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Health Minister Abuses Power

Health Minister Abuses Power

Wednesday 13th Jun 2001 Ken Shirley Media Release -- Health

Health Minister Annette King’s decree that only Health Board Chairs may speak to the public is a dictatorial move to tighten political domination of health news, ACT Health Spokesman Ken Shirley said today.

"The only people allowed to tell New Zealanders about the health crisis are Board chairmen, who hold office under threat of dismissal by the Minister," Ken Shirley said.

"News will be censored by chairmen who desperately need to keep the Minister happy to hold their jobs. This gagging decree means the public - voters for health board directors - will be kept in the dark about the health issues in their communities.

"The Chief Executive is the normal spokesman for a company. The chairman only becomes the spokesman in extraordinary circumstances when shareholder matters are involved.

"Until this order, Chief Executives - who cannot be sacked by the Minister - were free to let the public know what's really going on. If the Minister twisted the arms of the Boards to threaten the Chief Executive, then employment law procedures, and the Whistleblowers Act would protect them.

"The Minister's claim that the new, politicised District Health Boards are subject to greater transparency, with meetings open to the public, is a charade. What we know is that whenever a politically sensitive issue or matter of funding arises, then the political appointees will simply resolve to deal with the matter in committee," Ken Shirley said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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