Nau mai haere mai.

Tomorrow’s budget – like every budget, but especially in an election year – is an inherently political document. Who gets what, and how much they get, signals a government’s priorities and the bases it wants to shore up ahead of the only poll that matters.

But as Grant Duncan argues, if the preamble to Grant Robertson’s “no frills” budget is anything to go by, we’re headed for an election largely devoid of imagination, innovation or political courage. This is despite the profound challenges the country faces, from skills shortages to climate change.

Not so surprising, perhaps. Since Jacinda Ardern resigned as prime minister, the Labour government has moved swiftly to reframe its agenda as more pragmatic than idealistic. Budget 2023 will simply be the fiscal expression of that new orthodoxy.

It would be a shame, however, if this means progress made on child poverty is slowed or stopped. According to Kate Prickett, various targets set under Ardern-era legislation have been met or even surpassed, albeit not uniformly. “If this or any future budget fails to project any impact on child poverty,” she writes, “those targets risk becoming nothing more than a Treasury spreadsheet exercise.”

Keep an eye out for more responses to the budget on the day and afterwards. Until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

Wellbeing is so last year – Labour’s ‘no frills’ budget points to an uninspiring NZ election

Grant Duncan, Massey University

Thursday’s ‘orthodox no-frills budget’ sounds like Labour is switching from Ecostore to Kmart: never mind your wellbeing, this is about Labour’s political survival.

NZ is finally making progress on child poverty – but a ‘no frills’ budget puts that at risk

Kate C. Prickett, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Making further dents in child poverty will mean implementing bold support for those families being left behind. This week’s budget already feels like a lost opportunity.

New Zealand’s reliance on foreign doctors to plug gaps highlights the need for another medical school

Ross Lawrenson, University of Waikato

The 2023 budget is unlikely to do the one thing our health system needs: provide the funding for a new medical school to meet our growing need for locally trained doctors.

We have all heard social media can impact women’s body image – but it isn’t all bad

Kim Toffoletti, Deakin University; Holly Thorpe, University of Waikato; Rebecca Olive, RMIT University

While there is more than a decade of research into the negative effects of social media, a new study shows how women are taking control of their own online spaces to create more positive experiences.

Home support work in NZ is already insecure and underpaid – automation may only make it worse

Leon Salter, Massey University; Lisa Vonk, Massey University

The introduction of ‘care apps’ has been sold as improving efficiency and even pay rates for homecare providers. But a new study suggests it may only be exacerbating existing problems in the industry.

History and myth: why the Treaty of Waitangi remains such a ‘bloody difficult subject’

Bain Munro Attwood, Monash University

The story some histories tell about the 1840 agreement between Māori and the British Crown may be popular and even comforting. But they are also incomplete – and even unhelpful.

ChatGPT could have an upside for universities – helping bust ‘contract cheating’ by ghostwriters

Nathalie Wierdak, University of Otago; Lynnaire Sheridan, University of Otago

Educators have expressed concern about ChatGPT but it could be a tool to help stressed and time-poor students.

Increased mental health awareness is one thing – but New Zealanders need greater mental health literacy too

Kristopher Nielsen, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Has greater awareness of mental health issues also caused more people to interpret milder forms of distress as something worse? Better understanding of mental health disorder in general might help.

From our foreign editions

Our hybrid media system has emboldened anti-LGBTQ+ hate – what can we do about it?

Justin Ellis, University of Newcastle

The origins of the anti-LGBTQ+ hate feedback loop are complex, but not insurmountable. Not addressing them will leave a growing number of people susceptible to violence.

Breaking the mould: why rental properties are more likely to be mouldy and what’s needed to stop people getting sick

Rebecca Bentley, The University of Melbourne; Nicola Willand, RMIT University; Tim Law

Mould is a health hazard and renters are most at risk. Here experts in health, law, building and construction examine the problem of mould in homes and offer guidance for both renters and landlords.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ urges us to defend real animals

Kendra Coulter, Western University

People moved by the plight of the animals in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ should channel their emotions into meaningful action for real animals.

Arts activities can provoke empathy and inspire youth action on urgent UN global goals

Benjamin Bolden, Queen's University, Ontario

For young people seeking to engage with the world’s most critical challenges, the UN Sustainable Development Goals can serve as an entry point. The arts open up possibilities to take action.

Getting too excited can stop men from orgasming – but there’s a solution

Konstantin Blyuss, University of Sussex; Yuliya Kyrychko, University of Sussex

We found you can have too much of a good thing - psychological stimulation.

Black and Bold Queens is a new children’s book celebrating women in Ghana’s history

Nikitta Dede Adjirakor, University of Ghana

Women who shaped modern Ghana have been erased from history. A children’s book aims to restore them to their rightful place.

Sudan is awash with weapons: how the two forces compare and what that means for the war

Khristopher Carlson, Graduate Institute – Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID)

The Sudan army’s superiority is in its air force and arsenal of ground forces while the rival paramilitary force relies on nimble mobile units.

You shed DNA everywhere you go – trace samples in the water, sand and air are enough to identify who you are, raising ethical questions about privacy

Jenny Whilde, University of Florida; Jessica Alice Farrell, University of Florida

Environmental DNA provides a wealth of information for conservationists, archaeologists and forensic scientists. But the unintentional pickup of human genetic information raises ethical questions.