Simply put, I think the majority of economists believe that the ability of government to influence per capita incomes (especially given the relative size and scope of governance in Aussie and NZ) is relatively negligible. Australians are 30% more wealthy then we are, and the belief is that a lot of this comes down to locational, scale, and endowment type advantages – not “magic policy”.
Furthermore, Australia is running down its natural capital stock here – any production numbers should take the temporary nature of some of this income into account.
And finally, just because production is 30% higher in Australia, what is the actual gap in happiness?
I’ve never liked the aim of catching Australia, it seems pointless (see here). We should instead “aim” to have a society where citizens are as free from coercion as possible, so that they have the ability to find satisfaction. I am glad that the RBNZ governor agrees.