Seize it or miss it: COVID stimulus and regeneration

We’re nearly going to Level 3, but COVID-19 is going to rattle our country for years to come. How do we stimulate and regenerate Ao-NZ, not just put ourselves back exactly where we were before?

Talk Wellington with Oliver Bruce had an early crack at this question – which got some really gratifying uptake in the corridors of power.

There’s since been lots more opinions and recommendations come out, including by folks with actual qualifications, and many more from folks like us with more- or less-informed reckons.

Our big four “How should we do it well” pointers are standing up really well, and yet the jury’s still out on whether decision-makers will take the good advice or some of the weirder stuff that’s flying around.

Shovel-ready, but really shovel-worthy?

The “shovel-ready” projects punted up for the government’s 14 April deadline are a pretty mixed bag . (Some councils like Kāpiti haven’t even published their submission list. Hmm.)

Predictably, lots of councils’ submitted projects reflect our previous silly biases (and, in some cases the fallacy of sunk cost). Let’s hope the recommending Committee sees through that.

Dileepa Fonsecka tells us that a notable exception to the rumpty local government submissions, with a “gold standard” for joined-up, strategic and partnership-based projects, is… nope, not us in the Smart Capital. It’s Hamilton.

Watch this space, but the ship has probably sailed for influencing shovel-ready projects.

Transformational change: do we really need Transformers?

Medium term stimulus: the opportunity that’s ours to lose

So let’s turn our gaze to the next tranche of stimulus for Ao-NZ’s economy and society. What should we do?

The Select Committee on Thursday heard some really good ideas and, frankly, some pretty random ones (Ruatāniwha dam, lolz). Seems that some people have a real hunger for some “Think Big” chunks of infrastructure, but arguably without Muldoon’s ambitious vision – instead just some bigger versions of our favourite stuff we find easiest to doing in the past.

Fortunately there’s some really tangible positive advice coming through too. A lot of it has the emphasis of urgency.

The climate is urgent: as the climate change minister reminds us, it’s our Last Chance Saloon to get our emissions down. And as many smart voices are reminding us, the disruptions we’ll suffer from climate change are going to make COVID 19 look like a minor irritation: our only hope of mitigating that suffering is adapt hard, and adapt now.

Inequality is urgent: as the Select Committee heard on Thursday 23rd, we must avoid letting lots of people drop into the “ravine” of poverty that Treasury forecasts from COVID-19. Let’s remember: all the research shows that spending even a relatively short time in poverty scars people’s opportunities for life, especially children’s.

So, with all this in mind, what should we do, pronto, to build back better? How should we make sure we use the huge sacrifices we’re making (and the debt sacrifices we’ll give to our kids) to regenerate Aotearoa, not just claw back to where we were?

Three useful things…

What have you come across that we can use to guide our regeneration in Te Upoko o te Ika?

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