Treasurer Jim Chalmers introduces welfare budget as part of his first budget in October


The welfare budget planned for October will include some preparatory measures, such as life expectancy. But a discussion is expected to start on other measures that could be included in future welfare budgets.

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Chalmers first put forward the concept of a wellness budget in early 2020. Then Treasurer Josh Frydenberg ridiculed the idea, saying Chalmers would walk into parliament to deliver the budget with “beads in one hand” while MPs would sit on meditation mats.

In his speech, Chalmers will pay tribute to his New Zealand counterpart Grant Robertson for the work he has done for the Kiwi welfare budget.

“His approach to wellbeing has significantly reshaped New Zealand’s conversation about the budget and the economy,” he will say. “I want Australia to have a similar conversation about how we can better improve policy design, evaluation and prioritization.”

American Nobel laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz, said the economy is much more than just a measure of GDP.

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Stiglitz, who met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese privately on Thursday during a speaking tour in Australia, said governments needed to show that they were focused on economic and social outcomes.

“I think it’s a great idea that is now being adopted by a number of countries. At a time when money is pretty scarce, you have to do more with every dollar — you have to make sure you double or triple the value of every dollar,” he said.

“Governments need to find a way to achieve broader goals of society.”

Stiglitz said welfare measures may differ from country to country, noting that in the United States, an indicator of violence or inequality would be helpful.

He said Chalmers should look at climate change and its impact on Australia.

“Something that GDP does not measure is the environmental costs of climate change. Measuring well-being around the climate would do that,” he said.

Cut through the hubbub of federal politics with news, opinions and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up for our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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