Pharmac looks likely to get a pick-me-up after review team reports on its state of health

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

The Beehive has drawn attention today to the help being dispensed by the kindly Ardern government and other agencies for Covid-affected communities after alert levels (and levels of social inconvenience) were raised.  But Pharmac, the state’s controversial drug-purchasing agency, is to undergo a rigorous examination before changes are prescribed.

The Nats said the review is long overdue.

The PM said the Pharmac model broadly works well and gives New Zealanders access to the medicines and products they need to live healthy lives,

“ … but we have heard people’s concerns about the model, and we believe there is scope for improving it.

“Pharmac is a model that’s critically important to the health sector, and viewed as world-leading, but let’s make it better if we can.”

Health Minister Andrew Little said concerns raised about Pharmac include access to new medicines, timeliness of decision making, and the application of criteria that inform Pharmac’s prioritisation and funding decisions. Continue reading “Pharmac looks likely to get a pick-me-up after review team reports on its state of health”

Welfare beneficiaries to get their annual increase soon but poverty action group is bound to press for more

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

Good news flowed from the Beehive at the weekend for Ngāti Maru treaty claimants and – affecting significantly more people – welfare beneficiaries.

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced that main benefits will increase by 3.1 percent on 1 April, in line with the rise in the average wage.

She reminded us the Government announced changes to the annual adjustment of main benefits in Budget 2019, indexing main benefit increases to the average wage, rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

This is the Government’s second annual adjustment based on increases in the average wage,

“ …  making it fairer on low income families and helping reduce poverty amongst our most vulnerable,” said Carmel Sepuloni.

Around 385,000 families and individuals will be better off getting more than double the annual increase they’d have received using the old Consumer Price Index measure, she said. For example, a couple with children could get $13.24 more Jobseeker Support a week from 1 April in line with the average wage increase. Continue reading “Welfare beneficiaries to get their annual increase soon but poverty action group is bound to press for more”

APEC gets our PM as its new leader (along with an overhaul of its Vision to improve the wellbeing of all its people)

The PM moves fast.  Yesterday she announced she would attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and associated events “virtually”.  Early today – the second and final day of this event – she announced she has taken over the leaderhsiup of APEC.  

We imagine she has done this with much less difficulty than Joe Biden is having in taking over leadership of the USA from a highly aggrieved and capricious Donald Trump.

These APEC announcements were among several posted on the Beehive website since Point of Order last reported on how our ministers are earning their keep.

Most of the others assured us we were prudent not to turn off the Point of Order Trough Monitor simply because Shane Jones no longer can dispense handouts from the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund and/or the One Billion Trees programme.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is a dab hand at dispensing, goodies, too, and has stepped up to the plate to announce more than $6 million will be spent on helping farmers improve the health of rivers, wetlands, and habitat biodiversity in Canterbury and Otago as well as improving long-term land management practices. Continue reading “APEC gets our PM as its new leader (along with an overhaul of its Vision to improve the wellbeing of all its people)”

Success for bereaved petitioners – Govt introduces legislation to facilitate roadside drug tests

A petition with 1300 signatures calling for random roadside drug testing on New Zealand roads had a rocky experience with our law-makers.  It was set to be submitted to Parliament on May 9 last year but this was scuppered when its main champion, National MP Nick Smith, was suspended from Parliament for 24 hours.

The petition was started by a family who lost their son to a drugged driver in a crash in Nelson on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Before it was re-submitted, the way we remember it, the Government announced plans for public consultation on the introduction of roadside drug testing. And yesterday the Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill was introduced to the House.

Its first reading is intended next week.

The new law will allow Police to test if drivers are under the influence of drugs anywhere, anytime, just as they do now for alcohol, Police Minister Stuart Nash said.

Last year, 103 people died in crashes where the driver was later found to have drugs in their system.

The Bill allows Police to use oral fluid tests to check drivers for drugs which are likely to include THC (cannabis), methamphetamine, opiates, cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), and benzodiazepines. These – we are told – are the most prevalent and high risk drugs and medications used by drivers in New Zealand. Continue reading “Success for bereaved petitioners – Govt introduces legislation to facilitate roadside drug tests”

Social welfare has shrunk as a portion of total govt spending – but that’s before Covid-19 upset the figures

We were checking out the cost of our social welfare system, when  government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic made nonsense of all our old concepts of government assistance.

The virus has turned everybody – by the looks of it – into state beneficiaries and has  significantly raised government spending projections.

Never mind.  We will go ahead anyway and show what we found when we compared social welfare spending in the six months ended December 31 2019 with social spending 20 years previously.

The comparisons were made using data dredged from the Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand.

Among our findings, corporate welfare beneficiaries were doing much better than 20 years ago – in terms of their slice of government spending – before the virus triggered much greater injections of government assistance.

The other big change from 20 years is the proliferation of social welfare programmes recorded as transfer payments in the financial statements (see table below). Continue reading “Social welfare has shrunk as a portion of total govt spending – but that’s before Covid-19 upset the figures”