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Health Policy Catches Labour Out

MEDIA STATEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday 11 November 1999

HEALTH POLICY CATCHES LABOUR OUT

Labour's "credit card" promise to cut waiting lists does not match Michael Cullen's proposed Budget, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"Labour has always had difficulty balancing facts and promises. In spite of its big talk on health, it's now clear – health would be a big loser under Labour.

"When Helen Clark released Labour's credit card promises, she made the No 2 promise to "cut waiting times for surgery." But Cullen doesn't have enough money budgeted to do it.

"When Annette King released Labour's health policy, she said it would cost $825 million over three years. (CHCH Press, 26/10/99)

"She said Labour would spend $200 million a year to cut waiting lists. (Herald 20/10/99)

"But when Michael Cullen released his alternative Budget, he only had $325 million for health over the whole three years. Clearly someone is not telling the whole story.

"It's very likely that National's health spending would be more than Labour plans over the period. On our track record, the baseline increase and the annual additional amounts for new policies are likely to add up to more than the total that Labour is promising.

"Increases are needed each year to cope with a growing and ageing population, and to keep pace with new developments in medicine. National has planned for this. Labour has not.

"Much of what they would spend would be soaked up in another pointless and unwanted restructuring of the health system which the vast majority of health professionals oppose – rather than the frontline services which are our priority.

"Something has got to give. Labour's already given some hints about what promises it won't keep.

"They say they will scrap income and asset testing. Greypower and other older people need to know that Helen Clark has not budgeted to pay for the promise.

"They say they will put more into mental health. Mental health workers and patients are entitled to know the money is not there.

"They promise more for rural health, primary health and population health. How are the promises going to be honoured?

"Health matters to New Zealanders. Labour should not mislead people with commitments that they clearly don't plan to carry through," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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