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Sowry talking through hole in his leak

12 June 2001 Media Statement

Sowry talking through hole in his leak

Health Minister Annette King says National health spokesperson Roger Sowry has got hold of the wrong end of a "leak" once again.

Mr Sowry today claimed that the Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi, had gagged District Health Board chief executive officers.

"The accusation is laughable." Mrs King said. "Dr Poutasi and other health officials were present yesterday morning when I had a conference telephone link-up with board chairs and deputy chairs.

"I will be having these conference calls regularly as one excellent way of keeping in touch with the boards. Chairs also meet me in Wellington, and I intend visiting each board during the year.

"We discussed many issues during the call, and I, not Dr Poutasi, told the chairs that I thought it was more appropriate for board chairs or members, rather than CEOs, to discuss policy issues in public. The reason for that is that CEOs are part of the public sector.

"It is simply ridiculous to suggest anyone is trying to gag boards. They are holding their meetings in public. Board chairs, most of whom were appointed by the previous Government, and board members can speak out publicly on whatever they like, and I am quite comfortable answering any issues they raise.

"How different this all is from the set-up under the previous Government when everything happened behind closed doors.

"During question time in the House today I revealed details of just what National planned to do to funding for elective surgery this year if it had remained in office. They had planned to cut elective surgery by $84 million in the 2001/02 financial year. Mr Sowry is now venting his spleen, but he should learn from Nick Smith and get his leaks right."

ENDS

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