Sunday, May 06, 2012

Roger Kerr's successor

The NZ Business Roundtable has merged with the NZ Institute to form what is now called The NZ Initiative.

The new head of this group is Oliver Hartwich. Here are some excerpts from an interview on The Nation.

Rachel When our next guest left the UK to take up a new job in Australia, then Conservative MP David Cameron remarked, the sooner he gets on the ship the better. Economist Dr Oliver Hartwich has critics and fans who've closely watched his work at Britain's leading think tank, the Policy Exchange, and more recently at the Centre of Independent Studies in Sydney. He's now in New Zealand to head up the New Zealand Initiative, a merger of the Business Round Table and the New Zealand Institute. And after his first week on the job he joins us now in the studio. Welcome to the programme Dr Hartwich. It's quite an interesting merger, two very different beasts. Why do you think they’ve brought you in, is it because for example you may have a blank slate when it comes to New Zealand?

 Oliver Hartwich – New Zealand Initiative Executive Director
I think they were looking for someone with a sense of humour so they couldn’t go past a German of course. But seriously the organisation, I mean it's built on the legacy of two existing organisations, the Business Round Table and the New Zealand Institute, but the idea was really to form a new initiative, and that’s why it's called the New Zealand Initiative, and it's built to really promote policies that promote good policies for all New Zealand, for all New Zealanders. We're basically showing the same visions whether we're standing on the left or on the right, it doesn’t really matter too much, we all believe in sound economic management. Nobody wants to see high inflation, no one wants to see high unemployment. We basically believe in the same things, and we're trying to actually promote policies that work for the whole of the country...

I think the whole political spectrum is basically converging towards the centre, it's not just a thing that you will see on the right, you actually see it on the left as well. I think we have seen quite a bit of a conversion in the last 20 years globally. So you’ve got the traditional left wing parties moving closer to the centre, traditional right wing parties moving closer to the centre, because in the end they're driven often by opinion polls, by focus groups, by short termism, and they're really trying to just grab the issues of the day and politics I think has become much less ideological after the end of the Cold War, and I think that’s probably seen in many countries around the world including of course most European countries..

I'm an old Liberal, I'm not a Neoliberal, I really believe in individual freedom, I believe in policies that work, I believe in empirical research driving policy making.

....Maybe we should see a first light return of ideology in political debates anywhere, because what I actually miss from political debates is some clear divisions. We have this convergence to what is centre. What's really missing are debates, real passionate debates really based on principles not just on opinion polls, not just based on some focus group polling. I think the times when we actually had debates between people who believed in a more planned economy and other people who believed in a more free economy, I think that they're quite healthy for democracy. When democracies converge on the centre ground, political debates become quite stale, they become personality driven. I would actually like to have real debates upon policy."


Some good stuff.


Nick K said...

Brilliant stuff. And wholeheartedly correct.

Anonymous said...

wholeheartedly correct

utter rubbish. Crucially - and critically - in NZ politics have converged on the extreme left rather than the centre! Consider Barak Obama, whom more than half of the US House of Representatives consider an unreconstructed communist, is far, far to the right of any NZ political party including ACT and the LIbz.

The idea that NZ politics have converged on the centre is simply crazy: we;ve converged on communism - not even communism by stealth but communism under open light of day!

no one wants to see high unemployment

Oh really - any orthodox economist knows that NZ needs another batch of 20-25% unemployment , if not 30% (50% youth) as in Spain --- if it is even to start getting wage rates down to something realistic, getting productivity up, etc. And here we have the old Business Round Table coming out against unemployment.

Less than a week ago, Lindsay, you posted about how every single one of Ruth's (and Roger's) hard won reforms had been totally undone by the Bolger and Clark governments! Those reforms need to be reenacted again, from scratch, faster and harder and deeper than before; and not stopping until the job really has finished!

That's what NZ needs from the NZ Initiative, not this sort of claptrap!

Roger Kerr must be spinning in his grave.