Pharmac should brace for a dose of medicine to perk up its Treaty performance and (all going well) lift Maori health outcomes

Monitoring the Ministers

A raft of appointments has been  announced over the past 24 hours – an ambassador to Turkey, a consul-general to Guangzhou, a chair for KiwiRail, a deputy inspector-general of intelligence and security and an advisory panel for the same outfit. 

Oh – and remember Clare Curran? The former Labour Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media has landed a job on the board of a Crown company, Network for Learning (N4L).       

In other announcements, the government joined the disabled community in marking and celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall congratulated Covid testing teams around New Zealand for reaching the five million tests milestone.

Another big health-related statement came from Health Minister Andrew Little, who said care for the sickest New Zealanders is getting a major boost from the government, with plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on expanding intensive care-type services.

As the country shifts to the traffic-light system, he said (somewhat ominously)

“… we need to make sure we can cope with the unexpected.”

Cabinet has earmarked $100 million of capital funding from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to accelerate these intensive care unit projects.  Another $544 million of operational funding is available to fund ongoing costs like staffing.

But Point of Order was drawn to another of Little’s press statements, issued to accompany his release of an interim report by an independent panel reviewing the national pharmaceuticals-buying agency Pharmac. Continue reading “Pharmac should brace for a dose of medicine to perk up its Treaty performance and (all going well) lift Maori health outcomes”

Govt to give ‘most vulnerable’ countries $1.3bn to deal with climate change, but how will the recipients be identified?

Latest from the Beehive

Fresh from a weekend of hoopla and incentives (or palpable bribery) to lift the country’s Covid vaccination numbers, the Government turned to another great threat to our wellbeing and is splashing out on helping some countries deal with climate change.

It has committed $1.3 billion over four years “to support countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change”.

At least 50 per cent of the funding will go to the Pacific as it adapts to the impacts of climate change.

Whether the countries that will benefit rank among the “most vulnerable countries” depends on which list you consult.

Point of Order asked Google to tell us which countries are most vulnerable to climate change.

Top of the list of about 178 million responses was an article which referenced the results of the Global Climate Risk Index 2020. Continue reading “Govt to give ‘most vulnerable’ countries $1.3bn to deal with climate change, but how will the recipients be identified?”

Mahuta says there’s more talking to be done on three waters reforms – but let’s see if that means she is listening

A bemusing press statement  flowed this morning from the office of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta on the highly contentious matter of “three waters reforms”.

Under these reforms, the country’s 67 local and regional councils’ drinking, waste and storm water assets would be taken over and administered by four large regional entities, each of which would include iwi leaders with extraordinary co-governing powers.

In return, the government would pay for billions of dollars’ worth of much-needed infrastructure and repairs.

But as the NZ Herald noted two days ago

“… mayors up and down the country are far from convinced, with major reservations about losing local control over such vital assets.”

That report said Mahuta may allow for more council influence in the contentious water reforms,

“… but still refuses to rule out changing the law to force councils to sign up.” Continue reading “Mahuta says there’s more talking to be done on three waters reforms – but let’s see if that means she is listening”

It’s all about reducing inequities -and so Maori wellbeing is a big consideration in research funding and hospital administration

The Government has dished out public money on two fronts in its mission to reduce inequitable outcomes in health statistics.

On one front, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little joined a ceremony to bless the site and workers for Phase Two of the redevelopment of the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa yesterday,

The Government has invested $14 million in a project intended

“… to help the Northland District Health Board address inequitable health outcomes for Māori, by making services easier to access for communities,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“It is unacceptable that the place you live should determine the sort of healthcare get.”

Does this mean the Point of Order team can move to Stewart Island and be assured of the same health services that are being provided for the people of Kawakawa?

Oh, and let’s note that the local district health board in the Far North is being shunted aside for this development.  Continue reading “It’s all about reducing inequities -and so Maori wellbeing is a big consideration in research funding and hospital administration”

We know about politicians seeking power – but they could be the source of generating power, too

A press release from the Beehive triggered our recollection of a bit of science about the energy-generating properties of methane.  According to an article in the Journal of Environmental Management a few years ago, livestock manure contributes an estimated 240 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of methane to the atmosphere and represents one of the biggest anthropogenic sources of methane.

Considering that methane is the second biggest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, the article said,

“ … it is imperative that ways and means are developed to capture as much of the anthropogenic methane as possible. There is a major associated advantage of methane capture: its use as a source of energy which is comparable in ‘cleanness’ to natural gas.”

We bring this to readers’ attention in light of

  • The initiative by Parliamentry Services to cut Parliament’s carbon footprint by installing solar and improving energy efficiency, and
  • The power-generating potential of – is there a more delicate way of expressing this? – political bullshit. 

Continue reading “We know about politicians seeking power – but they could be the source of generating power, too”

No bull, but much bigger bucks have been budgeted to beat Mycoplasma bovis than for the govt’s Covid vaccine strategy

We’ve heard of people being treated like animals by the governments of some countries.  But two statements from the Beehive yesterday suggest the well-being of beasts – those that contribute to our export receipts, at least  – is much higher in government budget priorities than the well-being of people.

Our evidence?

 Exhibit one:  A statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods,  and Health Minister David Clark.  They announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, which will enable New Zealand scientists to contribute to global research efforts and explore the potential of vaccine manufacturing capability in New Zealand.

Government has allocated $37 million to the strategy.

Exhibit two:  A statement from Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor, who referenced the latest technical data in showing progress on New Zealand’s world-first plan to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

He reminded us that two years ago the Government, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand and industry partners made a bold decision to go hard and commit funds to a 10-year programme to eradicate M. bovis to protect our most important sector and the economy.

The sum involved:  $880 million. Continue reading “No bull, but much bigger bucks have been budgeted to beat Mycoplasma bovis than for the govt’s Covid vaccine strategy”