In another world first for the widely applauded New Zealand leader, Jacinda Ardern has revealed her a ‘wellbeing’ budget for the 2019/2020 financial year. Promising billions to mental health, indigenous affairs and youth, the budget puts people firmly first — something the Labour coalition leader said she would do while in government.
Mental health was the biggest winner with a huge NZ$1.9 billion being pledged to tackle the issue. Half a billion dollars have been dedicated to making life better for those suffering from mild to moderate anxiety and depression, with another half a billion dedicated to improving front line responses to mental health problems.
“Almost all of us have lost friends or family members. Ensuring that New Zealanders can now just show up to their GP or health centre and get expert mental health support is a critical first step,” Arden said of the mental health focus of the budget.
$320 million has been dedicated to combating family violence, with a number experts saying it is the highest ever pledged by a government in a budget. Children’s wellbeing will receive $1 billion and will be used to help tackle children in poverty, something affecting 27 per cent of the population.
“When our children do better, we all do better,’ Ardern said.
The budget has seen criticism from a conservative opposition, with National party leader Simon Bridges slamming it for being all talk and no action. “This budget is style over substance. It might have a glossy cover with nice pictures, but it’s hollow inside. This botched budget is not transformational,” he said.
Despite critics, Arden’s budget will deliver a surplus of $3.5 billion, expected to raise to over $6 billion from 2022.
Listen up Australia, it looks like compassionate politics is working for New Zealand.