Today’s Editorials

The NZ Herald looks at the decision to bump John Key for Robin Brooke:

It is reassuring, in its way, that the Prime Minister could not commandeer the airwaves on state television on Tuesday to tell the nation about income tax cuts and a rise in GST. It speaks of TVNZ independence and editorial freedoms that should be valued, however questionable the actual judgment of those exercising them.

The Herald also looks at the law reform paper:

Mr Power’s problem with the Law Commission recommendations seems to stem from from the Prime Minister’s declared war on methamphetamine and drugs. Any relaxation would be perceived as contrary to that. It could also be argued, as John Key did yesterday, that softening the law on the possession of drugs for personal use would send the wrong message to youngsters. …

Given such political reality, there was a strong whiff of naivety in the commission’s suggestions. There was also, however, a solid strain of reason and rationality.

The commission, for example, is right to note that “while the harms and costs associated with alcohol are understated and misunderstood, those associated with illegal drugs are often generalised and overblown”. There is also much to say that drug policy should focus on dealing with problematic drug-users, rather than the many people whose drug use poses no serious threat to their own well-being or others.

I agree. that the focus should be on those drug use creates problems, rather than those who do not.

The Dominion Post talks about PHOs:

On paper, the last government’s decision to establish primary organisations had a lot going for it. Bringing together doctors, nurses, midwives and other health professionals under one roof was a way to improve access to services and reduce overall health costs by reducing the need for hospital admissions.

In practice, as invariably happens when a government opens its cheque book, the results have been mixed.

A study by Capital and Coast District Health Board last year showed avoidable hospital admissions in the district have increased since 2003, but have fallen among people enrolled with PHOs. PHOs are also credited with increasing immunisation rates in some parts of the country and making visits to doctors more affordable for people in poor areas, although the latter is more likely to be a consequence of increased subsidies than the way the sector is organised.

However, some PHOs barely exist except on paper (their purpose is to channel money from district health boards to individual clinics) and their creation has contributed to a rise in administration costs.

Not exactly a stunning success.

The Press talks about Environment Canterbury:

For the second year in a row Environment Canterbury (ECan) is heading towards an overall rate increase well in excess of inflation.

Last year it approved a rise of 6 per cent, including a 10.6 per cent general rate rise, but if that decision prompted disquiet in the region, the questioning of ECan could well be even stronger this year. …

With the local body elections looming later this year, ECan ratepayers will be closely watching over coming months to see which councillors are prepared to identify areas where savings could be found, especially in the regional council’s bureaucracy.

We should have candidates sign pledges that they will not increase rates beyond inflation without voter approval.

The ODT looks at the merger of the Otago and Southland District Health Boards:

The way is cleared for the merger between the Southland and Otago District Health Boards with the Southland board’s 7 to 3 vote in favour.

Because Health Minister Tony Ryall is likely to back the proposal, the only remaining major issue is the speed of approval and whether the Southern Board will be in place early enough for this year’s local body elections in October. …

I suspect it will be.

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