Jim Chalmers will look across the ditch for inspiration as he prepares to deliver Australia’s first national scorecard on wellbeing.
Outlining his plans in a speech in Auckland, the Treasurer declared New Zealand was “way ahead” of Australia in measuring societal progress beyond the remit of traditional economic indicators.
Dr Chalmers has been seeking to stir national debate about how Australia measures prosperity and economic success since he first mooted the idea of delivering a “wellbeing budget” in October last year.
He plans to deliver Australia’s first “Measuring What Matters Statement” later this year after consulting with business, unions and community groups as well as other governments and organisations such as the IMF.
The New Zealand Labour government introduced its first “wellbeing budget” in 2019 under the leadership of then-prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
In his speech to the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and Auckland Business Chamber on Friday, Dr Chalmers said the New Zealand model was a “great framework to learn from”.
He said the Kiwis had come up with a “better way” to capture a more complete picture of how they were tracking as a country and a society.
Dr Chalmers said he knew people in Australia and New Zealand were doing it tough with both countries grappling with slowing economies amid very high inflation.
He stressed that he and his Kiwi counterpart, Grant Robertson, who also belongs to a centre-left political party, recognised that traditional economic metrics were “critical”.
“But other things are important too,” Dr Chalmers said.
“The state of our environment; our health; the way that people do or do not feel connected to their communities.
“These things matter – all go to that core aspiration of enabling our people to live with meaning and with purpose.”
Dr Chalmers said measuring progress in these areas would contribute to the building of a “stronger, fairer and more resilient economy and society”.
“Of course, we won’t see the fruits of that immediately. It’ll take time to collect the data, to analyse, and respond,” he said.
“But what ‘Measuring What Matters’ is about … is putting the right foundations in place so that we can make progress.”
Dr Chalmers gave the address on the final day of his three-day tour of New Zealand as the two countries mark 40 years of the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement, known as the CER.
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