“Older” New Zealanders have been defined for policy purposes in a press statement that emerged from the office of Health Minister David Clark at the weekend.
And guess what? Being “older” depends not on when you were born but on your ethnicity, which is something we define for ourselves.
A distinction between “older” Maori and Pacific people, compared with the rest of the country’s “older” people, was drawn at much the same time as the government was affirming its funding of another race-based programme. The 2020 Budget will include support in the mental health domain for services by Māori for Māori.
But what’s going on with “older” New Zealanders and the way they are being officially defined?
At Point of Order, we were fascinated by the focus on the word “older” (older than what?) rather than “old” (although we agree this, too is problematic).
Then we examined the fine print of the announcement of new funding ($3.5 million) for organisations supporting vulnerable groups to provide additional mental health and wellbeing support. And we learned that –
- Most of us are “older” at age 70; and
- Some of us are “older” at 50.
Continue reading “We are all getting older, but some of us (according to the Minister of Health) are getting older much faster than others”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a point of thanking the Director-general of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, for his service over the Covid-19 lockdown. She described working with the health official “as a real honour”.
“I consider NZ to be very lucky to have a public servant of Dr Bloomfield’s calibre leading the health response. His background in public health has meant I consider NZ to be among those countries who are a lucky to have the expertise in leading the response: one that considers the health and wellbeing of NZers in every respect.“
It’s a tribute most folk think well deserved, coming as it did on the last day of level four of the lockdown. And Bloomfield has earned international acclaim. Continue reading “The D-G should be chuffed after being praised by Ardern – now let’s see how hard the Minister is cuffed …”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson trots out the phrase “go hard, go early” in the battle against Covid-19, as often as he used to declare the underlying fundamentals of the NZ economy are “strong”.
Meanwhile Health Minister David Clark says responding to Covid-19 is a “marathon, not a sprint”.
But New Zealand didn’t “go early”. The Ministry of Health on January 24, the day after China locked down the huge city of Wuhan because of the outbreak of the disease, said the likelihood of a sustained outbreak in NZ is “low”.
It maintained that line for a month. There was no visible sign of the ministry calling on ministers to scale up stocks of relevant equipment, take precautions in retirement homes, or increase the number of Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators. Continue reading “Cabinet’s challenge is to strike the right balance between halting contagion and getting Kiwis back to work”
As the Covid-19 crisis deepens, the country needs unity, not politics as usual: so says the PM Jacinda Ardern.
Repeating a theme she had expressed in a speech the previous day, she told Parliament on Wednesday:
“There are moments in our history where it’s not business as usual, where New Zealanders expect us to come together”,
“We are a nation that has been shaped because of our experiences, and they often have been tough, harsh, and unpredictable. That is when New Zealanders are at their best. That is when we rally: when we look after one another, when we care for the most vulnerable. So my final message is this to New Zealanders: be strong but be kind—we will be okay”. Continue reading “A united front against Covid-19 is all very well, but it shouldn’t isolate the Ardern govt from hard questioning”
Government ministers are exulting over how the NZ economy is performing— and their own work in making it stronger.
David Clark, standing in for Grant Robertson in Parliament on Tuesday, rejoiced at how solid the “underlying fundamentals of the NZ economy are”. He said the government accounts for the June year showed how the coalition had achieved “strong financial results, while also making significant investments in well-being and infrastructure”.
Robertson, singing from the same songbook, celebrated NZ’s economic strength and resilience being recognised in a major update on the state of the global economy.
The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook shows NZ’s growth forecasts have held steady at 2.5% in 2019, rising to 2.7% next year, against the 1.7% for the rest of the so-called “Advanced Economies”. Continue reading “Ministers enthuse at their economic prowess but polls suggest the public recognises a failure to tackle poverty”
“Diabetes amputations top 1000” : so ran a headline in the NZ Herald over a report on what is becoming one of the public health disasters in this country.
Public health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organised efforts of society, says Professor Sir David Skegg, one of NZ’s most respected epidemiologists.
“Unfortunately NZ’s performance in this is even less adequate than its treatment services”.
He cites weak leadership and a lack of political will as fundamental problems for public health in NZ. Continue reading “Failure to lift the wellbeing of our public health service helps explain slippage in Labour’s poll support”
The headline on a statement released from the PM’s Office on the eve of the official release of the Wellbeing Budget tells us the government is Taking mental health and addiction seriously.
To demonstrate this, the government has accepted, accepted in principle, or agreed to further consideration of 38 of the 40 recommendations in the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.
This raises an obvious question: which two recommendations have been rejected?
The press statement gives the answer:
- The Directing the State Services Commission to report on options for creating a ‘locus of responsibility’ for social wellbeing within Government; and
- Set a target of 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2030.
Continue reading “Setting a suicide-reduction target might have been detrimental to the govt’s wellbeing”