Why We Have a Policy Committee

The Opportunities Party Policy Committee is what sets us apart from other political parties. It ensures that we produce best practice policy based on what works, free from political influence.

In most political parties, policy is made by the politicians. They work out what is acceptable to the public and which ideas do well in polls or focus groups, and put those forward to the public. The result is an echo chamber: people end up hearing policies that they like the sound of, instead of anything challenging or new. It doesn’t matter what will work to solve the problem identified, or even what the problem is. If the idea is popular, it flies.

In some political parties, members can also put forward ideas. This is a different route, but usually ends up as another version of the same thing: popular ideas get through. It hardly matters what will actually work as long as it sounds good.

This is how we end up with career politicians pushing ideas that simply don’t work. Kiwibuild is a great example. The Labour Party pushed it while in opposition for 3 elections, yet nobody ever bothered to think about how to implement it. Instead it got dumped on the laps of officials who somehow have to make a donkey run like a thoroughbred horse.

No wonder the legacy of career politicians is more tinkering around the edges rather than real change. Their job is to look like they are doing something rather than actually doing anything useful.

How Does TOP Make Policy?

TOP is unique in that we keep policy development separate from politics. Our candidates and spokespeople don’t have direct control over the policies they promote to the public. That’s the role of the Policy Committee.

Of course, candidates, spokespeople, and even members can put forward ideas. They can suggest policies and get involved in the teams that develop them. However, the final say on what makes party policy rests with the Policy Committee.

At present, the only member of the Policy Committee is Party Leader Geoff Simmons, but that will soon change as we are currently recruiting more members.

When fully constituted, the Policy Committee will comprise experts in policy development and a variety of specialist disciplines, including social, environmental, economic and cultural expertise.

The criteria the committee will apply for new policies will be:

  1. The robustness of the evidence base,
  2. Value for money (ideally policies will be revenue neutral, but if not they need to demonstrate strong value for money),
  3. Fit with existing policies, and
  4. Fit with the Party's values (which will unveiled soon). 

For issues where evidence is lacking and considerable value judgements are involved instead, the Policy Committee will seek guidance from the party’s membership base.

The processes for developing policy were trialled for the gene editing policy and will continue to be refined over time by the Policy Committee, the Policy Manager, and the teams involved in developing policy. But we are happy to have the skeleton of a solid process in place, which will serve us well in the future.

That way, The Opportunities Party will continue to produce best-practice policy based on what works, free from political influence.


Image Attribution: Alpha Stock Images -