NZ Welcomes OECD 2019 Report Ahead of Wellbeing Budget

The New Zealand Government has welcomed the OECD 2019 Survey of New Zealand report, saying its recommendations fit the policy direction the Government is taking. Carried out every two years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade, was in New Zealand during October and March to carry out and test its research. The surveillance and survey looked specifically at New Zealand through a wellbeing frame and found that:

  • wellbeing is generally high, but not across the board
  • economic growth has stabalised
  • water and climate change are key areas for future wellbeing
  • immigration’s contribution to wellbeing should be enhanced
  • more needs to be done on housing

The OECD found that “current wellbeing in New Zealand is “generally high” with performance “very good for employment and unemployment, perceived health, social support, air quality and life satisfaction”. It highlighted that it’s important the Government continues to run surpluses and keep debt under control, with the 2019 survey noting that a sharp slowdown in China and natural disasters are the two most possible severe shocks that could affect New Zealand. 

Many of the recommendations received by the report are covered by policies announced in and around the Wellbeing Budget. For example the OECD report recommended the Government provide greater venture capital support for early expansion stage firms and boost support for collaboration between research institutions and industry. 

“That’s exactly what we’re doing with the Wellbeing Budget’s $300 million venture capital investment fund,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

“We’ve also announced more Government investment to back our start-ups to commercialise their ideas and grow.”

New Zealand Wellbeing Budget

On 29 May 2019, after a year of speculation, New Zealand’s Labour coalition government announced its “world-first” wellbeing budget, which focuses on five priorities:

  1. Improving mental health;
  2. Reducing child poverty;
  3. Addressing the inequalities faced by indigenous Māori and Pacific island people;
  4. Thriving in a digital age; and
  5. Transitioning to a low-emission, sustainable economy.

Mental health received the biggest funding and investment boost on record, receiving NZ$1.9bn. Half a billion was earmarked for the “missing middle” particularly – New Zealanders suffering from mild to moderate anxiety and depressive disorders that do not require hospitalisation but significantly affect quality of life. 

Close to half a billion will be spent on new frontline mental health workers stationed in doctors surgeries and Indigenous clinics, with the government aiming to help 325,000 people with “mild to moderate” mental health and addiction needs by 2023-24. 

Measures to combat family violence also received a record investment of $320m in a bid to tackle the country’s entrenched family and sexual violence statistics. In New Zealand, the police respond to a domestic violence incident every four minutes. 

Child wellbeing will receive more than $1bn.  

Click here to download the Wellbeing Budget Report.

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