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Real Issues No. 179, 20 OCTOBER 2005

Maxim Institute No. 179, 20 OCTOBER 2005

Policy priorities

Maxim Institute's essay competition: Unconscious society?

If NZ Idol was decided by MMP


Policy priorities

September 17th seems like a long while ago-it's been just over a month since the election, and now finally, the result is clear.

A Labour government with enhanced supply and confidence agreements from New Zealand First and United Future, and abstention on supply and confidence issues from the Greens, form the shape of things to come.

In the process of bargaining, the first policies of the next three years have become apparent. New Zealand will have a government spokesperson on the issues of 'Buy Kiwi Made' and 'energy efficiency and solar programmes'. The Greens have also negotiated to gain commitments that the minimum wage will be $12 per hour at the end of 2008 and the capacity of public transport will be increased. Winston Peters will be Associate Minister of Senior Citizens and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Peter Dunne will be Minister for Revenue, with both of them sitting outside of Cabinet and bound by collective responsibility only on their portfolio areas.

The policy initiatives and reviews that Labour has committed to, include: raising the level of superannuation; looking into the possibility of a new tax rebate regime for charities and reviewing the business taxation regimes; reviewing the Prostitution Reform Act; increasing the number of police; maintaining the families commission; and reviewing immigration legislation.

The agreements were notably lacking in some key areas. There was no mention of education or defence, and little mention of health or foreign policy.

To read more details of the agreements, please visit:

Labour-NZ First
Labour-United Future Agreement

Maxim Institute's essay competition: Unconscious society?

The question for 2005's competition:

The separation of church and state is foundational to the Western understanding of democracy. What role, if any, does religion (both personal and institutional) have in the political sphere of a society?

This year's winner is David Griffiths a PhD Law student from Devonport. His winning essay is entitled Unconscious Society?

David's essay begins:

"Having returned recently from many years abroad, I am struck by the manner in which discussion of New Zealand's national identity is handled in public life. The overwhelming impression is that this is a debate that nobody really wants to have. In the United Kingdom there is a keen interest in what it means variously to be British, English, or even European. In the United States the selection of new justices for the Supreme Court is conducted with an eye on what direction the country will take on matters as diverse as abortion, religion in the public square and the ability of the Federal Government to protect toads in California. These debates are conducted not necessarily with a view to finding a "final solution" to the question, but rather the emphasis is on the fact that the debate is a permanent one and is a healthy phenomenon in itself for the body politic.

By contrast, the mood here seems to be: "We don't need to do this, we left behind us all those old pre-occupations in Europe in the nineteenth century, and anyway, see how it's tearing them apart. Let's just get on with it". (1) What this "it" means is never discussed and public division is avoided by a sort of tacit national consensus. The media, complicit in this, lay on an over-arching patina of soothing nationalist phrases like "kiwi ingenuity", nominate hapless sporting figures as "national icons" and exalt in the "number 8 wire" approach to addressing important matters."

To read the essay in full, please visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/essay/pdf/2005EssayComp_David_Griffiths.pdf

If NZ Idol was decided by MMP

(This satirical piece was contributed by a 2004 summer intern of Maxim Institute)

Those you voted off last week would be back on the list.

Contestants would start every sentence with "When I'm NZ Idol, I'll...".

The bottom five candidates would be kicked off in the first week for failing to reach the threshold.

Jackie and Frank would announce they had worked out a three-way deal to support one of the contestants on confidence and supply, but this did not mean they were in any way supporting one of the contestants, but planned to work constructively with all of them, for the sake of the competition.

It will emerge later in Investigate magazine that Nik and Sir Howard Morrison were in a secret conspiracy to thwart Rosita with an infamous "Rosita is fat" smear campaign.

Petra will demand that Jean be given a space in the bottom three, and if this does not happen, she will threaten to quit the competition.

he losing contestant in the final two will say it's fine, because the country has called him to other things.

Contestants would attack their competitors throughout the competition, using phrases such as "No talent hack" and "unstable lunatic", but "come together" in the last week to declare that they are the best of friends, and looking forward to working together.


The following is a statement that was released on Tuesday 18th October 2005 in response to criticism of the inadequacy or omission of citation of sources used and quoted in some of Bruce Logan's published material:

"Two web bloggers have since sought to link my wider writing with ideas and wording sourced from other publications.

There is some validity to this claim: ideas and even the wording, from external sources have been applied by me to the New Zealand context. This has not, however, been done with any deliberate attempt to misquote or mislead. The work I am engaged in is debating and promoting ideas and in this I freely acknowledge I owe much to the work of others. I believe that the ideas discussed have generic applicability and deserve to be heard and debated in New Zealand. In some cases, writers have provided direct authority for this but full acknowledgement and accuracy of citation has not always been present in others. I unreservedly apologise for this and assure readers of increased attention and vigilance concerning this matter in the future."

Maxim Institute's Board of Trustees has received an explanation from Bruce Logan, which, while it does not excuse what has occurred, is sufficient to satisfy us that the errors were honest and not intended to deceive. Maxim Institute expresses its disappointment and has taken internal measures to ensure this does not occur in the future.

Greg Fleming
Managing Director, Maxim Institute


People who realise that they are not merely the tools of society and the collective but are ends in themselves will not be submissive. People who have acquired a taste for freedom will not consent to be shut in by walls or fences. They will work to create a better existence for themselves and to improve the world we live in.

1. Nigel Cox, the New Zealander who has just returned from assisting in the development and management of the Jewish Museum in Berlin has made a similar observation on this non-debate: "Three or four times I heard people in the media saying, 'Oh, we don't want to go back to that old national identity stuff, that navel-gazing stuff, surely we're past all that.' I found it disturbing"; David Larsen "I can see clearly now" New Zealand Listener (3 September 2005) 39.

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