Ardern promoting untested ‘wellbeing budget’ at Davos

Jacinda Ardern is promoting the New Zealand ‘wellbeing budget’ approach as economic some sort of economic revolution, but at this stage it is little more than a political promise, with little tangible sign of what it actually means in practice. It is little more than an unproven theory.

We won’;t see the first ‘wellbeing budget’ until this May, and it will probably take years to see how it works out.

Prior to heading to Davos for the World Economic Forum Ardern said that New Zealand’s wellbeing budget approach was “generating significant international interest” and “I hope other leaders will come to see more compassionate domestic policy settings as a compelling alternative to the false promise of protectionism and isolation”.

Stuff: PM Jacinda Ardern pumps NZ’s ‘wellbeing budget’ at World Economic Forum

The world is watching the Government’s first “Wellbeing Budget” as economic leaders in Switzerland pressed Jacinda Ardern for details on addressing stability through tackling inequality.

I don’t know how much of the world is watching. Ardern is not mentioned in the current Davos coverage from Reuters – https://www.reuters.com/davos

US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister May were all absent from the forum as they all dealt with domestic crises.

However, it was the relative destabilisation across a number of democracies that developed a large amount of discussion around New Zealand’s first “Wellbeing Budget”, to be delivered by Finance Minister Grant Robertson in May.

“I think in part it might be because other countries, for a number of years, have had scorecards, they have done analyses. But what we’re doing with the wellbeing budget is we’re trying to embed it in the way we make decisions.

“And even re-tooling things like the Public Finance Act so it’s kind of a step further again. And also, as I said to Professor Schwab, there’s a discussion going on here about the destabilisation that we’re seeing in some democracies around the world,” Ardern said.

There were a number of different indicators and reasons as to why that was happening.

“But ultimately, it all bring us back to the same question which is people are feeling dissatisfied, and what’s the cause of that?

“If we can put into our system, new ways of operating that try and get to the heart of what it is people are seeking from their politicians, from elections, then perhaps we can get to the heart of some of that destabilisation that we’re seeing,” Ardern said.

“I think one way to look at it, is one of the big headlines coming out of Davos is the downgrading of expectations out of global growth. And why is that – well, one of the reasons they’re pointing to is of course what’s happening with global trade. And why is that – well, at a local level politicians are responding to people’s dissatisfaction and trade has become a proxy for that.”

Ardern also had a high-level meeting with forum founder and chair Klaus Schwab, where the pair talked about his priority issue deemed the “next industrial revolution”.

“And the response from the global community to issues of digital transformation, to wellbeing and essentially agendas that we’ve been pursuing back in New Zealand.

“He was certainly interested in our wellbeing budget work,” Ardern said.

A deliberately-timed op-ed from the prime minister also ran in the Financial Times overnight, espousing the “economics of kindness” to a global audience.

Ardern is talking big internationally on this, more so than in New Zealand. While there may well be interest in what she is vaguely suggesting I think there will largely be a wait and see approach in other countries.

But Ardern is making some noises about it here. NZ Herald – PM Jacinda Ardern: If a minister wants more money they need to prove how it will better wellbeing

“If you’re a minister and you want to spend money, you have to prove that you’re going to improve intergenerational wellbeing.”

I’m not sure how they can prove something in advance of it happening.

Ardern spent much of her time explaining why her Government was introducing a wellbeing budget this year – a world first.

She made it clear that any minister from her Cabinet would need to keep the Government’s new approach top of mind and ministers would need to work with each other to ensure this was the case.

“So the Minister of Health might want to work with the Minister of Child Poverty and start delivering interventions that make a difference 30 years down the track.”

Ardern is the Minister of Child Poverty Reduction.

May’s budget will measure and report a broader set of indicators, such as child poverty and housing quality, to show a “more rounded version of success”, alongside expected GDP growth.

Although the panel, including Ardern, agreed GDP was still a good way of measuring economic growth, they agreed there were many elements of a country’s wellbeing it did not capture.

But Ardern said the Government’s new approach to wellbeing does not mean GDP would become irrelevant.

“I don’t think it’s the end of GDP, I think it’s the beginning of doing things differently. We distil it down, in New Zealand, to say that for us, it’s about bringing kindness and empathy to governance.”

In terms of New Zealand’s economy, she said the country is doing well – low unemployment, solid GDP growth and a healthy Government surplus.

“But we have homelessness at staggering rates, one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the OECD and our mental health and wellbeing is not where it should be.”

She stressed these are the sorts things the wellbeing budget would measure and her, and successive Governments, could work to address.

It is not revolutionary for a Government to consider the wellbeing of people, that is pretty much what they are supposed to do, and it’;s been that way since governments were invented.

The difference, so far at least, is the focus and emphasis on wellbeing.

This is an admirable approach, but we will have to see what this means in practice, not just in how it may improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders, but what it will cost and what impact it will have on the economy over time.

The wellbeing of the people is inextricably intertwined with the wellbeing of the economy. There has to be a balance between what people would like (for their ‘wellbeing’) and what the country can afford. Labour and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have also promised responsible and prudent budgets.

We will get a first look at what the wellbeing budget agenda means in May. It sounds good in theory, but at this stage it is unproven in practice,

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58 Comments

  1. David

     /  January 24, 2019

    How does it differ from what Bill English has been doing for the last decade ?
    So far her welfare minister has overseen an 11000 increase in people on jobseeker benefits when there is a large labour shortage and we have imported 107,000 people on various forms of work permits. Her housing minister has failed to even start to build any of his own houses. Her health minister hasnt even started to replace Dunedins awful hospital and the vaccination rates have started to decline.
    Lovely as she is she has a lot of platitudes but is hardly effective.

    Reply
    • “How does it differ from what Bill English has been doing for the last decade ?”

      Ardern is using new language to describe something similar to what English and National had been moving towards.

      Unlike English she is setting high expectations for a revolutionary agenda. Perhaps she didn’t learn one important lesson from Helen Clark – under-promise and over-deliver.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  January 24, 2019

        … when we say “moving towards” with National though, we indicate an entirely different thing than what the words “moving” and “towards” actually mean …

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  January 24, 2019

          Stop playing semantics, Parti. It’s too early in the morning.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  January 24, 2019

            For you maybe … What time of the day suits then Corky?

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  January 24, 2019

              Try10 am. That’s when my blood glucose rises past 5.5 and I’m able to tolerate a little bit of communism.

            • Gezza

               /  January 24, 2019

              😀

              Excellent comedy there from both of you.
              Keep up the god wrok. 👍

      • David

         /  January 24, 2019

        English just got on with it and I know Blazer got excited about this but what English was doing was of huge interest overseas because he was actually doing it and not just talking about doing it and the results were starting to come through.
        If Ardern can build on what he started, perhaps improve in some areas, she can call it anything she likes and take all the plaudits when it works. She needs to be careful that the small stick is not taken away because if all there is is a carrot it will fall over, Sepuloni and the Greens will be her problem.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  January 24, 2019

      for the last decade English helped the rich get…richer…nothing more ,nothing…less.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  January 24, 2019

      “Her housing minister has failed to even start to build any of his own houses”
      300 to be completed by July, while target was 1000.

      “It’s been more difficult than we expected to really shift developers off their existing business model which is about getting a return on capital from small numbers of mid to high end homes. We are wanting them to build more modest lower quartile homes.”

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  January 24, 2019

        “We are wanting them to build more modest lower quartile homes.”

        The economics don’t support this, if they did people would already be doing it.

        Reply
        • Griff.

           /  January 24, 2019

          You and your ideas of the economics of house building pink?
          Someone who claims it costs $75,000 to dig a 10 meter trench in dirt and drop 200 bucks worth of pipe and cable in it . Or who in the same statement claimed the $3.000 worth of building consents for a $50,000 cabin will cost $100,000 .
          You gotta be kidding me.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  January 24, 2019

            “Someone who claims it costs $75,000 to dig a 10 meter trench in dirt and drop 200 bucks worth of pipe and cable in it ”

            Facts are not something you have any understanding of now are they Griff. As I said to you ground works are far more than running one trench. What is the bill from Watercare for a new connection? Do you even know what Watercare is?

            “Or who in the same statement claimed the $3.000 worth of building consents for a $50,000 cabin will cost $100,000 .”

            If council costs for a new house were only $3,000, why are houses in Auckland so expensive? How many development contributions have you priced up in your life exactly? Do you even know what a development contribution is?

            Reply
          • Pink David

             /  January 24, 2019

            Here is the closest thing to your 30m2 cabin, on a 200m2 section, currently on the market in Auckland City. $629,000.

            If you can do it so much cheaper, why are you not in business? What do you think is setting the price of this property so much higher than what you claim you can build for?

            https://www.trademe.co.nz/property/residential-property-for-sale/auction-1857883645.htm?rsqid=d26719339ec8476988e0d47dcb3eb7c3

            Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 24, 2019

    Lefty fluff.

    Reply
  3. PartisanZ

     /  January 24, 2019

    Any attempt to expand the intellectual and compassionate [emotellectual] parameters of orthodox economics beyond number-crunching has got to be a good, healthy, positive thing …

    It’s also gonna scare the shit out of conservatives and wealth-power elites alike – often the same people – and lead them to call “wellbeing” by idiotic names like “revolutionary” …

    Reply
    • David

       /  January 24, 2019

      Did you just spend the last 6 years in a cave, have you literally deliberately willfully not noticed anything that happened in this country because National and your head would explode if there was a positive outcome for folk with disadvantages.
      Did you not see the investment approach in for example teen single mums and the remarkable turnarounds at vast taxpayer expense. Did you not notice our vaccination rate improvement amongst certain hard to reach groups or the enrollment of poor kids with a GP, with early childhood education, what about the drop in the very very hard to shift employment rate in the long term unemployed, how about the drop in teen pregnancies.
      Conservatives have been just as interested in improving the outcome for all in society as lefties, the only difference is the conservative is more likely to believe in a hand up and then letting the individual thrive off their own hard work rather than cradle to grave dependency.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  January 24, 2019

        National got on with the grunt work, Dave. Labour likes to talk about the grunt work…on the world stage.

        Apart from a few things I think National got wrong, I think their economy/ well being balance was ,and will be, far ahead of anything Jacinda achieves.

        Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  January 24, 2019

        Fair points …

        So why are people calling Labour’s “Wellbeing Budget” revolutionary, if their own was full of changes “moving towards” wellbeing?

        What little detail I’ve seen of the WB doesn’t indicate “cradle to grave dependency” to me … I consider that to be Bluey scaremonger tactics … like is happening with EOLC and cannabis … and is about to get much worse …

        To me WB indicates incorporating and making explicit some additional useful measurements and parameters to inform the economic model …

        Sure, you won’t hear “Social Investment Approach” … Sorry about that … but much of it is otherwise the same old wrapped in different words … Governments are presently trapped by Fiscal Responsibility and global Corporate-Political influence …

        It’s what ISN’T number-crunching that interests me: Eco-nomics or Evonomics …

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  January 24, 2019

          To me WB indicates incorporating and making explicit some additional useful measurements and parameters to inform the economic model …

          That’s true, and I agree, but I’m waiting to see exactly what the parameters (or KPIs) & metrics are actually going to be because governments and their departmental officials have a tendency when given jobs like coming up with them to make them fuzzy and/or something they think they can achieve, rather than something that really indicates how well the wellbeing is.

          Reply
      • Blazer

         /  January 24, 2019

        ‘social investment’ is a newish label for targeted welfare.
        Its like changing the name of WINZ….ALL window dressing….social welfare designed by…accountants.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  January 24, 2019

          There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with targeted welfare though, B. That implies targeting welfare to those who need it rather than those who don’t. And social investment is just an extension of that idea to make it explicit that some of that targeted welfare should be “invested” in areas where the recipients and the communities actually benefit from it in terms of remedial education, skills acquisition, increased self-reliance, less need to access welfare in future, reductions in family violence and criminal activity as a result.

          That said, it’s an open question whether there was actually ENOUGH being spent on the strategy to secure relevant resources and whether all relevant agencies were in any position to work together properly to achieve the stated intentions or goals.

          Reply
  4. Corky

     /  January 24, 2019

    ”We won’t see the first ‘wellbeing budget’ until this May, and it will probably take years to see how it works out.”

    That’s very good news for some…but bad news for most. The government is going to rort taxpayer pockets, especially the ‘rich pricks’ to put petrol in this shiny ‘wellbeing vehicle’ Jacinda has presented to the world. No matter how flash the car, it ain’t going nowhere without petrol.

    So the bottom line is the economy is still the most important thing.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  January 24, 2019

      Extraordinary Rightie logic … Atomization … There is no economy without people …

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  January 24, 2019

        And without an economy we have subsistence living…cue migrants risking theirs lives, and that of their children, in a desperate attempt to claim a slice of our economy….or our people?

        Pass the twigs and nuts, Parti.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  January 24, 2019

          ‘ in a desperate attempt to …escape death,desolation,sanctions and destruction.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  January 24, 2019

            Then why not go to other countries closer? You know, other crap places that mightn’t have as much destruction…something more culturally appropriate then our ‘money grubbing’ society.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  January 24, 2019

              like…Israel…you mean!

            • Corky

               /  January 24, 2019

              No, Israel know their worth. They don’t take crap. We do. Sloppy Western leaders like Jacinda and Justin Trudeau are ripe for the picking by migrants who can’t believe how naive we are.

            • Blazer

               /  January 24, 2019

              you said ‘closer’…neither NZ or Canada is…close.
              Turkey and Greece are.

            • Corky

               /  January 24, 2019

              That was my point.

            • Blazer

               /  January 24, 2019

              Turkey and GREECE HAVE MILLIONS OF REFUGEES.

            • Corky

               /  January 24, 2019

              Let them have more. That will stop the stream coming our way. Refugees come from all over the world..to the West.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 24, 2019

        Where some selfish, heartless prats try to hog the good things in life and don’t care if others die of starvation and disease.

        Reply
  5. Mother

     /  January 24, 2019

    I can’t imagine what Jacinda’s big ideas for her Wellness Budget might be, except perhaps things (paganism) like teaching yoga and ‘mindfulness technique’ in schools.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  January 24, 2019

      Platitudes are nice for everybody, Mother. Pagans heathens thinkers and religious persons.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  January 24, 2019

      not very charitable…especially given your staunch defence and endorsement of rogue M.P JLR….

      beneath that kind,caring,Christian persona is a hard right ,anti progressive…mongrel…I daresay.

      Reply
  6. duperez

     /  January 24, 2019

    Capture the language first. “National Standards” in education. Any words with reservations = you’re against standards and you’re against having nationwide monitoring.

    “Comprehensive housing plan” = we’re onto it with an action plan for addressing the growing need for housing. And mainly, there is no housing crisis.

    “Wellbeing budget” = ?

    “Ardern is talking big internationally on this, more so than in New Zealand?” I heard her and thought it was interesting to hear a New Zealand talking philosophically about things like the role of politicians and the relationship between that and what it means for people.

    Why speak like that overseas more than here? Simple, we’re not interested in the minor issues like that from her, we want to hear the really important stuff like who she’s had texts from, if she’s really Karel Sroubek’s half sister and if she’ll ever marry. Hell, we ain’t even got a dictionary to look up how to spell filosofee.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  January 24, 2019

      Ardern is just a word factory. Her whole CV just prepared her for that. Substance = nil.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  January 24, 2019

        AW, If you were to give her a ‘substance’ injection what things would she do when it took effect? If it were a really serious dose what would she do?

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  January 24, 2019

          I’ve made my position quite clear on the RMA and building regulations. She would work on building the infrastructure the Govt is responsible for and free the private sector to work on theirs.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  January 24, 2019

            Still drives me to distraction trying to figure out what exactly ARE the sticking points on RMA review. Everybody in Parliament seems to agree it’s in dire need of an overhaul but it NEVER actually happens. Fking bizarre.

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  January 24, 2019

            I haven’t had time to read your brother’s paper yet. Does he cover this?

            Reply
    • PDB

       /  January 24, 2019

      Dupz: “Why speak like that overseas more than here?”

      Because she knows that overseas the media there will lap it up without actually looking deeply into what she is saying unlike in her home country where she is unlikely to not be challenged on the bullshit she speaks.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  January 24, 2019

        I’m aware that in her home country it has been determined by some that everything she says is bullshit.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  January 24, 2019

          I believe her when she says she crashed a tractor – although I admit I have seen no actual evidence of her alongside the crashed tractor in question, &, so far as I know, this claim has not been independently corroborated in the NZ media by anybody else who was present at the alleged incident, or even by the supposed owner of the tractor, whoever that was.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 24, 2019

            I haven’t read the RMA, but have seen it and know someone who HAS. It’s longer than War and Peace.

            Reply
  7. adamsmith1922

     /  January 24, 2019

    Ardern is mouthing on about something she does not understand.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  January 24, 2019

      on that basis ,should you even be ..posting?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  January 24, 2019

        Can’t make up my mind which way to tick on substance so not going to tick – but definitely like that one, B !

        Your act is improving. Ya coming up with some good material ! 👍

        Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 24, 2019

        She seems to grimace and gesticulate all the time. This looks quite bizarre, as if she was on something – which isn’t likely.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 24, 2019

          Yer coming up, Gezza, not ya. Tsk, tsk.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  January 24, 2019

            That’s pommy talk ! Where do you get off ! Comin’ round here with ya la-de-da accents ! >:D

            Reply
  8. Mike Mckee

     /  January 25, 2019

    The first order of Government is to protect the people.
    The second is to create an environment that they can excel in.
    Doing it for them isn’t that.

    Reply

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