by Steve Maharey

Maybe there will be a government this week. Maybe not. To fill the vacuum speculation is the only alternative. 

This is the week we will be told what parties will make up the governing coalition and who will sit on the opposition benches of Parliament. Of this I am sure. 

It has been 21 years since the first Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) election. But we do not seem to be learning how to get the best from the system. We are treating it like First-Past-the-Post (FPP). It is time to relax and play to strengths of MMP. 

It is an unfortunate feature of the 2017 coalition negotiations that the country seems to be a mad rush to form a government. "Here we are", lament commentators, "days after the election and we still don't know who is going to run the country!!' (Actually, it is the job of the public service to "mind the store" in the absence of a government in all democratic countries). 

All politicians, even those who say otherwise, raise taxes and spend money. The question this election is - what do they spend the money on? Politicians need to tell us not just what they will do but also explain why it will make a difference.

It was an odd thing to say. During an interview with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking labelled her a "tax and spend" politician. It wasn't a compliment. But doesn't that label apply to all politicians? They raise tax and spend it. 

Policy is important, but the 2017 election is now about leadership. Change versus the status quo. Who has the X-factor? In six weeks we will know

James Carville, President Bill Clinton's campaign manager back in 1992, famously coined the phrase "it's the economy, stupid" to explain their election strategy. Fair enough, but not that profound. Almost all elections are about the economy. People vote with their hip pocket in mind.

The 2017 election is weeks away. Parties are focusing on the immediate issues. It should be different. If we are to have a prosperous, secure, sustainable and democratic future we need to be talking the language of the future.

As the Lonely Planet guide says - thank goodness for New Zealand. In a world characterised by instability and insecurity, New Zealand is a source of hope.

Of course, those of us who live here might have different views. While New Zealand does appear to be doing well in comparison to other nations, we know we have problems, some urgent, some far-reaching, that need attention.

Former Prime Minister John Key thought a Basic Income was "barking". It seems many countries disagree and are piloting the idea. As new technology threatens the jobs of many, might a Basic Income become an essential polcy?

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons" Woody Allen.

Many years ago, I took part in a public forum where the keynote speaker advanced the radical idea that a Basic Income (BI) be paid unconditionally to all residents.

British voters have "had quite enough of austerity politics", says Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. He should know. He came from nowhere to within a whisker of defeating the Conservatives preaching anti-austerity. Are voters thinking the same way in New Zealand? If so which party will benefit in the September election?

New Zealand is not Britain, or any other country for that matter, but we do like to look to the "old country" when it comes to clues for where our politics might be heading. These ties even extend to running campaigns.

The new President of France, Emmanuel Macron, wants French people to "embrace the future". Time will tell if he can make that possible, but his is a better message than the Trumps of this world who want to embrace the past

Emmanuel Macron may turn out to be a success. Then again, he may not. But for now, it is enough to compare his inaugural speech with that of Donald J. Trump's.

Trump and his enablers tell us bombing a Syrian air-force base was driven by humanitarian principles. It was not. It was about ratings.

As the United States missile attack on a Syrian air-force base fades from the headlines, the most enduring thing about it seems to be confusion. What was it for?

According to the Productivity Commission the current tertiary education system is blocking innovation. But in its recent report that promised to put forward New Models of Tertiary Education it delivered none. Its failure should not end the debate. There is an urgent need to bring about change

For more than a year the Productivity Commission has been working on its report, New Models of Tertiary Education (released last week), with the aim of showing us how we can have a more innovative tertiary sector. The report will not make the best seller list – but it is worth a read.