The Greens are proposing a new approach to Government that puts the wellbeing of the community at the centre of decision making.
The plan borrows from Jacinda Ardern’s progressive Government that handed down its first ‘Wellbeing Budget” in 2019 and is leading the way in measuring and pursuing wellbeing objectives.
The United Kingdom and Canada have also introduced measures of wellbeing that look beyond revenue and production, to areas such as health, education, relationships, occupations, finances and climate change and the environment.
The announcement follows opinion pieces in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald by NSW Liberal Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, and Labor Shadow Treasurer, Ryan Park that were heavy on typical budget and economic rhetoric but light on how Government can actually be redirected to deliver a healthier, fairer and better society.
NSW Greens MLC and Treasury Spokesperson Justin Field said “we short change ourselves if progress is evaluated in dollars and cents alone. The true measure of a budget and Government decisions should be whether it delivers good in people’s lives, reduces inequality and improves the health of our environment.”
The Greens have a plan to establish measures of progress that reflect community wellbeing and to use these to guide and direct Government decision making. The plan will:
establish an independent Commissioner of Wellbeing, with independent statutory office
form a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Wellbeing to conduct a public inquiry into the factors and measures of wellbeing
introduce a regular Wellbeing of the State report
require State Government and public service to consider wellbeing as a factor in policy and decision making
require annual reports of departments and statutory bodies to address wellbeing indicators directly relevant to their activities.
Justin Field said, “As economists often say, “What you don’t measure, doesn’t matter.” This plan will ensure we are measuring the things that really matter to people so we can direct the resources of Government to making these things better.
“A wellbeing approach is an opportunity to chart a different course, to make politics relevant to people and ensure the economy is serving the needs of people no just the other way round.
“It’s all well and good for the Liberal Treasurer to talk about infrastructure spending and for the Labor shadow Treasurer to talk about fairness. These things are important, but when 40,000 people are homeless in this state and the Darling River is dying the measure of a good society is far more complex than that.
“Wellbeing indicators would include measures of access to health, education and housing, employment and wages, community safety and trust in our democracy and public institutions, volunteerism and happiness. Clean air, clean water and a safe climate. These are the things that make a real difference in people’s lives and we should measure them and direct the resources of Government to improving them in a coordinated and targeted way. That’s what a wellbeing approach can deliver,” Mr Field said.
You can see a briefing note on the Greens' Wellbeing Indicators Bill here.