Past event: Public Finance Debates 2012

A series of four debates around some prominent NZ public finance “key numbers“ was brought to you by the Chair of Public Finance (Victoria University of Wellington) and the Head of the Government Economics Network (GEN).

Debates chaired by

  • Prof. Norman Gemmell, (Chair in Public Finance, VUW)
  • Dr. Girol Karacaoglu, (Head, GEN)

Four debates based on the following propositions:

  1. A 0% cap on real per capita government spending growth would be a
    sensible objective for New Zealand
    ” - completed 28 Aug, 2012.
  2. New Zealand should tax all its capital income at 28% or less” - completed 28 September, 2012.
  3. The New Zealand Government should sell 100% of its SOE stake, not 49%” - completed 24 October, 2012

  4. A discount rate of 8% for public sector projects is too high” - completed 23 November, 2012.
  • Two individuals each presented for 20 minutes on each debate. Each debate was set for 1.5 hours.
  • One individual was the “proponent“ and made the case for, while other individual was the “opponent“ and made the case against.
  • A third individual, the “commentator” provided some “middle ground” comments before handing back to the chair to open the discussion and take questions and comments from the audience.
  • A straw poll show-of-hands was taken at the end of the debate to determine the “winner“.
  • Drinks and canapés were provided after the debate to facilitate informal discussions.

These debates aimed to provide opportunities for informed discussion rather than political rhetoric. All speakers had been asked to either strongly make the case for or against each of the above propositions to clarify the debate, separately from their personal views, and we would like to thank all the speakers for their enthusiasm and participation. Without their input this new venture in 'policy debates' would not be possible. Note that the views and arguments presented should not be attributed to, or associated with, the agencies employing any of the speakers.

We also thank those who attended our debates and to Katherine and Aidan Meerman for their great video work.

This event has finished for 2012 and we welcome suggestions for a future series of debates. Please contact the Chair in Public Finance, Norman Gemmell ( with your suggestions.