The Government will be reassessing its Budget Responsibility Rules to see if they are still appropriate as it looks to take a wellbeing focused approach to future Budgets.

This could mean the Government may loosen its purse strings when it comes to its future spending plans.

However, speaking at the post-Cabinet press conference, both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson were at pains to point out the Government was still committed to being "fiscally disciplined".

In a pre-Budget speech last week, Robertson revealed the Government was shifting from a debt target to a range.


From 2021, instead of targeting core Crown debt at 20 per cent of GDP, the Government would target a range – between 15 and 25 per cent.

That's a variation of $15 billion in either direction.

Keeping net debt at 20 per cent of GDP is one of the Government's Budget Responsibility Rules (BRRs), agreed to when Labour was in Opposition.

Another rule was to keep Core Crown spending – essentially how much money the Government spends – at "around 30 per cent" of GDP.

Today, Robertson said the Government would "take another look" at this rule.

He said when the rules were created, they were not done with the Wellbeing Budget in mind.

"We now have a budget process where we are looking at a wider set of indicators of success – not just looking at GDP growth; we're looking at the success of people, and how they go in education and health, our environment and the strength of our communities.

"All of those things mean we have to take a step back and say 'do these rules still work for the kind of Budgets that we're producing?'"


Robertson said they were "self-imposed rules" that "were not written in stone".

Other BRR rules include a commitment to deliver a "sustainable operating surplus across an economic cycle," and to "prioritise investments to address the long-term financial and sustainability challenges facing New Zealand".

The Government has always said it would reassess the BRRs before the 2020 election and let voters know if they still planned on implementing the same rules.

Ardern said today that although how the Government was targeting its debt level had changed, it was still committed to being "fiscally disciplined" in the future.