'Wellbeing outcomes' to be included in 2019 Budget

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Wellington

Treasury's Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update figures show the coalition government's books are in order.  However, Finance Minister Grant Robertson wants to see the well-being of New Zealanders improved too. Today the minister announced his plans for next year's "Wellbeing" budget.

Treasury figures forecast NZ's GDP to increase on average by 3% over the next few years but Finance Minister Grant Robertson says it's only a small measure of success. 

"If people are not healthy or well-educated, or housed, or connected to each other, or if our environment is polluted, or our rivers are to filthy to swim in, or our communities are fragmented, or trust in institutions is low then we do not have wellbeing- whatever our rate of GDP growth."

The government is taking a new approach to next year's budget.  Ministers will be required in budget bids to provide analysis and impact summaries for wellbeing outcomes. 

Bids will have to fit one of the budget's five wellbeing priorities:

  • Mental health.
  • Lifting Māori and Pacific opportunities.
  • Child poverty reduction.
  • Moving towards a digital nation.
  • Supporting a sustainable and low-emissions economy.

Robertson says, "Put together, these are the things that make the approach we are taking ground-breaking because not only are we reporting on our success differently, we are also using wellbeing indicators to guide our investment decisions."

But National leader Simon Bridges says it's fluffy.

"We've got a government at the moment that's taxing a whole heap more.  That's $17 billion more over the next four years.  They're wasting money all over the place and I just don't see how a bunch of 100 fluffy wellbeing indicators is going to help them make lives for New Zealanders better."

Robertson say he is confident Māori and Pacific in particular will benefit from evidence-based investments and sees opportunities for the Māori economy too.