It is disappointing that the Health Minister has rejected calls for a cross-party working group to depoliticise mental health, and is continuing to do nothing while he waits for his working group to report back, National’s spokesperson for Mental Health Matt Doocey says.
“New Zealanders want to see mental health depoliticised and they want to see their MPs work collaboratively. It’s unfortunate that the Minister has rejected the opportunity to do this at this time, especially given the request for cross-party work had no deadline.
“There is no reason for the Minister to put off improvements to mental health services and strip funding away from the sector and by doing so it shows that he is out of touch with the public.
“The Health Minister needs to front up to the New Zealanders who he promised action but now in Government has cancelled funding, wasted time and denied an opportunity to pursue meaningful cross-party change.
“By the time the Minister’s inquiry reports back later this month, it would take at minimum another few months to finalise any initiatives and funding for these would likely be stalled till at least Budget 2019. This could see any positive change held up for almost two years.
“This is all for an inquiry that New Zealand’s own mental health commissioner Kevin Allan said last year was not needed. He said action was needed immediately but this Minister has stripped $100 million that was planned specifically for 17 mental health initiatives that would have been helping to save lives now.
“Every week I meet people and organisations who tell me that they want political parties in Parliament to work together on mental health to break down the barriers to progress and find policy solutions that last longer than the three year political cycle.
“I will keep working hard to achieve cross-party work in mental health and to encourage the Minister to act now because it’s the right thing to do to improve mental health in New Zealand.”