New Zealand government to prioritize ‘well-being’ over economic growth in national budget

New Zealand’s government will focus parts of its annual budget on the “well-being” of its citizens rather than economic growth or other priorities, the country’s prime minister said Thursday.

At an event Wednesday reported by outlets including The New York Times and The Guardian, government officials with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s administration unveiled a far-reaching budget that provides billions in new funding for mental health resources and domestic violence prevention.

{mosads}Ardern, whose center-left party has controlled New Zealand’s government since 2017, said Wednesday that the budget was “the biggest single investment ever” by a government to address such issues as public priorities.

“Almost all of us have lost friends or family members. Ensuring that New Zealanders can now just show up to their GP or health center and get expert mental health support is a critical first step,” she said, according to The Guardian.

Domestic violence, she added, was New Zealand’s “most disturbing, most shameful” issue and would be the target of more than $200 million in funding for prevention efforts.

The Times reports that the prioritization of New Zealand’s budget will require any new government spending to fit at least one of five public priorities: battling child poverty, improving mental health services, addressing the needs of native Maori and Pacific Islanders, transitioning the nation to a low-emission energy grid and “thriving in the digital age.”

A member of the country’s major conservative opposition party fired back in a statement, arguing that previous governments had also prioritized “well-being” and that Ardern’s policy was little more than show.

“New Zealanders won’t benefit from a government that is ignoring the slowing economy and focusing instead on branding,” Amy Adams of the National Party said in a statement obtained by the Times. “We’re facing significant economic risks over coming years, but this government is focusing on a marketing campaign.”

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