A useful tweet by journalist Patrick Smellie:
Is pedantic to question the narrative about under-investment at Middlemore when today’s DHB stats show the capital budget is significantly underspent? I.e., under-funding can’t be the issue if money for capital upgrades is going unspent.
— Pattrick Smellie (@pjsmellie) April 9, 2018
Labour are desperately trying to use the mould issue to divert attention from all the stuff they are mismanaging. In reality the issue is pretty simple.
The DHB never raised the issue of the mould with the Government. It never asked for money to deal with it. In fact it is not even clear if the DHB knew there was a significant issue until recently.
The reality as Smellie points out is that they have actually been underspending their capital budget. So this was not a case of an underfunded DHB.
Now the nature of Government is you always get unexpected expenses. This is why Governments normally allow $1.5 billion a year or so of operational allowances to cater for unexpected expenses. The problem Labour has is that they have pre-allocated almost all of their future operational allowances – this is the point Steven Joyce was trying to make.
The mould issue at Middlemore is not a hugely expensive one. An estimate I’ve seen is it might cost $25 million to fix. The Government spends over $70 billion a year.
The previous Government had huge unexpected expenses. $20 billion or so on the Christchurch earthquakes. Hundreds of millions on Kaikoura. Pike River. The Rena cost $50 million etc. To have Labour cry shock and horror because one DHB has an unanticipated expense just shows how unused to governing they are.