Integrity - going down the same plughole as common sense
Long ago my old Dad talked to me about horse racing – surprising, because he never gambled a penny on anything. He said there was a racehorse named Integrity and added thoughtfully, "They wouldn't name a horse Integrity these days because nobody would know what it meant."
When I look at the shenanigans going on in public life today – especially politics – I know how he felt.
Right now this government is trying to fluoridate public water supplies by passing the buck to the obedient DHBs. Elected board members opposing fluoridation get attacked by the government-appointed chairs – as has happened to Nelson-Marlborough board member Judy Crowe. That DHB chair, Jenny Black, has also been appointed chair on the West Coast, where she attacked elected board member and mental health nurse Peter Neame for speaking out on mental health issues.
Integrity of DHB chairs? I don't think so.
I wrote twice to the current Minister of Health asking questions on fluoridation. My letters were referred to the Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne, which Jonathan Coleman does regularly. There has been no response from Peter Dunne’s office either – his idea of debating fluoridation is to make stupid, insulting remarks about those who oppose it.
Integrity? It’s not in his vocabulary.
In the convoluted saga of new health facilities on the West Coast, the process is overseen by the "West Coast Hospital Development Partnership Group" whose chair, one Cathy Cooney, flatly contradicts any Coast health professionals who express concerns about inadequate planning. No-one in this elitist clique – sorry, I mean Group – lives on the West Coast. Most of them live in the North Island, and one living in Nelson, Jenny Black, has the same approach as Cooney to anyone asking relevant questions. Why no locals? Presumably for the same reason that the Coast has never had a local DHB board chair. Locals aren’t government stooges.
Under this cloak-and-dagger agenda, Westport's ‘proposed’ facility’s budget has been slashed from $25 million to just $10 million. Is the government's real agenda that not a cent of this will come from them? Privatisation appears to be the only explanation.
Integrity in this entire process? It's hard to see any.
Under the ‘leadership’ of Minister for the Environment Nick Smith, the water quality standards for New Zealand rivers has been lowered. To allow more farming effluent into waterways? Shouldn't leadership be about improving things? The government could promote methane digesters next to milking sheds, reducing run-off and producing electricity. Farms could generate renewable energy, and reduce odour and disease with anaerobic digestion, so the stabilised manure can go back onto pasture. Are cabinet ministers unaware of such matters – or don’t they care?
Some time ago I wrote several letters asking why government doesn't arrange loans to DHB boards through the Reserve Bank at zero interest. After some evasion my question was finally answered: "It's not our policy." When I asked why not, the response was, "This correspondence is closed."
Integrity? They wouldn't recognise it if it flew up their noses.
- contributed by David Tranter, Health Spokesman, NZ Democrats for Social Credit Party
Published: September 2017