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Peter Dunne, No Loss to Health (SST)

For immediate release

Peter Dunne, No Loss to Health (SST)

(20th June 2013)

Peter Dunne’s hit out at the Electoral Commission after it refused to budge on its requirements for his party's re-registration, describing it as "petty bureaucracy'," "a rogue elephant" and "living in the days of quill pens and parchment” is like the pot calling the kettle black a spokesman for the Sensible Sentencing Trust has said.

“One of Mr Dunne’s responsibilities as Associate Minister of Health was mental health” says Trust spokesman on mental health issues, Graeme Moyle, “a responsibility he abrogated and showed little interest in. Mental health responsibilities in Parliament needed to be led by a minister with passion, someone who cares about the issues and has the determination and drive to make the necessary changes and bring mental health into the 21st century; Mr Dunne had neither”.

“In a desperate effort to make up for his lethargic approach to suicide prevention in this country, Mr Dunne has recently thrown eight million dollars at the issue, yet refuses to speak to privately funded organisations that are leading the way in this field. It is rich coming from him to accuse the Electoral Committee of petty bureaucracy when he continually responded to requests to amend mental health legislation with one paragraph, bureaucratic nonsense.”

“This is consistent with my attempts to discuss various issues with Mr Dunne relating to criminal offending by those labouring under mental illness”, Mr Moyle says, “The Minister states that it is important to regularly review approaches to suicide prevention and take into account new research and evidence, along with changes in society, yet when it pertains to offending by the mentally ill, he relies on studies carried out in the 1990s, and he has the nerve to accuse the Electoral Committee of living in the days of quill pens and parchment".

“Mr Dunne has stated that access to treatment should happen in a timely manner and include access to all health facilities and services across New Zealand, yet families of people suffering from serious mental illnesses cannot access medium to long term inpatient care for their loved ones because there are not enough beds”.

“The Minister had also made an assurance that every community should have good after-hours services separate from Emergency Departments in hospitals, however, this clearly does not apply to the mentally ill”.

“He has also said there needs to be an increase of funding of drug, alcohol and mental health treatment for prison inmates”, Mr Moyle said, “yet he would not legislate to allow compulsory treatment of those inmates within our prisons that require to be medicated to remain stable”.

“The former Minister had no interest in looking into revelations that convicted murderers, who had become mentally unwell, were being released from prison early due to a loop hole in legislation, again delegating his responsibilities to clinicians, and showed no interest in proposed changes to the insanity defence even though the Law Commission described the current situation as problematic”.

“In the wake of Mr Dunne’s recent indiscretions he has described himself as unwise and stupid”, said Moyle, “I’d like to add ineffectual and naive. Let us hope Todd McClay has an affinity and passion for this role and is willing to discuss the considerable issues involved within this challenging portfolio”.


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