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Flavell: Long-Term Residential Care Amendment Bill

Social Security Long-Term Residential Care Amendment Bill
Te Ururoa Flavell; Member of Parliament for Waiariki
Wednesday 15 November 2006; 8.40pm

Kia ora Mr Deputy Speaker, Kia ora tatou katoa.

Mr Speaker, this week as I returned to Parliament I brought with me a very special portrait.

It is a portrait of a renowned weaver, the kuia, Ranginui Parewahawaha Leonard.

She is a woman of much significance, so much so that my first-born child is named after her.

Ranginui Parewahawaha was my grandmother, and as it happens, one of her great grand-children in sitting the gallery.

She was 112 years old when she passed away, some 22 years ago. And yet my memory of her is as vivid as her piercing eyes.

Her tiny frame was rather deceptive – her strength was formidable, her nimble and meticulous skills with raranga stayed with her right to the end – that is weaving for those who do not know.
She is one who at the age of 100 years would still carry her firewood in a sack on her back from my uncle’s place to hers – a trek of some 800 metres or so. So she was a very strong woman and as we come to this Bill, the Social Security (Long-term Residential Care) Amendment Bill then, I think of her.
For her first century, she lived pretty proudly in her own home, only conceding to be cared for my mother and my aunty, in the last ten years of her life.

It was a life I that I would think must have been very hard, but a life that was fairly fulfilling. It was a life of independent means, of strength, of good heart.

And so in this Bill tonight, we, the Maori Party, bring those same aspirations – that the proposals to amend income and asset testing regime for elderly people requiring indefinite long-term residential care would guarantee that same autonomy and good health that my kuia enjoyed in her time.

A critical component of well-being, is, of course, financial stability.

We welcome the proposals that people assessed as requiring indefinite long-term residential care will pay no more than the maximum contribution for care whether or not they are subsidised.
People who have assets over the applicable assets threshold and receive contracted care services which cost more than the maximum contribution, will pay only the maximum contribution.

That sense of a cut-off point, from which no further charges will be incurred, is an important one.

The Maori Party supports these changes to the means-testing policies because we believe that these changes bring with them, the capacity to truly ensure manaakitanga is applied when considering the care of pakeke.

We were, however, disappointed that the Bill was reported back to the House with no amendments; and that there was no report or commentary tabled by the Social Services Committee on this Bill.

It was not as if the submissions received by the Committee were of little significance.

Indeed, I am told that at the time of the second reading of this Bill, my colleague, Tariana Turia, referred extensively to the expert advice and counsel of the submitters, particularly the macro-economist, Susan St John.

It was St John’s contention, that the opportunity to consider the appropriate funding of long-term care has been lost with the fast passage of this Bill.

Her advice to the social services select committee made it quite clear that the legislation has arisen solely to meet the obligations of a political promise.

Mr Speaker, last night I laid in the House the longest place name in Aotearoa, an 85 letter word.

The word tonight is not quite as long –in fact it is only twelve letters in all – but one that we must all wrap around our lips, and commit to memory, if we are to be truly the representatives of the people. What is the word?

The word is Consultation.

Consultation is critical to the attainment of quality policy.

A commitment to produce effective policy would mean that it is likely to be useful to get the views of New Zealanders in developing options and assess them.

Without a proper consultative process and a serious effort to define and address the actual problems New Zealand faces in the provision of long term residential care, the policy is created in a vacuum.

In addition, consultation offers offer new approaches for considering the dilemmas associated with, such variables as:
- income assessment,
- with the income from assets exemptions for couples,
- for residential care subsidies for disability related care.

Effective consultation enables us to point out pitfalls or gaps in our thinking and of course to raise issues we have not considered.
But there is a particular reason why the Maori Party is identifying the paucity of consultation in this Bill – and that is of course as a result of the responsibilities the Crown has through Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

At its heart, the Treaty confirms a relationship with Māori – it promises the commitment to a constructive and mutually respectful relationship.

And so we looked to the proceedings in the House to learn what our kaumatua and kuia, our koroua thought about the current asset test regime. We were interested in the perspectives of whanau, hapu and iwi regarding the funding for the provision of services and care to older people.

Mr Speaker, the nation is entitled to transparency in discussions regarding payments for long-term care.

I understand that the roopu, Residential Care New Zealand, came to the select committee stating that they don’t support raising asset testing. The Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association also suggested that we should remove asset testing in total as soon as possible;

I am told that the Salvation Army presented a submission stating that the residential care sector has to be better funded.

It was their view that given the demographics, it is likely that the market will develop a form of care that sits outside the regulations. The logical flow on effect of this would put older people potentially at risk of inadequate and costly care.

I have mentioned just a few of the submissions that were heard, in my attempt to ensure the Hansard record is a more fulsome one than perhaps that which we were going to receive otherwise.

But the broader issues of a fairer and sustainable sharing of long-term care must be examined in a public forum.

We absolutely endorse the views of Susan St John that there is not enough transparency in discussions regarding paying for long-term care. It was for that reason that we were interested in the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

Mr Speaker, earlier tonight, I paid tribute, and made reference to my grandmother, Ranginui Parewahawaha Leonard.

We were fortunate that our family was available to care for her.

The future, however, is not so clear.

As the demographics indicate, the proportion of our population requiring residential care, the needs of our elderly population will grow.

We must prepare, we think, and we must take every effort to consult, to care, to plan responsibly for this future.

It is with this in mind, that the Maori Party supports this Bill.


ENDS

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