Monitoring (or is it oversight?) gets good results in Westland but the Canterbury DHB requires strong medicine

Central government monitoring seems to have done the trick on one side of the Southern Alps.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has declared she is satisfied “the close monitoring” of the Westland District Council by an Oversight Committee can draw to a close.

he had written to the council in July and September last year, expressing concerns about poor processes, dysfunctional governance and management, non-compliance with policies, and natural hazard management. Later in the year she established an Oversight Committee comprising key government agencies to support the council as it worked to improve its performance.

But she seemed curiously disinclined to call it monitoring.

In a statement on November 26 she said:

“The Council has heard the extent of the concerns raised and has taken steps to respond. Westland have demonstrated they are establishing governance committees to provide transparency of decision making, putting in systems and frameworks for policies and processes, and learning from pas t experience”.

But she said there was benefit “from a level of oversight” and had tasked an existing group to provide support to the council to support necessary changes.

According to the statement Mahuta issued yesterday, an Oversight Committee comprising key government agencies was established in December “to support the Council as it worked to improve its performance”. We suppose this was the committee she had mentioned in her November 26 statement.

Health Minister David Clark in June last year was not so chary about using the word “monitor” when he appointed a Crown Monitor to support the work of the Canterbury District Health Board.

The monitoring job went to Dr Lester Levy, a fellow with more than 40 years of experience working in the health sector in a range of leadership and governance roles, including chairing Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau DHBs.

And what has this monitoring achieved?

In recent days the Canterbury medical community’ frustration with its health chiefs has been expressed in a protest, an open letter and two more resignations on the Canterbury District Health Board’s executive team.

Chief digital officer Stella Ward and director of nursing Mary Gordon were the latest to quit, following a raft of other resignations from top executive including chief executive David Meates. 

One protester, Nurse Educator Neil Hellewell, told RNZ a letter from senior doctors to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, asking her to intervene, had gone unanswered.

At a Covid-19 briefing on Thursday, Health Minister Chris Hipkins reinstated his confidence in the board.

It looks like somebody on the Ninth Floor of The Beehive should be monitoring him more closely.

While the Government has been busy monitoring health boards and district councils (with mixed success), the Point of Order Trough Monitor has alerted us to Shane Jones’ latest distributions from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The Jones money-spreading machine was busy in Taupo, providing Penny Homes with a loan of $8 million to a housing and community development in Taupō to ensure work can continue during the downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Penny Homes, a locally owned company, has begun initial works on the Eastern Urban Lands development in Taupō, a development that will include affordable and retirement housing, medical and childcare facilities and retail outlets. Work to be undertaken includes roading, landscaping and walkways that will connect to Taupō’s future urban growth corridor.

“Because of the economic impact of COVID-19, there is potential for this work to be delayed, which will have a knock-on effect on the tradespeople and associated industries involved in the project,” Shane Jones said.

The funding for the project will come from the $3 billion set aside for infrastructure projects in the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

Penny Homes – we recall – completed the first of the country’s Kiwibuild homes in Auckland a year or so ago. Its website records its handover of the first home “to a very happy Housing Minister, Phil Twyford, for the ballot process to begin.

Twyford described the houses as a milestone in the Government’s plan to build 100,000 homes over 10 years.

He is no longer Minister of Housing. We wonder why not.

The 18 houses were in the McLennan development in Papakura, Auckland, and were to be sold through a ballot.

John Penny, the director of Penny Homes, said he originally signed on to build 10 houses, but an extra eight were added for completion within 14 weeks.

Penny wasn’t sure how much money he would make on the project.

More than a penny, we imagine.

Jones also popped up – alongside Phil Twyford – to announce the Government has asked the Infrastructure Commission to oversee an urgent and wide-ranging review into the Transmission Gully project.

Twyford said construction had been plagued with delays and increased costs.

“Wellingtonians and taxpayers deserve to know exactly what has happened. We want to make sure future governments aren’t left in the same predicament our Government has been.”

Latest from the Beehive

21 AUGUST 2020

Review into Transmission Gully announced

The Government has asked the Infrastructure Commission to oversee an urgent and wide-ranging review into the Transmission Gully project, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones announced today.

International recognition of Wairarapa Moana celebrated in Conservation Week

The North Island’s third largest wetland ecosystem has been approved as a Wetland of International Importance, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today.

Foreign Minister makes diplomatic appointments

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced three diplomatic appointments.

Westland District Council is now performing well

The Minister of Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, is satisfied that the close monitoring of the Westland District Council by an Oversight Committee can draw to a close.

Funding support for Taupō housing

The Government will support a significant housing and community development in Taupō to ensure work can continue during the downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says.

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