Jacinda Ardern - Political Leader New Zealand

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New Zealand’s government announced Thursday it will spend billions of dollars more on mental health services and combatting child poverty as part of a new approach to its finances. The liberal-led government unveiled the country’s first so-called well-being budget. It aims to measure social outcomes like health and the environment alongside traditional metrics such as economic growth. The new approach has been lauded by some internationally but criticized by the conservative opposition as meaningless window-dressing. The budget was the first since a gunman killed 51 people at two Christchurch mosques in March, and it included money for a gun buyback scheme after the government introduced new laws banning the types of semi-automatic weapons often used in mass shootings. The budget also increased funding for the nation’s intelligence agencies, which didn’t identify the man accused of the slaughter as a potential threat. Overall, new spending was up significantly on previous forecasts. But while government borrowing was forecast to rise, the net debt was expected to stay at about 20% of GDP as the size of the economy also expanded. Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the increased spending was worth the extra debt and would help stimulate the economy as global economic growth slowed. “The old way of doing things has left too many people behind,” Robertson said. “New Zealanders want us to measure our success, and invest on their behalf, in line with their values. The values of fairness, the protection of the environment, the strength of our communities.” Under the…

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