Thirteen of the LongTermNZ participants reconvened today to make a follow up presentation to the Treasury on the youth perspective of NZ’s long term fiscal policy. Over muesli and coffee, we kicked off by brainstorming key elements that had stuck with us in the months since participating in the workshop.
Three main areas emerged: our emotional responses, the role of the Treasury, and youth engagement.
We reflected on how we felt at the end of the Affording Our Future conference, after learning more about NZ’s long term fiscal situation and the threats to fiscal sustainability. In general, we still feel that change is needed to deliver inter-generational equity, and we are frustrated that there is little public debate or political interest in this issue. One of the participants had the bright idea of hitting the street to discover what youth in Wellington thought about superannuation, and the distribution of tax revenue to different age groups. The general response highlighted that when young people are informed, they are surprised and shocked at how much is spent on the over 65 age group.
The analogy was made of the Treasury being like a doctor: whose job is to assess the health of New Zealand’s economy and analyse different possible solutions. Just as the patient makes the ultimate decision about receiving treatment, the NZ public needs to be involved in the conversation about our path forward in overcoming fiscal challenges. We called on the Treasury to be more prominent in society in bringing up fiscal issues and possible solutions.
Thinking about youth engagement with fiscal policy, we considered various ways the Treasury could make the information more accessible and interesting to youth. Ideas that we came up with included creating a game like the US Budget simulation game, and high school and university visits. During question time, the role of the Treasury in youth engagement was questioned, but there was also a suggestion of an essay competition around fiscal policy, suggesting that they are interested in hearing the youth perspective.
It was great having the opportunity to revisit these challenges as a group and present to the Treasury. The break meant that we could look at the issues from a fresh perspective and we were able to add to what we produced during the initial workshop. The slides from the presentation are available here.
Gabriel Makhlouf, Secretary to the Treasury, and the LongTermNZ participants
Written by Rachel Boswell and Paul Young on behalf of the 27 participants from LongTermNZ. For more information on this initiative see longtermnz.org