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News Worthy : So why is today “April Fool’s Day”

News Worthy - News From Richard Worth

So why is today “April Fool’s Day”

Ancient cultures, including those as varied as the Romans and the Hindu, celebrated New Year’s Day on 1 April. It closely follows the vernal equinox (20 March or 21 March). In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated 25 March, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated on 1 January.

As communication travelled slowly in those days there were some people who hadn’t heard or didn’t believe the change in the date so they continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on 1 April. These people were labelled "fools' by the general populace and were subject to ridicule and practical jokes. This custom has continued to this day.

A constitutional flurry
In the absence of good political news some sections of the media are actively promoting an early election and suggesting a July date. In fact Parliament can continue until 24 September 2005.

If the Government decides to hold an early election that would be a further vindication for those who assert that MMP is not working. Labour had coalition management problems in 2002 which saw the collapse of the Alliance and an election called three months before the due date.

There is no reason for an early election and the Government remains cocksure of success. The Government is now spending millions between now and September advertising its so called flagship “Working for Families” package and that advertising is scheduled to peak in August.

Auckland District Health Board
One of the challenges for any Government is the provision of effective and affordable healthcare. Philosophically the present Government is opposed to a greater involvement of the private sector. They would do well to rethink that.

The annual report of the Auckland District Health Board records hospital-based services operated $29.4 million adversely to budget and this represented “an unsustainable position which will prove to be a severe challenge to the board in the coming year”.

The Ministry of Health’s Elective Service Performance Indicator website paints a poor picture of waiting times at the ADHB:

· As at December 2004 there were 2,602 patients waiting longer than six months for their first specialist assessment.
· There were 589 patients who were in ‘active review’ but who had not received a clinical assessment within the past six months.
· There were 1,250 patients who were given a commitment of treatment but who were not treated within six months.

These events remind me of a visit I recently made to an over-crowded ward of Auckland City Hospital to visit a patient. Not only were patients being held in the corridor outside the ward, but three of them had become separated from their hospital medical notes and were in no real state to explain their medical condition to the attending nurses.

I then went to a nearby private hospital to visit a second patient. On that day in that hospital the occupancy rate was approximately 10%.

It seemed a stark illustration of the need to better coordinate private and public healthcare.

Flawed legislation
Question time on Wednesday was marked by the revelation that the effect of the Building Act which comes into force today, was that floors 3 upwards in the Beehive are unlawfully occupied. This is as a result of drafting errors in the legislation and the requirement that public buildings be completed before they are occupied.

The Beehive is under major renovation.

I have been collecting multiple examples of flawed legislation in the present Parliament. The examples include the Foreshore and Seabed legislation where all reclaimed land vested in local authorities was transferred under the legislation to the Department of Conservation. That was never intended and in hasty remedial legislation that position was reversed.

These errors should not occur and a combination of unreasonable pressures on Parliamentary Counsel, failures in the Select Committee process and limitations of time.

A classic illustration is the Legislation (Incorporation of Material) Bill. The Standing Orders of Parliament indicate that the general timeframe for a Select Committee to consider legislation is six months. In the present case, the Government has set a timeframe of two days.

There are constitutional significance in all this because one of the reasons we scrapped the Upper House in 1951 was the claimed benefit of Select Committee scrutiny. But two days to consider legislation during a Parliamentary sitting period will simply not provide such scrutiny.

Political Quote of the Week
“We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world", George W Bush
1 April 2005
No. 23

Upcoming Events

1 April
Mobility Dogs information weekend.

2 April
National finals of the Race Unity Speech Award

Salvation Army opening of new workshop – Epsom Lodge

3 April
Official opening of new Stella Maris Catholic Primary School

Shanti Niwas Annual Day Celebrations at Aotea Square

Epsom Electorate - Remuera Branch Luncheon at Kingsgate Hotel -Guest Speaker - Allan Peachey - Tickets Contact - Richard Gardner 524 0055

6 April – 8.00pm
Richard live on Williams-Up-Front Show

9 April
Chinese Women Assn of NZ 10th Anniversary celebrations

10 April
Official opening of Auckland Botanic Gardens' new visitor centre

14 April
Opening of Gallipoli 90th Anniversary Tribute Exhibition at Auckland Museum

Cornwall School Principal Peter Ellery retirement service

15-17 April
National Party Northern Regional Conference

24 April
Bike Day Out – Clevedon

25 April – ANZAC Day
6.00am Auckland RSA Dawn Service

10.45am Eden Roskill RSA Parade and service

26 April
Richard to address Rotary Club of Downtown Auckland

29 April
Opening of 2005 Taiwan Festival by Taiwan Hwa-Hsin Society in Christchurch

Richard Worth

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