You are subscribed as | Unsubscribe | View online version | Forward to a friend

Insights 46: 1 December 2017
Latest report: Welfare, Work & Wellbeing
Free Wgtn event: The Future Catch panel discussion with Hon. Stuart Nash
In the media: We’re richer, but more dependent on benefits

Breaking the cycle of disadvantage
Dr Bryce Wilkinson | Senior Fellow |
Government welfare must do a better job of breaking the cycle of disadvantage.

That message was common cause amongst the audience at the launch this week of the New Zealand Initiative’s latest report Welfare, Work and Wellbeing: From Benefits to Better Lives. The report can be downloaded freely from the Initiative’s website.

Myself, as author, and Sue Bradford, who wrote the foreword, spoke to it in front of a diverse and knowledgeable audience of about 100 people.

My presentation focused on the pipeline of intergenerational misery that has become entrenched in recent decades.

Shamefully, fifteen percent of babies born in 1990-91 had come to the attention of Child Youth and Family for abuse or neglect reasons by age 18.

By age 21 their average outcomes for educational attainment, crime, and early entry to the benefit system were shocking.

Those concerned about lifetime economic inequality – and who is not – could usefully start right there.

The fiscal and wellbeing costs of those who enter the benefit system as teenagers is massive. They commonly come from beneficiary families, often sole parent ones, and/or have been abused or neglected as children.

Actuaries have consistently found that around 75% of the future fiscal cost of benefits is attributable to those who first become beneficiaries as teenagers. Seventy-five percent of $76 billion is $57 billion.

Programmes that work to help people overcome their predicaments should be win-win for wellbeing and taxpayers.

Sue Bradford compellingly expressed the view that the existing benefit-work sanctions regime was punitive and welfare reducing.

The challenge of finding non-punitive programmes that work has now passed to the new Labour-led government.

There was widespread scepticism within the audience about the capacity of the central government to work well with NGOs.

This scepticism was offset by considerable optimism and knowledge about the capacity of non-governmental NGOs to find solutions, if freed up to do so.

That could only happen if funding and governance arrangements devolved power and accountability.

This echoes a long-standing theme of The New Zealand Initiative. Local communities often know their own needs best.

Perhaps the most positive thing about the launch was the extent of the common ground and the absence of grandstanding about ideology. Long may that last.

Future of recreational fisheries
Dr Randall Bess | Research Fellow |
Increasingly, we are hearing recreational fishers are frustrated about the depletion of some fisheries compared with what they experienced in the past.

Also, tensions and conflicts between recreational, commercial and customary fishers are intensifying as they compete for limited fisheries resources.

Each fishing sector shares an interest in taking more from a fishery, and they value their share quite differently.

The aim of the New Zealand Initiative’s fisheries project is to find ways to preserve fishing for food and fun as a valued pastime and tradition for current fishers and the next generation. But, it is vital that this is done while upholding the rights of the other fishing sectors.

For this purpose, the Initiative first released the report, What’s the Catch? that outlines the current situation for managing New Zealand’s fisheries.

The second report, The Overseas Catch, provides useful overseas comparisons. Consideration of how best to improve New Zealand’s situation benefits from knowing what is working well and not so well overseas.

Western Australia was selected as the location for our ‘fisher exchange’, when a group of New Zealanders involved in recreational, commercial and customary fishing learnt first-hand from Western Australia’s example.

We were particularly interested in the high level of public trust and confidence in the way recreational fisheries are managed, despite severe restrictions on recreational fishing access and fishers needing to pay license fees.

The third report, The Future Catch, was first released for consultation. It set out draft policy recommendations that incorporated the lessons learnt in Western Australia and elsewhere.

The Initiative followed up the report’s release with 14 public meetings from Dunedin to Paihia. Attendees were generally supportive of the draft recommendations and expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to discuss the future of recreational fishing. Most meetings ended with applause.

The Future Catch now reflects the feedback about what New Zealanders want for the future of recreational fisheries. It clarifies needed changes in policies and practices.   

The Future Catch will be launched at 5.30pm on Monday, 4 December at Mac’s Function Centre, 4 Taranaki Street, Wellington.

I will be joined at the panel by the Hon Stuart Nash, Minister of Fisheries, Mr Bob Gutsell, Vice President of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, and Sir Mark Solomon, Deputy Chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana. After the panel discussion, we will answer questions from attendees.

Please register if you would like to attend the launch via 

This is fairly important
Richard Baker | Research Director |
Voltaire wrote that one great use of words is to hide our thoughts.

I remembered this when Grant Robertson said the tax working group would improve “fairness” in the tax system. I don’t mean to suggest the Minister was dissembling or concealing some ulterior purpose. While fairness is part of the New Zealand kaupapa, literal “fairness” is however an unhelpful word. What does it mean?

Let me illustrate with reference to three traditional models of fairness; equality of outcome, equality of opportunity, and social justice for those in need. Each produces different results.

Let’s use the Rugby World Cup as the common denominator.

An apologist for equality of outcome would argue that fairness prevails when everything is shared equally. 

So the Rugby World Cup should be awarded to each country, say in alphabetical order, over successive years. With a sixteen team competition, each of the 16 competing nations would be the world champion once every 64 years. Be patient Zimbabwe.

This would be an absolute delight for Wales for whom world cup victory is oxymoronic. So too for Scotland, where more people think fondly of the English than play rugby.

A proponent of equality of opportunity would argue that on a level playing field the trophy belongs fairly to those who best use their resources and are smarter and harder working.

Alas, in rugby as in life, the field is seldom level. Under this approach the trophy would go to the wealthy (think England), the lucky (think France and Wayne Barnes), the unscrupulous (think Suzy the waitress) and the unnaturally endowed (think All Blacks).

A believer in social justice would argue that fairness requires the trophy to go where the need is highest. It is only fair that we look after the least fortunate first. This would benefit the Pacific Islands who survive on the occasional crumb from the rich rugby nations, the Italians who play with passion and little else, and the French who have to decide on match day which team turns up.

The moral? Pick your preferred type of fairness to pick your winner.

Let us hope the tax working group picks its type of fairness with care, clarity and explanation. Taxpayers deserve no less and fairness demands it.
On The Record
All Things Considered
Copyright © 2020 The New Zealand Initiative, All Rights Reserved

Unsubscribe me please

Brought to you by outreachcrm