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Why the Treaty clause for optometrists?

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

24 May 2006

Why the Treaty clause for optometrists?

Labour must strip Treaty of Waitangi clauses from service contracts used by the Ministry of Health, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

In Parliament today, Mr Ryall revealed that a Ministry of Health contract with optometrists includes a Treaty clause and a separate Maori health priority clause.

“How can the Government seriously think that optometrists can treat Maori eyes differently to anyone else’s? This is Labour up to its old tricks again,” says Mr Ryall.

The Treaty of Waitangi clause reads: ‘The Treaty of Waitangi establishes the unique and special relationship between iwi Maori and the Crown. As a Crown agency the Ministry of Health considers the Treaty of Waitangi principles of partnership, proactive protection of Maori health interests, co-operation and utmost good faith, to be implicit conditions of the nature in which the internal organisation of the Ministry of Health responds to Maori health issues. Equally the Ministry of Health shall require that these principles shall be explicitly expressed in contracts between the Ministry of Health and contracted service providers. Therefore all contracted providers, who clientele may include Maori, shall demonstrate how the policies and practices of their provider organisation and service delivery shall benefit that Maori clientele’.

The Maori health priority clause reads: ‘You agree that Maori health is a specifically identified health gain priority area. You must therefore establish and implement a Maori health policy that reflects that fact. In developing this policy, you must take into account our strategic direction for Maori health in terms of minimum requirements for Maori based on the Treaty of Waitangi, Crown objectives for Maori health and specific requirements negotiated from time to time with us.’

“After saying it would crack down on Treaty clauses and race-based policies, the Labour Government has little to show,”says Mr Ryall.

“First the Ministry of Health tells dentists to treat patients differently, and now we find the same thing is happening with optometrists.

“National says patients should be treated on the basis of need, regardless of race or the Treaty of Waitangi,” says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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