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Think Tank Welcomes Social Investment Approach

Think Tank Welcomes Social Investment Approach

AUCKLAND - The New Zealand Powerhouse Institute, a classical liberal, free market think tank, has welcomed the development of a social investment approach by the National-led Government under Bill English.

The Chief Executive of the Institute said the new approach and agency set up to facilitate it could be instrumental in reducing waste and improving outcomes in New Zealand's welfare state.

According to OECD data, New Zealand taxpayers fund more social security-related expenditures (which includes superannuation, health, early childhood education, social housing and welfare) as a percentage of GDP than those of many other comparable nations including Canada, Switzerland and Iceland with better functioning social safety nets.

Mitchell Palmer, the NZ Powerhouse Institute's Chief Executive, called this "evidence that the New Zealand model is broken and is not allocating resources effectively" and expressed hope that the new social investment approach would shine light on key areas for improvement and that the National-led Government would "have the guts" to implement some of the improvements.

Mr Palmer also made clear the Institute's position that "half-hearted, around-the-edges changes are unlikely to result in the kind of change New Zealand taxpayers deserve" and that "radical programs like insurance-based healthcare and a negative income tax could be instrumental in improving efficiency, effectiveness and equity."

Mr Palmer said that a suite of policy proposals and discussion papers the Institute had developed in various policy areas, including some proposing decriminalizing all drug use, auctioning work visas, privatizing most state-owned enterprises and all schools, repealing the Emissions Trading Scheme and Resource Management Act, nationalizing the legal profession and radically reforming NZ Superannuation, could form the basis of such a radical platform.

He said the Institute "applauded Mr English's work in creating a framework for smart social policy analysis in Government." He also hoped the Social Investment Agency would follow in the footsteps of the Productivity Commission and Treasury in providing non-partisan economically literate advice to the Government of the day and positively influencing policy development in Cabinet.

He also called on the Prime Minister to match his talk of social investment with a comprehensive reform package and challenged leaders of other political parties to offer radical approaches to solving wastage and inefficacy in public social expenditure this election year rather than attempting to buy votes with handouts and hoped that whoever was in Government next year would take these issues seriously and adopt a platform of radical reform.


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