Welcome to the first newsletter from The Policy Observatory for 2017. We’ve undergone a number of changes lately: to our people, our physical location and our website.


Staff changes: Following the retirement of Ian Shirley late last year, The Policy Observatory welcomed Dr. David Hall as a Senior Research Fellow. David is working on a discussion paper on the future of trade post-TPP and organising some events for winter – details will be in the June newsletter.

The Advisory Board welcomes three new members: Professors Geoffrey Craig and Wayne Hope of AUT, and business journalist and commentator Rod Oram.


At the start of the year The Policy Observatory moved from the Vice-Chancellor’s Office into the School of Communications and DCT Faculty. We also moved physical location, now level 6 of WA Building.


Our website has migrated to an AUT platform. The URL is:

We have posted new reports including one by AUT Professor of Construction Management John Tookey on the housing crisis in Auckland from a construction sector perspective. John assesses commonly made claims about the demand and supply problems in the housing sector and finds they ignore the logistics of the industry.

“We cannot leave matters to the free market and then continue to be stunned by the inconvenient fact that the market acts in its own best interests.”– John Tookey


Voices from tertiary education: What does the Productivity Commission’s report mean for the future?

Thursday 11 May, 4.15pm-6.00pm
WG404 (case room), Sir Paul Reeves Building, AUT City Campus.

The Policy Observatory is co-hosting this event with the Tertiary Education Union and the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations. An expert panel will discuss the recent Productivity Commission report into the tertiary education sector. Were the right questions asked? Will the recommendations strengthen or undermine quality public tertiary education?

All welcome; see attached flyer or details in this link


We’ve recently set up a Facebook page – Like/follow us here:

Our twitter handle is @PolicyObsAUT


The Briefing Papers website began in 2014 by Emeritus Professor Ian Shirley. The most recent Briefing Paper, to mark May Day, featured AUT occupational health and safety expert Felicity Lamm explaining why the Pike River Mine disaster bodies should be recovered from the drift:

Pike River Mine: Bring them home by Felicity Lamm

The 2017 year commenced at the end of January with a back-to-school topic: the digital classroom

The digital classroom revolution by Pii-Tuulia Nikula
Schools are increasingly using digital devices for teaching and learning. Why is this happening and should parents be worried about this trend? What questions can parents ask of their schools to ensure ICT learning is beneficial for their children?

New Zealand’s refugee report card by Tracey Barnett
Fearless refugee advocate Tracey Barnett assesses New Zealand’s response to various refugee crises and concludes that history won’t be kind: “New Zealand’s inaction and concerted silence is likely to go down in history books someday as complicity.”

Training Trump by Jennifer Lees-Marshment
Political leaders often fail to deliver on their promises. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of training in political management. Many incoming Prime Ministers and Presidents have no or inadequate training in the skills necessary to run their offices and implement their agendas.

How are the children doing? By Keryn O’Neill and Sue Younger and the Brainwave Trust
It is widely acknowledged that the first few years of a child’s life are crucial for brain development; there is also an increasing trend for children to be in non-parental childcare at an earlier age and for longer hours. How does childcare attendance impact on outcomes for children? The Brainwave Trust conducted a literature review on the topic and found many complexities and some holes in the research. This Briefing Paper is a very concise overview of some of the issues and suggests, given the impact parents have on children’s development, investing in parental support - and not just childcare - is a policy issue that needs discussing.


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Twitter: @PolicyObsAUT