Newshub can reveal yet more discord in the National Party, this time over fluoridation – in an extremely rare move, MPs voted down the leadership on a key health policy.
The Government has proposed making Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield responsible for fluoride in water to protect Kiwis and their kids’ teeth, rather than the region-by-region approach.
National’s leadership, Judith Collins and her deputy Dr Shane Reti wanted National to oppose the proposed changes, believing it to be an overreach. But the caucus disagreed and voted the leadership down.
The policy itself is not a biggie. Both Labour and National agree local Councils should no longer decide on fluoridation. The last National Government was moving towards having DHBs decide instead of Councils. Labour then said it would have the Ministry of Health decide.
I think either route would lead to universal fluoridation of community water supplies. I probably slightly favour Labour’s policy as it stops DHB elections becoming referenda on fluoride. Of course we should abolish DHb elections but that is a different issue.
So according to this story Collins and Reti wanted National to back its original policy, but the majority of caucus wanted to back Labour’s proposed law. The actual policy difference is not huge.
What is huge is the fact this has leaked.
National MPs have told Newshub this is incredibly rare and almost unheard of.
One National MP said it’s even rare to have these votes in caucus, and that it shows indecisiveness and lack of belief from Collins.
Another National MP says she’s confused about what Collins stands for. …
Remember, National’s caucus meetings are supposed to be top secret and impenetrable, but once against the caucus is leaking like a sieve.
For fuck’s sake. We’ve just had the review into the disaster of a 2020 election go around the country telling members that disunity and leaks were toxic to National’s brand, and some MPs are back at it. If they keep this up, Jacinda will be Prime Minister until Neve is old enough to vote.
UPDATE: While Tova definitely has a source, it is not necessarily someone who attended caucus, as some (not all) of the details are incorrect, which someone who attended caucus would know.
Just spoke to Judith who reiterated she remains adamantly pro-fluoridation and has said so publicly many times. Judith has said on Twitter, and to me, that parts of the story are wrong.