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Heather Roy's Diary

Heather Roy's Diary

More Of The Same At CCDHB
Following a series of false starts, Labour's answer to Capital & Coast
DHB's woes was finally announced yesterday: while the newly elected Board
remains, previous Chair Judith Aitken has been sacked - but stays on the
Board as an elected member - Sir John Anderson was appointed the new
Chair, and Dr Ian Brown given the role of Crown Monitor.

Sir John Anderson was appointed Chair of TVNZ in 2006, after the State
broadcaster suffered a series of difficulties; Dr Brown is an obstetrician
and gynaecologist at Northland DHB. As the Government's new 'watchdog' at
CCDHB, he will report directly to Health Minister David Cunliffe.

In many ways this course of action signals that it is a case of 'business
as usual' at CCDHB, rather than tackling the serious situation head-on.
The Board is still in place and will, no doubt, be reminded that its
responsibility is to the Health Minister - with its first priority being
to implement Government health policy.

Meanwhile, I've been calling for the appointment of an independent
commissioner to oversee CCDHB. The disconnect between management and
clinical staff at Wellington Hospital is so serious that, I believe,
someone with proven skills at turning organisations around and the ability
to think outside the square is needed to change the culture.

This will be no easy task, and will certainly not happen overnight. The
Minister has given the Board four months to do just that - or, he claims,
he will put a commissioner in place. This trial period may well turn out
to be a just another delay in dealing with the real issues.

The greatest problem will be that of political interference - both by the
Minister and his Health Ministry. When the governing body's first duty is
to the government of the day - not the health needs of the local population
- the focus is immediately wrong.

The doctors, nurses and other health professionals working at the coalface
deserve a well-functioning workplace. When systems are well-organised, and
running efficiently, fewer mistakes are made and risks for patients are
significantly reduced.

Urgency And Dog Legislation
This week the House went into its annual bout of year-end Urgency; this is
my seventh year of this bizarre, and mis-appropriately named, way of
undertaking Government business - I've yet to find a case where a Bill
being debated could be considered urgent for the nation. Urgency is just
a means the Government uses to 'catch-up', and this week was no

One Bill debated yesterday will give territorial authorities the ability
to demand the neutering of dangerous dog breeds. I might've been
reassured had this been an admission that micro-chipping had been a crazy
plan, and was to be repealed; alas, no - apparently this is an adjunct to
further strengthen the success of micro-chipping and further protect our

The fact that owners, not dogs, must take responsibility has escaped the
Government. Virtually all dog attacks involve un-registered,
un-micro-chipped dogs. To think that these dog owners are about to go out
and have their aggressive dogs - usually bred specifically to fight -
neutered is craziness. We'd have more success in calling for the muzzling
of dragons.

Why The RMA Must Be Fixed
A Banks Peninsula landowner contacted me this week, telling me to get the
RMA sorted - ACT has been trying to do that since we got to Parliament in

He recently received a Notice of Rating Valuation showing an increase in
the value of his property. When purchased, 90 percent of the property was
able to be sub-divided; houses could be built on separate titles; a range
of activities other than farming were all possible.

Since then, the Banks Peninsula District Plan has steadily changed. None
of these things are now possible: new forestry isn't allowed, and setting
up tourism ventures - or industrial, commercial or residential operations
- is illegal, or the costs so high as to be prohibitive.

This landowner has effectively had his property rights stolen and, adding
insult to injury, he's been told his property is worth more than ever 'so
we'll have more rates, thanks very much'.

He summed the situation: "Landowners are, in most cases, locked out of new
possibilities because of the District Plan. Rural land is now locked in a
time warp, but rates are increasing at warp speed." Shame on you, Banks
Peninsula District Council. If others have 'Red Tape' stories of this
nature, I'd love to hear them.

Lest We Forget
This week our 17 Skyhawks were permanently parked outside their Woodbourne
Air Force Base hangar to make way for the C130 Hercules that are to undergo
an upgrading process.

If Defence Minister Phil Goff is to be believed, the Skyhawks are due for
an almost imminent sale - one must admire his optimism in the face of
overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In reality, Mr Goff is fooling no
one but himself; the Skyhawks are now of very little - if any - value, and
will never fly again in New Zealand.

In a bid to prevent them from deteriorating in the weather, the jets have
been sprayed with a latex covering. I'm told they've also undergone an
'inhibiting' process in which fluid is drained from all systems, and a
protective fluid then injected back in - something of an embalming

While in the US, I visited Nellis Air Force Base where I learned how the
US Air Force stores its Skyhawks: the jets go through the same process as
ours, but the airframes are stored in the very dry desert environment.
They also remove the engines and avionics and store them indoors, because
the latex coating does not offer them adequate protection.

While Blenheim has great weather by New Zealand standards, it is not as
dry as the desert. Our Skyhawks have their engines and avionics in place,
so they too will soon be 'weathered'.

This week's storage option for the Skyhawks signals the death of a once
proud Air Combat Force fleet. The sale is doomed, and the 17 aircraft are
now worthless. The Air Force could be using them to train engineers - or a
much kinder option would be to sell them off one-by-one to collectors and
enthusiasts, who would take much better care of them than 'parking them
up' to weather in the elements.

The MacDonald Douglas A4 Skyhawks are 1960's aircraft. There are still
approximately 3,000 around the world - most still flying as training
aircraft. They have seen combat three times: Israel used them against the
Arabs, US used them during Vietnam, and the Argentinians used them against
the UK in the Falklands war.


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