NZ Initiative Manifesto 2017

The Herald reports:

Dropping the Overseas Investment Act, giving local government the GST from all new home builds and performance pay for teachers are among the more radical policies advocated by economic think-tank The New Zealand Initiative which launches its election year manifesto today.

Manifesto 2017 is effectively a highlights package of reports and research the NZ Initiative has released in the five years since it was born of a merger between the Business Round Table and NZ Institute.

The aim was to try to focus debate on the issues that matter in the election, said executive director and Manifesto author Oliver Hartwich.

“Politicians in the last few elections have had an enormous amount of side-shows to deal with, from Kim Dotcom to teapot tapes. But really, when has the country had a proper discussion about where it wants to be in the future?” he said.

The Manifesto was designed to challenge the Government and opposition parties to consider big ideas that would fix some of New Zealand’s long-term structural problems.

The manifesto is here. The summary of recommendations is:

Housing and Planning:

  • Abolish all rural-urban boundaries
  • abolish all height and density controls
  • strengthen property rights by introducing a presumption in favour of development into the Resource Management Act
  • incentivise councils for development by letting them capture the GST component of new buildings
  • introduce Community Development Districts.


  • Create an attractive career structure for teachers
  • provide tailored professional development for teachers
  • monitor teacher performance and introduce performance based appraisals
  • evaluate systematically the impact of interventions on school performance
  • expand school clusters as a means of sharing best practice.

Foreign Direct Investment:

  • Abolish the Overseas Investment Act. There should be no FDI regime subject all investors, domestic and foreign, to the same rules
  • protect New Zealanders’ property rights, including the freedom to sell to whoever they wish. In cases of public interest, appropriate compensation must be made.


  • No new law or regulation shall be introduced without a cost-benefit assessment that demonstrates real gains for the public and costs fairly shared
  • Regulatory reform cannot be delegated to a junior minister but needs real commitment from the prime minister down.
  • The regulatory culture should shift from one of ticking boxes and managing risk to encouraging greater flexibility and innovation.

Social Policy:

  • Social policy is not a silo and should be regarded as a whole-of-government task.
  • Fixing New Zealand’s housing affordability crisis is crucial to addressing both income-related poverty measures and inequality concerns.
  • To provide all New Zealanders with good life opportunities, special attention needs to be paid to education. More targeted support for students from lower deciles should take precedence over untargeted programmes such as interest-free student loans.
  • Taxes and regulations should not choke off employers’ incentive to create jobs for the available skills or deprive those with those skills of the incentive to work.
  • The government’s plan to trial new ways of delivering social services such as social bonds is laudable.

Local Government:

  • Local communities should share the benefits that accrue to central government from extractive industries and growth. Local government should receive financial benefits for creating economic growth (and suffer a loss when it does not).
  • Central and local government need to better define their responsibilities to preclude cost-shifting and blame games, and enhance accountability.
  • Special economic zones would increase flexibility and regional variability of economic policy

Many many good proposals there that would make a real difference. Even if you don’t agree with all of them (who would), I’d be interested to read comments about which ones you do agree with.

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