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Damning judgment on Govt meddling

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman
9 December 2007

Damning judgment on Govt meddling

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says in a humiliating judgment for Labour, the High Court has ruled against the Government’s surprise attempt to force union membership on aged care workers.

“Former Health Minister Pete Hodgson tried to spring conditions on providers that have now been deemed ‘unlawful’. His finger prints are all over this debacle.

“The court decision has major implications for the way the Government and DHBs do business. It calls into question the de facto role the Government plays in wage negotiations.

“Ministers say they don’t get involved, but this ruling proves differently. The court says Mr Hodgson’s involvement‘wrecked the ship’. ”

Mr Ryall is commenting after a Judicial Review found an eleventh hour clause in the agreement between District Health Boards and Age-Care Providers was declared unlawful.

“Pete Hodgson tried to bully the sector. He offered them extra funding, but until the last minute didn’t tell them that it would be tied to a clause which the CTU was insisting on. By the time he let the cat out of the bag, officials were left scrambling to meet wage round deadlines.”

The judgment says of Mr Hodgson's involvement:
‘… DHB problems and delays were exacerbated by the Minister accelerating and effectively demanding inclusion of a collective agreements clause. In the end, that is probably what wrecked the ship…’ [199] RESERVED JUDGMENT OF McGECHAN J

‘I have considerable doubts whether DHB viewpoints that collective agreements were matters driven by the Minister, not the responsibility of DHBs, somehow magically altered over the period of a few days. I think it much more likely that DHB personnel learned of judicial review dangers involved in any apparent blind obedience to the Minister, and ceased talking so loudly in those terms. I rather doubt whether they ceased thinking in those terms.’ [159] RESERVED JUDGMENT OF McGECHAN J

‘Put shortly, DHBs were caught out by delays of their own making and by Ministerial intervention; responded by ignoring their own previous timetable; tabled clauses A4 and A5 late and with insufficient time left for Providers to respond in full fashion; then said “take it or leave it” on pain of serious financial consequences so as to fit with a self-imposed deadline. DHBs created a timing problem by their own delays, and then sought to transfer that problem on to the Providers.’ [200] RESERVED JUDGMENT OF McGECHAN J

Mr Ryall says the Ministerial meddling will cause continuing uncertainty and suspicion in an important healthcare sector.
“Aged care deserves better than this.”

Attached:RESERVED JUDGMENT OF McGECHAN J – 88 Pages
http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0712/HCPvsDHBs.pdf

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