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We think New Zealand voters should be given better information about the fiscal consequences of political parties’ election promises. We offer some observations and suggestions on how.
During the last election campaign, the Labour and National parties debated the fiscal consequences of their policy proposals. Unfortunately, much of that debate, and commentary on it, was about how the parties chose to present their fiscal intentions, rather than about what those intentions are or their merits.
This paper suggests New Zealanders deserve better that and proposes that before the next election, New Zealand establish a transparent system that will allow voters to judge the costs of promises based on independent and consistent information. Each election a Parliamentary Commissioner for Policy Costings should be appointed. The Commissioner would be an eminent person appointed for a limited period who would have the assistance of experts from the Treasury to undertake detailed costings.