Treasurer Jim Chalmers wants to “change the conversation” when it comes to the federal budget.
Dr Chalmers is planning to include a similar statement to New Zealand’s “wellbeing budget” in the Albanese government’s first economic blueprint to be delivered on October 25.
The NZ model, which Dr Chalmers discussed with his Kiwi counterpart Grant Robertson in Sydney on Friday, goes beyond gross domestic product to look at four “capitals” – human, natural, social, and financial/physical – as well as 12 “domains” of wellbeing, such as housing and social connections.
Dr Chalmers told the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum it is important to ensure economic growth is “broad and inclusive”.
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“At a time of record debt and budget pressures and cost-of-living pressures, value for money is essential and we judge it by what it means for the right kind of growth, including sustainable incomes growth,” he said.
“But we should also judge our policies, including our economic policies, against agreed markers of progress.
“That begins with measuring what matters, not instead of traditional economic indicators but in addition to.”
Dr Chalmers said Mr Robertson’s approach had “significantly reshaped the conversation in New Zealand about the budget and the economy”.
“I want Australia to have a similar conversation about how we can better improve policy design, evaluation and priority setting,” he said.
“I’ve asked Treasury to make measuring what matters, and an Australian approach to wellbeing, a focus of the budget in October.”
A statement in the budget papers will be dedicated to what Dr Chalmers described as a “broad-ranging discussion” of options, drawing on world’s best practice.
Ministers will be asked for their input.
Former World Bank chief economist and Nobel laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz said this week Dr Chalmers should ensure taxpayers’ money is “used to improve the wellbeing of the people of Australia”.
“That’s what money is about. That’s what the economy is about. The economy is supposed to serve the people, not the people the economy. We sometimes get that confused,” he told the ABC.