Archives for May 2022 | Josie Pagani



PM's commencement address at Harvard

Josie was interviewed on AM. Watch here.

More must be delivered on trade

This week New Zealand agreed to be part of Biden's ‘’new trade deal that’s not a trade deal’’ – the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). It's a vegan sausage. We have agreed to ‘’serious discussions’’ in ‘’working groups’’ on stuff like supply chain resilience, common rules for the digital economy, clean energy, and anti-corruption. We need a formal agreement to talk about these topics like a vegan sausage needs a bicycle.

The IPEF is the CPTPP without any of the good bits – like tariff-free market access and proper, enforceable rules on subjects including the environment, labour rights and climate. It gives the US cover to pretend it is engaging in trade talks, while telling voters at home, ‘’we're just pretending’’.

Instead of using her considerable international star power to charm Stephen Colbert on late-night TV this week, our PM should use it to persuade the US to come back to the CPTPP. We won't sign your ghost trade deal until you sign our real one. The TPP had to be rebranded as the Comprehensive and Progressive TPP (CPTPP) because Justin Trudeau in Canada and Ardern had won office on outrageous pledges not to sign it. However, the rose with another name smells as sweet. The prime minister should tell the US president that she had believed the terrible things about TPP too, but they never happened.

Read Josie's Stuff column here.

The socks for Xmas budget

The prime minister’s promise that she was in politics to end child poverty will have to wait. Next year, perhaps.

Housing has become so unaffordable for poor families, food essentials so expensive, and the economy so close to recession, that by the end of next year child poverty will be heading back to 1990s levels. The children of the 1990s are the new parents of today and intergenerational hardship is disappearing from the political agenda. Delivering more requires courage, and tough choices. Just handing out cash to the squeakiest wheels is easy.

Read more here.

Public sector needs fresh ideas.

Here are four ideas.
  • Divide public sector policy advice more clearly from implementation. People who do stuff should not be the same people who tell us how it is going.
  • Power up select committees with their own permanent, substantial, policy and research capability carved out of existing ministries. MPs would decide whether to make their careers as legislators who write laws as select committee chairs, or executives who run ministries.
  • Power up, don’t power down, the advocacy ministries. The ambition for those ministries is research, policy voice and scrutiny on behalf of diverse parts of our community. Make them more independent, like the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment or the Commerce Commission – heavyweight agencies whose analysis and advice is not dependent on ministerial approval. They could think the unthinkable and be free to persuade.
  • Run it all with a much smaller Cabinet: five or six individuals who focus on strategy, more like a board of directors. Most MPs would never be in Cabinet, so there would be real competition, and fewer anonymous seat-fillers.

The column is here.

Australian election

Josie looks at campaigns driven by personality, not policy, and suggests some policy choices that would make for better debate in New Zealand.

Critics routinely fail to present a better idea to solve the problem, or even acknowledge a problem exists. The problem a wealth tax is meant to solve is that the gap between the richest and poorest New Zealander has increased. According to author Max Rashbrooke, the richest 1% of us, as few as 38,000 people, are worth nearly 70 times more than the typical New Zealander. Reflect on that figure for a moment, and before you criticise a wealth tax, tell us how you would close that gap, or even acknowledge its existence. Only tax policy will meaningfully reduce inequality.

Her Stuff column is here.

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