The coalition's 100-day plan and what it means for the health of New Zealanders
At number 43 on the coalition government's 100-day plan, the disestablishment of the Māori Health Authority is being decried by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Mōrena, and welcome to The Bulletin for Thursday, November 30, by Anna Rawhiti-Connell. Presented in partnership with Z Energy.
In today’s edition: the public servants considered to be under the microscope of the new government; Wellington mayor admits she has an alcohol problem; OCR held at same rate and what it means for borrowers; but first, the coalition government’s 100-day plan is out, and despite urging from doctors across the country, legislation to disestablish the Māori Health Authority will be introduced by March next year
Government plans to utilise urgency to pass new legislation
The new 100-day plan is out. As described by prime minister Christopher Luxon, it is “hugely ambitious”. Approved by cabinet yesterday, it contains 49 actions. A full list here. Ten actions involve a “stop”, withdrawal or abolition. Twelve involve starting or beginning something, giving the government room to point to a process underway rather than completed when the 100 days are up. Six actions involve repealing legislation, and seven require introducing new legislation. Yesterday at the post cabinet press conference, covered in detail by Stewart Sowman-Lund, leader of the house Chris Bishop said the government plans to utilise urgency to pass new legislation this side of Christmas. Some actions are vague, like “begin work on delivering better public services and strengthening democracy” and “start work to improve the quality of regulation”. Some are far more concrete and consequential. If we start the clock from the release of the approved plan, that takes us to March 8, 2024, for the actions to be completed. As someone who likes to meter life out in “working days”, it’s 71. As yet, we don’t know when the House will return to sit after the Christmas break, but Luxon once again signalled a desire for that to be earlier than usual yesterday.
All the health initiatives
Under the heading “Deliver better public services” are several health initiatives. These include improving security at emergency departments (promised by Christmas by health minister Dr Shane Reti), signing an MOU with the University of Waikato to progress a third medical school, setting five targets for the health system, taking steps to extend free breast cancer screening, repealing the smoke-free laws, allowing the sale of pseudoephedrine and beginning work on repealing the Therapeutic Products Act. The Post’s Rachel Thomas has a good run down this morning on what the plan and the coalition agreements mean for health. At number 43 on the list is the introduction of legislation to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority.
Royal Australasian College of Physicians urges government to retain the Māori Health Authority
As Thomas notes, it remains unclear precisely what the disestablishment will look like or what will happen to its 400 staff. Yesterday, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), which advocates for more than 20,000 physicians and 9000 trainee physicians, spoke out and urged the new government to retain the Māori Health Authority. RACP president, Dr Stephen Inns said RACP supported the creation of Te Aka Whai Ora as a step towards transformative change in the health system. “We recognise our shared responsibility to close the gap in health outcomes for Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand and strongly support a by Māori for Māori approach at every level in healthcare,” he said.
Māori and Pacific medical school admission schemes due to be ‘examined’
It’s not in the 100-day plan, but examining Auckland University's Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme (MAPAS) and its Otago equivalent is in the coalition agreement between Act and National. Dr Emma Wehipeihana, a surgical registrar, writer and recent MAPAS graduate, has penned a blistering opinion piece about what she writes is the coalition government casting “a malevolent spotlight on Māori and Pacific medical school admission schemes” that will make “every tauira feel that a ‘you don’t deserve to be here’ target has been painted on their back.” Wehipeihana continues: “Have you ever tried to sit a medical school exam? Can you imagine how difficult they are? Then imagine that your right to exist in that exam room is being debated by our elected government who will absolutely encourage the media to participate in this attack while you’re trying to remember the Krebs cycle or the anatomy of the brachial plexus.”
Get exclusive access to a summer reading list curated by Claire Mabey
Our amazing books editor has created a reading list stacked like a pavlova: fluffy, fruity, and crisp. It is one of the rewards for our fundraising campaign on PledgeMe, and we'll get it out to those who pledge before Christmas.
If you can support our 2024 plans for longform and accessible journalism investigating how food shapes this country, check out all the rewards and make a pledge. Thank you to all who have pledged so far, thank you we are just shy of the $30,000 mark.
The public servants considered to be under the microscope
As the Herald’s Claire Trevett and Thomas Coughlan write (paywalled), “There’s a fair bit of bad blood between some ministers in the new National-Act-NZ First government and a range of other public servants, diplomats and political appointees to public bodies.” As they explain ministers do not hire or fire government department CEOs. However, some public service roles are appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister or a minister and are considered political appointments. Trevett and Coughlan list Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, Steve Maharey (chair of Pharmac and ACC), Trevor Mallard (ambassador in Ireland) and Phil Goff (High Commissioner to London) as those whose positions may be at risk following the change of government. Prime minister Christopher Luxon expressed confidence in Orr after yesterday’s OCR call (paywalled), saying it was “very clear” he and Orr were “united” in their goal of combatting inflation.
Wellington mayor admits she has an alcohol problem
As RNZ’s Nick James reported yesterday evening, Wellington mayor Tory Whanau has admitted she has a drinking problem after another incident of drunken behaviour in public. The admission came after questions by RNZ about what happened at an inner-city bar two weekends ago. In a statement, Whanau said to her “great embarrassment and shame”, her drunkenness seemed to have been recorded and she is seeking professional help. “I am not a career politician, and leadership positions in public office are not built for regular people who may have struggles with addiction, mental ill health, or any other illness that has stigma attached. We have seen this play out with career-ending moments from politicians across the political spectrum in recent times,” her statement read. According to The Post, the co-owner of Havana Bar, where the incident was alleged to have taken place, is “perplexed” by the reports of an “incident”. Roger Young says he was there that night and Whanau and her group “all seemed totally fine and were all very courteous to my staff. There were absolutely no problems.”
Click and Collect
Why no change to the OCR is bad news for borrowers
Multiple houses on fire in Māngere Bridge in Auckland and homes have been evacuated
I have confess I only learned what Jibbitz were two weeks ago and still call them giblets, but some schools are now banning them and the Croc shoes they adorn
Feeling clever? Click here to play 1Q, Aotearoa’s newest, shortest daily quiz.
Toby Manhire writes that Christopher Luxon’s political honeymoon has been brutishly short. Stewart Sowman-Lund summarises what's happened in the case of Siouxsie Wiles v University of Auckland and what could happen next. Jesse Mulligan admits that fiction is his medicine in The Spinoff Books Confessional. Want to guarantee your tax cut? Tara Ward has a suggestion: take up smoking. that it says will be cheaper and faster than light rail. Joel MacManus digs into a report from the world’s biggest ski lift manufacturer who want to build 10 gondola routes in New Zealand. Scott Hamilton explains New Zealand’s shameful role in the 1917 destruction of Gaza.
Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Get in touch with me at email@example.com.
If you liked what you read today, share The Bulletin with friends, family and colleagues.