Dunne: “the decidedly inferior Mr Little”

In his weekly blog post Peter Dunne has made it clear that he doesn’t rate Andrew Little highly.

Dunne is obviously not angling for a memorandum or any sort of understanding with Labour. He may not care, it’s unknown whether he will stand again next year. He may also not care for an alliance involving Greens and NZ First along with Labour.

Dunne’s post takes a historic look at why he thinks Little’s spurning of the centre is likely to be unsuccessful, interspersed with some fairly pointed remarks about Little.

While the Leader of the Opposition is right to talk of “coalitions of interests” he is wrong to assume he alone can put them together without the glue of the centre ground. Fraser, Holyoake, and more latterly Clark and Key fully understood that point.

Mr Little, who is nowhere near their league, appears not to.

Not very complimentary.

So, the Leader of the Opposition thinks elections should not be about who wins the centre ground. He is right, up to a point, especially about bringing together “coalitions of interests” in his bid to win office.

Where he is wrong, however, is that no New Zealand Government – single or multi party, pre or post MMP – has ever been elected without winning over the centre ground of politics. Moreover, for at least one hundred years, New Zealand has had moderately conservative governments, led since the 1930s by either National or Labour.

But Dunne also opines that Little is nowhere near the quality or popularity of Labour’s successful leaders, like Norm Kirk, David Lange and Helen Clark.

It is no coincidence that along the way, Kirk, Lange and Clark had all moderated their message to win the public confidence, and that Labour only won office when they did so.

Yet the far less impressive Mr Little apparently believes he can eschew those lessons.

And again:

But again, the decidedly inferior Mr Little knows better.  

Dunne is yet another ex-Labourite who is not on good terms with the current Labour leadership.



Thinking more broadly on housing

There has been a lot of attempted political point scoring on housing , often on quite narrow issues that try to ignore the complexities of the situation.

The melee has looked messy, especially for National and Labour.

The Government (National) look like they are in reactive, almost panic mode announcing what appears to be policy on the fly, and they have also looked disjointed amongst themselves.

Labour’s double barrelled attack is to claim that we are now in crisis, but announcing policy that won’t even be considered in Government for over a year at least, and that is dependent on them forming the next government and going by current support indicators, will need agreement by both Greens and NZ First.

Peter Dunne has proposed a national conference on housing involving all affected parties – not political parties, local bodies in particular are a vital part of any possible solutions.

Lawrence Yule, President of Local Government New Zealand, via Stuff, says that Thinking more broadly on housing the only way to make a difference and agrees with Dunne:

LGNZ has long advocated for a ‘joined up’ approach to addressing housing provision and affordability. UnitedFuture leader Hon Peter Dunne recently called for a national conference with all affected parties. We agree. Such an approach could be a springboard for developing a shared national strategy to address housing supply.

We advocate that a shared plan should address the many complex factors driving the housing shortage – and that needs to be agreed between central and local government and key players in the construction industry as a matter of urgency.

He says “it is clear we need to think more broadly to make a difference” and suggests six things in particular that need to be focussed on:

  1. Funding and financing of infrastructure;
  2. Addressing land-banking;
  3. Allowing for Urban Development Authorities controlled by local government to speed up development;
  4. Putting in place tax regimes that de-incentivise speculation in residential property;
  5. Addressing a skills shortage in the construction industry; and finally
  6. Addressing an uncompetitive market for building supplies.


One of the most important priorities for local government is to address the question of why residential-zoned, serviced land is not being released to market at the rate sufficient to meet market demand.

There are two main reasons for this:

  • first the challenge of financing and so providing the essential trunk infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewerage, to ensure that land is ‘ready to go’;
  • and second the practice of so-called ‘land banking’.

Mayors whose districts are experiencing high growth have said publicly they are already doing what the proposed National Policy Statement will require them to do and it is not just a land supply problem.

LGNZ’s funding review highlighted the need for funding options that will incentivise councils and communities to invest in infrastructure to enable more growth.

One way of achieving this would be to allow councils to retain a share of any value uplift arising from a change in economic activity, including a change of zoning from rural to residential – the value uplift potentially being used to fund new infrastructure.

Currently, that gain goes directly to landholders (hence the incentive to landbank).

Land banking

Land banking occurs where developers hold onto land, releasing it only gradually in response to increases in land prices. The problem is acute in some fast-growing areas and councils currently lack the tools to incentivise land-bankers to release land for housing development.

We need tools that act as incentives to release the land. We should look to the overseas jurisdictions that have the same issues as New Zealand to consider what other powers might be needed.

The most obvious is to change the law to allow a targeted rate to be applied to land in these circumstances, currently not allowed by law. The approach taken by this Government is to require additional supply of serviced land with the intention of creating a competitive land and development market.

Development and zoning of ‘brownfield’ commercial sites, well suited to infill housing, is also often hampered by land being in small titles, with multiple owners. The United Kingdom is addressing this problem through Urban Development Authorities.

Both National and Labour have proposed something similar to the Urban Development Authorities. Now would be a good time to have one.

UDAs have the power to compulsorily purchase land, particularly useful when an area is under many small titles (often found in commercial or inner city areas) in order to offer developers a consolidated area where economies of scale can be achieved.

We will want to work with the Government on what the powers and governance arrangements for UDAs in New Zealand could be. 

Future tense is not a good sign, the Government should have already been working with local government on this.

While National insists there is no crisis and Labour insists there is and they keep hitting each other with political handbags the housing market burns.

If there was ever a time that our Members of parliament should be working together – in this case with local governments – it is now.

Rapidly escalating prices are a major problem, and if the bubble bursts and prices collapse it will get worse.

An urgent realistic and cooperative approach is needed.

In depth reporting during Parliamentary recess?

Some response to Tracy Watkins’ suggestion for opposition parties as posted here:   A recess challenge for Labour.

Fox is the hard working Maori Party list MP.

Ditto, and I reckon most of us will be. Kind of a strange column. Must invite Tracey to spend a recess week with me.
My reading of it is not so much MPs not working, but MPs not keeping media attention.

I think this is a very good point from Robertson.

Instead of journalists writing columns about what they think politicians and parties should be doing perhaps that time would be better spent investigating and reporting on what Members of Parliament are actually doing.

Most MPs work very hard. Some seek and get media attention, and that is not necessarily the hard workers, and it is not necessarily the meritorious work being reported on.

Take this column from Claire Trevett yesterday in Small parties under pump as polls loom:

There is precious little oxygen in the rarefied atmosphere inhabited by Government support parties. If evidence was needed it came this week when Dunne tried to remind people of his existence by issuing a press statement setting out the three policy themes he would be focusing on in the lead-up to the 2017 election.

The themes were: an economy that provides fairness, choice and opportunity; establishing core environmental bottom lines; and embracing and celebrating a modern, multi-cultural New ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.

It was effectively a campaign launch. It fell with the impact of a feather.

Dunne didn’t defame an opponent, he didn’t stoke up racial or ethnic intolerance, he didn’t say something quietly to a reporter who told another reporter who made it into a major story about a Minister.

MPs who quietly and diligently do their jobs without providing sound bites and click bait for media don’t only get ignored most of the time, they get criticised for being boring.

Going back to what Watkins wrote, it seems she wants opposition parties to provide political media with some headlines during a quiet time, a Parliamentary recess.

I agree with Robertson, more in depth would help a lot, but journalists seem averse to doing the boring hard work that is required to inform the public of what is really going on.

Hard hearted Bill vetos parental leave bill vetoed

Bill English has followed through with threats to veto the Paid Parental Leave Bill that would have increased paid parental leave from the current 18 weeks to 26 weeks.

The bill was supported by a majority in Parliament, the Bill was not.

I’m disappointed by this. The Paid Parental Leave Bill was introduced to Parliament via the Members’ ballot and passed through all it’s stages under our democratic process, but was discarded by English under his power of ‘certificate of financial veto’.

There would have been a cost with a fiscal impact but not a significant one in the whole scheme of things.

There is overwhelming evidence that the first months and years of a child’s life are of fundamental importance to their well being, so if any stage of their lives deserves Government support it is the first six months.

It is also important that mothers in particular (and fathers as well) are supported during the most difficult, the most time consuming and the most important stage of parenthood.

Yes there would have been an added cost but the benefits are likely to have paid this back.

This makes English look petty, penny pinching and mean. Ditto the National Party.

Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party, NZ First and UnitedFuture all supported the bill.

Labour MP Sue Moroney introduced and strongly promoted the bill:

…said she was “frustrated and disappointed” by the veto.

“It’s a difficult thing to command parliamentary majority from opposition…and it’s the right thing to do.

Peter Dunne…

… said the veto was “unfortunate”, given the Government’s previous claims about its focus on children.

“I think it’s a delicious irony in that yesterday [the] Government was saying that putting children at the centre of policy was a priority – today they ban a bill on paid parental leave.”

Labour leader Andrew Little…

…said it was “deeply disappointing”.

Parliament clearly supports it … the Government does have the right of veto and in the end they’ll be accountable to New Zealander’s for that”.

Spokeswoman for the coalition 26 for Babies…

…said the “unaffordability” argument didn’t stack up.

“This decision is about this Governments priorities,” Rebecca Matthews-Heron said.

It is hard work to get a sensible Opposition bill with majority support for it. It is hard work being a parent, particularly in the first 6 months of a child’s life.

It was easy for English to veto this bill, but it was hard nosed, hard hearted and contrary to Government claims about putting a priority on early childhood.

Parliament speaks on Orlando shooting

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I seek leave to move a motion without notice to express sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting.

Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being followed? There is none.


I move, That the House express sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting. This is a shocking atrocity, and on behalf of all New Zealanders, I would like to express our country’s sincere condolences to those affected by it.

As I said yesterday, no innocent person should have to worry about such violence when going about their daily lives or be persecuted for their beliefs or because of who they are.

The evening vigils that took place in Auckland, Wellington, and elsewhere were a tangible demonstration of the depth of people’s very real feelings at the scale of this atrocity.

Over the days and weeks ahead, we will learn more about the motivations behind this senseless tragedy, but right now there are many people grieving: the victims’ families and friends, and the gay and lesbian community in Florida and around the world.

All too often we see these hateful attacks and mass shootings taking the lives of innocent victims. New Zealand stands with the United States and other countries in the fight against violent extremism.

Yesterday I wrote to President Obama to express condolences on behalf of all New Zealanders.

Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends, and with those who responded to this tragic attack, and we wish those injured a speedy recovery.

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition):

The Labour Party joins with the Government in expressing its horror at this atrocity and its love and sympathy with the victims and their families. Our thoughts are with the people of Orlando and the United States, as well as their representatives here in New Zealand.

This was an atrocious and hateful act. It was an act of terror. It was also an act of hate. It was a targeted attack at the LGBTI community. It was the deliberate mass-murder of LGBTI people because of who they were and whom they loved.

These young people were attacked and murdered in a place that was meant to be safe for them. It was meant to be a haven where they could go to dance and have fun and be themselves. This was a place where they would not be subject to homophobia or violence or hatred. And in that place, in that sanctuary, they were murdered in cold blood.

Like millions of people around the word, we have all seen the heart-breaking details of what emerged about this shooting. The stories of first responders arriving at the scene to a chorus of ringing cellphones, as the families of those hurt and killed desperately tried to contact their loved ones.

The story of Eddie Justice, who was able to hide in the bathroom of the nightclub long enough to send his mother a text telling her that he loved her and whose mother then had to read the horrifying words: “He’s coming. I’m going to die.”

This attack has broken hearts around the world, but while we mourn and grieve, we must also rededicate ourselves to the great universal values of humanity, which attacks like this seek to deny and destroy: inclusion, openness, respect, love.

We must reaffirm our commitment to a society where everyone is free to love whom they choose, worship how they choose, and to be themselves without fear of violence or repression.

We must reaffirm our commitment to ending bigotry and intolerance and hatred wherever we find it, because that is what the path of true freedom demands.

While we grieve and we mourn, we remind ourselves that love is love and that love is stronger than hate, and that together we will not let hate win.


I rise to support the Prime Minister’s motion and to thank him for it. The Green Party wishes to express its profound shock and sorrow at what has occurred, and its sympathies to the victims themselves, to their families, to their friends, and to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities in Orlando and around the world.

An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. I want to name this as an act of homophobic violence.

For those of us who are in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities, we know that just below the level of taunts and name-calling and subtle prejudice, there is an undercurrent of violence.

In this particular case, in Orlando, America’s absurd gun laws have been a unique enabler for the mass murder that has occurred. But New Zealand also has a history of homophobic violence; one thinks, for example, of Jeff Whittington , who just over 17 years ago was murdered in this town.

It should not be that when I and my partner or any from our communities are out in public, we should have to check who is around before we kiss or hold hands, and yet it is so.

At this time I want to ask everyone in this House and everyone listening to this debate now to pay particular attention to the needs of young and vulnerable members of our communities.

For older members of the gay community, for example, like me, we have the privilege of being able to choose whom we associate with. We have the relative privilege of being able to make ourselves as safe as we can be.

But a younger person does not have that privilege. They are particularly vulnerable; they need our support and they need our love, right now.

I also want to extend a hand of friendship and of love to Muslim communities around the world. We understand that what this man did is not representative of your communities, and we seek relationships that are based on peace and mutual respect.

A belief that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people are not entitled to what we call universal human rights, or, worse, a belief that we deserve death for being who we are, cannot be allowed to stand in the world.

In closing, we in the Green Party and, I hope, this House commit ourselves to act against homophobia and homophobic violence and, indeed, transphobic violence, wherever it occurs in the world, and we seek to be a constant voice in the world for universal respect for basic human rights. Thank you.


Peters’ speech was widely regarded as highly inappropriate and disgraceful,  so the transcript won’t be posted.

He devoted most of his speech ignoring Orlando and trying to score political points on New Zealand immigration. About two MPs slow clapped his speech, it looks like he stunned or embarrassed even the NZ First MPs.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Co-Leader—Māori Party):

No transcript has been supplied by Parliament for Flavell’s speech.

Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future):

No words, no spin, and no gloss can carry over the events that occurred in Orlando yesterday. The slaughter of nearly 50 innocent people is unacceptable by any moral or ethical standard.

Equally unacceptable, I think, is the sort of intolerance and the bigotry—because that is what it is—that gets paraded at a time like this as people start to attempt to explain these unacceptable actions.

I believe that bigotry begets bigotry, and that in turn begets the type of extremism that we saw exemplified in Orlando yesterday.

This is not an issue where one makes a moral judgment about anybody. The fact is that these young gay and lesbian people were out socialising, something they should have been able to do in perfect freedom, in perfect security, and in perfect confidence.

A madman—because that is the one thing that is certain about the perpetrator—cruelly ended that, and the questions will go on for some time as to why and how.

There will be questions about the United States’ attitude to the possession of handguns. There will be questions about the motivation of the individual. None of those actually remove the tragedy of what happened. None of those restore any of those lives, rebuild any of those families or those friendships, or rebuild those shattered communities.

We are a long way away, and I am sure that the people of the United States are not sitting by their televisions now hanging on our every words, but our expression of sympathy and solidarity with them at this time of grief counts in that it shows that as members of the world community we actually share some basic values about integrity, we share some basic values about freedom, and we share some basic values about people being able to live their lives and express their personalities to the fullest extent.

Every time we see an event like this it is a challenge to all of those values that we hold dear, even if we may not be immediately near the scene of the crime.

So I share with others the sense of outrage and the expression of condolence and sympathy to the people of the United States, and Orlando in particular, on this horrific occasion. But to start to go beyond that to draw spurious conclusions at this early stage I simply think starts to light the fuse for the next horrible outrage, and that is unacceptable.


I would like to add the ACT Party’s sympathy and condolences to those messages from other leaders who have made dignified and factual contributions to this debate.

It is a great tragedy, and our thoughts are with the victims, with their families, with their communities, and particularly with the LGBTI communities of Orlando, who appear to have been deliberately targeted.

Let us remain strong in the knowledge that free and open societies have the resilience to sustain these tragedies to support each other and to grow stronger again together. Thank you.

A broad global consensus on drugs

NZ Drug Foundation @nzdrug tweeted:

A brilliant video from @IDPCnet on the ‪#‎ungass2016‬“consensus”. @PeterDunneMP makes a cameo. ‪#‎supportdontpunish‬

A broad consensus? It’s time for change. #SupportDontPunish

Published on Jun 7, 2016

Join the movement at http://supportdontpunish.org/

For over half a century there has been a global consensus that drugs should be eliminated through punishment and repression. But this “consensus” has been ripped apart at the seams. Progressively more countries realise repression and punishment have failed. It’s time for change.

Video by Leo Kiss.
Footage from UNTV and Rights Reporter Foundation.

Empathy in electorate offices

This sort of arrogant ‘Labour good, National bad’ claim continues to repel common sense people from Labour.

Te Reo Putake

It’s important to remember that local MP’s have a job to do in their communities and if you want an empathetic hearing in your local electorate office, that’ll only come from a Labour MP.

Or, if you live in the north, from your NZF MP, who I’m told has revitalised the electorate offices up there.

This not only disses David Seymour, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell, it could be seen as a swipe at any Green ambitions of going for electorate seats

This was commenting on his own post Stick a Fork in Him, He’s Dunne in which he said:

The biggest loser is obviously Peter Dunne who is going to be an ex MP if the Green Party don’t stand a candidate in Ohariu.

…long time reliable sycophant Peter Dunne twist in the wind.

Dunne’s history is one of disloyalty and self serving behaviour.

If Labour need to talk to Dunne to get the last seat needed to form a coalition this sort of long standing abuse won’t help their case.

So how rattled is National? I reckon they’re shitting bricks myself. Not just because they are going to lose the ever reliable doormat Dunne, but because there’s every chance the Maori party will cease to be as well.

That’s not because of the Greens/Labour pact, but because interwebs/mana are no longer a credible party. Annette Sykes may well stand again in Wairiki, but she won’t get 5000 votes this time around and Te Ururoa  Flavell’s majority will suffer as a result.

No Flavell, no maori Tories.

Another coalition option burnt off. Do Labour Greens really think they won’t need anyone else?

And what’s to say the Greens won’t get the same treatment if Labour only need them and they are desperate – will Labour through them a few crumbs? It would be more than they’ve done before I suppose.

But back to “if you want an empathetic hearing in your local electorate office, that’ll only come from a Labour MP”.

On Paul Henry this morning  – Greens-Labour deal ‘nothing new’ – King – Nikki Kay said:

…as the MP for Auckland Central through my electorate office I’ve done quite a lot in terms of people being homeless in central Auckland.

I’ve gone down and visited Wynard Quarter people who have been in sort of caravans and things down there and it’s really complex, people have many different situations.

…I’ve literally had people in my office and they’ve said for various reasons that’s where they want to be. And sometimes there might be mental health issues, sometimes there might be a range of other reasons why the temporarily want to be somewhere.

Not good enough for TRP.

On that same Paul Henry segment Annette King also dissed ‘bland Peter Dunne”.

She’s deputy to Andrew Little. In contrast they must be as colourful as cooked cabbage who think they only need some Greens to go with them.

On the same Standard thread Colonial Viper:

Dunne ain’t ever supporting a Labour coalition government again. Not after the vitriol Labour has poured on Dunne for years now.

As if they can afford to be that selective. They seem to have thought dumping on Dunne and getting him out of parliament by any means was a pathway to power.

What does Dunne think about it?

Now has jumped on the bandwagon. She says is “bland”. Time to prove us wrong Peter.

Ha! Hardly worth replying to a wet bus ticket slap from someone of so little substance or consequence

I think it’s time hung up his bow tie..Your now just an angry little man with pretty good hair

 I happen to be one of calmest & relaxed people you could meet – I just have an intolerance of idiocy and stupidity

TRP is not stupid, he knows that you can burn off all sorts of potentially useful people and the voters will still think you deserve to be in power on your own. So much empathy.

Or something.

Premature speculation on Ohariu

The Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding has sparked speculation about whether the parties will do deals on contesting electorates. There has been particular focus on Ohariu.

Richard Harman at Politik: Labour-Green pact could see the end of Dunne

The Labour/Green pact announced yesterday may pave the way for Greens Co-Leader James Shaw to stand against Peter Dunne in Ohariu.

If Labour didn’t stand a candidate — and Labour sources say that’s a real possibility — then, on paper, based on the last election results, Mr Dunne would lose his seat.

Te Reo Putake also considers this in Stick a Fork in Him, He’s Dunne.

I think this is premature. ‘Labour sources’ speculating does not mean the Greens are on board. In any case Shaw has done very well in Wellington Central so why doesn’t Labour consider standing Grant Robertson aside to give Shaw a clear run there?

It is also unlikely to be known until the end of this year or early next year whether Peter Dunne will even stand again in Ohariu. He is the longest standing MP in Parliament, being first elected in 1984 as a Labour MP, 32 years ago.

Even ‘on paper’ is debatable. Results from 2014 in Ohariu:

  • Dunne 13,569
  • Anderson (Labour) 12,859
  • Hudson (National) 6,120
  • Woodley (Greens) 2,764
  • Conservative (Brunner) 1,038
  • Others 466

Sure Labour+Green > Dunne but it’s not that simple.

Dunne+National+Conservative > Labour+Green by a wide margin.

It is unknown how many Green voters would switch to vote for a Labour candidate, or how many Labour voters would vote for a Green candidate.

And if Labour and Greens do a deal and only stand one candidate between them it could substantially change the view of voters.

Dunne and National get heavily criticised for ‘a jack-up’ by opponents and by some media, even though National still stand a candidate.

There was plenty of nudge-nudge, wink-wink by Labour and Greens last election.

If they went further and only stood one candidate between them it would at least even up the jack-up criticism and may swing it against them.

It would also mean that National could choose to not stand a candidate at all without fear of being ostracised if Labour and Greens have done the same.

Also it is impossible to judge the mood of the electorate in about 16 months time.

If voters warm up to a Labour-Green alliance then the parties may benefit. But current indications are that it is more likely that Labour looks lost.

And there is also a strong voter resistance to Greens getting into power. If given a virtual choice of LabourGreen voters may turn away from both parties.

Winston Peters is already milking Labour’s current weakness for all it’s worth, and it’s pretty much certain he will go for cream in response to the current Labour-Green arrangement. If the red and green machine cranks up more Peters will be like a cat given a term’s supply of cream.

Greens may decide they have to put all their efforts into at least maintaining their party vote, a further slip next would be quite demoralising for them.

Or they may decide to attack Labour’s weakness, refuse any jack-ups  and go for electorate seats.

A Labour collapse is currently looking more likely than a Labour revival. Greens won’t want NZ First to pick up all the spoils if they think the former will happen.

Amongst all this speculation on Ohariu is based on too many unknowns and looks premature. Especially if Dunne shakes his head and walks away from the current mess of New Zealand politics.

One thing I haven’t seen speculated on is the shell of the United Future party. That is an opportunity for disaffected and demoralised Labourites or a new force in politics (a Trump or Sanders?). It would be far easier to pick up an existing party than start from scratch.

If ever there was a gap in the political market for a new (or reborn) party it is now.

Ohariu is relatively minor in the scheme of things.

As the centre vote grows tired of National, gives up on Labour, continues to want to keep Greens out of Government and wants an alternative to Winston First there is a ready made opportunity.

Ohariu could be the cornerstone of an opportunity. If anyone can be bothered, politics in New Zealand is not a particularly attractive pastime at the moment.

Donald and Boris?

Peter Dunne pointed out:

Imagine Boris in No 10 & Trump in the White House! Could be just a few months away

He linked to:

The headline and article clarifies that:

Ken Clarke: Boris Johnson ‘is just a nicer Donald Trump’ and should ‘go away for a bit’

Boris Johnson was likened to Donald Trump and told to “go away for a bit” as he came under fire from Tory veteran Ken Clarke.

The former chancellor said Mr Johnson’s pro-Brexit campaign was “remarkably similar” in its message to the controversial Republican’s US presidential bid.

He branded the former London mayor a “nicer version of Donald Trump”, saying he was leading a campaign based on immigration fears that were “about as relevant” to real issues as Trump’s views.

Regardless of the UK wrangling an interesting point is how the world would be affected if both Johnson and Trump become leaders of their respective countries.

How would it affect New Zealand?

Would John Key be able to build useful working relationships with Johnson and/or Trump? Would they care about New Zealand?

Would Andrew Little be able to build useful working relationships with Johnson and/or Trump?

Would Winston Peters be able to build useful working relationships with Johnson and/or Trump?

Dunne on the budget

Peter Dunne has posted on the budget:

Most of the reaction to the 2016 Budget has been predictable. Government supporters laud it as one of the greatest things since sliced bread, while the Opposition bemoans it as do-nothing, and as always the interest groups lament that there is not enough in it for their particular constituency.

Any Budget by any government, left or right, is a balancing act between what Ministers would like to do in their own portfolios; their parties’ priorities; and, what the Minister of Finance thinks he can pay for. Every now and then, a budget provides scope for standing back a little and looking at overall policy requirements in a particular area.

He focusses on the funding of Pharmac:

There is such an issue in the 2016 Budget. In recent years, successive governments have struggled with how to fund new innovative medicines that are expensive and may not be able to be funded within PHARMAC’s existing budget and criteria. The debate over the breast cancer drug Herceptin in 2007-09 was one such example.

The upshot was that the government made specific funding available for Herceptin in 2009. That intervention was not seen as especially successful, and so, when the issue of the melanoma drug Keytruda arose earlier this year, the government took a slightly different approach, confirmed in the Budget, of providing more funding to PHARMAC which was then able to fund the similar medicine, Opdivo.

However, both these examples raise a broader issue in the context of the new and innovative biologic medicines likely to become available in the next few years, that will not only have a profound effect on the treatment of many currently life-threatening conditions, but will be extremely expensive.

As things stand at the moment, PHARMAC would be forced to play another game of catch-up, harnessing its resources as best it can, and hoping for more funding from the government to enable the medicines to be made available to New Zealand patients. And, in all probability, it will continue that way until the next such case arises, and so on. It is neither satisfactory, nor sustainable.

We need to be developing a strategic overview of what medicines are likely to be becoming available in the years to come; what is a reasonable expectation of which of these medicines New Zealanders might expect to have access to; and, how that might be funded.

In some cases, there may be other medicines available that could be cheaper and just as effective, while in other cases it might be that the particular medicines are not of as much value here as might be claimed elsewhere. And we also need to be brave enough to determine the point at which long standing medicines should be moved on, either to a part-charge regime, or to no subsidy at all, because they have been replaced by newer products.

At the present time, we have no such overview, and, as the Herceptin and Keytruda debates show painfully, governments have been left to react, when it is often too late. A more proactive approach focused on what are reasonable expectations for New Zealanders to have of the national medicines system would enable governments and PHARMAC to prioritise spending better, and would give patients a certainty they lack presently.

The limitations of the current system have been clearly exposed and when in government both the major parties have struggled to accommodate the demands being made.

(Part of the problem is that when in Opposition both parties have promised everything to everybody on the medicines front and then become hoist by the own foolish petard when elected to office. As recent events show, that puerile pattern seems likely to continue.)

A more strategic approach would prevent repetitions of that hypocritical tomfoolery, but, more importantly, would give New Zealanders a greater level of certainty than they enjoy now.