by Steve Maharey

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.

The current approach to social investment suggests we can use big data and new technology to better understand who will access public services and fix them. But this is not social investment

"I am from the government and I am here to help you – even though you did not know you needed help". 

In the wonderfully prescient film Minority Report, the central idea is that the police have found a way to identify who is going to commit a crime before they do it. 

New Zealanders have been arguing about education since the Royal Commission on Social Policy in the 1980s told them the needs of all students were not being met. After thirty years of debate confusion reigns. But there is a way forward

The New Zealand education system is in trouble. Not for the reason usually advanced by the critics of our public schools, but because for far too long we have ben arguing about how to equip young New Zealanders for the rapidly changing times in which we live.

In the days of Trump and Brexit, it could be time for those who want a society based on openness, knowledge and new opportunities to revisit an out-of-fashion idea

Since US president Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair departed government, the Third Way political agenda has fallen on hard times.