A new era of post baby boomer politics

Jacinda Ardern’s rapid rise to the top in politics this year has perhaps signalled the beginning of a new era in New Zealand politics, where there is a sudden surge in influence of politicians who weren’t born in the fifties or sixties (of last century).

Other politicians on the rise in Government, like Grant Robertson, James Shaw, David Clark, Megan Woods, Chris Hipkins, Tracey Martin and Julie Anne Genter are all new age MPs.

The odd one out of course is Winston Peters, but surely his career is just about over.

If old school National MPs slip away this term, as some of them should (like Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, Steven Joyce)  then that will leave the way for younger MPs like Simon Bridges, Nikki Kaye and Chris Bishop to wave the baby boomers goodbye and take over.

While many baby boomers may like to be given choices over their end of life if they are unfortunate enough to face an awful death, it is the influence of younger MPs who are leading the push to get the bill passed.

In his closing speech in the first reading of the bill – End of Life Choice Bill first reading – David Seymour rebuttal – David Seymour said:

I felt when I was listening to Bill English’s contribution that we were talking at each other from different ages. The age that a blanket prohibition on all end of life is required as the cornerstone of our law may have been a good argument in 1995. It may have even been a good argument in 2003.

It is not a good argument today because, as Chris Bishop so ably outlined, we now have almost a dozen jurisdictions around the world that have designed a law that does give choice to those who want it and protects those who want nothing to do with it whatsoever.

We are like ships in the night: one speaking from 1995; the other speaking from 2017 when so much of history has moved on.

The baby boomer ship hasn’t sunk yet, but it is sailing into the political sunset.

The sudden generational change is in part fortuitous – Seymour’s bill was drawn from the Members’ Bill ballot. But that was necessary because old school politicians and parties wouldn’t risk promoting it – Andrew Little deemed Maryan Street’s End of Life Choice bill “not a priority” and dumped it, so Seymour picked it up.

Little was also instrumental in the rise of Ardern, stepping aside as Labour was listing badly.

Old and middle aged are becoming dirty terms in some quarters. The dismissing of experienced opinions as now worthless is perhaps understandable but is often over the top and unwarranted.

But there is now doubt the influence of baby boomers dropped significantly over the last six months, and is likely to continue to fade.

I’m happy to see a new generation of ideas, enthusiasm and governance largely take over. The younger politicians have an opportunity to make a mark, and make New Zealand a better country in the modern era. They will no doubt have challenges but I think we will be in good hands.

However as a baby boomer I am not digging my grave yet, despite supporting an enlightened approach to euthanasia.

I will still give my two bobs’ worth of  opinions for a while (that’s showing my age). I’m not exactly a technophobe, I have grown up in the age of computers, having worked with them for over forty years (I wrote my first program on punch card in 1972), printing a conversion chart from Fahrenheit to Celsius – that also ages me a bit, but y memory isn’t shot, I still remember the calculation of minus 32, times 9 divided by 5.

But this is just baby boomer reminiscing about an era that is now becoming history, last century history.

I’ll keep chugging away here for a while yet, but if any youngsters want to contribute here with their two hundred dollars worth of opinion I’ll welcome a new era of ideas and angles.

And that’s what we are going to get in Parliament over this term and beyond – a new generation in politics. Revitalisation and different approaches in dealing with difficult issues are an essential part of a thriving country.

It won’t be that long until we have MPs who born in this millennium – it is possible next year, or next election. Chloe Swarbrick was born in 1994. I hope I don’t need to make an end of life choice before I see that happen.

 

Politicians for better or worse in 2017

It’s that time of year when pundits give their picks on the best and worst, and winners and losers in politics for the year.

For 2017, unsurprisingly, Jacinda Ardern is as the most successful and most influential. She was instrumental in a remarkable turn around in Labour’s fortunes leading into the election campaign, was responsible for perhaps a doubling of their support, and despite still trailing National by a significant margin she negotiated Labour into Government and herself into the role of Prime Minister.

Next year Ardern will be judged on her success or failure to manage a challenging three party coalition and prove some financial credibility.

Also in the positive lists are Winston Peters, James Shaw, Bill English and Trevor Mallard.

English also features in the failures, as and Metiria Turei and the Maori Party.

English made a decent job of Prime Minister when he took over from John Key a year ago, and had a decent campaign apart from allowing the possibly disastrous fiscal hole ploy by Steven Joyce. While he and National failed to retain their place in the Beehive that may have been an impossible task given Winston’s decisive position, and may be a longer term blessing for National if the new Government fails.

While Peters will be happy enough with the end result, negotiating his and NZ First’s way into Government and the Deputy Prime Minister role, he had been aiming much higher – at one stage he openly claimed NZ First could beat Labour and was hinting of a vote in the twenties or thirties, so 7% and now slipping in the polls is far less successful than he would have liked.

Ditto Shaw, but his party’s wobbles weren’t all his doing. Greens were confident of beating NZ First and competing head to head with Labour three months out from the election, until Turei’s terrible gamble turned to custard. The Greens were at real risk of missing the threshold, but a lot of hard work from Shaw in particular got them over the line and then into Government. Not being in Cabinet may be seen by some as a failure, but as their first experience in government it is probably the safest position to be in as they gain experience in partial power.

The Maori Party totally failed, and now have some hard work to do repairing the damage and finding a way back into Parliament. They have a mess to sort out, and may still rely on Labour’s record this term if they are to stand a chance of returning.

Trevor Mallard is getting some mentions. He was virtually invisible for most of the year, until he scored his dream job as Speaker.  His efforts to improve debate and behaviour in Parliament have been praised (including by me) but it will be an ongoing battle against old habits and petulance and barking madness.

David Parker also gets a mention or two. He is the most experienced Minister and has stepped up in his roles, although not everyone is happy with his efforts on trade and the CPTPP – the left don’t like it.

Most Ministers are finding their way.

I think Tracey Martin deserves a mention, she looks to be promising, sensible and willing to work with others.

Grant Robertson is in a prominent position in the Finance portfolio, but it’s too soon to tell whether he is up to it or not. Managing to contain the pressures to spend by Ministers wanting to make a mark, and dealing with outside financial influences will be a challenge.

Chris Hipkins has a lot of responsibilities and has stumbled a bit in the House, and and has rushed into education reform which may or may not turn out well.

Simon Bridges has also had some difficulty with his antics in Parliament and needs to get his balance right.

Kelvin Davis looked uncomfortable in a leadership role.

David Seymour succeeded in getting back into Epsom, failed in getting his party to improve, and then succeeded in getting his End Of Life Choices Bill past it’s first reading in Parliament so has ended on a positive.

Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell are significant ex-MPs. Dunne jumped before he was pushed by voters (with Labour’s resurgence under Ardern that looked inevitable). Flavell failed to keep his seat and failed to keep his party in Parliament.

Hone Harawira failed to make an impact on his attempted return.

Gareth Morgan did very well with his TOP Party in some respects, and did poorly in some of his communications and interactions online, so failed, getting less than half way to the threshold.

Todd Barclay fell from grace badly.

While not an MP Matt McCarten proved again why he is more of a liability than a political asset.

New Zealand survived the year in fairly good shape financially, with enough money available (possibly) to address problems faced by the less fortunate and less well off in our society. So prospects look good unless you want to get into the housing market and don’t have much money.

TOP for 2020, Morgan stepping down as leader

The Opportunities Party has announced a commitment to contest the 2020 election, and have said that Gareth Morgan will step down as leader – this is a wise move, Morgan did very well at public meetings but his media performance was very mixed and won’t have helped his party’s chances in this year’s election.

Announcement:

  • Our day-to-day activity will be centered around our policy development and comms unit at HQ. We will continue to engage with the public and champion the importance of best practice policy.
  • As well, of course, we’ll be providing a TOP perspective on policy developments from the new government – Benchmarking them against TOP best practice policy.
  • We will be looking to grow ‘areas of influence’; regional groups of members and candidates working mostly autonomously to help build our follower base.

On leadership:

  • While Gareth intends to remain as Party Chairperson he will not be the political leader for the party in 2020. It has always been with great reluctance that he has put his name forward in that capacity and so has decided to remove the ambiguity and let others compete for the political leadership role. He will remain as political leader until we determine a new political leadership, most probably well before the end of 2018.

TOP’s commitment for 2020

At TOP HQ our post-election “breather” is now over and it’s time to gear up for the next election. You may have heard the announcement this morning, shedding some light on TOP’s future. We are going through some pretty significant changes, however rest assured that these are all in the interests of giving us the best chance to be successful going forward.

One of the big shifts is our intention to pass some of the responsibility on to you. We’re looking forward to developing a couple more policy areas in 2018/19 in conjunction with submissions and discussion with our party members. We had some great success with this process during the election when we developed our cannabis and alcohol policies through member submission, and we plan to continue this relationship. We also want to turn TOP into a movement, starting from the grassroots, after all, having a strong membership is the cornerstone of any organisation. So, if you feel passionate about what we are trying to achieve, feel like you can help, or want to get involved in our next batch of policy, make sure you sign up here.

TOP got 2.4% of the vote this year, 63,261. They need to get 5% to get into Parliament, unless they can get a current electorate MP to defect to them – no party has yet made it into Parliament under MMP without having a current or past MP.

On canning Kidscan funding

RNZ: KidsCan may lose govt funding: ‘Children will go hungry’

The charity, which has been in operation for 12 years, provides food, clothing and healthcare to 168,000 children across 700 New Zealand schools.

Executive Julie Chapman told Checkpoint with John Campbell she was told last week by Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children that it would lose its government funding – $350,000 worth – on 1 July next year.

Dr Lance O’Sullivan wants leadership of Maori Party

Prior to the election in September Northland doctor Lance O’Sullivan announced that he would stand for the Maori Party in 2020.

The Spinoff: Lance O’Sullivan explains why he is running for the Māori Party in 2020

When I profiled Dr Lance O’Sullivan last year he was one of the most eligible political bachelors on the market. Courted by the big dogs on both sides of the spectrum, he eventually endorsed the Māori Party, pissing off basically everyone on all sides including some in his support base.

“I think we, as Māori, also need to realise that compromise is a part of involvement in New Zealand politics,” he said at the time.

Now, a week out from Election 2017, he’s gone a step further than endorsement, announcing on Sunday afternoon his intention to run for parliament in 2020.

Quoting O’Sullivan:

“I believe that in the history of New Zealand politics and government, the 2020 election is an opportunity to enable MMP to work its best for New Zealand.

“What would it look like if we didn’t have red and blue, left and right, Labour and National, but instead we had a coalition of centrist parties that better reflects the multicoloured, multidimensional culture of New Zealand that we live in now? Because quite frankly the ideologies of the left and right are out of date. I think the time is right to disrupt things and the mechanisms are there to allow that to happen.

“From another point of view, I believe a political party with Māori values underpinning it, which has the interest of all New Zealanders at heart, could be a very, very exciting party. I believe that the skeleton and the framework and the scaffolding is there and I think the Māori Party has done really well to demonstrate over the last nine years why MMP could work. The Māori Party has and will almost certainly always be a very well-aligned party for me.”

The election ended badly for the party as they lost their only electorate seat and therefore their place in Parliament.

O’Sullivan responded: Dr Lance O’Sullivan’s prescription for Māori Party revival

Dr Lance O’Sullivan may just be the right man to come up with the correct prescription to get the Māori Party back into Parliament.

Despite Saturday’s result, he’s optimistic about the future of the Party. “I believe they will come out of this in better shape,” he promises.

The party, formed in 2004 on the back of Maori discontent over Labour’s handling of the foreshore and seabed, confounded pundits to hitch its waka to the National whale. With Te Ururoa Flavell losing his Waiariki seat, that party is now sunk from Parliament.

But O’Sullivan has a number of ideas to get the party back on its feet: firstly a focus on youth voters, secondly moving to expand the Māori Party’s appeal beyond its core Māori voter base.

On the second idea, he believes progress is already underway, citing Manakau East candidate Tuilagi Namulauulu Saipele Esera, of Samoan descent, and Botany candidate Wetex Kang, who is of Malay and Chinese descent.

“How do you support the expansion of that, underpinned by Māori values,” O’Sullivan asks.

He says it’s also time to think beyond National and Labour, right and left, and truly utilise the opportunities available under an MMP system. “Why aren’t we aspiring to be the first minority Government? Less left and right, a technicolour coat of Government.”

O’Sullivan says that for the country that first gave women the vote, we should think big.

“Why aren’t we taking another step? The pendulum always swings left and right, so how do parties like the Māori Party say it’s not left and right, it’s wanting to be there all the time.”

Earlier this week Tukoroirangi Morgan resigned as party president and called on the party leaders to resign. O’Sullivan has advanced his political ambitions.

Maori Television: O’Sullivan wants sole Māori Party leadership position

Dr Lance O’Sullivan says he will only take a leadership role within the Māori Party if it is a sole leadership role.

Coming on the heels of the resignation of President Tukoroirangi Morgan, the front runner to be the Maori Party’s next male leader, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, says that co-leadership isn’t the way to go.

“If I had an opportunity to have a leadership role, it would need to be in that sole leadership role.” says the former New Zealander of the Year.

The Māori Party has had co-leaders since its inception 13 years ago.  Many believed Lance O’Sullivan and Marama Fox would be the next co-leader pairing.

But the doctor isn’t wanting to share that responsibility.

“I’m not a fan of co-leadership, says O’Sullivan, “I think you need a single leader and a single message coming through that’s strong and inspiring.”

“The results of this election mean that the Māori Party in entering a new stage of its evolution really, and that requires a review of the structure. Is it currently fit for purpose?  Is it as nimble and agile as it could be and should be? My answer to that is probably not.”

Rebuilding the party is a big challenge. No party without an MP or ex-MP has succeeded in getting into Parliament under MMP.

O’Sullivan awards include:

  • 2013 Supreme Maori of the Year
  • 2014 New Zealander of the Year
  • 2014 Second most trusted New Zealander (Readers Digest)
  • 2015 Communicator of the Year

Provisional support from Ombudsman for secret document

The Chief Ombudsman has given provisional backing for Jacinda Ardern to keep the so-called secret coalition document secret – or at least the contents of it anyway.

Newsroom:  Ombudsman sides with Govt over coalition document

The refusal of the new coalition Government to release a lengthy coalition negotiation document, despite promises of transparency, led to a complaint to the chief Ombudsman. Peter Boshier has now ruled that the Government was within its rights to withhold the material.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters revealed the existence of the document in late October after signing his party’s official coalition agreement with Labour, describing it as “a document of precision on various areas of policy commitment and development”.

“These are directives to ministers with accountability and media strategies to ensure that the coalition works, not in a jealous, envious way, ‘We got this and they got that’, but as a Government successively, cohesively working.”

While Peters said at the time the document would be publicly released, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office refused to release it to Newsroom under the Official Information Act, arguing it was not official information.

Ardern later described the document as “notes” made during negotiations that were yet to be finalised, not a formal government document.

“Where we’ve committed ourselves to a piece of work and a policy piece of work, we’ve released that. Where there’s more work to be done, that will be released at the time when we’ve reached a conclusion.”

In a provisional opinion sent to Newsroom, Boshier said he had “carefully read and considered” the document, saying it was “clearly made for the purpose of assisting the parties with coalition negotiations”.

“It contains discussion points designed for negotiation and, despite certain public comments to the contrary, does not include information such as directives to Ministers,” Boshier said, in an apparent reference to Peters’ comments about the document.

Ardern’s office told Boshier the document had not been passed on to any ministers or government departments, or used by any ministers in carrying out their official duties.

“It has played no part in policy decisions, and is not available to Ministers as reference material when making official decisions.”

Boshier said he was therefore satisfied that the information had not used by Ardern in her role as Prime Minister, and was held “solely in her capacity as Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party”.

He said he would consider any comments on the provisional opinion before forming a final opinion.

So a provisional win for Ardern.

I don’t really care whether the document remains secret or not, especially this long after the negotiations. It’s not likely to change anything.

National Standards scrapped with no replacement

The contentious National Standards in education have been scrapped, with no alternative lined up and nothing planned until next September.

RNZ: National standards ditched by government

This year’s achievement rates in the national standards in reading, writing and maths will remain a mystery after the government began the process of ditching the standards.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced schools would not have to report their 2017 results to the Education Ministry and would not be required to use or report on the standards next year.

Mr Hipkins said the government would develop a new system to replace the standards next year in consultation with teachers and principals.

Former Education Minister, National Party MP Nikki Kaye, said the government had taken a “nuclear approach” in moving so quickly to abolish the benchmarks.

“It’s a very sad day for New Zealand. We’ve got the minister making a decision that affects hundreds and thousands of children and their parents without consulting with parents,” she said.

Ms Kaye said the decision would leave a gap in national information about children’s performance at school and parents would not know how their children’s achievement would be reported next year.

But Mr Hipkins said parents and teachers were expecting the announcement.

“I don’t think anyone will be surprised that we are ditching a failed experiment,” he said.

He said schools could continue to use the standards if they wanted to.

So they are not scrapped, they are now just voluntary?

Treasury recommended retaining the standards until replacement ready

A Cabinet paper published today said the new system would measure children’s progress and focus on “key competencies for success in life, learning and work”.

It said in the meantime the government would require schools to report on children’s progress as well as achievement with an emphasis on good quality information from a range of sources.

The paper showed Treasury supported the plan to measure children’s progress against a wider range of subjects, but warned that dumping the standards would create a gap in national information about children’s achievement.

It recommended retaining the standards until the replacement system was ready.

It seems like a rush job to make it look like the Government is active in making changes, but seems a bit half cocked.

Greens sweat in heat of Government kitchen

It’s not surprising to see claims (from Green Party staff) of difficulties with the transition from always being in Opposition to being in Government for the first time. There have been additional pressures due to fewer staff being required after they dropped from 14 to 8 MPs.

They need learn to deal with these added pressures, that are inevitable with their greater responsibilities.

If they can’t stand the heat they should question whether being in the Government kitchen is for them.

RNZ: Greens letter reveals ‘damage to staff morale’

A letter from disgruntled Green Party staff to its MPs has revealed complaints of low morale, bad communication and unfair treatment.

…the letter reveals staff are unhappy with the way they’ve been treated since the party has become part of the government.

RNZ understands there has been a push from senior party staff to hire external people for key advisor roles. There was some pushback, with one minister, Julie Anne Genter, going against the directive and hiring existing staff.

There could be good reasons for hiring external staff when shifting to a Government role, which requires different skills to being in Opposition. In particular, specific skills will be required to assist with the portfolios that Green MPs now have.

The letter makes it clear that some staff also took exception with the processes and some were left with the “distinct impression they were not valued” or that they had “defects” in their work.

“MPs and senior staff should now be fully aware of the damage to staff morale created by this drift away from Green kaupapa,” the letter said.

“Many staff have been in a holding pattern for over a month, which has created uncertainty, paralysis, and low morale,” the letter said.

The letter also states staff were prevented from providing feedback on a proposed staffing structure and “MPs impinged upon important rights to be heard”.

“They should also know that the manner in which Green staff have been treated has already diminished the reputation of the Green Party.”

Until this letter made to issue public the reputation of the party wasn’t really diminished.They have strengthened slightly in post election polls.

The letter is likely to hit their credibility.

The low -morale within the party shows it is still struggling to completely recover from a poor election campaign that was disrupted by the resignation of its co-leader Metiria Turei.

Moral will already have been rocked when Turei created chaos which resulted in her resignation,  plus  the resignations of David Clendon and Kennedy Graham.  This will have directly affected the staff of three MPS, and put the party at risk of missing the threshold and being dumped from Parliament altogether.

It was a tough campaign for the Greens. Staff must have wondered if they would all lose their jobs or not.

While the Green Party has been celebrating having ministers for the first time, it’s understood this has created some tension within the caucus, with some long-serving MPs, who were overlooked, feeling disgruntled.

This is common in parties when they get elevated to positions of power – those who miss out can get disgruntled.

The Greens had operated under their own democratic systems of appointments, responsibilities and rankings. Negotiating to be in Government and then being in Government meant they were dictated to by necessity, by Labour and by NZ First. This is likely to have also created tensions.

Airing all this in public probably won’t help the Greens. Letting off steam may ease the pressure on some but will create other pressures.

This all adds to the substantial increase in pressure due to increased scrutiny that being in Government inevitably attracts.

Some are likely to complain that criticism is unfair and is an attempt to destabilise the Greens and the Government. It is certainly a change from the past when Greens were allowed to promote and support some fairly extreme policies without much examination.

But being in Government means much greater responsibilities, and a healthy democracy means that how Green MPs execute those responsibilities will be open to criticism.

If they didn’t want that to happen they should have stayed out of Government.

It’s obviously a culture shock for the Greens, but if they don’t step up they are going to stumble, which may not only mean they are a one term Government partner party, it could put their future in Parliament at risk.

The Greens can’t have their slice of Government cake but keep eating their easy ride in Opposition.

Q+A – new poll plus Colmar Brunton interview

Q+A this morning will have the first Colmar brunton polls results since the election, plus an interview on Colmar’ Brunton’s changed methodology (which may make poll comparisons difficult):

We’ll have the results of our Colmar Brunton political poll – which political party will get an early Christmas present?

Jessica Mutch will also interview Jason Shoebridge – the CEO of Kantar Insights, the parent company of Colmar Brunton. He’ll talk about why Colmar Brunton has changed its methodology for its TVNZ political polling.

Colmar Brunton are now polling 50% mobile phones.

The poll with have some curiosity value.

  • National 46% (election 44.4%)
  • Labour 39% (election 36.9%)
  • NZ First 5% (election 7.2%)
  • Greens 7% (election 6.3%)
  • TOP 1% (election 2.4%)
  • Maori Party 1% (election 1.2%)
  • ACT NR (election 0.5%)

So an unusual situation where the leading party in Government remains the second most popular party by a clear margin.

NZ First should be concerned to see their support slipping.

They are rounded to the nearest % (more detailed results are usually published a few days later), hence no result for ACT here.

Is New Zealand heading in the right direction?

  • Right direction 51%
  • Wrong direction 26%
  • Don’t know 27%

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 37%
  • Bill English 28%
  • Winston Peters 5%

Not surprising to see Ardern ahead there. She was already doing well, and has been getting more media coverage.

Ministerial Advisory Group for health

The Minister of Health, David Clark, has announced “the urgent establishment of a new Ministerial Advisory Group on the Health System”.

Advisory groups, working groups, committees and commissioned reports are all things that are used in Government to kick the can down the road, to bury a promise, to deliberately delay.

For example the Tax Working Group seems to be a device to get advice that the Government wants to hear. After nine years in Opposition one could wonder why Labour hadn’t already done all the research needed to inform adequately on reforming our tax system.

But I think the health Advisory Group may be justified. Clark is not very experienced in Health, and it is one of the most demanding portfolios, with one of the biggest responsibilities. Life and death is at stake, costs are escalating, as is the age of the population, so it is difficult to get the right levels of care to balance on a budget.

New Ministerial Advisory Group established for Health

Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced the urgent establishment of a new Ministerial Advisory Group on the Health System.

“Since becoming the Minister of Health, it has become increasingly clear to me that all is not well within our public health system. Nine years of under-resourcing and neglect have taken their toll.

“New Zealanders deserve better and the Labour-led Government will not sit back while the public is short-changed by a health system operating under such stress. We have a significant health agenda to roll out, including in primary care, mental health and disability services.

“We’re committed to investing an extra $8 billion in health, and it is vital to have a health system in its best shape possible to ensure all New Zealanders can access quality health and disability services.

“The Ministerial Advisory Group will help ensure that investment makes a positive difference to people’s lives. It will provide fresh perspective and independent advice about how we can improve our health system and deliver better services to New Zealanders.”

Dr Clark has appointed Sir Brian Roche as chair of the group. Professor David Tipene-Leach, Muriel Tūnoho, Dr Karen Poutasi and Dr Lester Levy have also been appointed members for a term of two years. They will report directly to the Minister of Health.

“These five individuals are extremely experienced and highly regarded in the health and disability sector.

“I’ve asked them to advise me on lifting the Ministry’s performance and leadership, strengthening relationships across the sector, and helping to deliver the Government’s strategic direction for health. This work is critical to improving the quality of our health services.

“There are good people nationwide working hard to improve people’s health. Both they and the public deserve the highest standards of leadership and performance,” says Dr Clark.

Background Information:

The Ministerial Advisory Group on the Health System is a Ministerial Committee established under section 11 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2001.

Chair Sir Brian Roche has extensive governance and management experience, a former Chief Executive of PWC NZ, oversaw a significant transformation of the New Zealand Post Group as Chief Executive and is an experienced chair of numerous entities, both Crown and private.

Professor David Tipene-Leach is a Professor of Māori and Indigenous Research at the Eastern Institute of Technology. He has a distinguished medical practice and academic history, and has led innovative public health projects on prevention of long-term conditions, particularly diabetes.

Muriel Tūnoho is president of E tū, one of New Zealand’s largest unions and national coordinator for Healthcare Aotearoa, which represents many community and iwi controlled primary health providers. She is also involved with Hutt Union & Community Health Service and is an executive member on the Living Wage Movement Aotearoa board.

Dr Karen Poutasi is a former Director-General of Health. She oversaw the establishment of district health boards and the amalgamation of the former Health Funding Authority with the Ministry of Health. She has extensive experience at both a governance and management level, with deep knowledge and networks in the health system.

Dr Lester Levy has extensive knowledge of the health sector. He is Chair of the three Auckland district health boards, and has a wealth of experience in other private and government governance roles.

The best possible advice is essential for making decisions on health, and this group should the Minister.

David Farrar gives it a tick in Clark pushes out Chuah:

I don’t know all the members but Roche, Poutasi and Levy are well regarded and could well play a good role in improving the performance of the Ministry of Health.

Clark dines pushing Chuah: Outgoing health boss ‘not pushed’

Labour has been highly critical of Chai Chuah in the past but it was his choice to resign, David Clark says.

Hobson’s choice perhaps, but as Farrar said, Clark needs to have confidence in the Health boss.

In Parliament yesterday Clark responded to patsy questions (and one from the Opposition) with some of his expectations.

12. Dr LIZ CRAIG (Labour) to the Minister of Health: Why has he established the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Health System?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Today, I announced that I have established a ministerial advisory group because it has become increasingly clear to me that all is not well within our public health system. I require strong, independent advice about how we can lift the ministry’s performance and leadership, to begin to address the challenges facing our health system and, in particular, to rebuild the relationships that were seriously strained under the previous Government.

Dr Liz Craig: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What does he expect the ministerial advisory group will do to improve New Zealand’s health system?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I expect that the ministerial advisory group will provide the strategic advice required to deliver on this Government’s commitments in health and ensure that the $8 billion we have committed to investing in health will make a positive difference in people’s lives. This will include, for example, improving access to primary care by lowering the costs of visiting a GP.

Dr Shane Reti: Isn’t it more correct to say he’s set up the ministerial advisory group to tell him what his health plan in health should be, because he doesn’t have a plan?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: No.

Dr Liz Craig: Will the ministerial advisory group improve relationships across the health sector?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: One of the first things I expect the ministerial advisory group to do will be to rebuild relationships across the health sector. Strong and productive relationships are required to deliver the healthcare New Zealanders expect and deserve. I’m confident that the ministerial advisory group will be able to do this, and I have no doubt that its members will be talking and listening to district health boards, primary health organisations, and others up and down the country.

A line up of doctors, with both Craig and Reti having worked in health roles. That’s not necessarily all positive, the last Minister of Health, Dr Jonathan Coleman, seemed to lack in communication skills, something that’s essential in this portfolio.

I wish Clark and his Advisory Group well – I may need their help some time in the future, and there’s been some scary bad health stories coming out of Dunedin Hospital – the hospital whose case for replacement has been kicked down the road for a while now.