“There is room for better service delivery but not inequity”
National Party Leader Judith Collins speaks at her Party’s Northern Conference in Auckland on May 1, 2021 (Newshub Screenshot)
National Party Leader Judith Collins has slammed the Labour government’s new health policy creating a separate system for Maori with veto powers as divisive, inequitable and detrimental to New Zealanders in general.
Speaking at her Party’s Northern Regional Conference at the AUT City Campus in Auckland on Saturday, May 1, 2021, she said that there could be room within a health system for delivery programmes that target the needs of Maori and other groups.
“The Labour Government, in developing its proposed health restructure, has said that we have a Treaty obligation to have separate systems. They are demanding a model where we have separate health authorities – one for Maori and one for everyone else. Labour’s changes are not based on addressing inequities. Labour has said its changes are about meeting Treaty obligations and has interpreted Article 2 and Tino Rangatiratanga as requiring Maori decision-making at all levels of the system,” she said.
Ms Collins said that the proposed Maori Health Authority will not only have the ability to commission its own work, but also the ability to veto decisions made by the government on general health.
“The proposed Maori Health Authority will not only have the ability to commission its own work, but also the ability to veto decisions made by the Government on general health – on everyone’s health. That is a veto power over $20 billion worth of Government health spending. That is not something that is designed to address inequities,” she said.
“Expect worst outcomes”
According to Ms Collins, the issue raises two questions: Is this what the Maori Chiefs and (William) Hobson imagined in 1840 when they agreed: we are now one people? Is this the way New Zealanders today, in 2021, want to move forward as a society?” she asked, and added, “Do we want separation of governance along ethnic lines?”
She said that while Maori suffer from the worst health outcomes compared to other segments, this can be best addressed by targeted programmes such as Whanau Ora.
“My view is that separate systems of governance is not what the chiefs and Hobson had in mind, and separate systems will lead to worse outcomes for everyone,” she said.
Describing the Treaty of Waitangi as the ‘Founding Document of New Zealand,’ she said that it is important to consider how to reflect the value of National Party.
“The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document, and we should consider how we can reflect this in our National Party values. This work is underway,” she said.
Provisions of the Treaty
The Treaty covers three basic but fundamental values that can already be seen reflected in National Party values, she said.
“Article 1 Kawanatanga, establishes the Queen as our sovereign and Head of State. This speaks directly to our first National Party value of loyalty to our country and sovereign. Article 2 Tino Rangatiratanga, confirms the property rights of all people. It establishes that all iwi, families and individuals have rights over their own land and property. Property rights are again a key democratic principle and core to National party values. Article 3 Oritetanga, most importantly, states that all people have the same rights. Those three simple concepts – nationhood, property rights and equal rights – are a powerful foundation for a country, and a powerful foundation to consider our National Party values,” she said.
Ms Collins was forthright in her address about the state of affairs of the National Party and about the internal review undertaken on the aftermath of electoral defeat on October 17, 2020. She said that would be the key focus at the Party’s regional conferences scheduled to be held throughout New Zealand this month.
She said that better housing and communities, safer communities, better infrastructure, a sustainable environment, less traffic congestion, and more confidence in local schools are among the objectives towards which her Party will work.
“New Zealanders want a more cohesive society where everyone is treated equally and where freedom of speech is maintained. These are the things people care about. These are the things that support strong communities and will help New Zealand recover from Covid-19. I believe that the National Party’s values are strong. We will rebuild our public support by emphasising the values that have seen National in Government two out of every three years since 1950.
Fundamentally, New Zealand’s values are National Party values. We should not let an extraordinary twelve months question who we are and what we stand for,” she said.
“We need to get on with building housing, roads and infrastructure; a second harbour crossing for Auckland; the East West Link and Mill Road; fixing Auckland’s pipes and cleaning up the beaches; investing in more heavy rail and bus rapid transit; RMA reform that will deliver affordable housing and faster commutes; more economic growth; attracting the world’s best and brightest to come here; investing in science and growing our technology sector; empowering businesses and farmers to use science and technology to reduce emissions,” Ms Collins said.