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(File photo: Radio NZ)
(File photo: Radio NZ)

The BulletinSeptember 3, 2019

The Bulletin: How cancer sufferers have taken govt announcement

(File photo: Radio NZ)
(File photo: Radio NZ)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Cancer sufferers react to govt’s new plan, data shows big increase in land sales for forestry, and a striking warning about NZ’s future of defence.

Over the weekend, the government made their major announcement on addressing the cancer treatment model. So with the benefit of a day to gauge the reaction from cancer sufferers, how does the plan stack up?

First of all – what will it aim to do? The government’s goal is to abolish the ‘postcode lottery’, by which someone’s chances of surviving cancer are determined by where they live, and what services are in their area. A nationwide Cancer Control Agency will be set up, with the goal of equitable survival rates across both geographic and ethnic lines by 2030. $60 million will also be put into Pharmac, and a new, faster funding decision process will be put in place.

The guy who played a massive role in piling on political pressure to make this happen – Southlander Blair Vining – says it’s on the right track, reports the ODT. He said more could have been included, but “there was enough there to start working with,” in terms of the nationwide agency. Many others have also long been advocating for changes to how cancer treatment is funded and allocated – for example, the BOP Times (paywalled) gauged the reaction of women who are currently struggling to pay for treatment. It underlined how financially crippling cancer medication is currently, for those who need drugs that aren’t Pharmac funded.

However, some advocates are raising concerns, reports Radio NZ. One concern is that the money isn’t necessarily ring fenced for cancer drugs – it just goes into the Pharmac pot, though the agency says they have plans to spend more on cancer. There’s also the question of whether it’s enough to matter. It probably also shouldn’t be forgotten that the health system has been under immense financial strain for a long time now – or to put it in context, the deficits some individual DHBs are currently running are larger than the total amount of new Pharmac funding that has been promised here.

It probably also shouldn’t be forgotten that this happened largely as a result of political and public pressure. And as Newsroom’s Sam Sachdeva writes, the announcement is unlikely to knock the issue off the front pages for the government. Because after all, some drugs still won’t be funded, and what the announcement hasn’t changed is the fact that under the Pharmac model, some people get lucky and some people don’t, depending on where the agency decides it can get the best outcomes with the money it has. A few more people will be moved from the latter camp to the former by this, but the reality is that many will still miss out, and will be angry about it.

Data has emerged which confirms a big increase in land sales under the Overseas Investment Act for forestry, reports the ODT. It followed a new, streamlined test for forestry introduced in October 2018, which aimed to increase the number of trees being grown. However, it has been hugely controversial in the farming world. In the first six months of this year, land worth around $3.6 billion was sold through the Overseas Investment Act, an increase from less than a billion for a comparable period last year.

The assumptions that underpin New Zealand defence policy are going to have to change, a Wellington audience has been told. Politik reports on a speech given by Australian strategic studies academic Hugh White, who argues that the US can no longer be relied upon to provide the security umbrella it once did. And what’s more, he doesn’t believe there is much hope for the international ‘rules-based order’ which has to date been New Zealand’s best defence.

Measles case numbers are likely to continue rising for several weeks, reports Radio NZ. The vast majority of the cases have been around Auckland, and the PM says the advice she has received suggests the outbreak has not yet peaked. There is plenty of handy information on the outbreak available on the ministry of health website if you’ve got concerns, including where around Counties-Manukau free vaccinations are available.

The trial of a man facing several charges stemming from a Labour Party summer camp is underway, reports the NZ Herald. The 21 year old, who has name suppression, has been charged with five counts of indecent assault, against four complainants. So far opening addresses have been made, in the trial which is expected to run for the whole week.

Two pieces that will potentially be worth reading for Fonterra watchers. On Interest, Keith Woodford looks into their investment into Chile, which in his view is looking like another overseas adventure that will end in tears. And this from Stuff is one for the real regulatory heads – the FMA has received a complaint to look into, relating to Fonterra’s upcoming losses and write-downs.

There’s a very good reason to pick up a newspaper today, just so you can read this tremendous column from Teulia Fuatai. Published on the NZ Herald (paywalled) it goes deep into questions of education and bicultural reconciliation, and ponders a future in which everyone in Aotearoa is tangata whenua. If that’s ringing alarm bells, perhaps it should – as an idea it shares superficial similarities with Hobson’s Pledge revisionism around ‘he iwi tahi tatou’. But Fuatai’s column never goes there, and instead explores a positive model of what inclusive reconciliation would look like.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Hamish Pinkham, founder of Rhythm and Vines, talks to Business is Boring about how the idea grew from a small party to the biggest festival in the country. Jihee Junn investigates a bizarre and kind of gross viral marketing stunt. Leonie Hayden writes in exhaustive detail about every step of the process of getting an abortion. Charlie O’Mannin from Critic goes through yet another example of bad Dunedin landlords preying on students. And Peter McKenzie and Thomas Gregory write about how New Zealanders turn away from civilian casualties, in wars that we are fighting in.

Never let it be said that NZ television hasn’t made a mark on the world. Unfortunately, that mark might well be something many of us are ashamed of. US magazine Current Affairs has looked at the global influence of the show Border Patrol, which started in 2004 and was subsequently imitated all over the world. But the argument the piece makes is that the world of these shows is explicitly xenophobic and cruel towards the vulnerable – propaganda which results in more fear of foreigners. Here’s an excerpt:

The rah-rah jingoism of these programs may seem obvious, but this hasn’t stopped the hellspawn of New Zealand’s Border Patrol from clinching ratings pay dirt. National Geographic’s Border Wars garnered the highest debut ratings in the channel’s history when its first episode aired in 2009. At the time of this writing, Border Security: Australia’s Front Line is slated for an 18th season. Box sets of Border Wars are available for purchase at Walmart, and the back catalogue of these programs is easily available online when reruns or new episodes aren’t currently being aired.

Online comments attest to the impact that these programs have on the real world. “Border Wars on National Geographic needs to be shown to every college student. Studied. Maybe even make them take a class on border wars,” wrote one poster in r/The_Donald, a subreddit devoted to the cult of Trump.

Another ownership saga could be on the verge of kicking off at the Warriors. The NZ Herald reports Autex Industries, who part own the club, are looking at taking over full ownership and buying out Auckland Rugby League’s share. However, as commentator Richie Barnett put it in the Herald story, the shift in philosophy being sought by Autex may not actually help get good players to join the team from Australia – which could further entrench the problems the team is having on the park. Suffice to say, another glorious season looms.

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