On The Use Of Evidence

A guest post by Justice Minister Simon Power

I am often asked as Justice Minister what my position on evidence is.

Because I get asked this question a lot, I have decided to spell out my position and the position of the government I am a member of, so as to leave no doubt about where we stand.

For so long as I am Justice Minster there is not a single, solitary chance that this government will relax its position on the use of evidence.

Indeed, I will not rest until the use of evidence in formulating governmental policy has been cut to zero. I know this is an ambitious target, but, like the Prime Minster, I am ambitious for New Zealand and its people, especially when those people happen to be me.

Evidence is all around us. It is all pervasive. Most of us will know someone who is using evidence, and will have seen the destruction evidence causes, particularly to the chances of those people voting for my party.

And let me tell you a personal story. I have also dabbled with evidence. Not only at university, but also during various stages of my legal career. I know first-hand the terrible damage to irrational policymaking an addiction to evidence can cause. Thankfully, those days are now just a memory, but they have left me with a powerful determination to never again use evidence.

And let me be clear on one other thing. We don’t subscribe to the view that some types of soft evidence aren’t really harmful. It doesn’t matter whether it’s soft anecdotal evidence or hard facts. Prolonged use of evidence by voters can be harmful to this government.

That is why we have taken this stand. We are simply not prepared to gamble with the futures of New Zealanders who also happen to be members of my caucus.