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Jul 5 2023

Some recommended Wednesday arvo reads

It’s been a fairly slow news day today, so to wrap up our Wednesday live updates I thought I’d direct you to some good reads from The Spinoff and beyond.

National promises third medical school: ‘NZ does not train enough doctors’

Christopher Luxon speaks at the National conference at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. Photo: Hagen Hopkins / Getty

The National Party has pledged to open a new medical school in Waikato should it be elected this October.

The health policy was announced this morning, with party leader Christopher Luxon saying it will deliver more doctors and help counter the workforce crisis in the health sector.

“Currently, New Zealand does not train enough doctors to meet the demands of our growing and aging population, or to replace our retiring health workforce,” he said. “The new medical school will have clinical training alliances with other universities and medical facilities around regional New Zealand – a model that will deliver more doctors committed to serving in provincial and rural parts of the country.

Along with the new Waikato school, Luxon said he’d boost the number of medical school placements in Auckland and Otago by 50. That’s on top of the 50 funded as part of this year’s budget. “Together, this will see an additional 220 doctors graduating a year by 2030, compared to just 50 more under Labour’s plan,” he said.

The capital establishment cost for the third school is expected to be $380 million, according to figures provided by National. This would see the Crown contributing up to $280 million (pending a final business case) and the remainder being raised by Waikato University.

Luxon told media that he wanted to see this plan implemented without delay and it would have been better if it had happened five years ago given the current crisis. “It’s a really logical, obvious step and the sooner we do it the better.”

Christopher Luxon speaks at the National conference at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. Photo: Hagen Hopkins / Getty

More staff stood down from Oranga Tamariki facilities

Image: Tina Tiller

Four Oranga Tamariki staff were stood down over a fight between teenagers at a youth justice facility in June.

The footage has come to light following another incident at the Korowai Manaaki facility over the weekend, in which several youth made it onto the rooftop.

Police told Stuff the latest incident took place mid last month and no charges have been laid at this stage. And Oranga Tamariki confirmed staff had been taken off the job. “The four staff alleged to be involved were removed from the residence. They have had no contact with children and young people in our care since,” said Oranga Tamariki’s deputy chief executive Tusha Penny.

Meanwhile, the children’s minister Kelvin Davis told TVNZ this morning that he was aware of at least one other similar incident.

“I believe the same thing happened, that staff were stood down, I think there might have been four as well,” he said. “If there are more [incidents], I want them to come out. This is not something we want to hide. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and we want to expose any poor practice that’s going on in our residences.”

Former police commissioner Mike Bush is undertaking a review of youth justice facilities following reports of sexual assault against children last month.

The Bulletin: NZ needs 13,000 extra nurses, over 5,000 doctors within a decade

Continuing on from yesterday’s look at the government’s health announcements this week, health minister Ayesha Verrall launched a plan to boost recruitment and retention of healthcare workers. New modelling done by Te Whatu Ora has forecast that New Zealand needs 13,000 extra nurses and over 5000 doctors within a decade. Verrall says the plan would bring together education and immigration settings to not only grow the workforce but reduce attrition. Initiatives include “earn-as-you-learn” programmes, targeted rural programmes and funding for 50 new medical school places.

Benn Bathgate at the Waikato Times is reporting this morning (paywalled) that the National party will release its health policy today in Hamilton which includes putting plans to create a school of rural medicine in the region back on the table if they win the election.

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‘Can’t arrest ourselves out of the gang problem’: Report calls for evidential approach


A new report commissioned by the former prime minister Jacinda Ardern says “we can’t and won’t arrest ourselves out of the gang problem”.

The report, from the prime minister’s chief science advisor Juliet Gerrard, was quietly released this morning and reported by RNZ.

There’s no “quick way” to reduce gang harm, according to the report, but underlying issues must be addressed. These include “inequity, intergenerational trauma, housing, family violence…  all of which serve to narrow the choices of those in our society who experience complex and inter‐connected stressors”.

Ardern requested the review in order to support a policy agenda to reduce gang harm in our communities.

The term “gang crime” was often used as a “blanket term to describe offending by young people, offending by gang affiliated individuals, and organised crime”, the reported noted. “Yet these offending behaviours are different and addressing related harms requires an understanding of these differences. Finally, gang members and gang communities are often framed as entirely antisocial, yet there are instances where prosocial attributes and behaviours are observed.”

A public health approach “does not come at the expense of enforcement”, but police action should not be the only option. “The evidence indicates that interventions such as ‘scared-straight’ or boot camp approaches are ineffective. And a ‘zero tolerance’ style of policing builds distrust in the communities that police are tasked to serve,” the report said. “It creates alienation and dislocation from communities and risks fuelling gang membership and increasing gang dislocation and isolation.”

But National’s leader Christopher Luxon told RNZ this morning that what the government’s been doing since 2017 hasn’t been working either. “Gangs are not nice people. They peddle in misery, they cause huge pain and suffering up and down this country,” he said.

Pushed on what other measures his government would push for aside from the so-called “tough on crime” approach, Luxon said he made “no excuses” for tackling gangs. However, he said National wanted stronger rehabilitation and would work “really hard on the causes of crime”.

Luxon said gangs weren’t a “politicised issues”, he was just wanting to tackle the problems in this country.