With unemployment at 4.2 per cent, growth expected to be 2.5 per cent, and government net debt still around 20 per cent of GDP, the New Zealand economy is in good shape.
“Our goal for unemployment is 4 per cent and it really is a pointer to the fact that the fundamentals of the New Zealand economy are strong and that is, for us, a significant marker of that,” Robertson says.
So all good on the economy front; but the wellbeing budget is founded on the idea that financial prosperity alone is not a sufficient measure of the quality of life.
In his recent budget speech, Robertson aimed: “to value and to measure all that makes life worthwhile in New Zealand”.
But what else makes life worthwhile? The wellbeing budget hits the major challenges head-on by taking mental health seriously; reducing child poverty; supporting Maori and Pasifika aspirations; building a productive nation; and transforming to a digital economy.
These aspirations are not just empty words. They are backed by specific outcomes nominated from each strategy and policy program. The impacts of these outcomes in their target communities will be measured and reported in an integrated set of metrics that align back to policy goals. This is precisely what Culture Counts aims to achieve with all our clients.
This is a serious attempt at holistic outcomes evaluation across an entire bureaucratic system. It will be imperfect. It will take several tries to get right. But unlike piecemeal outcomes agendas in the arts, sports, health and community services across the world, the integration piece is the most important. By nominating target impacts and implementing a comprehensive integrated outcomes measurement, New Zealand has a great chance at balancing social, cultural, civic and environmental priorities with traditional economic achievements.
And they’re good at rugby too, bro.