Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Dunne Speaks

Dunne Speaks

6 March 2014

Every now and then, and usually in hushed tones, the question is asked about how affordable our public health system will be in the future. Especially so as the baby boomers age, and demand more care, and the level of medical knowledge and technical skill continues to grow. And like ice-warnings delivered to the bridge of the Titanic, it is quickly dismissed. After all, thanks to the funding injections of the last two governments, elective surgery waiting lists are largely under control, and health is rarely the front page issue it used to be a decade or so ago. As all is sailing smoothly, why rock the boat?

While there is no immediate crisis, there is no immediate concern. The good ship Public Health is in good hands, sailing serenely on untroubled waters. Or so it seems, Captain Smith.

The one thing any long-term student of health politics quickly understands is that insatiable health demands always outstrip the conventional capacity to provide. So another funding crisis is at some point inevitable, and the application of traditional methods of response, such as the injection of more taxpayer funds, is becoming more and more constrained.

A game-changer is needed. Many governments, in Europe particularly, have already moved towards comprehensive insurance based health care provision. Holland and Spain are prominent examples, but they are by no means alone. Fine Gael, the current lead party of the Irish Government produced its own plan for a comprehensive health insurance scheme a few years ago. Given the similarities between Ireland’s and New Zealand’s economies and societies, Fine Gael’s scheme merits more than passing attention in our country.

And there are other examples, far closer to home, we ought to think about. The most visionary was Australia’s Whitlam Government in the early 1970s with its comprehensive Medicare programme which was never fully realised because of the near decade of conservative governments after 1975. And New Zealand moved significantly in that direction at about the same time with the introduction of the comprehensive no-fault personal injury Accident Compensation scheme. While the Woodhouse principles on which ACC was founded have been compromised somewhat over the years, the essential framework remains intact.

The opportunity is thus there already to establish a comprehensive national health insurance scheme for all New Zealanders by building on and expanding the coverage provided by ACC.

This will not happen overnight, just as the shift to cradle to grave social security did not automatically follow the election of Michael Joseph Savage in 1935. It will take commitment and dedication, persistence and determination, and possibly a support party pushing for a government to investigate such a scheme as part of a confidence and supply agreement for the idea to get the traction it needs to take off. But as the days start to lengthen, the skies begin to grey, and the whiff of ice increases, the Captain Smiths on the bridge may just start to think this is a course adjustment worth making.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

3-Year Transport Plan: No Plans On Six Northland-Election Bridges

The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. More>>

ALSO:

Family Violence: Increasing Reporting But Fewer Resolutions

“We are aware the Police have embarked on a significant programme of change in how they respond to family violence. The data suggests that adequate resourcing including investing in staff training, support and culture change will be required for this to be effective.” More>>

ALSO:

Health: NZ Children Still Suffer Rickets From Lack Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency continues to cause rickets in young New Zealanders, new University of Otago research has found. The researchers say that their finding suggests that at-risk mothers and children should be better targeted for Vitamin D supplementation. More>>

Also GPs, Housing, Milk: PM Press Conference On The UN Security Council

In a press conference today the Prime Minister discussed the upcoming appointment of New Zealand to chair the UN Security Council. He said they would put pressure Asad in Syria and attempt to “jump start” negotiations between Israel and Palestine. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: State Houses Could Sell To Overseas Groups

Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. More>>

ALSO:

AND:

Gordon Campbell: On Climate Change Protest, And Iraq Training

For sheer style, humour and content fit for purpose, it would be hard to beat the Greenpeace protest at Parliament. The fact that the hanging of functioning solar panels from Parliament Buildings caused such spluttering outrage among fogeys old (David Carter) and young (David Seymour) added a Monty Python level of amusement to the whole event. More>>

ALSO:

Speech: Bill English Explains NZ Government To Australia

Here I am part of a successful government, now into its third term and hopefully with more to come. I want to offer some thoughts tonight about the business of government, from a centre-right perspective. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news