Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says the Government has enough money to build two new hospitals, let alone fix the problems at Middlemore Hospital.

Bridges conceded today that the situation at Middlemore was "not good enough" and said former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman should have been told about its dire state, which includes mould and asbestos in the walls and unreliable power sources.

"In relation to Middlemore, there is nothing about that that is good enough," he told RNZ National.

"I am not going to come here and sugar coat the situation there."

Advertisement

Coleman, who is resigning from Parliament, had told Bridges that he had not been advised about Middlemore's problems.

"Should he have known? Yeah. And it should be interesting to see exactly what has happened there."

Bridges did not go as far as saying it was a failure of ministerial oversight.

He did, however, say Coleman should have fronted up and answered questions about the issue.

Coleman hung up on RNZ when he was asked about Middlemore two weeks ago, saying he had been expecting an exit interview and not questions about his previous portfolio.

"Should my Members of Parliament come on [the show] and answer your questions? Yes they should," Bridges said.

Coleman said today that if he had been informed about leaky or mouldy buildings at the hospital while in government he would have immediately "put it to the top of my list".

Counties Manukau District Health Board executives had their annual review at Parliament in February, and no mention was made of mouldy or leaky buildings, he said. Reference was made to patient numbers and demands on infrastructure but there had been no specific discussion of the state of any buildings.

Advertisement

Bridges turned the argument on to the Labour-led Government, saying that it could easily cover the costs of repairs at Middlemore but was prioritising other areas.

"Frankly what I see from a Government here is a sense that they've got a huge raft of promises they cannot keep, taxes they want to impose, so they are looking for ways in the leadup to the Budget – which they are clearly worried about – to get into these issues.

"They've got surpluses. They make their choices. They've decided $2.8 billion for free [tertiary] fees is the right way to go.

"Well that's two fully furnished Dunedin hospitals. They can deal with these issues."

Bridges was responding to criticism from new Green MP Marama Davidson, who referred to Middlemore in her first speech after being selected as the party's new co-leader yesterday.

"Steven Joyce was right, there is a fiscal hole," Davidson said. "We see it every day. In the sewage in the walls of Middlemore Hospital where the Government was more interested in delivering a surplus than making sure our babies were born in safe conditions."

Advertisement

The Greens' selection of Davidson as leader had all but ended the remote possibility of a Green-National coalition, Bridges said.

Davidson's victory signalled a shift back towards the left by the Greens, he said. While the two parties had areas of mutual concern on the environment, National was not "interested in picketing business or going on marches against capitalism".