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Peters: Our Promise To You – We Deliver

Media Release -Embargoed Against Delivery

Rt Hon Winston Peters

Healthcare Providers NZ

Annual Conference

Sky City Convention Centre

1.45 pm

11 August 2008

“Our Promise To You – We Deliver”

Chairman Simon O'Dowd, CEO Marin Taylor, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for the invitation to again open HealthCare Providers New Zealand's annual conference.

Yours is an important industry – you deal with the human face of an aging population.

You provide a service to our communities, a service which in many cases has been abrogated by extended families, often due to their busy lifestyles.

While this work has rewarding elements for those who work directly with our senior citizens, there is another side that many people want to look the other way and pretend does not exist.

But you must face up to it on a daily basis.

And when things go wrong, or somebody lets you down, then the media are all over you like hyenas, trashing the industry for the failings of a few.

While we are disgusted by those who abuse our seniors – it is total overkill to tarnish an entire industry where thousands of workers are caring professionals doing a fantastic job.

We in New Zealand First know a thing or two about being hounded by the media.

But we are here today to address serious issues which impact on the lives of tens of thousands of New Zealanders.

Last month your CEO Martin Taylor wrote to me asking for New Zealand First’s position on four key areas to your sector.

We are pleased to say that we could answer yes to each of your questions, but we can add one more promise that no other political party can.

We will make meeting those priorities part of any governing arrangement following the election – and ensure they are delivered on.

And we have the track record to prove it.

People can say a lot of things about New Zealand First – and some of them do – but they all accept that when we promise something – we deliver.

Every issue we campaigned on in 2005 we delivered on.

• Increased superannuation.

• Increased funding for your sector – over $530 million.

• A Supergold card.

• 1000 more police.

• A rewrite of immigration laws.

• Export year 2007.

• Lower business taxes.

• A fair taxation policy for the racing industry.

We could go on – but you get the point.

If we say we will deliver – we will.

And you have one added bonus.

We can deliver no matter who wins the election.

So we can make this promise to you today.

Those things that matter to you matter to us and we will make them happen following the election.

But we would also add this insight – we can get more done with more MPs.

We got a whole lot done with seven MPs, but imagine what we could have done with 10, or 15 or even 20.

But that is up to you and people like you.

We make no apology for delivering to care industries such as yours.

It is 100% consistent with our philosophy of a fair go for ordinary New Zealanders, particularly those who are vulnerable and neglected.

We raise this because your industry had suffered at the hands of benign neglect for well over a decade.

You know what it is like to be under-funded, under resourced and to be neglected.

It has been eight years since the Price Waterhouse Coopers report was written.

The report, which highlighted that this industry was under-funded by as much as 25%, was a shocking indictment of the National Party's treatment of this industry.

Sadly, it took Labour more than six years – and only after the insistence of New Zealand First – to put some real funding into this sector to redress the huge state of neglect.

It is no coincidence that the massive boost of over $530m over two budgets into the wider eldercare sector did not occur until our confidence and supply agreement with Labour was signed.

Your industry needs far greater attention paid to it because it is not just about funding.

We have an aging population – and they are going to have to live somewhere.

We have been privileged to open a number of retirement village and other facilities across the country, were we have seen first hand just what a positive and rewarding environment the right kind of rest home can provide.

Some have swimming pools, movie theatres and more – with the all the necessary care right at hand – and this is the right kind of future for many retired New Zealanders.

The simple fact is that our seniors deserve to retire in dignity – and comfort.

Retirement villages are not for everyone – but they should be there for those who choose them.

Careful planning is needed to get the mix right between retirement villages, rest homes, more acute care and those who choose to have home based care.

This has probably been the single greatest void in our policy making for seniors – a lack of adequate planning involving your sector as well as the so-called experts in the bureaucracy.

So let us return to the four questions which were put to us by your CEO.

The first question was: Will you protect the Elderly in Care’s Standard of living?

He then added: Will you protect the standard of living of the elderly in care from inflation, i.e., will your party ensure that the subsidy paid to the elderly in care is automatically indexed to CPI, or will you make DHBs automatically pass on the full Future Funding Track they receive for these services?

New Zealand First answers: “Yes”.

We believes that just as New Zealand Superannuation is indexed for inflation annually, then the subsidy paid to elderly in care should follow a similar formula as a minimum.

But we also strongly support the requirement of DHBs to pass this funding on to providers automatically – and have lobbied the current government to achieve this.

We have recently written to the minister asking him to pass on the remaining half a per cent from this year’s annual adjustment, which has been withheld by DHBs.

Funds voted for should not be withheld from seniors who need it.

The second question was: will you protect the Elderly’s Future Access to Care?

With the further questions, will you protect the elderly’s future access to care, i.e., will you support a repeat of the 2001 costing model to ensure the living standards of the elderly in care are protected and do you agree to establishing the number of beds needed in future to ensure the elderly can access aged care if they need it?

Again we answer: “Yes”.

In fact we announced to the Healthcare Providers NZ Conference last year that it is a matter of policy for New Zealand First that an updated report, along the grounds of the PWC report of 2001, is required to facilitate long term planning in this sector.

We need to plan our funding path – not just for the next three years, but for the next decade, 20 years and beyond.

We need to plan the capital expenditure involved – and to work together on this front.

We need to plan the provision of services and care – again by working together.

It must be inclusive and forward-looking.

It must embrace a model which sees a place for the private sector, which will make a profit, playing its part.

Many years of under-funding have seen large numbers of non-profit charitable organisations exit this industry because they couldn't afford to stay.

That void was filled by many in the private sector.

We cannot now turn around and say – you can't make a profit.

What we can expect is for you to deliver the best possible care and at the best possible prices and that you will pay your staff the best possible wages and give them the best possible training.

It should be an upward cycle – not a downwards one.

This is why planning is so critical.

People are living longer, many are getting frailer and we must ensure that the funding keeps pace with the needs of those we are providing a service for.

The third question was, will you fund equal pay rates between Aged Care Nurses and Government sector Nurses?

He then asked, will you fund equal pay rates between aged care nurses and government nurses, i.e., will you increase the elderly aged care entitlement by 2% each year for three years to compensate the sector for the impact of the 2008 DHB and NZNO MECA?

The answer to this question was again: “Yes”.

If we are to address issues around staff retention and quality, we must address issues of pay disparity and ensure that nurses working in the aged care sector are not at a disadvantage to those in other sectors.

The only way to address this matter is for incremental increases over time to allow the sector to keep pace.

The final question was: will you commit to the establishment of a specific Aged Care Industry Training Organisation (ITO)? And will you commit to the establishment of an aged care specific industry training organisation to promote the development of training in the sector?

This answer to this question is again: “Yes”.

New Zealand First strongly believes that the long term key to improving both the quality of care and career development is to have focused industry training in the sector.

Only a dedicated industry specific ITO would achieve this.

Now New Zealand First has not completed its total policy package and will be releasing our comprehensive policy package on the eldercare sector closer to the election.

But you can take three things away from this today.

The first is that we have heard your concerns and we share them.

The second is that we are committed to the policies which will address them.

And finally, but most importantly, we have delivered for you over the past three years and are prepared to deliver again.

The election campaign began in New Zealand many months ago.

Voters will have to discern between those who simply pay lip service to their constituents and those who deliver.

Your industry is no different.

So at the end of the day all we can offer you is our commitment to keep delivering – the rest, as the old saying goes – is up to you.

Enjoy your conference.


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