with Mike Chapman
Last century, the Government’s budget reading was listened to avidly by most of New Zealand on the radio. In recent years, the budget has become something of little significance to New Zealanders, with many of the policy announcements and changes being pre-announced. Another reason the budget has become of less importance to New Zealanders is that the Government does not have as much say in the financial viability of the country.
We are a nation that relies on trading our goods overseas and as such, it is the global economy that impacts on NZ. Our Government just doesn’t have that much impact on the global economy. Our trading conditions are dictated to us by the countries we sell our goods and services to.
This has the potential to change, with the first wellbeing budget to be delivered on May 30, 2019. Wellbeing budgets measure much more than just the financial. They are about us and our communities. A wellbeing budget, therefore, has the ability to have a direct impact on every New Zealander and make changes to our lives.
This is a significant step away from a budget that deals with income and expenditure only, and it will be NZ’s first wellbeing budget, covering the four capitals: natural capital, social capital, financial capital, and human capital.
Horticulture NZ’s vision is: ‘healthy food for all forever’. This vision links in with the wellbeing budget and the four capitals. It enables a conversation about some of the important issues facing horticulture that are vital ingredients for sustainable growing
This includes the Resource Management Act that enables fruit and vegetable growing; recognition that growing enough healthy food to feed NZ is vital for NZ’s long-term sustainability; developing a food supply/security policy for NZ; and recognising that water storage is essential.
Natural capital needs to recognise our unique climate and soils, the storage and use of water, and water quality. It includes the protection of high-value growing land from urban encroachment and the recognition that healthy food needs to have a tailor-made regime under the Resource Management Act to enable sustainable production.
In rural NZ, horticulture makes a significant contribution to social capital. A large number of people are employed in horticulture, more than in the dairy industry. As horticulture is co-located with towns and cities, it promotes vibrant communities and businesses. Our industry is an integral part of these communities and contributes to social stability with employment.
For human capital, horticulture’s most significant contribution is healthy food that promotes better human health, and with a healthy lifestyle, less reliance on the health system. Consumers are increasingly moving to diets with a high plant base. As more people eat more vegetables as part of their daily food intake, horticulture becomes a much more significant force for human capital. Going forward, the skilled jobs in horticulture and our employment of New Zealanders will contribute directly to NZ’s human capital.
The expectation is that Budget 2019 will promote our vision, healthy food for all forever, and refocus NZ on what really matters.