Let’s not quibble about a typo – instead we should admire Little’s readiness to list achievements with mental health spending

We trust Health Minister Andrew Little got his numbers right when he addressed the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists at a Virtual Conference on Equity of Health Outcomes for New Zealand.

One figure in the speech posted on The Beehive website seriously inflates the extra spending earmarked in this year’s Budget for Pharmac (obviously it’s an innocent typo). 

The team at Point of Order long ago learned to be wary, if not downright suspicious, when politicians bandy numbers.  More often than not the figures they brag about will be challenged by political opponents who produce contradictory data or put matters into a very different perspective.   

For example, earlier this week we reported a statement by Jacinda Ardern, Minister in Charge of Child Poverty Reduction:  Continue reading “Let’s not quibble about a typo – instead we should admire Little’s readiness to list achievements with mental health spending”

Centralisation is prescribed for our health system – but funding is an issue and see what has happened in transport and education

Health  Minister  Andrew  Little  says   the reforms the  government has  announced this week will  mean for the  first time  New Zealand will  have  “a  truly national  health  system”.

The  new  system  will consist  of  a  national  health  organisation,  a  Maori health authority,  and a  new  public  health authority to  centralise  public  health  work. The  Ministry of  Health  will remain  in  over-arching  control.

It  is  a  major  structural  reform, going even  further  than the  raft of initiatives proposed in the Heather Simpson  report.

So  will  Andrew  Little  be  top of  the  pops, the  only  minister (so far) in the  Ardern  government to deliver  a  radical new policy  to  reform  a  key  government  service?

Initial  reactions  seemed  highly  in favour.  The  Dominion-Post’s headline ran “Overhaul of  DHBs Welcomed”.  The NZ  Herald  was  even  more  vivid  in  its  imagery:  “The  faces  of  failure”, it  shouted, “Health overhaul  to end ‘postcode lottery’  comes too  late  for  these  loved ones”.

The  message  was  clear:  good  riddance  to  the  district health boards (generally known as DHBs). Continue reading “Centralisation is prescribed for our health system – but funding is an issue and see what has happened in transport and education”

Govt amputates the country’s 20 DHBs in its health restructuring but consults the Treaty to prescribe a balm for Maori

Health, health and health were the subjects of three ministerial posts  – two of them were speeches –  on the Beehive website this morning.

They spell out the government’s plans for comprehensively overhauling the country’s health system.

They also step up the pace in the government’s perturbing programme of creating an “us” and “them” racial divide.

In his speech, Health Minister Andrew Little says he is laying out “a plan to create a truly national public health service”. National, yes, but with a separatist component.

Little described it as a system that takes health services to the people who need them, no matter who they are or where they live, and which draws on the best of what we have now, but will enable doctors, nurses and other health workers to concentrate on patients “instead of battling bureaucracy”.

Then he insisted the restructuring “will reinforce Te Tiriti principles and obligations”.

Readers who check out the three articles of the Treaty for guidance on shaping a health system will be hard pressed to find what this should entail.

Little also brought the concept of a Treaty partnership into considerations:  he said the system must work in true partnership with Māori to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes. Continue reading “Govt amputates the country’s 20 DHBs in its health restructuring but consults the Treaty to prescribe a balm for Maori”

Here’s hoping our new govt gets the message about intelligence from GSCB’s role in exposing Russian hackers

Three cheers for the GSCB.  It has been lauded by the US FBI and intelligence agencies for its role in uncovering Russian covert intelligence activities around the world.

The Minister in Charge of the intelligence services, Andrew Little, expressed surprise we had been named – but this is a wake-up call to the new government, which is woefully short of experience and hard realities in the wider world – and a reflection on how much NZ services are valued by allies.

This is the story: On October 15 a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned an indictment charging six computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the Russian Federation (Russia) and officers in Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.

The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers; FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich; U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady; and Special Agents in Charge of the FBI’s Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and Pittsburgh Field Offices, J.C. “Chris” Hacker, Melissa R. Godbold, and Michael A. Christman, respectively. Continue reading “Here’s hoping our new govt gets the message about intelligence from GSCB’s role in exposing Russian hackers”

Andrew Little should check out hate crime policing in the UK – and the observations of British judges

News from Britain about the policing of hate crime laws should be must holiday reading for Justice Minister Andrew Little, who for several months has been considering making hate crime an offence in this country.

Stuff in March revealed a series of racially-motivated incidents in Christchurch after 50 people were killed in mosque shootings.

The incidents included a Muslim woman being denied entry to a bus and a swastika spray-painted on a fence in the spot where the alleged gunman was arrested.

We would have thought New Zealand had laws enough to deal with the miscreants in those cases but Little saw the opportunity for political grandstanding and declared he was fast-tracking a widespread review of this country’s existing hate speech legislation.

The review would include deciding if hate crime should be established as its own separate offence, as it is in the United Kingdom.

But one British initiative – the establishment in London of a police unit for tackling online hate crime – has brought charges against less than one per cent of internet trolls it has probed.

Continue reading “Andrew Little should check out hate crime policing in the UK – and the observations of British judges”

Little wins award for Beehive bollocks after bragging of “ban” on foreign political donations

Andrew Little comfortably won the “bollocks” award when the Point of Order team sifted through puzzling or contentious headlines from the Beehive yesterday.

Among the contenders were –

This introduced a press statement which said the new independent Cancer Control Agency, formally opened yesterday, was ”delivering on the Government’s plan to improve cancer care in New Zealand”.

The statement included the names of the advisory council members who will be supporting the new agency and outlined key components of the Government’s plan to improve cancer care and control.

But why – we wonder – has it not been called the Cancer Care Agency or something similarly caring?  “Control” implies a dubious ambition to maintain the incidence of cancer at current levels, rather than to reduce it. It also implies a central government obsession with keeping a firm grip on whatever happens in the domain of cancer treatment and care.  Continue reading “Little wins award for Beehive bollocks after bragging of “ban” on foreign political donations”

Here’s why a disappointed blogger is proposing a pay cut for MPs on Parliament’s Justice Select Committee

Malcolm Harbrow, at No Right Turn, has picked up on an important governance issue which our web search (a brief one, we acknowledge) suggests was missed by the mainstream media.

The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from Parliament’s Justice Select Committee yesterday. Harbrow would have been monitoring its progress because he was one of around 15 people who made submissions to the committee.

Today he reports:

But there’s no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn’t bother to produce one.

They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which includes 4 National MPs), and National’s opposition to the bill, they couldn’t pass one. Oddly though they couldn’t even produce a “we could not agree, but let’s fix the typos” report which is usual in such circumstances.

The net result: if you submitted on this bill, congratulations: you wasted your time.   Continue reading “Here’s why a disappointed blogger is proposing a pay cut for MPs on Parliament’s Justice Select Committee”

Andrew Little’s priggish rebuke suggests “Fascist” might be an acceptable word when his “hate law” is enacted

Justice Minister Andrew Little sounded distinctly priggish, when he chided National’s Nick Smith in Parliament yesterday.

Smith had asked if Little stood by all his statements, policies, and actions on electoral law and referenda?

The answer was yes, he did.

But Little couldn’t resist the temptation to go further and say:

” … I should point out that the accepted plural of ‘referendum’ these days is ‘referendums’.” 

This was a disquieting reminder that the “accepted” way of saying things could well be incorporated in a new “hate” law which Little seems keen to have enacted to curb our freedom to express ourselves.   Continue reading “Andrew Little’s priggish rebuke suggests “Fascist” might be an acceptable word when his “hate law” is enacted”

Little is big on tact as he fields questions related to an array of ministerial portfolios – and to his workload

Is Andrew Little overworked?

The question was raised by TVNZ’s Simon Shepherd in an interview that spanned the Grace Millane case, name suppression orders and Google, abortion law reform, referendums and Winston Peters, the dispute at Ihumatao, and the Labour Party’s handling of sexual harassment  allegations.

Shepherd noted the number of portfolios for which Little is responsible.

He asked:

Okay. Justice, Courts, GCSB, SIS, Treaty negotiations and Pike River – they’re all your portfolios. So why are you carrying such a big load in this coalition government?

Why he is carrying such a big load is a question better addressed to the Prime Minister, who appointed him to those posts. Continue reading “Little is big on tact as he fields questions related to an array of ministerial portfolios – and to his workload”

Law and order rules are being rewritten as Ardern bridles at accusations of leadership failure

It has been a momentous week for the country’s justice system and old-fashioned notions of “law and order”.

First, the Ardern government has said it is considering a report which  recommends the abolition of prisons.  A Maori-led review of the justice system is also urged by this report.

Second, the PM has intervened in a land dispute in Auckland and thereby over-ridden the role of the courts.  

Getting rid of prisons is the remedy ingeniously proposed to reduce the high ratio of Maori inmates in our prisons.

The proposal is contained in the Ināia Tonu Nei: Māori Justice Hui report (here) released during the week. Continue reading “Law and order rules are being rewritten as Ardern bridles at accusations of leadership failure”