Monday, November 22, 2010

Yes, but…

Lately, I’m having trouble taking NZ politicians seriously. I mean, both sides—the ones I agree with and the ones I don’t. I should explain why.

Today the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, appointed members for the 20 District Health Boards, including 10 new chairs. Several of his appointees will serve on more than one board in the same area. Ryall said:

"These cross-appointments signal a push for greater regional collaboration in the planning and delivery of health services. The overlaps between each of these Auckland and Wellington region DHBs are clear.”

These overlaps include, for example, Auckland’s Waitemata (DHB) paying Auckland DHB a quarter of its budget each year for services. So it sounds to me like “cross-appointments” could make it the DHBs operate more efficiently and that could reduce costs and deliver better services. It sounds reasonable, in other words.

Labour disagrees. Their health spokesperson, Ruth Dyson, called this a “move to merge boards by stealth”. Dyson said:

“Without any consultation with the community, Waitemata, Auckland, MidCentral, Whanganui, West Coast, Canterbury, Hutt Valley and Capital and Coast DHBs have begun the path to amalgamation.”

Here’s what I don’t get about Labour’s position: Why is merger automatically a bad idea? Auckland is merging eight local councils into one, so does it really make sense to have two District Health Boards, kept entirely separate, serving the merged city?

Dyson charged that Ryall’s appointments are really “about increasing health cuts and merging boards without bothering to consult with communities.” She has a point about cuts—National has been making cuts in health spending—but how will appointing the same person as CEO of two different-but-connected DHBs lead automatically to cutting spending on health services?

I have another issue with Labour lately: Marriage equality. On their Red Alert blog, Labour MP Clare Curran posted “Australians to debate gay marriage”, which spoke approvingly of the Australian Green Party and the Australian Labor Party (they spell it differently) agreeing to support a first-step motion on enacting marriage equality in that country. They have a long way to go.

Apart from one apparent religionist, the comments were all favourable. That one negative comment led Curran to comment, urging people to be “civil and respectful”. Fair enough. Then she added:

“NZ has taken some great steps forward in this area and I welcome more discussion. It’s a healthy thing. We are a stronger and more open society as a result of our civil union law.” (she added a Wikipedia link about our law)

Well, yeah, it’s better, but it’s not full equality when marriage is restricted to heterosexuals only. Labour knows that, and I get that there are right wing members of that party, too, and they have to be catered for. But I’m sick and tired of Labour acting like they’re moses for GLBT New Zealanders and the Civil Unions law is the promised land. It’s not, important step that it is notwithstanding. I’m also sick of Labour MPs allowing half-hearted debate on marriage equality but doing nothing about actually moving forward.

Mind you, the conservative National Party is worse on this issue (88% of their MPs voted against the Civil Union Act in 2005, while the same percentage of Labour’s MPs voted for it). And, this National-led government is doing some seriously naughty things that the next Labour-led government will have to fix.

But I expect National to be bad and to do things I don’t agree with. I expect Labour to have a vision, to offer an alternative and—for me—they’re just not doing that.

And that’s why I’m having trouble taking any NZ politicians seriously.

No comments: