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Shock news: NZ is well governed

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OPINION: In this Budget week, here's an unfashionable theory as to why we have so far avoided the populist eruptions convulsing Europe, Australia and Trump's America: New Zealand is pretty well governed.

Don't get me wrong. Things are well short of optimal. Given half a chance I would, among other things: ditch KiwiBuild – along with architect Phil Twyford – so fast your head would spin; invest straightforwardly in social housing instead; jack up teacher salaries beyond even what they're striking over; tax capital gains with rare gusto; and not merely loosen, but discard, the fiscal straitjacket that constrains significant new borrowing.

But that's just me, an old-school tax-and-spend leftie; you no doubt have a wishlist of your own.

Nor do I credit politicians themselves for the placid nature of the New Zealand electorate. After all, a Colmar Brunton survey late last year showed only 13 per cent of New Zealanders "would speak highly of Parliament" and only 7 per cent "would speak highly of MPs". Overall, only 27 per cent of the public express trust in Parliament as an institution.

That latter figure, while somewhat healthier than comparable surveys in........

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