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Budget 2019 - Expert Reaction

The Government has delivered its 'Wellbeing Budget', which includes funding to combat kauri dieback and support innovation.

Science-related funding announcements included:

• A new $300 million fund to help fill the 'capital gap' for New Zealand firms that expand beyond the early start-up phase;

• $20m over four years the fund strategic research to combat kauri dieback;

• A $229m Sustainable Land Use Package to protect and restore at-risk waterways and wetlands;

• $4m over four years to help the Ministry for the Environment improve recycling and resource recover, and shift NZ to a more efficient zero-waste economy.

The SMC gathered expert reaction to the Budget announcement. Please feel free to use these comments in your reporting.


Dr Anna Matheson, Senior Lecturer in Health Policy, Victoria University of Wellington, comments:

"It is sobering that this is the first time we have had a national Budget that explicitly focuses on well-being. The challenges facing humanity globally – increasing inequality, rising populism and rapid environmental degradation, including the crisis with our climate – show how governments worldwide are missing the crucial and pivotal role they play in stewardship, and in creating and maintaining collective well-being.

"I am particularly heartened to see in this Budget a strong focus on social and ecological relationships. Child poverty, mental health, family violence and homelessness are areas where substantial resources and action is long overdue. But also important is the recognition of how we use land and its impact on well-being and the focus on incentivising businesses towards a low emissions future.

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"The Budget adds strength to the extensive reviews already being undertaken of the health, education and welfare systems and other recent funding announcements to break cycles of violence, inequality and deprivation. Together these initiatives have huge potential to improve well-being if they are implemented with integrity, and with the urgency needed.

"The evidence we have is comprehensive and compelling that approaches to well-being need go beyond specific topic areas and also focus on the way that policy itself is delivered. It is great to see an appreciation of this evidence through the rhetoric associated with this Budget. With emphasis being placed on horizontal and vertical integration of policy and services, as well as factoring in the long-term.

"However, it is easy for platitudes to prevail with exciting, easy-to-see big system levers. The real test of this well-being Budget will be not only seeing greater cross-sectoral collaboration within the public sector, but whether resources reach local communities in a way that allows for diverse local needs and real transformational action."

No conflict of interest.


Dr Andrea Byrom, Director, New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, comments:

"Conservation received a big top-up in last year's Budget, so while it's pleasing to see that support flow through from last year's allocations it does not surprise me that the focus is on biosecurity this year, with a strong emphasis on managing biosecurity risks via trade, travel and import pathways.

"The management and containment of biosecurity risk organisms is an ongoing issue for New Zealand and it's great to see this beefed up too. Although this allocation is operational rather than science, increasingly I think there is a lot the science sector can do to work closely with government and industry to help strengthen the biosecurity system.

"Likewise it's heartening to see further investment in freshwater, particularly around water allocations, wetland restoration and mitigating weeds and pests in lakes. In terms of science and innovation, the top-up for kauri dieback research will provide a much-needed boost to the 2018 investment to save one of Aotearoa's most iconic trees. This should enable scientists to accelerate strategic research into new tools to combat this pathogen."

No conflict of interest.


Dr Jeff Seadon, Department of Built Environment Engineering, Auckland University of Technology, comments:

"Today’s Budget fulfils what the Government has been signalling in recent months as its main focal points for the waste sector. It has long been acknowledged that waste data in New Zealand is sparse compared to many other OECD countries and this initiative will enable the Ministry for the Environment to gain a better perspective on the actual waste quantities in New Zealand. This data will support better resourcing to target key areas to divert waste from landfills in the future.

"The actions of China in rejecting low-quality recyclables has resulted in a need to develop better onshore processing and to rethink how the recycling sector operates. The era of collect and consign for someone else to deal with is over as more and more countries are rejecting the dumping of so-called recyclables. The Budget addresses this need.

"Mandatory product stewardship schemes, while enabled in legislation, have not been implemented yet. The industry has long acknowledged that this is the most effective way to deal with used tyres and this Budget signals implementation of this tool. Similarly, refrigerants have been an issue since the 1990s when they were targeted as ozone depletion chemicals and a long-term programme is now extended to remove them from circulation. The development of a lithium battery product stewardship scheme is a proactive move on the part of the government in that this waste stream is relatively new and only expected to increase in the future. Implementation of measures at this stage will enable diversion of these batteries and reduce the need for virgin material that has a large impact on the environment.

"The highly targeted measures in this Budget are a controlled expansion on the work the Ministry for the Environment has been engaged in, but it sets the path for significantly larger programmes in the future to divert waste from landfill."

No conflict of interest.


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