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'Voices of the community' must be heard

17 November 2005

'Voices of the community' must be heard - Green Party

Rules that would effectively gag democratically elected District Health Board members must not be imposed, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"The proposed new rules, being considered by the State Services Commissioner, are absurd and would make it virtually impossible for democratically elected representatives to voice public concerns about the workings of DHB's.

The proposed new rules are outlined in a State Services document entitled Integrity and Conduct: Setting Standards for Crown Entities, and were considered by the MidCentral DHB yesterday.

They propose requiring board members to have the same constraints as public servants, and not publicly express views that could 'compromise their entity's ability to operate effectively', or erode the trust people place in institutions.

"Such rules could be interpreted as not permitting an elected board representative to voice any public criticism of a DHB," Ms Kedgley says.

"If so this would totally undermine their ability to act as 'voices of the community' as they are required to do under the legislation that set up District Health Boards, Ms Kedgley said.

"There seems to be an agenda here to stifle dissent and muzzle those people. This calls into question the purpose of having democratically elected health boards.

"What on earth is the point in going to the expense and trouble of having these boards, if they are not able to openly express their views and be accountable to the people who elected them?" Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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