Dr Dan Weijers is heading to Wellington to contribute his optimistic vision for politics, and policy. He has helped organize and is speaking at the Third International Conference on Wellbeing and Public Policy.
The conference aims to (1) critically evaluate the rapidly expanding field of wellbeing research across a range of disciplines; (2) share the work of leading international organisations; and (3) distil ideas and practices which will aid governments in developing a wellbeing approach to public policy.
Dr Weijers’ presentation is on “The Politics and Public Policy I hope for”. He jokingly describes it as a speculative talk, as a philosopher surrounded by hardened economists. But the reality is his audience are the policy makers and economists who are prepared to look at new and different ways of doing things, not only measuring success through income.
In terms of specific policies, Dr Weijers suggests a lot more care and funding for mental health issues as an example. He says international research shows governments can save money by investing more in mental health. “It might even mean more people have better lives.”
The idea he is promoting involves a move away from regular people relying on personalty or scandal-gate-type coverage to assess which politician or party to vote for. Dr Weijers would like to clearly see political parties state their policy goals, have an independent body assess them, and also have their implementation measured, in a very clear, defined, and transparent way. “It’s about seeing what a party really stands for - not what they say they stand for, but what they really stand for in terms of policies.”