Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlines 2019 as year of delivery for Government

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called 2019 the year of "delivery" as her Government hopes to fulfil its promise of change across New Zealand.

Speaking to the Labour party caucus at a retreat in Martinborough, Ms Ardern said the previous year had been "huge" as the Government focused on setting up the infrastructure that will enable a "significant change in direction for New Zealand".

"[We were] reinvesting in those core services, in health and education and housing through our Budget, setting up what is required to turn around the degradation of our waters," she said.

"That work has now been set in place. 2019 is now the year that a lot of delivery will be required of us and is actually already underway."

Ms Ardern mentioned child wellbeing strategies, work on the tax system, and mental health policy as among the "long list of areas" where the Government was in "delivery mode".

She made special mention of climate change and the Government's proposed Zero Carbon Bill as "headline" pieces of work progress would be made on.

Climate change was a significant discussion point for the Prime Minister during her trip to Europe, where she met with several world leaders and environmental figures, like Sir David Attenborough, at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Working towards a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) after Brexit was also a key part of Ms Ardern's agenda while she was overseas, and she said she was surprised by the EU's level of enthusiasm at trying to get those deals concluded this year.

"A trick for us will be to make sure that we don't compromise on quality as we go through that process. But I came away feeling hugely optimistic," she said.

During the trip, Ms Ardern met with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, to discuss mental health strategies and she found not as many countries as she had suspected were actively working to break down stigmas.

"I underestimated the degree to which we are at least having a conversation around mental health and wellbeing when others are not," she said.

"It is not a widely held conversation and that was really highlighted by the fact that the Duke of Cambridge pointed out that when he started out his campaign, he couldn't find any well-known individuals from the UK to stand alongside him."

In May, the Government will also deliver its "Wellbeing Budget" which Ms Ardern attempted to pitch to international leaders in Davos.

"This has been an on-going conversation," she said. "But what really interested me is that there aren't too many countries that are moving beyond score cards, so measuring wellbeing in some form or another using perhaps what the OECD has generated around better living and better life".

She said that Finance Minister Grant Robertson and herself had met with the OECD secretary-general, Angel Gurria, who was enthusiastic about seeing New Zealand go beyond just using Gross Domestic Product to measure success.

"There are people watching what we intend to do here," she said.

Although Ms Ardern said at the end of the day it doesn't matter what the international community thinks and her Government's main focus would be the New Zealand voters, "it is interesting to have in the back of mind that what we are doing is different".

"Turning the ship around" wouldn't be perfect on the first try, but she said the Government would build on the foundations it had created.

Newshub.

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