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Communities keen to have a say in health

24 August 2004

Communities keen to have a say in health

Health Minister Annette King says the diversity of candidates in this year’s District Health Board elections shows strong support for community involvement in health.

“There has been interest in the elections from all sectors of the community. What I am particularly pleased with is the wide geographical spread of candidates from all corners of each district,” she said.

More than 500 nominations were received by the close of the nominations period at midday on Friday. Each of the 21 District Health Boards (DHBs) have between 13 and 41 nominations for the seven elected positions on each board.

“Seventy-five per cent of existing board members are seeking re-election, which is a vote of confidence in the DHB system. Boards are open to the media and community and are run democratically – a vast change from the secrecy of the 1990s,” Ms King said.

She also highlighted the number of Maori and Pacific candidates who had put their names forward.

“The whole purpose of having a community voice in health is to ensure boards truly reflect the communities they serve. But this can only happen if groups put forward strong candidates and support them,” she said.

This year’s DHB elections will be held using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, where voters rank their desired candidates in order of preference.

The elections will also use ‘at-large’ structures where voters have a say in the election of all elected board members instead of just the ones that were in their ward or constituency.

Voting packs will start arriving in the post from September 17, with voting closing at midday on October 9.

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 Health 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.


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