Govts to consider wider measures of success as Wellbeing Amendment Bill passes

  • Hon Grant Robertson

The Public Finance (Wellbeing) Amendment Bill passed by Parliament today puts New Zealand in a world-leading position by legislating for Governments to consider peoples’ wellbeing alongside traditional fiscal and economic indicators of success, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

The new legislation passed by Parliament requires:

  • the Government of the day to set wellbeing objectives and explain how those objectives will guide the development of each Budget; and
  • the Treasury to report periodically on the state of wellbeing in New Zealand

Grant Robertson said the changes reflect the approach the Government has taken to the past two Budgets.

“We recognise that Governments do not set out what each individual person’s wellbeing is or how it should be measured, but that Governments can put policies in place to help each person improve their own individual wellbeing.

“As a Government we can – and must – make it our goal to support people to find their own sense of satisfaction, belonging, identity, and purpose as it fits their current needs.

“Each government will have the flexibility to state how it thinks about wellbeing, and to adapt their approach over time. The changes passed today will require Governments to take a broad lens to their selection of wellbeing objectives, taking into consideration social, environmental, economic, and cultural factors.”

Grant Robertson said a lot had happened since the Bill was first introduced last year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and global recession have shown now more than ever why a Wellbeing Approach is needed as Governments around the world decide how to support their people through this 1-in-100 year health and economic shock.

“By balancing wellbeing outcomes – like the impact of unemployment on a person’s mental health – with fiscal outcomes, the Wellbeing Approach recognises that there is a much broader range of success measures that Governments should take into account when putting Budgets together.”

New Zealand’s plan to help cushion the blow for businesses and households from COVID-19 was recently recognised by the founder of Wellbeing Economics, Richard Easterlin who said in a recent interview that: “If you look at the concerns that are most important for people’s wellbeing, it's three things: their job, family circumstances and their health. The NZ approach involved a composite of attention to health and a job. So the wage subsidy, income support for the people that did lose their jobs… meant people did not suffer nearly as much as they otherwise would have”.