National MPs Dr Shane Reti and Matt King have today launched a campaign to ensure the Auckland to Whangarei four-lane Road of National Significance proceeds as planned by the previous National Government.
“The previous National-led Government had committed to a large number of important regional highway projects right around New Zealand, including the delivery of a full four-lane motorway from Auckland to Whangarei,” Dr Reti says.
“Work has already started on the Puhoi to Warkworth section, however, Transport Minister Phil Twyford has indicated a number of projects such as the remaining four lanes from Warkworth to Whangarei are under review.
“The Northland Regional Action Plan was developed by key stakeholders including regional and district councils and through it, Northlanders determined that a four-lane highway from Auckland to Whangarei would provide the biggest boost to the Northland economy in recent times.”
“The Northland region benefits from a sub-tropical climate, fertile land, spectacular scenery and coastline. The region has significant potential which is mostly dependent on State Highway One,” Mr King says.
“The four-lane motorway would be a game changer for Northland providing a safer, more reliable and resilient State Highway One for local communities, visitors and freight. It will be the gateway to the north unlocking the potential and allowing business and people to thrive.
“Our local National team will be pushing the Government to commit to the project and we encourage the public to show their support and ensure our region’s voice is heard loud and clear by signing our petition.
“We will be taking this online and physical petition to present to the Government later this year.”
The petition can be found here.
Labour’s policy to ring-fence pharmaceutical funding is widely considered to be bad news for Pharmac’s funding model, National Party Associate Health Spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The Ministry of Health warned the Health Select Committee before the election that ‘there is strong evidence suggesting that ring-fenced funding for medicines would undermine Pharmac’s business model’.
“Yet David Clark is still pursuing their policy to implement an interim drugs fund despite the Ministry of Health, Pharmac and the Health Select Committee all agreeing that it may reduce Pharmac’s buying power.
“In the Briefing to Incoming Ministers Pharmac warns of the failed UK early Access to Medicines Scheme and goes on to say that a similar scheme in New Zealand would ‘make unpicking existing arrangements challenging’.
“When asked whether ring-fenced funding undermines the Pharmac model the Minister touts the successful Pharmac rare medicines trial as an example, however, earlier this month the Health Select Committee tabled their report on a rare medicines petition where they suggested that the model was not effective for Pharmac’s bottom line.
“Not only are the Ministry specifically saying that Pharmac will be negatively affected but even David Clark’s own colleagues on the select committee unanimously agreed with the report in its entirety.
“We need to ensure that the learnings from the Pharmac rare medicines trial are not ignored and take notice of the warnings from officials and international experience.”
The new Minister of Health is displaying an appalling lack of responsibility by walking away from an outbreak of mumps in Auckland during the Rugby League World Cup, and the consequent spread into the Pacific Islands, National’s Dr Shane Reti and Alfred Ngaro say.
Associate Spokesperson for Health, Dr Reti and Pacific Peoples Spokesperson Alfred Ngaro are concerned at the current outbreak that is affecting several hundred Aucklanders – especially young Pasifika people – and the likelihood Pacific Island players and officials that were here during the recent tournament may have been exposed.
When asked whether he will take responsibility for mumps caught by the Pacific Island players in Auckland during the tournament, David Clark said “individual countries are responsible for their own immunisation programmes”.
“The Minister seems to be saying he doesn’t care if visitors from the Pacific take mumps back to vulnerable people when they return home,” Dr Reti says.
“There are currently 1,600 recorded cases in Tonga. Is the Minister saying that the complications of this disease such as deafness, sterility and meningitis don’t matter in Pacific Island people?”
New Zealand will provide $1 billion in aid to the Pacific in the three years ending next June, much of it aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of people in the Pacific Islands.
Mr Ngaro says it’s unclear whether the Minister has even placed a phone call to the Tongan Ministry of Health to offer any assistance.
“I think New Zealanders would expect our Government to help prevent the spread of diseases the Pacific Islands – especially if they are driven by an outbreak in New Zealand.
“The Minister could call his Tongan counterpart, offer passenger arrivals and departures information and maybe even look at how we might help their vaccination programme.
“With a new aid triennium being planned we’re calling on the Government to place the necessary funding to support vaccination programmes for our near neighbours,” Mr Ngaro says.
“New Zealanders enjoyed the vibrancy the Tongan rugby league team brought to our shores - now let’s meet our responsibilities for keeping them safe and well.”
“The Minister stood and acknowledged the visiting Pacific Island delegation in Parliament yesterday, now he needs to stand up and acknowledge some responsibility to them for mumps caught in New Zealand,” Mr Ngaro says.
The new Labour Government has shown yet again its high-handed approach to handling information and its complete disregard for transparency, National’s Data spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The new Minister for Social Development doesn’t consider it worthwhile to assure New Zealanders that their data will be used ‘wisely and well’,” Dr Reti says.
“I recently submitted a written question to Carmel Sepuloni asking her “What role does the Minister have in assuring the New Zealand public that Government-held data is being used wisely and well?”
“The Minister effectively replied that she couldn’t justify the time required to answer the question.
“And when I asked the same question in the House yesterday, I received a 20 second reply on her behalf. Is 20 seconds seriously all the assurance this new Government can give the public?”
Dr Reti says the success of modern data frameworks is wholly reliant on trust.
“For the Minister to decline to explain to the public that she will use its data ‘wisely and well’, is a missed opportunity to reassure New Zealanders that she can be trusted with their data,” he says.
“Is she further refusing to answer the question because she can’t guarantee that she will use it wisely?”
Dr Reti says that in his role as National’s data spokesperson, he aims to increase public trust in Government-held data and data infrastructures.
He has written to Ms Sepuloni offering to help build that trust.
“I hope the Minister will reflect on her glib response to my question and improve on her accountability to New Zealanders,” Dr Reti says.
National Party Data Spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says the Government will miss the biggest opportunity in a generation to transform the lives of the most vulnerable New Zealanders if it walks away from data collection.
“The new Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni will be taking a major step backwards if she follows through with her plan to stop using data to target investment to those who need assistance,” Dr Reti says.
“A lot of work has been done with the Privacy Commissioner and key stakeholders to ensure safe and appropriate collection of data. But rather than continue this work it seems the new Government would prefer to revert back to a stale model of blind spending.
“It’s no good just throwing money around and hoping for the best. Data can tell us exactly who needs what help and using that data provides the best opportunity to make a real difference for our most vulnerable.
“It’s a shame the Government is not prepared to continue the work on data protection and use policy. The most vulnerable New Zealanders have the most to lose from this missed opportunity.
“The Government should look to address issues around the data of vulnerable people instead of not looking at all.”
Consumers could be set to receive greater protection and decreased costs after Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti’s private members bill passed its first reading in Parliament on Wednesday.Read more