The Government has parked $100 million committed to 17 well-thought through initiatives that should be improving lives, while it kicks the can down the road by refusing to act alongside its mental health inquiry, National’s spokesperson for Mental Health Matt Doocey says.
“The Prime Minister has claimed that the $100 million allocated through Budget 2017 for 17 new mental health initiatives doesn’t exist. The fact is it that does and that the initiatives should already be making a real difference to the lives of vulnerable New Zealanders.
“Today in the House Dr Clark was unable to say where the money for the initiatives has gone and what ones will be cancelled. Instead, this money is either sitting idle or has been reallocated – either way, it’s not good enough.
“From expanding and enhancing primary and community mental health and addiction services to further improving the support for people experiencing acute and emergency mental health needs, further support was being made available.
“Health Minister David Clark says some of the initiatives may be progressed but ‘those that were politically expedient we will leave by the wayside’.
“That’s an appalling statement. These projects were identified in concert with Government agencies, the Chief Science Advisor, and the sector as areas we could make a real difference to the lives of people with mental health issues, and they should be underway.
“So far the Government has tried and failed to justify why this money won’t be invested in improving lives while it stalls any real work and carries out yet another inquiry.
“We know what the issues are, we have identified at least some of the solutions and we should be putting them in place. Instead, this Government has parked them while it catches up itself, re-learns the lessons we already understand and tries to stall the spending.
“The Government needs to explain to vulnerable New Zealanders why it is refusing to offer more immediate support while it claims the answers will take another 10 months to find.”