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Real Issues No. 316

Real Issues No. 316

Real Issues No. 316 - NZ Votes, Regeneration, Social Wellbeing Maxim Institute - Real Issues - No. 316 28 August 2008 www.maxim.org.nz

The launch of NZ Votes 2008 political debates Failed regeneration Connection, community and The Social Report

IN THE NEWS Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards Diversity and social cohesion

The Launch Of NZ Votes 2008 Political Debates

With an election just around the corner, Maxim Institute is launching the first of our 2008 NZ Votes political debates. Fifteen NZ Votes debates will happen across the country, providing an invaluable opportunity for voters to hear MPs and candidates debate their party policies.

At election time it is easy to be swayed by political rhetoric. These debates allow candidates and MPs to challenge each other and cut through the spin. At election time we voters decide who we want to govern our country for the next three years. It is not an easy decision to make, it requires us to understand how the electoral system works, consider our voting priorities and find out what the different political parties stand for and why.

Over the next few weeks we will keep you up-to-date with the NZ Votes debates as they happen -- look out for one in your local area.

The first of our 2008 NZ Votes debates will be held on Tuesday, 16 September, 7.30pm - 9.30pm at Greenlane Christian Centre, 17 Marewa Rd, Greenlane, Auckland. The events are free, but any donations will be appreciated. This launch of the 2008 NZ Votes political debates looks set to be a success with a number of high profile MPs already confirmed, including Keith Locke, Hon Phil Goff, Dr Richard Worth OBE and Judy Turner.

NZ Votes - You decide!

For more information about NZ Votes 2008, please email Kerry Alemann http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/About_us/Send_Email?id=35

Failed Regeneration

As cities like London and Auckland fill to their seams, the question of where populations reside becomes more pressing. The nostalgia for rural life has appeal in Britain as it does here, but the sustainability of many rural-based cities is under threat. Cities Unlimited, a report by Policy Exchange, explores the challenges facing struggling cities. The report contends that centrally-managed government regeneration policies have not worked, arguing instead that resources should go to local councils who are directly accountable to their constituents and who understand the unique issues facing their cities. Regeneration, it suggests, must be market-led and acknowledge the hard truth that not all cities can, or should be, regenerated.

Since 1997, urban regeneration policy in Britain has invested large resources into bolstering cities that are struggling. However, populations in many of the cities are still declining, unemployment remains high and the economies weak. The reasons for this are easy to discover. Some cities were built around industries that no longer exist, while others are geographically positioned in areas that make it impractical for them to sustain a large population. They simply do not have the resources or the appeal today they once did. The report suggests rather than using policies to artificially prop these cities up, the cities should face the reality of their situations by finding new legitimate reasons to persist or allowing themselves to change and shrink.

According to the report, thriving cities currently bound by zoning laws must be opened up to the possibility of expansion, so that those who want to leave dying cities have somewhere to go. Further, regeneration resources should be re-directed to local councils who are able to honestly assess the weaknesses and opportunities that face their city. In some cases a council may support creative innovations, others may help their oversized population to re-locate.

One problem with the report is the short-term nature of its assessment. The policies being criticised were implemented only a decade ago and real economic and social changes can often take much longer to be felt. Despite this, as it stands the evidence looks grim for regeneration. While the policy may seem appealing, in reality it seems incapable of delivering in its current form. Big cities are not paradises by any means. But devolving decision-making introduces a flexibility that is more responsive to peoples' needs. The pressing questions then become ones of building connections and creating spaces for fulfilling lives, wherever our population finds itself residing.

Read Cities Unlimited http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/images/libimages/418.PDF

Connectedness, Community And The Social Report

The Ministry of Social Development has released The Social Report 2008, which charts the 'wellbeing and quality of life' of New Zealanders. Putting together statistics from a range of surveys, including the Census, The Social Report aims to show us how we're doing as a country in a variety of areas, including 'health,' 'knowledge and skills,' 'economic standard of living,' 'civil and political rights' and 'social connectedness.' The news is mostly good. Employment, education and health indicators have improved, and Maori and Pacific Islanders, though not doing as well as other groups, are making some improvements. In the words of an MSD spokesman: 'The report shows that New Zealanders' wellbeing has improved markedly across numerous fields.'

However, not every area of the report is a cause for celebration. 'Housing affordability, assault mortality, road traffic injuries, obesity and potentially hazardous drinking' are all cited as areas in need of improvement, and issues such as youth suicide, despite positive long-term trends, continue to be a problem.

When examining the ongoing health of our community and the social bonds which unite us, the statistics give some cause for worry. Only 77 percent of eligible voters bothered to vote in the 2005 election, and more worrying still, this figure represents a 'recovery' from the depths of 2002.The turn-out for local body elections in 2007 was even lower, dropping to 44 percent. At the same time, while levels of 'trust in others' and 'regular contact with family and friends' remain comparatively high, only 63 and 61 percent of male and female high school students respectively felt that they 'were able to spend enough time with at least one parent' in a given week (figures drop to 55 percent for Maori). This sits alongside the finding that 'Twenty-five percent of 15–24 year olds and 17 percent of those aged 25–49 years reported feeling lonely sometimes, most of the time, or always.'

A substantial minority of our young people feel lonely and disconnected--many from their primary sources of belonging and support, their parents. At the same time, the bonds which make our democracy function are weakening, with lower levels of engagement in the democratic process, and thus a poorer and less representative democracy. Community and connectedness may seem like nebulous things, but they have concrete effects and concrete consequences. Tending the health of our young people, as well as our democracy, is a task we must never tire of, and, despite improvement, it remains a continuing challenge.

Read The Social Report 2008: Indicators of social wellbeing in New Zealand http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz/documents/social-report-2008.pdf

IN THE NEWS

Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards

New Zealand newspaper Indian Newslink has just launched its inaugural business awards designed to help recognise and reward business success. The awards feature several categories including Best Large Business, Best Small and Medium Business and Best Retailer. Members of the Indian business community are eligible for all awards, but the Best Exporter to India Business award is open to all, regardless of ethnicity. The awards are being supported by a number of organisations including Maxim Institute, Waitakere City Council, ASB and the National Business Review.

Find out more about whether you're eligible for any of the Indian Business Awards mailto:businessawards@maxim.org.nz

Diversity And Social Cohesion

The Ministry of Social Development has released a report on diversity and social cohesion in New Zealand. The report, Connecting Diverse Communities – Report on 2007 Public Engagement, is part of the ongoing Connecting Diverse Communities project, which focuses on social cohesion in New Zealand and how this can be enhanced. The report outlines key findings of interviews and questionnaires with diverse communities around New Zealand; including groups representing various ethnicities, sexual preferences, age groups and disability groups. The report suggests that social cohesion could be enhanced by smaller communities feeling a greater sense of belonging and by the wider community embracing and celebrating diversity. The challenge though is how to achieve this sense of belonging, a task that best belongs in the hands of grassroots communities.

Read Connecting Diverse Communities – Report on 2007 Public Engagement http://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/research/connecting-diverse-communities/cdc-public-engagement-2007.pdf

TALKING POINT

'The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.'

Thomas More

A registered charitable trust, funded by donations, Maxim Institute values your interest and support.

Click here to find out how you can support Maxim Institute (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/About_us/Support_us)

Maxim Institute's regular email publication, Real Issues, provides thought-provoking analysis of developments in policy and culture in New Zealand and around the world.

Maxim Institute. 49 Cape Horn Road, Hillsborough, Auckland, New Zealand.

ENDS


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