A Ministry of Public Input

August 22nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Dr has published a book recommending New Zealand create a Ministry of Public Input. The synopis is:

As political leaders acknowledge the limits of their power and knowledge, they seek a diverse range of public input into government, but this raises profound practical and democratic questions as to how we ensure that public input is collected and processed appropriately and what political leaders are supposed to do with that public input. Through interviews with government ministers and practitioners this research shows how politicians are becoming deliberative political leaders; integrating constructive input from inside and outside government into their decision-making. It also argues that we need to develop a permanent government unit to collect, process and communicate ongoing public input such as a Ministry or Commission of Public Input. By improving public input systems; acknowledging the limits of their own power and knowledge; and devolving solution-finding to others, politicians achieve change that lasts beyond their time in power. Public input is not irreconcilable with political leadership; it is essential to it.

I was one of those interviewed for the book. I think the idea of a Ministry of Public Input, to work across Government, is worth considering. In theory each agency should be doing this anyway, but Jennifer proposes an all-of-Government approach.

A summary of her book is online here.

Those she interviewed include around 51 current and former Australian, Canadian British and Ministers including a dozen current NZ Ministers.

10 Responses to “A Ministry of Public Input”

  1. mjw (629 comments) says:

    No doubt Murray McCully could be put in charge. [Edit: sorry, a bit needlessly snarky. But the point remains that it could be politicised by whomever is put in charge – left or right.]

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  2. EAD (3,891 comments) says:

    Yes exactly what we need – another effin government bureaucracy. This is another Families Commission.

    Here are 3 radical ideas for our political class:
    – carry out the policies as voted for in your manifesto
    – a Swiss style referendum system
    – no “conscience votes” which is smoke and mirrors to allow MPs to pass motions they know their constituents would disagree with

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  3. EAD (3,891 comments) says:

    I’d like to see acknowledgement given to our own “Ministry of truth”. Michael King, the Herald, Greenpeace, Susan Devoy, the Department of Education etc. all enabled by our political overlords in our ” representative democracy”

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  4. Ross12 (2,506 comments) says:

    I thought this is essentially what Select Committees do.

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  5. thedavincimode (8,131 comments) says:

    What a load of bollocks.

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  6. Evadne (167 comments) says:

    Ministry of Public Input? Sounds like something out of Yes, Minister – or Monty Python.

    (Added) When I saw the header, I thought the post was satire, not something that was actually proposed.

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  7. Hugh Pavletich (1,384 comments) says:


    More evidence NZ macroprudential is working | | MacroBusiness Australia


    … posted at above …

    Governor Wheeler of the RBNZ is playing a major role with macroprudential tools, in providing the essential pressure on the political authorities at both central and local level, to belatedly get on releasing affordable land and financing infrastructure properly.

    If the political authorities were responsible in dealing with land supply and infrastructure financing, the monetary authorities macroprudential tools and excessive interest rates would not be necessary.

    The dairy industry for example will not be appreciating the collateral damage with prices down 40% and the New Zealand dollar artificially elevated with the higher interest rates due to unnecessary housing inflation.

    This current Government should have got on to these issues out of the 2008 election as promised … and as I explained late 2012 with HOUSING: MR KEY – GET ON THE PROGRAMME …


    The unnecessary housing bubble risks to the economy are truly massive.

    We have a $700+ billion housing market with about $400 billion of bubble value incorporating about $100 billion of bubble mortgages and the Banks capital base at just $29 billion … as I explained recently with NEW ZEALAND’S BUBBLE ECONOMY IS VULNERABLE …


    A local television news has just reported there is a major housing announcement by the Government next week. Let’s hope it deals with affordable land supply and proper infrastructure financing … the two core structural problems.

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  8. OneTrack (4,602 comments) says:

    The good doctor is a lefty isn’t she. More bureaucracy, more taxes, …

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  9. Dennis Horne (4,237 comments) says:

    We had better government before we had any political “scientists”.

    A new ministry to listen to the people. What, like a referendum?

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  10. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Before the idea is dismissed out of hand, I can see a *good aspect* to this.

    I give the example of Islamisation of the West. We see fools like David Cameron (after every terrorist incident) wittering on that “this has nothing to do with Islam”. Yeah, right.

    That is a good example of where the knowledge of the general public is *light-years* ahead of the knowledge of MPs. The problem is – how do you *get* that knowledge from the public to the MPs?

    Can I suggest an *Ombudsman* of Public Input or an “Office of Public Input”.
    A much *smaller* office that would take input from the public and feed it on to MPs.

    Anyway – I believe that this IS a problem, and there can be no better example of the abysmal knowledge of MPs and leaders than the nonsensical warblings of Cameron on Islam.

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