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Did they mislead the House?


Yesterday Adam had a post on how the Ardern calamity, aka the Labour led ‘government’,were unready for power. The main point of the post was the back-track on what had been seen as an electoral commitment by Labour.

Yet in The House

Julie Anne Genter later said Pharmac would fund $5m a year, so not a total back track, but additional questions then arise:-

  • why was Genter giving this clarification, via Twitter, surely a statement in the House by David Clark, Health Minister, not made on social media – or have we entered a NZ version of Trump world where policy is made via Twitter and not through due process
  • in fact given the reference to the Pharmac Governance Manual below has a formal direction been issued – if so by who and when as based on the list of delegated authorities to Associate Ministers, Pharmac is not explicitly listed as within Genter’s delegations as of early 2018
  • timing of the direction is crucial, was the direction after the question was raised in the media?
  • has additional funding been made available to Pharmac for this funding?
  • if not, what funding has Pharmac had to cut to make this funding available?
  • so whilst it can be argued that the electoral commitment has been met, what has been sacrificed to meet the commitment

Indeed directing Pharmac to provide the funding, if not augmented by additional funding to the agency sits very poorly with past Labour/Greens claims, aka grandstanding, that Vote Health was grossly underfunded and that they would move to increase funding. From that perspective one can legitimately claim that the Ardern calamity have danced on the head of a pin and made a truthful statement to Parliament, but have failed to deliver on the implied promise as instead of additional funding, it can be reasonably assumed that something else has been forgone

At the least more questions arise, Genter’s clarification has raised more questions and answers need to be given.

Crown agents like PHARMAC must give effect to Government policy when directed by the responsible Minister (for PHARMAC this is the Minister of Health). This is an ‘arm’s length’ relationship and is an important feature of New Zealand’s institutional arrangements. It means that, while the Minister of Health remains accountable for the public resources allocated, he/she depends on PHARMAC to ensure that it delivers value for money when implementing its statutory objectives.

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