Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the address was
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the address was "frankly inspiring".

ALP should back wellness budget: NZ Labour

AUSTRALIAN Labor has been urged to consider following the Ardern government's lead in putting people's wellbeing ahead of traditional measures at budget time.

New Zealand Labour government finance minister Grant Robertson, who is the equivalent of Australia's treasurer, was spruiking his approach in Sydney on Saturday

He made the case for the ALP to consider his country's "wellbeing budget" instead of relying on more common economic indicators, if the party can form a federal government.

"I think this idea's time has come. This is the time to do this. This is the time to do this for our movement," he told the Towards 2022 conference in Sydney on Saturday.

New Zealand's revamped budget process is focused on five key priorities including mental health, child wellbeing and supporting Maori and Pacific Islander aspirations.

The books across the Tasman also prioritise transforming the economy to low carbon emissions and preparing for the future of work.

"What we need is an approach that gives people a place in the economy and in society," Mr Robertson said.

"Budgets don't have to all be about GDPs and debt levels and surpluses. It'll be in there - it has to be. But you can make it more than that."

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the address was "frankly inspiring".

"It really is a tremendous opportunity to pick your brain and also from our point of view to see what is a tremendously successful government just across the Tasman," he told Mr Robertson.

Australia's economic debate is often centred on major parties' management credentials, with delivering budget surpluses given heavy weight.

To counter attacks from political opponents, Mr Robertson said the NZ government had legislated budget responsibility rules to put limits on debt and spending.

He said the wellbeing approach had shocked Treasury officials initially, joking some had to be resuscitated, but now had the public service's support.

The two-day conference is run by Labor's official think tank Chifley Research Centre, with a view to looking at the party's direction leading up to the next election, due by 2022.



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