Our response to the Government's Wellbeing Budget

30 May 2019

Responding to today’s Budget, economist Andrew Eagles, chief executive of the Green Building Council, said:

“Child wellbeing is a priority area in the Budget and yet far, far too many New Zealanders still live in homes that just aren’t good enough, that are unhealthy. Too many of our children are ending up in hospital due to terrible, unacceptable housing.

“And this Wellbeing Budget isn’t doing enough to address this massive health issue.

“The Government’s existing home insulation programme and the new healthy homes standards have been warmly welcomed, but they’re not enough. Hundreds of thousands of New Zealand owner occupied homes will remain cold and damp because they will never be reached by these schemes.

“Respiratory disease affects 700,000 Kiwis, is responsible for almost 80,000 hospital admissions, one-third of which are children, and costs New Zealand $6billion a year, according to the Asthma Foundation.

“Today’s Wellbeing Budget could have been a great step forward to fixing this, and made all our homes healthy, warm and dry places to thrive in, to build lifelong happy memories in. Instead there is no new funds to insulate our homes in this budget, a core driver of wellbeing and reducing carbon.

“If all New Zealand homes were warm, dry, and energy efficient, New Zealanders would save hundreds of millions of dollars every single year, providing a huge financial boost for the country.

“The Prime Minister has also identified a shift to a low-emissions and sustainable economy as a key priority for this Wellbeing Budget. Budget 2019 allocates $10.4bn of the four year capital allowance, including $1.7bn for the building and redevelopment of hospitals and $1.2bn for the 10 year school property programme.

“But there’s no indication whatsoever that the many new hospitals and schools announced today will be energy efficient, healthy green places.

“Buildings belch out around 20% of our climate change pollution and New Zealand has faced international criticism for the poor state of our buildings.

“Announcing a raft of new buildings, without a commitment to making them healthy places flies in the face of a commitment to wellbeing, especially when we’re talking about schools and hospitals.

“Government is the largest builder in the country.With the buildings programmes they are announcing today they are creating vast amounts of unnecessary waste and climate pollution for decades, and making it harder to achieve the goals of the future Zero Carbon Act.

“As Minister Robertson stated today ‘New Zealand has one of the highest rates of carbon emissions per head of population in the world’. It has risen dramatically recently. This Budget promised to be more joined up so it is a huge omission to not have greenhouse gas emissions per capita within the living standard framework dashboard Treasury are using to measure wellbeing.It is a huge omission for Government to be commissioning a huge number of buildings without factoring in their emissions and impacts.

“The technology is available to deliver a sustainable healthy Aotearoa. Kiwis are calling for it.”

Until all New Zealand children are living in healthy, warm homes, the country’s economy cannot be called a success, the Green Building Council said earlier this week.

The not-for-profit group, who campaign for all New Zealanders to live in warm, healthy homes, and to clean up building and construction pollution, also called for measures to slash climate change emissions to be included in the Budget, and for any new infrastructure projects such as schools, university buildings or hospitals to deliver healthy, green buildings.

Around half of New Zealand homes have visible mould. Half of New Zealand adults say they live in a cold house, and over 60 percent of Kiwis say their homes need repairs.Cold and damp New Zealand houses have been linked to asthma, rheumatic fever and respiratory infections.

The New Zealand Green Building Council is a not-for-profit organisation, working to make sure that all New Zealanders are safe, healthy and happy at home, at work, wherever they are, because better buildings mean healthier, happier Kiwis.

/ends

1.Funding for Southern DHB is excluded from this figure

2. Graph source: https://thespinoff.co.nz/science/climate-change-w...