Today the Treasury officially launched their 2013 statement on New Zealand’s long-term fiscal position, titled Affording Our Future. This document looks ahead 40 years and provides a snapshot of what challenges New Zealand will likely face in the future. The document begins:

On average, we will be healthier, richer, and will live longer in the future. But the future will also require some adjustments. Population ageing, rising demand for services, and increasing prices of those services mean that some things that the government provides will become more expensive – indeed this process has already started. These cost pressures create a fiscal challenge, which a growing economy will not fix. This Statement aims to give people a sense of the size of the fiscal challenge we face and what we might do to address it.

This morning Darren Zhang and I, both LongTermNZ participants, along with Hannah Steiner from the Institute, attended the launch and were among the first people to hear the Treasury’s perspective on New Zealand’s long-term fiscal future.

Sparking debate is the central purpose of the 2013 statement. This conversation is important for all New Zealanders; while politicians have the power to make the change happen, it is the public who motivate the government to act. Affording Our Future is a fantastic starting point to facilitate this national discussion. It has the right emphasis to be able to feed through multiple layers in society, encouraging us to become a more actively engaged and aware voting public.

At the LongTermNZ workshop, Darren and I were among a group of 27 participants who produced our own 2012 Youth Statement which assessed the same challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand but from a youth perspective. This opportunity was made possible with support from the Treasury – Bill Moran and Becky Prebble in particular – and it was great to be there for the launch of their statement and revisit these issues six months on. The Treasury’s document is incredibly accessible and will be of interest to each and every one of us.

A quick guide to the document, Gabriel Makhlouf’s speech notes from the launch, and information on the Treasury’s long-term fiscal model can be found here.

Image: Affording Our Future – Statement on New Zealand’s Long-Term Fiscal Position, 11 July 2013