Labour’s budget wellbeing objectives

Written By: - Date published: 6:46 am, December 15th, 2018 - 12 comments
Categories: Amy Adams, Economy, grant robertson, labour, national, paula bennett, Politics, Simon Bridges - Tags: ,

The Government has announced that the next budget will have wellbeing objectives, as well as financial objectives.

Good move.  We should be measuring more than just the country’s financial performance when we take stock each year.  Like how many kids are living in poverty.  And how much greenhouse gasses we are producing.  Things that really matter.

Grant Robertson has described the changes in these terms:

Each year, the Government will be required to set out how its wellbeing objectives, together with its fiscal objectives, will guide its Budget and fiscal policy.

“To support this, the Treasury will be required to report on current and future wellbeing outcomes at least every four years. “

‘ Future governments will have flexibility to decide on their own wellbeing objectives, but will be required to explain how each Budget will contribute to those objectives.”

The idea reminded me of Robert Kennedy’s soaring rhetoric from 1968 when talking about the value of GDP:

It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

The Government’s announcement has resulted in some not so soaring rhetoric from Simon Bridges:

National Party leader Simon Bridges said he didn’t see how a “bunch of a hundred fluffy wellbeing indicators” would improve New Zealanders’ lives.

“I’m personally cynical. We’ve got a government at the moment that’s taxing a whole heap more – about $17 billion more over the next four years – they’re wasting money all over the place.”

We all want our political representatives to have convictions and beliefs.  Don’t we?

And Amy Adams has said this:

I think Grant is overstating the fact that this is some new focus. The country, the Government, has always measured these things and has always cared about how New Zealanders are doing. That’s the ultimate measure for any government.”

Although I would have to question the accuracy of what she said:

The other headline, that the tax take will increase by $17 billion over four years is good news. There is now head room to settle the teachers’ salary claim.

The result of course belies National’s claim that the economy is floundering under Labour.  This result suggests the economy is doing fine.

12 comments on “Labour’s budget wellbeing objectives”

  1. Ad 1

    And just to help the debate along this morning, this is different to the actual amounts that will be put aside any of the overall objectives. Please let’s not get that confused with any future budget forecast surplus.

    In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the machinery of the current public service is creaking because it’s got a really activist government with a very strong and clear policy direction and massive programmes.

    So the tough game after the fresh poverty-reduction programmes, is how will the public sector get progressively restructured to cope with focussing on poverty reduction? So far only Twyford is really structurally re-tooling his part of the system.

    The budget outcomes, together with the anti-poverty measures the PM has now legislated for and for which she is personally accountable, need real structural grunt rebuilt within MSD, IRD, Stats, MoH, MoE, MoJ, and more.

    Let’s see if Ministers really have the fortitude to make the system deliver on the outcomes.

    • tc 1.1

      That’s a good point Ad as some ministers,especially the national light ones like Nash, Hipkins etc are talkfests.

      Clark has the toughest gig IMO as the health sectors full of self serving national appointed managers, DHB’s etc after 9 years of ryall/Coleman and their wilful underfunding, cuts and general inaction.

      Oh and that other classic national legacy they pretended didn’t exist (like poverty)…..leaky hospitals/schools etc.

      • OnceWasTim 1.1.1

        Oh there are others that are just as tough @ tc. It isn’t JUST the health sector by any means. Check out yesterdays OM at 7.3.2 onwards.
        I don’t really know much about Hipkins other than his public persona, but if he is as you suggest (National light), then we’re fucked as far as getting any substantial change

    • patricia bremner 1.2

      “Delivering on the Outcomes” This may be the outcome next year. The Departments you have named will need to show how they have assisted in reducing poverty, and some may struggle with that. Revamps will occur.

      What a complete change to go from saving the Government costs to instead Reducing Poverty and Measuring the reduction.. A fundamental shift. Let’s Do This!!

      Yes, any shaky areas in the Departments will show. This has been anticipated. IMO.

      Work has been done in ACC MSD still needing to remove some draconian laws, IRD MOMD MOH, By this time next year we will see changes. Those insisting this is the same model should go to S*** Savers!!

      Jacinda Ardern is a straight shooter. “Any Government I lead will act with Kindness”.

      And I believe fairness, as she could have left Farmers dealing with Mico plasma Bovis, to carry the losses. No. A Fund and a System was agreed to compensate affected Farmers and aim at eradication.

      The Government and Tax payer offering Farmers support to solve this threat,
      which saved farms jobs and sanity. Much kinder than “You made the wrong choices”

      The new fiscal and banking changes will assist as well, along with the trasury redirection on GDP measures

  2. Booker 2

    I doubt there’s 17 billion in additional taxes, sounds like he’s still stuck using Joyce’s math fail as a sound bite.

  3. Koreropono 3

    Maybe there will be enough in that budget to remove the punitive and draconian section 70A benefit sanctions that force thousands of women and their children into severe hardship, debt and poverty? Or perhaps they’ll have enough money in that budget to make a real difference to those children whose parents are reliant on food banks to feed their families? I get it they have poverty reduction ‘targets’ but that is cold comfort for families who have empty cupboards and hungry kids right now. Labour could do much better but with their self-imposed austerity measures driving the budgets, using the rhetoric of ‘fiscal responsibility’ in my view Labour is just a kinder version of National.

  4. Grafton Gully 4

    “Like how many kids are living in poverty. And how much greenhouse gasses we are producing. Things that really matter.”

    Trouble is in enough people agreeing on how to measure these. The value judgment of what really matters is political, so bias looks unavoidable.

    I guess the trick will be getting people to agree about what really matters and then how to measure it.

  5. Nic the NZer 5

    “The other headline, that the tax take will increase by $17 billion over four years is good news. There is now head room to settle the teachers’ salary claim.”

    Or rather it is forecast by treasury boffins that the tax take will increase by $17 billion over 4 years. However 4 years is quite a long time period for a forecast. If I remember rightly mickey was also recently celebrating that the treasury had under-projected by about two billion dollars over a year (though the post attributed treasuries projection error to be a stroke of Robertson’s financial genius).

    Despite the link made above, the country could always afford to settle the teachers salary claim in full (and after decades of the teaching profession moving down the pay scale, probably should). So the head room is there so that the teachers salary claim can be settled *while satisfying treasury boffins that the government is being run overall at a profit*.

    The alternative of course would be just to stop pandering to the ideological demands of the countries treasury. We should always attribute a failure to settle this (or similar) pay claims to the desire of the government not to settle these claims, rather than some force majeure which it is not.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    We should be measuring more than just the country’s financial performance when we take stock each year. Like how many kids are living in poverty. And how much greenhouse gasses we are producing. Things that really matter.

    And estimate when the total depletion of known resource reserves at present depletion rates will happen and also estimate with growth in those depletion rates. This will tell us how long the economy will keep ticking over.

    We should also compare those depletion rates of resource reserves with how much we actually use in NZ. This should be done a per capita basis as it will then give us the carrying capacity of the country.

    In other words we should be looking at the actual economy and not just the finances. We should be looking at what is needed to be done to ensure that we have a sustainable use of our limited economy.

  7. cleangreen 7

    100% Draco

    We should now be checking the monthly transport emissions as we do with the weekly “truckometer” the Economists use to gauge the truck movements of freight as their marker of “productivity

    So why not calculate truck emissions of greenhouse gasses too as a gauge of ‘dirty high emissions transport’? it makes sense to keep count on our performance or lack of it now..

    One truck emits 100 times the carbon emissions than a car does (NIWA) statys we have. so it should be so easy to calculate the dirty transport policy here we have to.

    Rail emissions is only a fraction of what a truck emits and is only 6% of the total freight movement around NZ and is insignificant to even count.

    Anything that promotes ‘well being’ should be monitored.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Rail emissions is only a fraction of what a truck emits and is only 6% of the total freight movement around NZ and is insignificant to even count.

      1. Rail emissions will go up if we transport more freight by train
      2. If we made all out trains electric emissions would go down even if we did transport all freight by train
      3. Nothing is too insignificant to count. If its not counted then we have NFI WTF is actually happening.

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