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A petition calling on the Government to deliver for rural New Zealanders and provide essential healthcare for 600,000 rural New Zealanders has been tabled in Parliament by Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger.

“Rural New Zealanders remain frustrated with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor’s failure to ensure vital health services are provided to rural New Zealand and are angry about the Government’s decision not to continue funding for the Rural Health Alliance.

“The Rural Health Alliance delivers healthcare to rural New Zealanders and developed the Rural Health Road Map which identifies the top five priorities negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of rural people and provides solutions for addressing them.

“But at a time when our farmers are under significant stress with M. Bovis, Mr O’Connor and Health Minister David Clark have announced that they won’t continue Government support for the Alliance. It’s so short of funding it’s currently operating without a Chief Executive.

“In spite of this the Government has provided no alternative plan or bothered to explain why it’s won’t support the alliance. Meanwhile members of rural communities have no idea whether these services will endure. It shows this Government’s professed commitment to the regions is all talk.

“The Government has the money. It’s borrowing more and spending more yet it’s saying it doesn’t have enough money for rural health or for nurses and teachers and to keep promises like cheap universal GP visits.

“Yet it’s happy to blow billions on bad spending decisions like free tertiary and to keep NZ First happy with extra diplomats.

“It’s a slap in the face for rural New Zealand which this Government obviously doesn’t consider a priority and it’s no surprise that rural New Zealand feels left out.

“I have presented Mr O’Connor with the opportunity to prove himself as an advocate for the rural communities he claims to represent. It’s up to him to take it.

“On behalf of the 600,000 New Zealanders who now have poorer healthcare opportunities, I have tabled my petition in Parliament, renewing my call for Mr O’Connor to fulfil his obligation to rural New Zealanders.”

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