The Government is demanding the country's district health boards make some "savings".
The cuts amount to just 0.3 per cent, or $139 million from a total budget of $11.4 billion in the year to June - hardly a savage cut.
We know health is getting more money than ever, so let's not go there.
Problematic is that the "savings" are being made by not filling staff vacancies. Any way you look at that, it's a cut to staff. That doesn't look good.
Labour lifted the lid on these cuts via an Official Information Act request.
Labour's answer to the "savings" is simple: go to the mythical bottomless pit of taxpayers' money and just keep throwing ever more cash at health.
"Savings" and "efficiencies" are anathema to Labour. US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders would be a nice fit for the party.
Health costs are the curse of Governments around the world. They are a never-ending spiral upwards.
Containing costs is almost impossible, so demanding fiscal discipline by hospitals is imperative.
Health is a political bogey. Parties fear tinkering with health because of the "we want everything for free" mentality. This was demonstrated when the Shipley Government introduced part-charges for hospital services. There was outrage, and the policy was dropped. Even Labour looked at hospital part-charges and means-testing at one point. But all was subsequently abolished - because of the backlash.
Health funding is terribly complicated but the ongoing partisan approach by political parties is making a mess of it.
Until the politicians have the courage to be non-partisan on how to fund health going forward, the mess will not go away.
And in other news
The Salvation Army is again zeroing in on child poverty in their "state of the nation" report. I like the Sallies - they do good work - but, like all these other groups who target children and poverty, they refuse to address the elephant in the room - dysfunctional families and child neglect.
Auckland mayoral candidate Penny Bright has been ordered by the court to pay $34,000 in rates and penalties. Bright hasn't paid rates on her Kingsland home since 2007. The council should now move urgently to apply to the High Court for a ratings sale to recoup the money. Plus, they should go for costs. And Penny Bright should be banned from running for mayor if she still refuses to pay rates. Everyone else pays, so should she.
Some Blenheim backpackers are banning Kiwis because they are too much trouble. The ban rule appears to be widespread. No doubt it comes after bad experiences. The fact that overseas backpackers are more considerate and therefore welcome doesn't surprise me. Mostly, they are educated, honest, respectful and well-behaved. Clearly this is not a trait of Kiwi backpackers.
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