Prioritise health towards the young

November 25th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Dr Paul Hutchison, chairman of the health committee which this week made a raft of recommendations around early intervention health programmes, told TVNZ’s Q + A the Government needed to reprioritise the health budget to better address the needs of many young New Zealanders.

“This dollar spent very early on, not only improves the health outcome of the younger, it gives them the chance to be productive and lead highly functional contributory lives.”

I agree. For the same reasons I would spend more on early childhood education than tertiary education – you do the most good when young.

They key recommendations from the select committee chaired by Dr Hutchison are:

*Research the cost-effectiveness of early intervention programmes from pre-conception to three years within 12 months.

*Set a national health target for all women to have an antenatal assessment within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

*Make sexual education mandatory in all schools and increase access to long-acting contraceptives.

*Develop an action plan with NGOs and private sector for evidence-based nutrition programmes.

*Develop an action plan to combat fetal alcohol syndrome, introduce warning labels on alcohol products, and consider higher taxes on alcohol.

*Consider expansion of early childhood education services in poor areas.

*Prime Minister to take on a formal leadership role in developing a cross-agency plan for children’s health.

*Invest in a nationwide oral health campaign and transfer responsibility for fluoride additives to Ministry of Health and DHBs.

*Give support to funding for research on children’s health, and match it to international benchmarks.

 All looks pretty sensible and worthwhile.

Tags: ,

Two more retirements

October 25th, 2013 at 11:44 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National MPs Paul Hutchison and Cam Calder will not seek re-election in next year’s election.

Dr Hutchison is the MP for Port Waikato and was first elected in 1999.

Dr Calder is a list MP who has stood in Manurewa. He was first elected in 2008.

Their announcement today means four National MPs have decided to bow out of politics.

Internal Affairs Minister and Napier MP Chris Tremain and West Coast based list MP Chris Auchinvole have said they will not seek re-election.

Sad to see Cam and Hutch retire on a personal level – two genuinely nice people, who I doubt have any enemies in politics. Cam is 61 and Hutch 66, so their retirements are not huge surprises.

I worked with Hutch in opposition a bit. He was an obstetrician and gynecologist before he became an MP, and as a health spokesperson he had an affinity for the portfolio. I would help him put his powerpoint presentations together and he would always find some reason to need two or three photos of sperm, ovaries, fertilisation etc. I would get worried that Parliamentary Service would get worried about the nature of some of the images I was putting through the scanner!

While sad to see them both retire on the personal level, renewal is a constant need for political parties. National needs to keep rejuvenating both Cabinet and Caucus to maximise its chances of further terms.

Tags: , ,

Stealing the limelight!

April 22nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Clips of Mr Williamson’s speech have had 1.5 million views on YouTube, and there were now versions with Spanish and Chinese subtitles. It was tweeted about by celebrities including DeGeneres, Stephen Fry, Perez Hilton and Ronan Keating.

A spokesman for Mr Williamson said they were waiting to hear back from the show’s producers for more details.

In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Williamson, the long-standing MP for Pakuranga, made humorous references to “a big gay rainbow” over his electorate and said the Marriage Amendment Bill was a positive step.

He has since been getting accustomed to his newfound status as a poster boy for gay rights, for which he has received praise from the United Kingdom, Australia and America, offers to stand in as Governor in several states as well as appearances on various television shows.

The already married Mr Williamson said the New York Times called him one of the few “openly gay” MPs in New Zealand. “It’s gone a bit far,” he said. “My wife wanted to know whether the New York Times knew something more than I did.”

Green MP Kevin Hague, who helped Labour’s Louisa Wall with the bill, said there were no sour grapes that Mr Williamson was getting all the attention.

“Louisa and I – and this is tongue in cheek – gave pretty good speeches too but at every stage we’ve been upstaged by straight National Party men. There was Paul Hutchison in the first reading, Chris Auchinvole in the second reading and now Maurice Williamson. But there’s no resentment about that. It’s funny, that’s all.”

He said some people might have been surprised by Mr Williamson, but in Mr Hague’s time heading the Aids Foundation in the 1990s he had worked with Mr Williamson as Associate Health Minister. “He has always been progressive on issues like gay rights, including supporting needle and syringe exchange when it was not popular.”

It is ironic about Hutch, Auchie and Maurice being the stand out speakers at each reading. They have the following in common:

  • All heterosexual men
  • All married
  • All have children, nine between them
  • All are National MPs
  • All in their 60s

An unlikely trio to be poster boys for same sex marriage.   :-)

Tags: , , ,

Two embarrassing driving distractions

September 22nd, 2009 at 5:39 am by David Farrar

First the Herald reports:

American Eric Hertz, who moved to New Zealand from Washington DC to become 2degrees’ chief executive nearly two months ago, said he had glanced down at the Google Maps function on his phone when he drove into a stationary vehicle at an inner-city Auckland intersection. …

Mr Hertz’s phone was in a hands-free cradle, and always is when he is in the car.

This would not be covered by the change in law mooted by the Government.

And in another Herald story:

National’s Hunua MP Paul Hutchison has been dobbed in for reading while driving on the Auckland motorway and his attitude is it’s a “fair cop”. …

Dr Hutchison said it was him yesterday and thanked the reader for reporting him.

“Anyone who dobs someone in for driving unwisely is doing their public duty and that’s fair enough. Caught red-handed – or blue-handed,” he said.

He had been “frantically” going from one meeting to another on the Auckland governance issue.

“If I was driving unwisely I shouldn’t have been and I will endeavour to correct my ways,” he said.

I note this also will not be covered by the law change.

This is why I prefer a general law on distractions while driving, rather than picking on handheld cellphones only.

Tags: , ,

The Central North Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 12:15 am by David Farrar

Oh I do like that solid blue look. And in 2002 only a handful were blue.

Hunua is a new seat. The party vote is another 60:20 type solid seat. On the electorate vote Paul Hutchison narrowly beat Jordan Carter by 14,738 votes and Roger Douglas another 2,700 votes behind Jordan.

Waikato is 58% to 22% on the party vote. And Lindsay Tisch drove his majority from 7,000 to almost 12,000.

Coromandel went from 45% to 31% up to 51% to 26%. And Sandra Goudie scored a 13,400 majority for the seat she won in 2005.

The two Hamilton seats are no longer marginal weathervanes. Hamilton East went from a 9% party vote lead for National to a 19% lead. And David Bennett turned a 5,300 majority into one of over 8.000. Hamilton West saw an 11% lead in the party vote for National after being 2% behind in 2005. And Tim Macindoe turned his 1,100 loss in 2005 to a 1,500 victory in 2008.

Bay of Plenty is another 60:20 seat on the party vote. and Tony Ryall got a massive 16,500 majority up from 11,000 in 2005.

In 2005 in Tauranga, National had a 15% lead in the party vote. In 2008 the lead was 32%. Bob Clarkson beat Winston Peters by 730 votes in 2005. This time Simon Bridges beat him by 10,700. Simon will be happy to be the Member of Tauranga for some time.

Rotorua saw National lift the party vote from 43% to 51%, and Todd McClay scored a majority of almost 5,000 over a sitting Minister.

Taupo saw a party vote victory of 15% and Louise Upston beat Mark Burton by almost 6,000 votes. She ran a good campaign and for a big enough majority to make it safe for National. Burton got 2300 more votes than Labour so even harder for any future Labour candidate.  I also heard a rumour that Louise held the first meeting of her 2011 campaign committee at 8.15 am on Sunday morning :-)

The East Coast had a 15% lead in the party vote (the graphic has it wrong) and on the electorate vote Anne Tolley turned a 2,500 majority into a 6,000 majority.

The growing seat of Napier saw National go from a 1% lead in the party vote to a 12% lead. And Chris Tremain drove his 3,300 victory over Russell Fairbrother in 2005 to a 8,400 margin. Remember this is a seat Labour held for all but three years from 1928 to 2005 and Tremain is building John Carter or Nick Smith type majorities as a brilliant local MP who owns his seat.

Over on the west coast, we have the huge Taranaki-King Country seat which is another of those lovely 60:20 seats.  And the 12,000 majority motors up to 14,500.

Finally we have New Plymouth. National was ahead on the party vote last time by 8% and this time it was 20%. And it was too much for Harry Duynhoven who lost the seat by 300 votes. In 2005 he held it by almost 5,000 votes and in 2002 his majority was a staggering 15,000. New candidate Jonathan Young will be watching the special votes though.

Labour will struggle to form a Government again, while so many seats have them getting just 1 in 5 party votes. Every seat in this region had at least an 11% gap in the party vote, with many having a 40% gap.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,