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Guest lecture

Investing to Build Assets

Event series: 

In the early 2000s Peter Hughes and Steve Maharey aroused Colin James' interest in "investment" as a way to think about social assistance. The Welfare Working Group rekindled that interest by recommending adopting ACC's forward liability investment approach, which the government picked up in mid-2011. But the driver was fiscal, a constricted notion of "investment". In a 2015 Institute for Governance and Policy Studies working paper (, James explored "investment" as building assets (socially integrated and economically productive people), not just avoiding future costs. Renaming the programme "social investment" last year implied investing to build a cohesive society but the focus remains tightly on the "most vulnerable". Is an opportunity being missed?

About Colin James

Colin James is a New Zealand political journalist of more than 40 years experience who writes weekly columns in the Otago Daily Times. He is a senior associate of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, and has an honorary doctorate of literature from Victoria University. He is a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration and a life member of the New Zealand Parliamentary Press Gallery and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

He specialises in party and electoral politics. He has written six books on politics and policy, including The Quiet Revolution (1986) and New Territory (1992) and three on elections, and chapters in numerous books, including academic texts.

He also specialises in analysing and forecasting the policy environment in which businesses and other organisations must operate.

Note: Papers, presentation slides and any other material provided by the Guest Lecturer will be made available some time after the lecture at Publications > Media & Speeches > Guest Lectures by Visiting Academics.

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Last updated: 
Friday, 11 March 2016