We held our popular End of Year Event – The Political Year in Review on Wednesday 4 December 2019. After a break in 2018, interest was high and attendees weren’t disappointed with the insights and discussion from guest speakers – Tracy Watkins, Bernard Hickey and Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard - a big thank you to our speakers and to our facilitator, Spiro Anastasiou, who created a great atmosphere.
Speakers were broadly asked to talk about the highs and lows of last year and looking forward to 2020. Of the many things mentioned there were a few we noted specially:
- It was pointed out that population growth in New Zealand is so far exceeding infrastructure investment that, looking ahead, the injection of money into infrastructure growth will prove inadequate.
- There was concern expressed that the "no surprises" convention risks public sector professionals becoming too responsive to Ministers, especially where personal information is at stake.
- Figures were given on the significant decline of journalists and print media, compared with the increase in public relations staff and digital media. There was concern that the technical and in depth analysis that public sector professionals and investigative journalists do was giving way to stories where truth and evidence is compromised with readers taking their truth from brief headlines, unsubstantiated by evidence.
- An illustration was given that with access to social media, people in New Zealand have a greater interest in politics in the US and UK rather than New Zealand. The absolute importance of engaging young people in active politics was expressed.
- The transformation promise of this government was discussed. Failing to get the Capital Gains tax through and the Kiwibuild challenges were seen as significant issues. Caution about high raising of expectations in a complex political environment was noted.
- March 15th was, for all the speakers, the overwhelming low point of the year. The strength of political leadership and agency and community response that followed was noted as outstanding.