I carry no brief for the HB District Health Board. I’ve heard the Board, its Chairman and its record incisively criticised by knowledgeable observers with no obvious ax to grind.
But the handling of the situation by Health Minister Cunliffe is simply indefensible.
So far, no one has said that better than Robin Gwynn, former Napier Councillor.
Here’s his radio 2ZB commentary from February 21:
Government interference with the HB DHB
I’m fairly even-tempered, and don’t often lose my cool. Certainly I can’t ever remember doing a broadcast with the feeling of real anger I have today.
The anger has been induced by yesterday’s threat from Health Minister David Cunliffe that he may sack the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and replace it by a Commissioner. And especially by his comment that he has ‘increasing lack of confidence in the Board’s integrity’.
Heaven knows, I have clashed often enough with the Board over years of fighting for better health services. But one thing I would NOT charge the present Board with, is any lack of integrity.
What’s more, when during the last half dozen years I have met lack of integrity – and I have – it’s come out of Wellington.
It wasn’t the DHB that repeatedly set up meetings in poor faith and then cancelled them at the last minute or rendered them useless by not doing what they said they would. It was Ministry officers working under Government direction.
It wasn’t the DHB that appointed to the Board a Wellingtonian with clear and obvious inevitable conflicts of interest. It was then Minister of Health, Annette King.
It wasn’t the DHB that didn’t answer letters and questions from groups and individuals and even Mayors, but the Minister.
It wasn’t the DHB that failed to provide answers required under the Official Information Act in timely fashion, but Ministers of the Crown.
It wasn’t the DHB that left Hawke’s Bay health consistently chronically underfunded, but the Government.
I could go on. But ask yourself this. Why is the Minister acting now, when the Board’s case against Mr Hausmann, the member appointed by the Minister, is not resolved? Could it be that Cabinet doesn’t want the Board to have access to the documents and legal funding it needs to prove its case?
And what’s changed since we voted in a new Board late last year? How come its new members could have lost their integrity in a couple of meetings? Has the Minister even met them?
My own belief, when I see a minister interfering amidst a case potentially highly embarrassing to the government before the findings are out, is that there is indeed a failure of integrity. But it isn’t by the Board.
I’m Robin Gwynn. That’s my thought for the week.
Well said, Robin.
What do MPs Barker and Fairbrother have to say about this train wreck? Or are you planning to ride all the way to disaster in the caboose?! With a “friend” like Cunliffe, who needs an opponent? The Backing the Bay boys are putting you in intensive care on this one!
Note: This week, Mayor Lawrence Yule is Guest Buzzmaker, giving his position on Ocean Beach.