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Napier Health Centre

Health Minister Annette King said today former National Government Ministers Bill Birch and Bill English authorised a redevelopment package which will mean New Zealanders have to continue footing the bill for an exorbitant lease on the Napier Health Centre for the next 13 years.

Mrs King released a copy of a letter written on November 25, 1997, by Mr English and Mr Birch (now Sir William Birch) to Healthcare Hawke's Bay chairman Peter Wilson, and a copy of a press release from Mr English, dated the same day.

"The two ensured no further Crown money was available for the replacement of Napier Hospital, and signed off a redevelopment package that included an excessive rent of more than $1.2 million a year. That rent is equal to Auckland property prices."

Mrs King said she had asked for a report last month from the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit on the rental after she was approached by Napier MP Geoff Braybrooke. She had subsequently also asked HCHB to clarify some issues in the CCMAU report. Yesterday she answered oral questions in Parliament from Mr Braybrooke on those two reports.

Mrs King said she was appalled at the waste of money authorised by the former ministers.

"It is quite clear that by the end of the first 13-year lease, taxpayers will have paid for the $11 million building more than once. If the public health system takes up the full lease, including extensions, the taxpayer will have paid the equivalent of three times the cost of building the facility.

"What an indictment of National Party ideology. It has cost New Zealand millions of dollars that should have been spent on actual health provision."

Attached: Letter by former National Government Ministers to HCHB, and copy of press release issued by Mr English. Both dated November 25, 1997.

For more information, contact John Harvey (04) 471 9305.


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