Q+A: Phil Twyford “not my job to know” why KiwiBuild CEO not working

Phil Twyford was interviewed on Q+A last night. Oddly Twyford said he couldn’t comment on reports that the KiwiBuild chief executive Stephen Barclay left the job last month – see KiwiBuild problems building up more than houses – saying “I can’t comment on anything to do with an individual public servant, that would be completely inappropriate” but did concede that Barclay is not working at KiwiBuild: ” I know that he’s not at work, um but it’s literally not my job to know”

Corin Dann: I wonder if you can clarify and clear up this business with the CEO of KiwiBuild, Stephen Barclay – reports over the weekend that he has left the job. Has he left the job?

Phil Twyford: I can’t comment on anything to do with an individual public servant, that would be completely inappropriate.

Corin Dann: Where the minister of a two billion dollar investment here for the public, I would have thought that’s in the public interest for you to comment on that isn’t it?

Phil Twyford: So I don’t hire the public servants, I don’t manage them, I just get their advice.

Corin Dann: Do you know why he’s left the job..?

Phil Twyford: No, and I haven’t been advised on that, and it would be really inappropriate for me to comment…

Corin Dann: You don’t know why the CEO of KiwiBuild has not  been in the job since November.

Phil Twyford: Mmm. I know that he’s not at work, um but it’s literally not my job to know, and there are other people who deal with that, and they are, and I’m focussing on trying to get houses built.

Corin Dann: Has he actually resigned?

Phil Twyford: Corin, I can’t comment on this…It’s a matter relating to an individual public servant, and I simply cannot comment on it.

Corin Dann: Do you have confidence in him?

Phil Twyford: Corin, I can’t comment on this. It’s a matter that relates to an individual public servant.

And it went on, with Twyford repeating his ‘individual public servant’ and ‘inappropriate to comment’ lines. This seems remarkable that Twyford won’t say if the CEO of KiwiBuild has resigned or is working or not.

Twyford must know something about it, but is resolutely refusing to comment on it.

He did comment on the appointment of Barclay – “Great to have someone of Stephen’s calibre leading the Kiwibuild team.”

 

Labour promised Dunedin hospital rebuild start this term, now delayed further

A revised plan to rebuild the Dunedin hospital has been announced. It may be a practical, pragmatic and sensible approach, bringing forward the replacement of an outpatients and day surgery with a new building – but it would mean delaying the rebuild of the new hospital by several years, with completion extending another 2-4 years to 2028-3020. This is not what labour promised last year in the election campaign.

ODT: Hospital rebuild fast-tracked, completion date extended

The headline alone looks like a contradiction.

The Government has fast-tracked part of the new Dunedin Hospital build, but it appears the overall build time will be extended.

Health Minister David Clark announced at midday the hospital would be built in two stages, with an outpatient and day surgery building due to be finished more than three years earlier than anticipated.

The new plan is to open the smaller of the two buildings – the day surgery and outpatient building – in two stages: November 2023 and November 2024.

But the larger inpatient building would be finished five or six years after that, meaning the end of the build would be between 2028 and 2030, rather than the mid-2026 date planned.

Dr Clark said the build would be finished “in about 10 years”.

ODT: Services sooner with split build

Dr Clark said the decision came after “some months of thinking and planning”, and was conditional on Cabinet and budgetary processes being secured.

“The underlying issue is that the existing Dunedin Hospital will not last the distance in its current state.

Some services sooner but hospital several years later – the proposal is to extend the distance substantially.

This is contrary to what Labour promised in last year’s election campaign.

Labour: Rebuilding Dunedin Hospital

All New Zealanders should be able to get the healthcare they need, when they need it. Dunedin Hospital serves 300,000 people in the city and the surrounding regions, but it is no longer fit for delivering modern healthcare to a population with increasing health needs.

For years, Dunedin Hospital has needed to be rebuilt.

The current Government has finally committed to making a decision on the rebuild but Cabinet won’t consider the details until sometime next year and it plans for the new hospital to be up to 10 years away.

A year later and under Labour it is now 10-12 years away.

With Labour’s approach, Dunedin will have a new hospital as soon as possible, and the taxpayer will get the best value for money. Avoiding further delay will minimise costs and mean patients get better care more quickly.

Labour will:

  • commit to beginning construction of the new Dunedin Hospital within our first term

This project is expected to cost $1.4 billion, and will deliver the most modern hospital in New Zealand, ready to serve Dunedin and the Lower South Island for decades to come.

But not for another decade or more.

Jacinda Ardern (25 August 2017): Dunedin Hospital to start in Labour’s first term

Labour will start construction on a new Dunedin Hospital in the city centre in Labour’s first term, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“This is a project that is long overdue for Dunedin. The hospital at present is dangerous and unsafe for staff and patients. Most of the existing buildings would not survive a severe earthquake.

“Things are so bad that at the moment operations have to be delayed because of the leaks when it rains. Dunedin Hospital is no longer fit for purpose.

“With Labour’s approach we will have a new hospital as soon as possible…

“We pledge that Dunedin Hospital will be rebuilt so that the people of Otago can get the healthcare they deserve,” says Jacinda Ardern.

ODT: ‘Significant’ change to hospital rebuild: What you need to know

This doesn’t say when the actual hospital rebuild will start, but implies it will largely be after the outpatients project set to be complete in 2023-2024.

The New Dunedin Hospital will have two main buildings – a large acute/inpatients building and a smaller outpatients/day surgery facility.

Initially it was thought these would be constructed simultaneously but they will now be built separately. The smaller outpatients/day surgery will be built first.

When will they be built?

The outpatients/day surgery building is planned to open in two stages – with target dates set as November 2023 (day surgery) and November 2024 (outpatient clinics). Importantly, all day surgery will open in November 2023.

The acute/inpatients hospital building will follow and will probably open a decade from now. We will know with more accuracy in the New Year.

Previous opening estimates were July 2026 and February 2027

This suggests that “Labour will start construction on a new Dunedin Hospital in the city centre in Labour’s first term, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern” is a promise that won’t be kept. The actual hospital rebuild won’t start this term, and may not even start in the next term.

How does improving day surgery help the rest of Dunedin Hospital?

Moving day surgery to a new facility frees up room to enlarge and reconfigure the emergency department and make other changes.

No suggestion that the Hospital itself will be affected much if at all, despite Ardern saying “The hospital at present is dangerous and unsafe for staff and patients…Dunedin Hospital is no longer fit for purpose”.

A hospital rebuild website also has a misleading headline: Hospital building fast-tracked

Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced a significant change in the approach to constructing the new Dunedin hospital.

The larger inpatient building does not have a finish date yet but Dr Clark said he expects it will be complete in about ten years.

“The people of the South have been waiting too long for modern hospital facilities – this plan means they can expect to have modern outpatient and day surgery facilities within five years,” David Clark said.

The larger inpatient building does not have a finish date yet but Dr Clark said he expects it will be complete in about ten years.

The ‘inpatient building’ (basically, the hospital), doesn’t even have a start date yet, despite Labour promising a start this term.

Despite the claimed unsafeness of the existing hospital building the revised plan may be a sensible way to rebuild, but the reality is looking increasingly different to the campaign rhetoric.

Major changes proposed for governance of schools

The Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce has proposed that the role of school boards significantly reduced, with many responsibilities replaced with regional administration hubs.

It also recommends “disestablishment of the Education Review Office (ERO) and New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)”.

This is a major rethink of how education is administered in New Zealand.

The 8 Key Issues

 1. Governance
The Board of Trustees self-governing model is not working consistently well across the country.

  • Too much time and effort is expended on matters which many boards are not well
    equipped to address, such as property and the appointment of the principal.
  • Many boards do not have the capacity and capabilities to do what is required of them.
  • It is very difficult for boards, as currently constituted, to represent their community.
  • Decisions which impact significantly on the lives of children can be made without due
    process or appropriate checks and balances.
  • A focus on ‘one school, one board’ rather than on the collective interest of the network
    of schools in the wider community causes unhealthy competition and often impacts on
    already disadvantaged children and their families.

Our recommendations in brief

  • The role of boards should be re-oriented so that their core responsibilities are the School
    Strategic and Annual Plan, student success and wellbeing, localised curriculum and
    assessment.
  • Education Hubs would assume all the legal responsibilities and liabilities currently held by
    school boards with automatic ‘delegation back’ to principals/tumuaki regarding control of
    operational grants and staffing entitlements and recruitment.
  • Further ‘delegation back’ opportunities would be provided regarding property
    development through 5YA (five yearly agreements).
  • Boards should be involved in principals/tumuaki’ appointments and retain final right of
    veto on their appointment, but will not be the employer of the principal or teachers.
  • Boards will not be responsible for decisions on student suspensions, exclusions, and
    expulsions.
  • Mana whenua representation on boards will ensure strategic knowledge for schooling and
    localised curricula.

 2. Schooling Provision

There is a need for a national school network strategy that prioritises:

  • The investigation of a dedicated pathway for Kaupapa Māori settings that would include
    planned capacity building to support the most proficient Māori language provision for
    teaching and learning.
  • Seamless student transitions between schools as they progress through the education
    system.
  • The phasing in of schooling provision that provides more stability and better transitions
    for students – for example, primary, middle school, senior college, or full primary,
    secondary school, or composite school.
  • The further development of full service schools and the more intensive use of school
    buildings and facilities both during and out of school hours.
  • Community-wide flexible curriculum assessment and timetabling offerings in schools,
    including enhanced digital infrastructure and provision.
  • An investigation and possible change in the role of Te Kura to more closely incorporate its
    learning expertise across the education system as a whole.

 3. Competition and Choice
Unhealthy competition between schools has significantly increased as a result of the self-governing school model. It has also impacted on the ability of some students and whānau to exercise choice.

We need to ensure that:

  • All enrolment schemes are fair and equitable with the Education Hub having final decision
    making rights.
  • Limits are placed on schools recruiting out of zone students.
  • Limits are placed on the donations schools may request.
  • Schools which enrol international fee-paying students provide for them independently of
    government funding.
  • Students with learning support needs have the same access to schools as other students.
  • School provision, including opening and closure decisions are made based on community
    needs and equity considerations.
  • State-integrated schools are treated in the same way as state schools with regard to the
    operation of transport subsidies and enrolment schemes

 4. Disability and Learning Support

Students with learning support requirements should have the same access to schooling as other students and it is clear that currently they do not.

The Ministry of Education’s new Learning Support delivery model and the draft Disability
and Learning Support Action Plan will hopefully provide much needed coherence and
increased funding and accessibility for these students and their parents. In addition, we
need to ensure that:

  • The Ministry of Education continues to lead national strategy and policy work as well as
    ensuring that national priorities are regularly reviewed.
  • The Teaching Council works with Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers to ensure better
    preparation of teachers/kaiako regarding learning needs and inclusion.
  • Every school has a learning support coordinator.
  • The Education Hubs employ specialist staff, Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour
    (RTLBs) and some teacher aides and coordinate work with local health and other
    agencies.
  • The Education Hubs would apply to national funding pools to reduce the burden on
    parents and schools.
  • Effective practices, innovations and localised responses are shared across Education Hubs
    and the Ministry of Education.

 5. Teaching

The quality of teaching is the major ‘in school’ influence on student success but our teacher workforce strategies lack the necessary support, coherence and coordination.

It is important to ensure:

  • We recruit a diversity of teachers/kaiako which matches the diversity of students as
    closely as possible.
  • Development of more flexible initial teacher education pathways to registered teacher status.
  • Guaranteed employment for newly trained teachers.
  • Viable pathways for the development and enhanced status of paraprofessionals.
  • Provision of proven national professional learning and development (PLD) programmes
    and local advisory services working with the Ministry of Education Curriculum, Learning,
    Assessment and Pedagogy Unit to support the work of teachers/kaiako.
  • Options for secondment between schools and Education Hubs and the Ministry of
    Education and Teaching Council.
  • More flexible guidelines for the Kāhui Ako approach.
  • More flexible guidelines for teacher appraisal.

 6. School Leadership
Leadership is central to school improvement and yet we have few formal and planned structures to develop and sustain school leaders. In this section we concentrate on the role of the principal/tumuaki because of its vital importance in schooling success.

The Teaching Council’s Leadership Strategy and Leadership Capabilities Framework provide a
sound basis for developing and improving effective leadership. In addition, we need to ensure:

  • Establishment of a dedicated Leadership Centre within the Teaching Council that will
    champion a coherent, research based approach to developing leadership capabilities at all
    levels of the system and establish guidelines for eligibility to apply for principal/tumuaki
    positions
  • Appointment of leadership advisers in Education Hubs to work closely with principals/
    tumuaki. They will also:
    › Identify leadership potential and create diverse talent pools.
    › Work with Boards to appoint principals/tumuaki.
    › Ensure that schools in challenging circumstances get leaders with recent proven
    leadership experience.
    › Provide connected processes for the induction and ongoing mentoring of newly
    appointed principals/tumuaki.
    › Provide ongoing regular support and professional learning and development for all
    principals/tumuaki.
    › Ensure that effective principals/tumuaki contribute to leadership support and growth
    across the Education Hub.

7. School Resourcing
The overall resourcing for the compulsory schooling sector is currently inadequate to meet the needs of many learners/ākonga and those who work in it.

We need to ensure that:

  • The proposed equity index is implemented as soon as possible and prioritised for the most
    disadvantaged schools.
  • Equity resourcing is increased to a minimum of 6% of total resourcing and applied across
    operational, staffing and property formulas.
  • Management and staffing entitlements are reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose.
  • Best practice in the use of equity funding by schools is shared across Education Hubs

 8. Central Education Agencies
A number of significant structural issues and policy settings make it difficult for the agencies to be as effective as they might be.

In order to achieve both the cultural and the structural transformation we are seeking, it is
vital to ensure:

  • Significant reconceptualisation and reconfiguration of the system stewardship function
    of the Ministry of Education. The reconfigured Ministry would monitor and work closely
    with Education Hubs and have a strong national leadership role in curriculum, learning,
    assessment (including NCEA assessment) and pedagogy, as well as advisory services
    for teachers, educational research, policy development, and data analysis for system
    improvement.
  • The creation of a new independent Education Evaluation Office reporting directly to
    Parliament which:
    › Reports regularly on the performance of the education system.
    › Evaluates the performance of the Ministry of Education and Education Hubs.
    › Is responsible for all quality assurance functions currently carried out by NZQA.
  • The Teaching Council should include a new Leadership Centre to operationalise the
    Leadership Strategy and Capabilities Framework.
  • The disestablishment of the Education Review Office (ERO) and New Zealand
    Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

The Taskforce’s report makes a number of significant recommendations for changes to the current education system. Stakeholder feedback on the report and its recommendations will be critical to inform Government decision making in 2019.

View the report and supporting information below:

KiwiBuild problems building up more than houses

NZ Herald: KiwiBuild chief gone after just five months: Barclay leaves top role

KiwiBuild chief executive Stephen Barclay has left the organisation after only five months in the job.

Barclay was appointed in May to steer the Government’s flagship scheme to build 100,000 homes in a decade.

Barclay, who has business, civil service and sporting experience, could not be reached for comment.

However, according to a person close to the matter, Barclay left his position at the start of November.

Leaving after just five months is not a good sign.

Leaving a month ago and only being made known publicly now is a sign that the government knows it doesn’t look good for KiwiBuild.

This is just part of ongoing not looking good. Reported  Wednesday (TVNZ): Five Auckland KiwiBuild apartments fail to sell on ballot, offered up on a first come, first served basis to those who qualify

Another five KiwiBuild properties have failed to sell off the ballot and are now being offered to anyone willing to buy them that qualifies for the programme, on a first come first serve, basis.

The properties are in Auckland’s 340 Onehunga Mall development and consist of two studios and three one bedroom apartments priced from $380k to $500k.

A total of 25 apartments were originally available, and 20 have now sold.

However, after the winner and runners-up fell through on five apartments they are now back on the market.

A spokesperson for KiwiBuild apologised to the people in the original ballot who weren’t contacted first when the apartments came back on the market.

“It’s a learning process,” he told 1 NEWS.

The spokesperson further clarified KiwiBuild’s position, saying there are no expectations that KiwiBuild homes would sell off the ballot.

Yesterday (Stuff):  KiwiBuild problems ‘more than just teething issues’

The extent of the issues that KiwiBuild has encountered have been a surprise, one economist says.

After three KiwiBuild homes were left unsold through the ballot for the Wanaka development, it was revealed that five apartments were passed up by the selected buyers for the 340 Onehunga Mall Development. They were then handed to a real estate agency to sell privately on a first-come, first-served basis (although still to qualified KiwiBuild buyers).

The scheme has also been criticised for building properties in New Plymouth that are selling for more than the median price in the suburband for including a graduate doctor among its first buyers in South Auckland.

Cameron Bagrie, of Bagrie Economists, said the problems seemed to be more than just “of the teething variety”.

“It’s a big project, there are going to be issues. I guess what’s been a bit of a surprise is the extent of the issues.”

Stephen Barclay leaving last month adds a bit of a shock to the extent of the issues – but are they a surprise? It was always going to be difficult for Labour and Phil Twyford to deliver on their highly optimistic plans, especially in the first few years.

It was fairly obvious they weren’t going to be able to just wave a wand and suddenly have heaps of land available, and heaps of builders available.

Newsroom:  Behind the contentious KiwiBuild numbers

The promise is well-known: 100,000 over 10 years, but the reality could be quite different. So far, just 33 have been completed, with 77 more on the way and a pipeline for many thousands more slated to begin construction in the large urban development projects announced in Auckland and Wellington.

Both the optimistic and pessimistic forecasts have their risks.

De-risking residential construction could come with massive gains in productivity, increasing existing capacity, or there could be a financial shock in the next four years. A shock would cause overstretched construction firms to collapse, leading to a huge slowdown in construction; with the forecast being slashed by 50 percent between the election and Budget, it’s difficult to tell.

Twyford’s next moments of truth will come at the Half-Year Economic and Fiscal Update next week, and then the next Budget, when Treasury releases its latest forecasts.

Any project of this size is going to have high risks.

Employment Relations Amendment Act “helps restore fairness to New Zealand workplaces”

The Employment Relations Amendment Act has passed into law, Minister Iain Lees-Galloway claims it will help “lift New Zealand into a high wage, high skill economy with thriving region”, but doesn’t explain how that will happen.

Restoring balance to the workplace

The passage into law of the Employment Relations Amendment Act helps restore fairness to New Zealand workplaces and restore fundamental rights for workers, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

“The Government is determined to lift New Zealand into a high wage, high skill economy with thriving regions. The Employment Relations Amendment Act is one piece of our plan to do this, by restoring a better workplace relations framework for New Zealand workers.

“The Act restores many of the conditions that existed during the previous Labour-led Government, at time when the economy enjoyed record-low unemployment and unprecedented economic growth.

He doesn’t mention the fact that New Zealand was heading into recession at the end of the tenure of the previous Labour-led Government.

Nor does he mention that New Zealand survived the Global Financial Crisis and the economy recovered to a state of thriving when the current Labour-led Government took over – this revival happened under the conditions that the Government has now repealed.

“The Coalition Government believes everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. This Act helps achieve that by bringing back protections for workers, especially vulnerable workers, and strengthening the role of collective bargaining.” 

The key changes under the Employment Relations Amendment Act include:

  • reinstating prescribed meal and rest breaks
  • strengthening collective bargaining and union rights
  • restoring protections for vulnerable workers, such as those in the cleaning and catering industries, regardless of the size of their employer
  • limiting 90-day trials to business with fewer than 20 employees. 

“These are fair and familiar protections that strike the right balance for employers and workers, and mainly restores worker protections which were in place as recently as 2015,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

The majority of the provisions in the Act will come into force on Monday 6 May 2019. Further information on the changes will be available at www.employment.govt.nz.

NZ First moderated the changes, insisting on the 90 day trials remain for small businesses.

Newshub: 90-day trials scrapped for medium, large firms

Small businesses get to keep the trial period thanks to New Zealand First, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in January.

National called the Act “one of this Government’s biggest economic mistakes” and said it would repeal it, should it win the 2020 election.

“The cumulative impact of changes to workplace relations in this Bill will choke economic growth, further hurt business confidence, stifle job opportunities for vulnerable employees, return us to 1970s-style adversarial union activity and be bad for employees and employers,” said workplace relations spokesperson Scott Simpson.

“It seeks to grow trade union membership and influence, and reinforces the political, historic and financial relationships between the union movement and the NZ Labour Party.”

Unions are happy, but want more.

Council of Trade Unions: Victory for working people in New Zealand

The Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sam Huggard says that tonight’s passing of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill will be a victory for working people over an expensive lobbying campaign run by big business. “This law allows Kiwis to access their basic rights at work, to make more informed choices about their employment, and help each other get a fairer deal,” he said.

We congratulate the Coalition Government for helping working people get ahead and win some decency at work with this law. We look forward to further progress soon, including women in paid work being able to access equal pay, and Fair Pay Agreements for our vulnerable Kiwi industries.”

Tertiary Education Union:  Changes to employment law are a first step

“MPs took a step forward this week, which is welcome. However we are still a long way from the changes we need to ensure New Zealand is country that protects and enhances the right of people to come together to make their workplaces safe, rewarding, and fulfilling places to be,” Sharn Riggs, TEU national secretary said.

Decisions made by successive governments over recent decades have made it harder and harder for working people to come together to address issues like low wages, inadequate meal breaks, and a lack of protection from arbitrary dismissal within their first 90 days of employment. National in particular made it more difficult for people to access help and advice from their union.

They would obviously like more from a Labour-led government, but with NZ First having a say this may be the limit of what unions will get this term.

Mental Health and Addiction report repeats well known problems

The Mental Health and Addiction report details well known problems with mental health and drug issues, and makes 40 recommendations. Will the Government actually do something major to address the issues?  Or will we just have another inquiry in a few years time, as people keep suffering and dying?

Beehive: Mental Health and Addiction report charts new direction

Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink how we handle some of the biggest challenges we face as a country.

The Government has today publicly released the report of the Inquiry in full, less than a week after receiving it.

“Mental health and addiction are issues for all New Zealanders. Every community and just about every family has someone in it that has lived with a mental health or addiction challenge.

“The Inquiry heard many stories of people who did not get the help they needed and deserved. We must listen to these voices of people with lived experience.

“The report charts a new direction for mental health and addiction in New Zealand, one that puts people at the centre of our approach.

“It is clear we need to do more to support people as they deal with these issues – and do a lot more to intervene earlier and support wellbeing in our communities.

“The Inquiry panel has delivered a set of strong and coherent recommendations covering everything from the social determinants of health and wellbeing, to expanding access to treatment services and taking strong action on alcohol and drugs.

“We are working our way carefully through the 40 recommendations and will formally respond in March. I want to be upfront with the public, however, that many of the issues we’re facing, such as workforce shortages, will take years to fix.

“Reshaping our approach to mental health and addiction is no small task and will take some time. But I’m confident this report points us in the right direction, and today marks the start of real change for the better,” David Clark says.

Clark and Labour said urgent action was required – last year. Now he says “Reshaping our approach…will take some time”.

ODT:  Mental health shake-up urged

Mental health and addiction services are unbalanced, under-resourced, unfocused and require a major shakeup to make them patient-centric, the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction says.

A 219-page report released yesterday made 40 recommendations in a broad assessment of health issues which affect an estimated 20% of New Zealanders each year, and 50%-80% of people at least once in their lifetime.

”We think New Zealand’s future mental health and addiction system should build on the foundations in place, but should look and be very different,” the report said.

”At its heart should be a vision of mental health and wellbeing for all … hospital and inpatient units will not be the centre of the system.

”Instead, the community will be central, with a full raft of intervention and respite options designed to intervene early, keep people safe and avoid inpatient treatment where possible.”

Some recommendations are controversial, such as setting a targets for reduction in suicides – a 20% drop by 2030 – and to measure the effectiveness of mental health and addiction services.

New Zealand’s approach to drugs needed to change, the report said.

”While New Zealand was the first country to introduce a state-sponsored needle exchange programme, we seem to have lost our spirit and failed to put people’s health at the centre of our approach.”

It was similarly forceful on the place of alcohol in society.

”We do not believe one in five New Zealanders drinking hazardously each year is a small minority,” it said.

”We also know that alcohol’s reach across society is far greater than simply the sum of its impacts on individual drinkers; families, friends and communities are all touched through one person’s drinking ”

Key recommendations

• Repeal and replace the Mental Health Act.
• Review laws and regulations concerning drug possession and sale of alcohol.
• Set a target of a 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2030.
• Establish a suicide prevention office.
• Establish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.
• Significantly increase access to mental health and addiction services.
• Make improving mental health a specific focus of the primary healthcare system.
• Strengthen the consumer voice in developing mental health and addiction programmes.
• Make families more involved in treatment.
• Improve training and retention of mental health and addiction workers.

 

 

Mental Health Inquiry report being released today

RNZ:  Govt to release Mental Health Inquiry report today

The panel, led by the former health watchdog Ron Paterson, has spent roughly 10 months consulting people around the country, holding more than 400 meetings and considering about 5000 submissions.

It delivered a 200 page report and 40 recommendations to the Health Minister David Clark last week.

The government will release the report today, but will not formally respond with its plan until March.

Dr Clark has said the inquiry will shape the country’s response to mental health for years to come.

There is pressure on the Government to act quickly with claims that current mental health care is in crisis.

Like:  Teens face up to three month wait for mental health services

Teens needing non-urgent mental health services in the top of the south currently face a wait of up to three months before they are seen.

There had been five resignations in CAMHS team across the district in the past six months and there were three vacancies.

Working in mental health care is very demanding.

The Inquiry website:  Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction

Our purpose was to identify unmet needs and develop recommendations for a better mental health and addiction system for Aotearoa New Zealand.

We wanted to set a clear direction for the next five to ten years that Government, the mental health and addiction sectors and the whole community can pick up and make happen.

On 28 November 2018, we presented He Ara Oranga : report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction to the Government.

The Government has indicated it needs time to consider the report’s findings, but expects to release the report prior to the end of the year.

Once the report has been released it will be available on this website in various formats.

That should be today.

 

Victim focus from new family violence laws

Changes in the Family Violence Amendments Act emphasise the well being of victims in an attempt to reduce awful levels of family violence. This includes changes to the  Bail Act 2000 which makes the safety of victims the priority.

RNZ: New law aims to reduce family violence and put victims first

The new Family Violence Amendments Act will significantly improve the response to domestic violence, a domestic abuse organisation says.

The act aims to keep victims, including children, safe and reduce family violence. It also creates three new offences, including one of strangulation or suffocation, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment.

The new legislation allows victims to give evidence via video recording made before the hearing. It also makes changes to the Bail Act 2000 by making the safety of the victim and their family the primary consideration when granting bail and imposing conditions.

Shine director Jane Drumm said the new legislation will help agencies and organisations deliver a unified approach to dealing with family violence.

“What they’re doing is they’re reflecting on all of the gaps that we’ve currently got and how we respond to family violence and they’re starting to mop those up,” Ms Drumm said.

“These amendments put the victim first. The challenge now will be ensuring these laws are enforced and supported by policies and procedures across a range of government agencies and service providers,” Ms Drumm said.

The safety of victims and potential victims should be the priority in dealing with family violence, but the rights of offenders and alleged offenders need to be protected as well (in a minority of cases allegations can be trumped up or overstated).

Green MP Jan Logie was interviewed about the changes on Q+A last night.

A focus here is changes to assault by strangulation or choking (it is horrendous what some people inflict on others).

Q+A Panel on new domestic violence legislation – & Meng Foon:

The Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill passed in July and starts to come into affect today.

Goldsmith versus Jones on the Provincial Development Fund

Paul Goldsmith, National’s Spokesperson for Economic and Regional Development, has been nagging away at Shane Jones, the minister in charge of the Provincial Development Fund.

In Parliament last Wednesday:

Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he told the National Business Review that we have to make sure that “We’ve got enough nephs or if necessary a few Melanesians to help plant the trees.”, what proportion of any new forestry jobs does he expect to be filled by Melanesians, presumably by the way of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme?

Hon SHANE JONES: Yes, well, from Melanesia we already draw a host of RSE workers and policy is being looked at, but the preference is to get the proverbial nephs off the couch. It is proving to be a challenge as a consequence of the last nine years of Kaikohe, Kaitāia, Gisborne, Hastings, and a whole host of other places—and I would remind the member that $50 million was put aside by his Government and not a single neph got off any couch, because they never spent any of that money.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was what proportion and he made no reference to anything like that.

SPEAKER: Right, I think the Minister can have another go.

Hon SHANE JONES: In terms of proportions between workers that may or may not come from Melanesia and the nephs, such a policy is under active consideration.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister confirm that the fame of this visionary policy has been so far-reaching that countries in the Pacific and Pacific Islands are now mustering their workforce to assist the member in the implementation of his plan?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Come off it. What a load of rubbish.

1 News: Shane Jones forced to correct answers after failing to disclose 61 meetings

National’s Paul Goldsmith said the slip was of concern as he controlled the $3b provincial growth fund.

Press releases from Goldsmith:

Jones’ forestry jobs cost at least $485k apiece

Shane Jones could hire the Prime Minister to work on his tree-planting schemes – and she’d get a pay rise – based on the fuzzy economics of the Provincial Growth Fund.

More questions than answers in $140m spend-up

The Government’s travelling caravan of grants and soft loans is continuing to the West Coast tomorrow with the bequeathing of $140 million of taxpayer funds that raises more questions than answers.

Last night Goldsmith and Jones were put up for a debate on Q+A last night – Is the Govt’s billion dollar provincial fund the best way to boost regional economies?

Jones is responsible for dishing out $3 billion over the current term, so it is important he is held to account. Goldsmith’s nagging is a good way to do this – he doesn’t seek attention as much as some politicians, but his nagging keeps forcing Jones to explain what he is up to.

GCSB stops Spark from using Huawei for 5G

The GCSB is stopping Spark from using Huawei equipment for their new 5G cellphone network. They won’t give reasons, saying they are classified.

There are concerns that a Chinese owned company be involved in communications infrastructure – but some also have concerns about US technology companies with allegations of CIA back doors.

RNZ: Reasons to block Spark’s 5G rollout ‘classified’

The Minister responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) said the reasons why a Chinese tech company won’t be involved in the rollout of 5G technology here are classified.

The GCSB has turned down Spark’s proposed use of Huawei equipment in its new network because it would raise significant national security risks.

Andrew Little said he was briefed on the decision on Monday but cannot divulge what the risks might be.

“Spark notified the GCSB two or three months ago, GCSB has carried out an assessment on the technology that Spark proposes to introduce and has assessed that technology as posing a national security risk. That assessment was notified to Spark today.”

“Spark have indicated they will have a close look at the reasons for GCSB’s assessment then if Spark wishes to continue with their proposal they then have the option of working with the GCSB on looking at mitigation of [those risks].”

Mr Little said the 5G technology was more sophisticated than older network technology and was not currently in use in New Zealand.

“The principal difference between 5G technology and the conventional 4G and 3G technology is that the conventional technology has an infrastructure core and then peripheral technology such as cellphone towers and the like and they can, in effect, be kept separate but you cannot do that with 5G technology.”

“Every component of 5G technology, every component of the network is integrated and therefore access to one component can lead to access to the entire network.”

He said the GCSB decision was not a complete deal-breaker for Spark’s rollout of 5G.

“Spark has said they are committed to rolling out 5G by the end of 2020, there’s no reason why they can’t stick to that timetable. They have known that they’d have to go through this process… it’s underway and there’s still work to do.”