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O'Connor calls for rural representation

6 August 2004 Media Statement

O'Connor calls for rural representation

Few rural candidates have put their names forward for this year's District Health Board elections, and with just two weeks until nominations close, Associate Health and Rural Affairs Minister Damien O¡¦Connor is urging rural communities to act.

"If the rural community wants its voice to be heard in the delivery of health and disability services, now is the time for rural people to put up their hands."

Nominations for the October elections close on Friday 20 August at midday.

The rural sector has the opportunity to have a greater say in this year¡¦s elections, with a new voting system - Single Transferable Vote (STV) - replacing First Past the Post.

This means rural voters can have a say in the election of all seven board members, rather than just voting for a candidate in their ward or constituency.

STV is a proportional system by which voters rank candidates by putting a number beside the candidates¡¦ names, rather than a tick as with First-Past-the-Post.

For example, if Candidate A were your preference, you'd put a ¡¥1¡¦ beside A¡¦s name. If Candidate B was your second option, you'd put a ¡¥2¡¦ beside B¡¦s name, and so on. Voters can rank as many or as few candidates as they like.

Mr O¡¦Connor encouraged rural people who wanted to make a difference to the health of their community not to miss out.

¡§Nominations close in two weeks, so I¡¦d ask anyone passionate about health - and I know there are many in rural areas - to put their name forward.¡¨

For further information on standing as a candidate call toll-free on 0508 9 10 2004, visit www.moh.govt.nz/dhbelections or contact your DHB.

2004 District Health Board Elections - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a District Health Board?

District Health Boards (DHBs) are responsible for providing, or funding the provision of, health and disability services in their districts. There are 21 DHBs in New Zealand and each DHB is governed by a board.

What is the role of a DHB board?

The board of a DHB has all powers necessary for the governance and management of the DHB. However, the board must delegate to the DHB¡¦s Chief Executive the power to make decisions on management matters relating to the DHB. This delegation may be made on such terms and conditions as the board thinks fit.

How are boards made up?

Each DHB board consists of seven elected members, and up to a further four members appointed by the Minister of Health. This structure allows for a range of perspectives, skills and knowledge on each DHB board.

The Minister of Health also appoints a chairperson and deputy chairperson for each board from among the board¡¦s elected and appointed members.

Who can be a candidate at a DHB election?

As a general rule, any person who is a New Zealand citizen and is a parliamentary elector can stand for election to a DHB board. However, there are several exceptions to this and these are set out in the New Zealand Public Heath and Disability Act 2000 (clause 17 of Schedule 2).

Are board members remunerated?

Yes. The Minister of Health determines board members¡¦ terms and conditions of office and levels of remuneration. Board members are paid an annual fee for their service on the board, and fee levels vary from DHB to DHB (depending on the size and assessed complexity of the DHB and the board¡¦s workload). Fees currently range from $15,000 to $24,000 per annum. The board chairperson and deputy chairperson receive a higher fee.

Board members are paid an additional annual fee of up to $2500 for each statutory advisory committee they are a member of. Board members are also covered for reasonable expenses associated with board and statutory advisory committee business (such as travel costs), with the approval of the board chairperson.

Who are board members responsible to?

While elected board members are elected by the public, all board members (both elected and appointed) are directly responsible and accountable to the Minister of Health. This is because DHBs are funded by the Government, using taxpayer dollars. The Minister is responsible for setting New Zealand¡¦s health and disability strategies and ensuring that the tax dollar is spent in an appropriate way.

What voting system will be used at the 2004 DHB elections?

From 2004 onwards, DHB elections will be conducted using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. This replaces the First-Past-the-Post system used in the first DHB elections in 2001.

Under STV, voters rank their desired candidates in order of preference. Candidates are elected when they reach a specific level of support from voters (known as the ¡¥STV quota¡¦). To be elected to a DHB, candidates will need to get a little over 12.5 percent of the vote.

October¡¦s DHB elections will also be held ¡¥at-large¡¦. This means that all votes cast in a district will contribute to electing all seven elected board members. This is different to the 2001 elections, where voters could only vote for a limited number of candidates on a constituency basis.

Key dates for the 2004 DHB elections

Date Action
23 July 2004 Candidate nominations open.
20 August 2004 Candidate nominations close (at 12 noon).
17ƒ{22 September 2004 Voting documents issued ¡V start of voting period, special votes are issued and early processing of votes begins (where applicable).
9 October 2004 Election day ¡V end of voting period (at 12 noon) and announcement of preliminary results (as soon as practical after the close of voting).
9 ƒ{16 October 2004 Special votes are counted and official results are declared.
6 December 2004 Newly elected board members take office.

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