Real Issues Blog

Choose, and choose wisely

Jeremy Vargo
16 September 14

When I was 10 years old, I volunteered to distribute pamphlets for one of the electorate candidates in our area. Each day of my school holiday I would fill up a shopping bag with stacks of shiny brochures, grab my Dad’s Walkman, and progress assertively around the streets of our neighbourhood filling letterboxes; proudly marking my route on the electorate map.+ more

Prudence and grit

Kieran Madden
08 September 14

What separates righteous anger from rioting mobs? What triggers the turn from peaceful protest against injustice, to looting and violence, on the scale most recently seen in Ferguson, Missouri? In a recent piece in National Affairs, Richard J. Reeves, former advisor to UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, offered an answer.+ more

What's wrong with binding referendums?

Jeremy Vargo
03 September 14

Direct democracy or, majority rule, is appealing to those who are confident that their views and needs sit comfortably within the majority. We will always rail against an imperfect system when we disagree with its outcomes, but we should be wise to the potential dangers of replacing parliament with an opinion poll. + more

Minimum wage, minimal help

Kieran Madden
27 August 14

If raising the minimum wage is actually going to help kids in poverty-stricken working families, those on a minimum wage actually need to be in poor families. In reality, minimum wage workers are perched on all rungs of the household income ladder. An analysis by two academics in 2008 suggested that only forty percent of minimum-wage workers live with households in the bottom three income brackets, with more than sixteen percent living in homes that sit on the top three rungs of the ladder.+ more

What I didn't know about ISIS and Iraq

Jeremy Vargo
19 August 14

First of all, ISIS stands for “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” ISIS was formerly a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq that has been rebuilding over the last 3 years after it was decimated by the US military in 2006. Their intention is to set up a new Islamic state—or “caliphate,” an extreme Islamic theocracy ruled by an imam or “caliph”—in an area that takes in northern Iraq and a large chunk of north-western Syria. + more

MMP refresher - the paths to power

Jeremy Vargo
18 August 14

Last week, my friends got into a heated discussion regarding David Cunliffe’s statements about Internet Mana. He said he wouldn’t have their MPs in his Government, but he would work with them. “Isn’t that the same thing?” they asked. The answer is no, but to make the distinction there’s a few key things about the way we do politics in this country that we have to wrap our head around. + more

When Freedoms Collide | 2014 Sir John Graham Lecture

Professor Helen Alvaré
05 August 14

I want to now turn to the level of conscience protection in the End of Life Choices Bill proposed by Maryan Street. Does the Bill provide enough protection for conscience when it requires objecting doctors to refer a patient to someone they know will carry out euthanasia, rather than allowing them simply to say they can’t help, without making any other referral?+ more

School Leadership: Our quick explainer

Luke Fenwick
24 July 14

Our policy paper, Joining Forces, asks whether sharing expertise across schools helps to improve student outcomes. There is evidence that it can, and we apply this evidence to analyse the leadership aspects of “Investing in Educational Success.” Here we summarise our nine recommendations for how the Government can effectively harness school leadership as a lever for system improvement.+ more

Cherry-picking statistics for political point-scoring

Kieran Madden
21 July 14

There’s always going to be an incentive to choose (or more cynically, cherry-pick) the stats that best support a pre-conceived stance or will score the most political points. Evidence-based policy is a good thing, but we need to be wily consumers of the evidence we’re offered—not all is equal and none of it is purely objective. + more

A look at Labour's education plan

Luke Fenwick
14 July 14

Labour leader David Cunliffe pulled the covers off Labour’s shiny new education policy at the recent Labour Party Congress. With Education spokesman Chris Hipkins on his right shoulder and Deputy Leader David Parker on his left, he promised Labour will invest $873 million into education over the next four years. This includes smaller class sizes and more teachers, subsidised netbooks for all students, and initiatives to promote expertise-sharing among schools. + more

"How many single mums stay single?" - and other things you find out from quality research

Kieran Madden
08 July 14

On my 30th birthday, a dear friend gifted me a copy of A. A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six.” The launch of the third report from the “Growing Up In New Zealand” study, similarly entitled “Now We Are Two: Describing our first 1000 days” brought the memory of that gift back to mind. I’m not sure whether the report’s title was inspired by the whimsical goings-on in the 100 Acre Wood, but the comparison brought home to me that childhood is a special time, and not only for sparking imaginations.+ more

Political fizz not recommended

Jeremy Vargo
01 July 14

Next time you’re reading, watching or listening to the news, try this: analyse how much time is spent talking about the real issues. Compare that with the space given to speculation about polling, thoughts on how voters will respond to an embarrassing tweet, or arguments over whether or not a minister should resign.+ more