Friday 22 September 2017

A Policy A Day: A Conclusion

The list of articles in this series is available here.

Another election, another series of policy analyses coming to an end. We’ve looked at 33 policies (plus an introduction, three satire pieces, and a conclusion), covering a really really really broad range of topics. Something that always surprises me is just how broad the scope of government really is – we covered twenty-four policies last time, yet the only topic that we’ve covered again is universal basic income. Every single other policy has been different. Also interesting – I think of the 24 pieces from last time, about 22 of them are still relevant – the issues that those policies were trying to solve still exist, and most of the policies we analysed haven’t been implemented. Of course, this is partly because a lot of the policies we analysed last time came from parties that didn’t enter government after the election, but it’s interesting to think about just how much policy never becomes reality. We’ll keep all of the posts from A Policy A Day 2017 here, and hopefully this resource will be helpful and relevant for years to come if anyone is interested in any of these topics.

A huge thank you to all the other authors for contributing pieces this time around. It meant that I didn’t have to write twelve pieces like I did last time, but it also meant that we were able to hear a lot more different voices. I wasn’t particularly prescriptive with the writing style or content requirements, and editing all the pieces has been an interesting experience, just seeing the wide variety of ways that these policy pieces can be written. All of our authors were (relatively) young, and all of them are engaged with how policies and decisions are made – we need more people like these.

I don’t want to spend too much space summing up, because I also asked each of our guest authors to answer the question “if you could tell the incoming government one thing, what would it be?” A lot of authors struggled with this (mostly finding it difficult to reduce it down to one thing), but hopefully we have here some sense of what (some) youth would like the government to do, no matter who happens to be in charge after Saturday.

Nicole Buxeda (Water Pricing):
Value what we have, not turn away from the difficult conversations, and follow those difficult conversations up with action. When you look at statistics for pollution, water quality, air quality, rate of extinction of native species, and a myriad more, the entire picture is depressing. It is easier to decide that the problem is just too huge, that New Zealand is doing comparatively well, and that we will just leave things as they are. This is not an acceptable approach to take. The government needs to look at the problems, and grit their collective teeth and deal with these problems by working with businesses, communities, and individuals in a way that embraces our natural values and supports communities. We are in a position, through merit of our political, economic and social system, where we can be more than ‘ok’, and in fact we must be more than ok in order to preserve species, clean rivers, drinkable water, clean air, and the beauty and life and soul that is New Zealand.

Jason Armishaw (Fiscal Drag and A Fiscal Apocalypse - Superannuation):
The effects of an individual policy are wider and broader than the solution that they are meant to be targeting, there is no policy "area". Environmental policy affects economic policy, law and order and healthcare. Deep analysis needs to be done to prevent merciless unintended consequences in another part of the state sector.

Anonymous (Humanising Criminal Justice):
Listen to people who are already doing the mahi, and who have first-hand experience of the problems you're trying to fix. The solutions are nearer than you think and don't require rocket science.

Pasan Jayasinghe and Sahanika Ratnayake (Immigration: A Personal Retrospective):
This is a frighteningly dire time in world politics for reasons they should be well aware of, and they should be extremely wary of dragging New Zealand down the same frightening road.

Claire Black (Trans Rights):
Do your jobs: support and protect New Zealand’s most vulnerable.

Elliot Hurst (Degrowth for Aotearoa):
It’s politically expedient to keep muddling along, but our current approach to politics and economics is driving us off a cliff, or at least to some scary fortress world of crippling inequality and authoritarianism. Read up on climate science, understand decolonisation, and use your power to push things forward.

Dhanya Herath (Refugees and Asylum Seekers):
Focus on creating a world for your children's children, not tomorrow's press release - and above all else, be kind.

Ben Tan (A Vision for The Arts and An Alternative Model for Policy Making):
Never forget that your duty is to look after the New Zealanders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow (no matter what they look or sound like).

Jenny Sahng (Tertiary Education Pathways):
If we could provide a fair and equally accessible education system that nurtures our youth to their fullest potential, imagine the world we could live in. Equip young Kiwis with the resilience and mindset to become lifelong learners, both in the classroom and out in the workforce. Instill confidence in their unique set of skills and abilities, and show them how to use it to contribute in their own extraordinary way. Education is a panacea, and I want to see a government that patiently invests in it for the long run.

Ash Stanley-Ryan (New Zealand’s Role in Asia):
Be aware that none of their policies or promises exist in isolation. If you change home ownership rules, you're going to affect our FTAs. If you make the penal system stricter, you're going to negatively affect society's most vulnerable people. Think about the flow-ons from the policies you've campaigned on, not just the buzzwords that drew you the votes, and make policy packages that address the entire issue, not just your talking point.

Anonymous (America’s Cup Broadcasting):
There are lots of important issues to tackle but one of the most significant is mental health in New Zealand. We are simply losing too many people, especially young ones. Don’t let political goals inhibit your response because those most vulnerable simply cannot afford further delay and need meaningful support now.

Phoebe Balle (Treaty Education in Schools):
Please comply with your responsibilities under the Treaty and UNDRIP. Many thanks.

Simon Johnson (Teach First):
“All glory is fleeting.” Seriously though, getting stuff done in government is hard. Set a few well defined and ambitious goals and throw everything into achieving them.

Jade Kake (Urban Development Authorities):
Prioritise Māori outcomes. Not just because we are overrepresented amongst those experiencing homelessness, living in substandard housing, and locked out of home ownership; but because we are your equal partners under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and equality between Māori and tauiwi is good for everyone ngā iwi katoa.

Simon Thomas (Universal Basic Income):
Proponents of a UBI are not solely from the left or from the right. A UBI has the potential to address issues of welfare, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship. Experiments are beginning to pop up all over the world, with varying success, and it seems to me that NZ - being an innovative, small, and self-labelled “forward thinking” country - should be the perfect place to test it further. Also, I quite like smashed avo.

Anonymous (Incarceration and Privatisation):
There are people living in New Zealand in less than ideal situations, and they need a government that allows and encourages them to speak up, without fear of support being taken away from them.

Zoe Higgins (Sickness and Disability Benefits):
Money put into social services pays itself back. Climate change is real, and if you aren’t taking urgent action you don’t understand what that means. Honour the Treaty.

Jack Robinson (Software Patents):
I think the best thing is to think about the future and to be open about cross-generation discussions on what affects them most - Climate Change, for example, may not affect your generation enough, but it’s the generations that follow that will inevitably have to pick up the pieces, and it’s up to you to help set up following generations and be prepared.

Charlotte Austin (Relationship Testing for Benefits):
We need strong leadership that isn’t afraid to make unpopular choices if it’s best for New Zealand and the world’s long-term future. The intergenerational effects of climate change could be devastating, and we need to take action now.

Erin Donohue (Youth Sexuality Education):
Sometimes everyone needs looked after and it is always deserved, regardless of how or why they need the care.

Maanya Tandon (Genderand Ethnicity Income Equity):
You may only be around for three years, but the best things in New Zealand have been crafted by those governments that looked further ahead than their immediate term, and wider than their own electoral base. ALL human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights – this is something you literally signed, and should probably remember.

Patrick Thomsen (Pasifika Advancement):
Assimilation is not integration and diversity in population make up doesn't make for diverse policies. In our rush to close the gap between the haves and have nots, please don't forget the glaringly obvious -ethnicity matters just as much as class difference. Both impact each other and understand this will be the key to unlocking future Pasifika success and advancement.

Mark Hanna (Informed Consent in Healthcare):
We can have the best rules in the world, but if they're not enforced they may as well not exist. Or, worse, those rules can give the impression that a problem has been solved when really it's just being ignored.

Lamia Imam (Addressing Homelessness):
Curbing human rights never made any nation stronger, wealth inequality never made a country richer, justice should not be revenge, and forced pregnancy is not moral. A government should do all that it can do so its people can live their best lives.

Lauren Watson (Mental Healthcare):
Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi. With your food basket and my food basket, together we can feed the people. The lead up to the election divides us on what we care about, but we all want New Zealander to thrive, and it’s important to recognise that have an obligation to ensure everybody is fed.

Ben Ogilvie (Public Service Reform):
We can afford to fully fund Gender Reassignment Surgeries, and it would do so, so much good if we did.

Elina Ashimbayeva (Life Skills):
Not everyone will like one party and that’s OK, but it is important not to polarise our society on the basis of party policies. Also, ask what people want more often. Don’t rely on the loudest voices of groups or individuals.

Last time around I said that the election was very interesting, yet somehow this one topped it. With so much volatility, we can only hope that we have some calm, smooth sailing ahead. If you've read all of the posts, then well done you! A lot of words have been written and I'm glad that someone's been reading them. But this series has to come to an end, so thank you once again to the guest writers and also thank you to the readers for giving us an audience.

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