There has been increasing scrutiny of government policy decisions and advice in recent years. The supremacy of the national interest has been questioned and self interest theories explored. Administrative systems have been reformed, and the role of the Westminster model of government decision-making endlessly reviewed. Increased interest by economists in the policy process has created a new subject area in economics, namely, public choice theory. It places greater emphasis on individual choice and hence on the way political institutions meet society's needs. It provides a suitable framework for explaining political decision making and administrative processes. In this Address, New Zealand agricultural policies and processes in the last two decades are explored from this viewpoint and the applicability of the theory assessed.