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Budget 2022 unveils first 'well-being' budget

Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Australian people well-being budget
This is Australia's first 'well-being budget', with a chapter dedicated to measuring what matters to Australians. (Source: APP/Getty)

Australia’s ‘well-being Budget’ has been unveiled, with the Government looking to measure what is important to Aussies' well-being.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said this Budget was the beginning of "a new discussion about measuring what matters – the strength of our economy and the well-being of our people".

Tonight's Budget did not feature any explicit well-being goals and Chalmers said the Government was planning to consult with stakeholders and introduce targets next year.

More Budget news:

The Treasury said it would develop a stand-alone What Matters Statement in 2023. This would complement indicators, such as Closing the Gap and the State of the Environment reports.

Budget papers considered the OECD Framework for Measuring Well-being and Progress and found Australia was making progress on some issues, like life expectancy and wealth, but said there was room for improvement for gender parity in politics, women's safety and household debt.

Measures could include health, environment and political voice, alongside traditional economic measures like GDP, income and employment.

It’s also the first time a budget has addressed the risk that climate change poses to the economy, and follows in the footsteps of other countries like New Zealand.

“Climate change is a risk to our economy,” Chalmers said previously.

“It’s a risk to our economy. It’s a risk to our budgets and also a massive opportunity for us in economic terms.”

How does it work in New Zealand?

A ‘well-being budget’ isn’t new. Measures of well-being have cropped up overseas, including in New Zealand, which introduced its first well-being budget in 2019.

But when Chalmers floated the idea back in 2020, then-treasurer Josh Frydenberg mocked it as “laughable”, claiming a well-being budget would involve yoga mats and beads.

New Zealand’s first well-being budget focused on five key priorities for budget funding, including mental health, child well-being and supporting Māori and Pacific Islander peoples’ aspirations.

These priorities have stayed the same over four well-being budgets, with priorities meant to reflect long-term goals that are important to national well-being.

Extra funding has been allocated to these priorities each year. For instance, the 2022 Budget included an extra NZ$580 million for health, social and justice sectors to support Māori health and well-being.

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