web analytics

What if we had a Policy Costings Unit for all political parties?

Written By: - Date published: 6:10 am, August 21st, 2020 - 22 comments
Categories: election 2020, greens - Tags: ,

For some reason yesterday I thought of the Green Party’s Policy Costings Unit idea, where political parties could get their policies costed by Treasury and then the results are made available to the public when the policy is launched.

This was Green Party policy going into the 2017 election.

New Zealanders deserve more transparency from their politicians so they can better engage in the political system. Having party policies independently costed will help to cut through the noise of political party promises and deliver New Zealanders unbiased information.

The PCU would be an independent unit within the Treasury and be available to all parliamentary parties.

Further details of the Policy Costings Unit (PCU):

  1. The PCU will function within the Treasury and will run like all other divisions within Treasury. However, the PCU will be exempt from reporting to the Minister to maintain confidentiality of Party policies.
  2. Once a policy has been released by the political party, the costings prepared by the PCU will be proactively released.
  3. The PCU will be subject to OIA requirements unless the policy is to be released publically by political parties in the near future, in which case it will be exempt under s18 (d) of the OIA Act.
  4. The PCU will be open to all parties within Parliament initially, with hopes of expansion to parties outside Parliament in the future.
  5. The PCU will be a permanent fixture in the Treasury with extra resources added during election years to meet demand.
  6. The cost is estimated to be $1-2 million per year, increasing to $2-3 million a year during election year to account for increased staff.
  7. The ability for political parties to get policy costed already exists in the Treasury, but permission must be obtained from Ministers.

Hard to understand why all political parties aren’t all over this. Not only would policies be more likely to make financial and economic sense rather than being so much opportunistic blather, it might help prevent embarrassments like these,

[tweet https://twitter.com/publicaddress/status/1296329811070091265]

[tweet https://twitter.com/NZedAUS/status/1296522625678598144]

The Policy Costings Unit policy didn’t seem to survive the 2017 post-election negotiations, but in August 2019 Grant Robertson and James Shaw announced the Parliamentary Budget Office, covered by Henry Cooke at Stuff.

In this version, the office would operate as an Officer of Parliament separate from Treasury and governments-of-the-day.

“This will give the PBO the necessary independence to undertake the role for which it is being established,” Robertson said.

This makes it as independent as the Auditor General, the Ombudsman, and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Unsurprisingly National had this to say,

“I oppose it because I don’t trust the Government on it. I think it is an opportunity they see to illegitimately, undemocratically screw the scrum on the Opposition,” Bridges said.

There’s some nonsense in the Stuff piece about National not getting a Treasury secondee for their office, therefore they wouldn’t trust an independent Office for policy costings. They blocked the PBO in the Select Committee.

Shaw said that Bridges comments were “a continuation of his strategy of saying you can’t rely on independent experts you can only rely on what he says.”

“The more he can destroy faith in objective independent analysis the easier it becomes for him to spread misinformation and win the next election, which is clearly what his strategy is.”

Meanwhile, yesterday, National announced their border control policy,

[tweet https://twitter.com/publicaddress/status/1296330239149084672]

Maybe National like having secret experts. Or invisible ones. Or vague hand wave over there ones. Or something.

Final words to Shaw,

“Having an independent Parliamentary Budget Office should lift the quality of debate about the ideas being put forward by political parties. The PBO will help cut through the noise to deliver New Zealanders unbiased information during election campaigns,” Shaw said.

“The PBO should enhance New Zealand’s democratic framework by levelling the playing field, meaning that political parties have access to the same resources to give the public consistent and independent information.”

The PBO is intended to be functional by July 2021.

22 comments on “What if we had a Policy Costings Unit for all political parties? ”

  1. Ad 1

    Aren't they supposed to work it out from the previous national budgets 5 months, previous, together with the PREFU?

    Our national budgets are now officially up the shit anyway.

  2. Kay 2

    Except that only being able to make election promises that are fiscally feasible just isn't as fun, is it? cheeky

  3. tc 3

    A great idea that would've shown RONS as the lolly scramble it was.

    all the rest have suffered due to inadequate maintenance taken to mainatin poorly built RONS.

  4. Peter 4

    I wrote to a senior opposition MP about a major policy they'd announced seeking an idea of the costs.

    In chess parlance, you can seem to be one of the important pieces on the board, like a Bishop, but in reality be inferior to a pawn with it's brain taken out and replaced by an arsehole.

    His 'non-reply' reply, needless to say, was a code for, "We don't know, we're just saying stuff which will sound impressive to the electorate. You can trust us."

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    meaning that political parties have access to the same resources to give the public consistent and independent information.

    And there we have the reason why National are against it. They don't want a level playing field – they want a playing field tilted in their favour.

    • Andre 5.1

      If it was a part of Treasury, it would still be ideologically tilted in the Nats favour.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        To me that is part of the problem. If they get economists and accountants in to do it its going to be ideologically tilted in the Nats favour no matter what.

        I suppose it depends upon the actual instructions given and to what extent the unit looks at how the policy affects other factors across the economy and society.

      • PsyclingLeft.Always 5.1.2

        Yea that kinda got me about Don Brash Reserve Bank Governor…Neolib and Nat Leader….

  6. Roy Cartland 6

    This is so obviously a good idea that it's embarrassing that it isn't done already.

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    Some political parties depend on their ability to deceive voters – and Treasury, who would presumably handle the costings, are not above putting their fingers on the scale.

    It may be recalled that when the GFC was at its height, and Russel Norman called for the kind of quantitative easing all our trading partners were doing, the idea was rubbished, so that NZ instead borrowed heavily, incurring massive interest bills to the ANZ, which 'coincidentally' rewarded the then PM with an after-politics sinecure.

  8. ScottGN 8

    I wonder what happened to the proposal to establish a Parliamentary Budget Office along the lines of the one they have in Ottawa? Wouldn’t that have covered this?

  9. Grafton Gully 9

    I'm cunning enough to get by and as for policy costings well who gives a fuck and what the fuck is voting ?

  10. NZ treasury are occupied by economists.

    How many treasury forecasts have been remotely accurate?

    10% Possible

    90% Not likely

    50% doubtful.

    Who is counting? The Audit Office? I wish.

    Treasury provides all political parties , and the desperate chattering class with enough bs to keep us in the fond belief that governments know what they are doing.

    Treasury is a propaganda department.

    Why do we trust treasury?

    Our governments rely on economists.

    If all the economists in the world were laid end to end they would never reach a conclusion.

    • weka 10.1

      Did you read the post? The PBO will be independent, outside of Treasury and separate from the govt.

      • peter sim 10.1.1

        The post clearly stated the pbo is part of treasury.

        • weka 10.1.1.1

          "In this version, the office would operate as an Officer of Parliament separate from Treasury and governments-of-the-day."

          • peter sim 10.1.1.1.1

            What the hell does "in this version " mean?

            I have no idea what you are talking about.

            I am trying to talk about a pcb in treasury.

            How many versions of truth do you have?

            Are you a nact troll?

            • weka 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Dude, I wrote the fucking post. The Greens ran the idea of a unit within Treasury, before the last election. In 2019, Labour the Greens announced a different plan, a unit outside of Treasury. Which is what the post is about.

              Rant all you like about Treasury, but the PBO starting next year won't be there.

  11. KJT 11

    Need a full cost/benefit analysis for policies. The idea that anything Government does is a "cost" is what has made the current Neo-liberal, mess.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Bridging the gap – last piece of Northcote Safe Cycle Route now complete
    The opening of two bridges over Auckland’s Northern Motorway is the last link of a cycling and walking route which provides a safe, active alternative for students and commuters, Transport Minister Michael Wood said today. Michael Wood cut the ribbon for the completion of the Northcote Safe Cycle Route, at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Progress in establishment of Aged Care Commissioner
    Recruitment for an Aged Care Commissioner will start next month, to ensure greater oversight of New Zealand’s aged care sector. “This sector is responsible for supporting a large and often vulnerable population. While most people are able to access quality care, there have been cases where that care has fallen ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New record number of homes consented
    In the year ended June 2021, the actual number of new dwellings consented was 44,299, up 18 percent from the June 2020 year. In June 2021, the seasonally adjusted number of new dwellings consented rose 3.8 percent. In June 2021, 4,310 new dwellings were consented, an increase of 3.8 per ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Communities backed to tackle wilding pines
    Twelve community projects across New Zealand will receive a share of $2 million to carry out wilding pine control, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor announced as part of Biosecurity Week. “Wilding pines are a serious problem that threaten many of the unique landscapes that New Zealanders value. Community groups and trusts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Health Minister Andrew Little responding to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation's rejection of ...
    I was advised last night that the result of the ballot of Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa New Zealand Nurses Organisation members have rejected the latest proposal to settle their collective agreement. Let me be clear: the proposal was one they put to the Government. The Nurses Organisation rejected their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation introduced to Parliament
    Legislation has been introduced to Parliament to protect against practices intended to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Introducing the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, said the measures proposed were aimed at ending conversion practices which don’t work, are widely ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New school site for booming West Auckland
    The Government will build on a new school site in West Auckland to cope with rapid population growth in the area, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. The Ministry is working with existing local schools to determine how the 1.5-hectare site at 279 Hobsonville Point Road will be used to support ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Trans-Tasman travel window to close at midnight tomorrow
    A further 500 MIQ rooms released for managed returnees from NSW Further Government actions announced today are balanced to provide more certainty for Kiwis wanting to return from Australia, while continuing to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, acting Minister for COVID-19 Response Ayesha Verrall says. The actions were foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt investing millions in Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti schools
    Napier Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools are among those set to benefit from a $16.5 million investment in the Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti region, Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash announced today. The Government has set aside money in Budget 2021 to accelerate five projects in Napier, Hastings, Havelock North ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Game changing Jobs for Nature investment for Northland
    Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has announced Jobs for Nature funding for a portfolio of projects that will create ‘game changing’ gains for nature and communities across Northland/Te Tai Tokerau as part of the Government’s acceleration of the economic recovery from COVID. “This portfolio of 12 projects will see over $20 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Third COVID-19 vaccine receives provisional approval
    New Zealand’s regulatory authority Medsafe has granted provisional approval of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older, Acting Minister for COVID-19 Response Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. New Zealand secured 7.6 million doses (enough for 3.8 million people) of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Bowel-cancer screening programme is saving lives
    More than 1000 New Zealanders have had bowel cancer – New Zealand’s second-most-common cause of death from cancer - detected under the Government’s National Bowel Screening Programme, Health Minister Andrew Little said today. More than 1200 New Zealanders died from bowel cancer in 2017. The screening programme aims to save ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt welcomes draft report on the retail grocery sector
    The Commerce Commission’s draft report into the retail grocery sector is being welcomed by Government as a major milestone. “I asked the Commerce Commission to look at whether this sector is as competitive as it could be and today it has released its draft report for consultation,” Commerce and Consumer ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Christchurch’s Youth Hub ‘set to go’ thanks to further Government funding
    Construction of New Zealand’s first, purpose-built centre for youth well-being is ready to get underway thanks to an extra $2.5 million of COVID-19 response funding, Housing Minister and Associate Minister of Finance, Megan Woods announced today.  “The Christchurch Youth Hub is about bringing together all the things young people need ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Next step to protect Milford Sound Piopiotahi
    Expert group lays out plan to better protect iconic UNESCO World Heritage site Milford Sound Piopiotahi and its surrounds Funding confirmed for dedicated unit and Establishment Board to assess the recommendations and provide oversight of the process from here Milford Opportunities Project a test case for transformational change in tourism ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Funding for projects to reduce waste from construction and demolition
    The Government has announced funding for projects in Auckland and the lower North Island to help reduce construction and demolition waste. “Construction is the main source of waste sent to landfill, and much of this could be reduced, reused and recovered,” Environment Minister David Parker said. “The Government is funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Speech at the launch of the National Hepatitis C Action Plan
    Tēnā koutou katoa. Thank you Anglesea Pharmacy and Te Manawa Taki for hosting this event. As a doctor, I saw first hand the impact of hepatitis C. I met Moana in 2019; she came to the infectious diseases outpatient clinic at Wellington Hospital having tested positive for hepatitis C. Like ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Plan to eliminate hepatitis C as a major health threat by 2030
    A plan to eliminate hepatitis C in New Zealand, reducing liver cancer and the need for liver transplants, has been released today by Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall. “Around 45,000 New Zealanders have hepatitis C, but only around half know they have it,” said Ayesha Verrall. “Symptoms often ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • School upgrades and new classrooms for West Coast, Tasman and Canterbury
    A funding injection from Budget 2021 to complete four shovel ready projects and new classrooms at six schools and kura will provide a real boost to local communities, Minister Dr Megan Woods announced today. “This Government has committed to providing quality fit for purpose learning environments and 100,000 new student ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Warmer Kiwi Homes smashes annual target
    The Government's highly successful insulation and heating programme, Warmer Kiwi Homes, is celebrating a key milestone with the completion of more than 38,000 insulation and efficient heater installs in the year to the end of June, smashing its target of 25,000 installs for the year. “The Warmer Kiwi Homes scheme ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Exemption granted for Wallabies to enter NZ
    Bledisloe Cup rugby will be played in New Zealand after the Australian rugby team received an economic exemption to enter New Zealand. Travel between Australia and New Zealand was suspended on Friday for at least eight weeks following the worsening of the COVID outbreak across the Tasman. New Zealanders have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs makes three diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced three New Zealand Head of Mission appointments. They are: Mike Walsh as Ambassador to Iran Michael Upton as Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union Kevin Burnett as Ambassador to Indonesia Iran “Aotearoa New Zealand has a long-standing and constructive relationship with Iran, despite a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Enhanced Task Force Green Approved for West Coast and Marlborough
    The Government has activated Enhanced Task Force Green (ETFG) in response to the West Coast and Marlborough floods, Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced today. “To assist with the clean-up, up to $500,000 will be made available to support the recovery in Buller and Marlborough which has experienced ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt support for upgrade of Eden Park players facilities
    Minister for Sport and Recreation Hon Grant Robertson has announced funding to upgrade the players facilities at Eden Park ahead of upcoming Women’s World Cup events. Eden Park is a confirmed venue for the Rugby World Cup 2021, the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, and a proposed venue for matches of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • More jobs and quicker public transport motoring towards West Auckland
    Work to improve public transport for West Aucklanders and support the region’s economic recovery by creating hundreds of jobs has officially kicked off, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today. Michael Wood and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff this morning marked the start of construction on the Northwestern Bus Improvements project. It ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government backs critical health research
    Research into some of New Zealanders’ biggest health concerns including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease is getting crucial support in the latest round of health research funding, Health Minister Andrew Little announced today. The funding, awarded through the Health Research Council of New Zealand, covers 31 General Project grants ($36.64 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Bay of Islands hospital facilities to bring services closer to home
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little have joined a ceremony to bless the site and workers for Phase Two of the redevelopment of the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa today. The new building will house outpatients and primary care facilities, as well as expanded renal care ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Raukokore re-imagined with ‘smart’ relocatable rent to own housing
    Iwi, Crown Partnership Relocatable, fully insulated housing, connected to a new solar plant Provides a pathway to home ownership New housing in the remote eastern Bay of Plenty community of Raukokore shows how iwi and Crown agencies can work together effectively to provide warm, dry, energy efficient homes in a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Cabinet accepts Turkish authorities’ request for the managed return of three NZ citizens
    Cabinet has agreed to the managed return of a New Zealand citizen and her two young children from Turkey, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. The three have been in immigration detention in Turkey since crossing the border from Syria earlier this year. Turkey has requested that New Zealand repatriate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt delivers more classrooms so children can focus on learning
    Extra Government investment in classrooms and school building projects will enable students and teachers to focus on education rather than overcrowding as school rolls grow across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis say. The pair visited Ruakākā School in Whangārei today to announce $100 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New station a platform for AirportLink to take off
    Every Aucklander with access to the rail network will now have a quick and convenient trip to the airport, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said during the official opening of the new Puhinui Interchange today. The new interchange links the rail platform with a new bus ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 10 days sick leave for employees delivered
    Legislation doubling employees’ minimum sick leave entitlement to 10 days comes into effect today, bringing benefits to both businesses and employees, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. “Our Government is delivering on a key manifesto commitment to help Kiwis and workplaces stay healthy,” Michael Wood said. “COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates Fiame Naomi Mata’afa on Election Win
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tonight congratulated Prime Minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa on her victory in the Samoa’s general election. “New Zealand has a special relationship with Samoa, anchored in the Treaty of Friendship. We look forward to working with Samoa’s new government in the spirit of partnership that characterises this ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Quarantine Free Travel with Australia suspended
    Quarantine Free Travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand is being suspended as the Covid situation there worsens, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. From 11.59pm today Australians will no longer be able to enter New Zealand quarantine-free. This will be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Growing conservation efforts in Gisborne
    A big injection of Jobs for Nature funding will create much-needed jobs and financial security for families in TeTairāwhiti, and has exciting prospects for conservation in the region, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The projects target local communities most affected by the economic consequences of COVID 19 and are designed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Flood recovery given further assistance
    The Government is contributing a further $1 million to help the flood battered Buller community, Acting Emergency Management Minister Kris Faafoi announced today. “Buller is a small community which has found itself suddenly facing significant and ongoing welfare costs. While many emergency welfare costs are reimbursed by Government, this money ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Funding for five projects to reduce food waste
    The Government is funding five projects to help address the growing problem of food waste, Environment Minister David Parker announced today. “New Zealand households throw away nearly 300,000 tonnes of food every year, half of which could still be eaten. By supporting these initiatives, we’re taking steps to reduce this ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Temporary Accommodation Service activated for West Coast flooding event
    The Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) has been activated today - meaning residents on the West Coast of the South Island and in the Marlborough region hit by flooding over the weekend can now access help finding temporary accommodation, announced Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Poto Williams in Westport today. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pause to Quarantine Free Travel from South Australia to New Zealand
    Quarantine Free Travel from South Australia to New Zealand will be paused from 11.59am (NZT) tonight, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. However, people currently in the state who ordinarily live in New Zealand will be able to return on “managed return” flights starting with the next available flight, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand condemns malicious cyber activity by Chinese state-sponsored actors
    New Zealand has established links between Chinese state-sponsored actors known as Advanced Persistent Threat 40 (APT40) and malicious cyber activity in New Zealand. “The GCSB has worked through a robust technical attribution process in relation to this activity. New Zealand is today joining other countries in strongly condemning this malicious ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago