at least some time each day deleting unwanted messages.

But what is new here? The issues about spam are the same issues we face with other forms of communications.

High cost of low growth

Published in the National Business Review 23 July 2004
What is the price of our failure as a nation to keep up with the rest of the developed world?

Treasury Secretary Dr John Whitehead has given us the answer - it's $12 500 a year for the average New Zealander.

In a speech to manufacturers in Canterbury Dr Whitehead said, "New Zealand and Australia were level-pegging economically speaking in the mid 1970s. If our annual GDP per capita growth had been one percent better than it was, we would now be better off than Australia.

Growth Group Springs Up

published in the National Business Review 21 May 2004
Even as the ACT party with its policies of lower taxes, structural adjustment, and welfare reform shrinks in political appeal, another group is rising up to fight for reform and prosperity.

Parties for Growth, a self proclaimed non-partisan group "of ordinary New Zealanders who share a common desire to return our country to the top of the OECD growth table", is quietly building a support base among the business and political classes, as well as among "ordinary New Zealanders who care."

Muldoon and Louis XVI: The Bastille Day Parallels

Published in the National Business Review of 16 July 2004
Is Bastille Day 1984 worth remembering? Only if you value economic and personal freedom, and an end to dominant government, largely controlled by one despotic figure.

For the historically minded, July 14 1789 was the day that the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille, a royal prison in Paris, marking what the world now regards as the beginning of the French Revolution.

Four days that changed a nation

Published in the National Business Review of 16 July 2004
On the morning of Saturday 14 July 1984, I woke to a telephone call from Rob Muldoon's press secretary Sef Hao'uli to say that the PM was holding a media conference at 9 o'clock that morning.

Petone battle shows RMA Flaws

Published in the National Business Review of 9 July 2004
Out in the eastern corner of Petone is the unremarkable Heretaunga Street. Not to be confused with the suburb of Heretaunga, which is in Upper Hutt and has a rather better social cachet to it.

This Heretaunga Street is a mixture of early 20th century cottages painted in a pastiche of late Victoriana colours, and dull 1930's, 1940's bungalows. An ordinary and unremarkable suburban street enlivened only by the car upholstery business on the corner and the Brahma Kumari Yoga Centre opposite.

How do you market economic growth?

Published in the New Zealand Herald on 10 June 2004
After all who's opposed to it - at least in principle? New Zealanders generally think economic growth is a good thing.

Certainly we need it. As a country we have been growing slowly than most other developed economies and our standard of living is falling behind relative to others like Australia, Canada, Singapore, and most of Europe.

Engineers get modest endorsement for growth plan

Published in the National Business Review 4 June 2004
The engineers' growth plan for the nation has gained only modest and qualified endorsement from the commentators nominated by the engineers' professional body IPENZ

The "Growing Smartly" report from IPENZ reviews NZ's growth prospects ten years after the reforms of science funding and a year or so after the launch of the government's Growth and Innovation framework and the merger of Industry NZ and Tradenz.

Smacking saga shows PC policy backoff

Published in the National Business Review of 2 July 2004
Those who see Helen Clark's government as poll driven and as willing to sacrifice principles for expediency will find support in the saga of the government's anti-smacking campaign.

The initiative, now known as SKIP - Strategies for Kids; Information for Parents, is a pale shadow of the vigorous multi million dollar television driven advertising campaign being planned last year to persuade Kiwis not to smack their kids.