The Mapp Report - Minister Hodgson, Smacking
The Mapp Report
The buck stops with Minister Hodgson
The High Court decision to reverse the contract for lab testing services showed just how badly flawed the government approach to health services has become. This whole week, the Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson, has tried to avoid any responsibility for the future of patient lab testing in our city.
He has simply washed his hands of any responsibility. This is not good enough. Our taxes fund the vast majority of the health budget, including lab testing. The government appoints many of the DHB members. So, where was the supervision of the contracting process? The Minister would have known that the Medlab contract would have meant fewer collection points, and that much of the testing would be done in Australia.
The Minister now needs to act urgently to deal with this issue. He says that he can’t guarantee that lab testing will continue from 1 July. Mr Hodgson has admitted, in answer to a question from Hon Tony Ryall, that he could not give an assurance that laboratory services in Auckland would continue from July 1. He says “I will feel assured when the ink is dry and not before”. This is unacceptable. He must guarantee, right now, that lab testing at the current level will be continued. That is his job; the buck does stop with him.
Shutting down debate is a tactic adopted by those who fear the public. That is exactly the position the Labour Government is taking in relation to Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill.
Next week the government wants to rush the Bill through all stages in a single debate on Wednesday and Thursday. Sue Bradford said there had been enough debate, and it should now be passed. To shove a member’s bill through under urgency is unheard of, especially when it is allegedly a conscience vote – but of course in the Labour Party that means Helen Clark’s conscience.
Parliamentary procedure provides for separate debate on each stage of a Bill for good reason. It is to allow Members of Parliament to reflect, and for the public to make their views known before the next stage is debated. So there have been occasions when a Bill has passed the Committee stage, but gets defeated on the Third Reading. That is because the two or three weeks between the two stages allows an opportunity to reconsider.
The only reason to terminate Parliamentary procedure is to avoid accountability. Labour knows that many of their MP’s don’t want the Bill. They know a three-week recess when the public can talk to the MP’s will mean that many of them will rebel.
The urgency tactic is designed to stifle democracy. But ultimately it is an admission of weakness and fear. Labour may think it can avoid accountability now, but the voters will have their say in 18 months time, and that is a date Labour can’t avoid!
March 26 2007
St Georges Presbyterian Church
2 The Terrace, Takapuna
23 March 2007
Dr Wayne Mapp
Visit my website for more information at: www.waynemapp.co.nz