Health minister David Clark in Parliament contemplating the gordian knot of health spending (Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: Does dumping of health targets matter?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Battle rages over dumped health targets, Dairy NZ condemns milking shed cruelty, and a spotlight on an important NZ Herald series.

A major story that has been bubbling away this week that hasn’t really been covered here is the government quietly ditching National’s health targets, that were used heavily by the previous government to measure performance. On Wednesday, health minister David Clark told Radio NZ the targets were measuring activity, rather than outcomes. He said they weren’t useful, told Stuff in some cases they even led to “perverse outcomes,” and some new ones were being worked on.

What were the targets? To quote RNZ’s story, they were “increased immunisation, faster cancer treatment, shorter stays in emergency departments, improved access to elective surgery, helping smokers to quit and raising healthy kids.”

The National Party is absolutely fuming about the decision, with Simon Bridges telling Stuff that the decision will remove accountability and lead to preventable deaths. It also follows the abolition of the ‘better public service’ targets, set by the National government, who as a government were very big on setting metrics by which they could then be judged.

Politically, Audrey Young from the NZ Herald says Labour’s decision came out of nowhere, as neither that party nor any of the government parties had campaigned on it. Young also questioned the intellectual basis the party was working off, as they had campaigned so hard for child poverty reduction targets – why are they valuable in on area, and not the other, asked Young.

And what about the medical community? Radio NZ has a story with some really interesting views in it. Professor Alistair Woodward from Auckland University said the targets were successful in a way, but could also lead to neglect of un-measured areas. The representative for GPs also wants broader measurements, focused more on outcomes – his point was that GPs telling patients they should quit smoking wasn’t the same as the patient actually quitting. David Clark says medical professionals will be involved in devising the new targets.


Dairy NZ are condemning animal cruelty, after hidden camera footage of a cow being hit with a steel pipe in a milking shed was published by NewsroomThe beating has also prompted MPI to launch an investigation.


This week the Speaking Secrets series, of articles, videos and podcasts, has been published by the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB. The series has taken a survivor-centred approach to sexual assault, harassment and misconduct. Today’s story is about a man, who as a boy at a Catholic school, was raped by the teachers there. It is one of the many horrible, but vitally important stories the series has brought to light. I spoke to the journalist behind the series, Georgina Campbell, at the start of the week.


North Island iwi organisations have teamed up to buy three Te Puke kiwifruit orchards, reports the NBR. They believe the kiwifruit industry is looking at an upward trajectory, and say they want to grow the business capabilities and employment opportunities for their whanau.


I love charity shops and the work they do, so want to highlight this story from StuffCharity shops say they’re sick of being a dumping ground for junk, and have given guidelines for what they can take. No, they don’t want your shoes with holes in them, and no, they don’t want your old PC that only runs Windows 95. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t just leave bags of stuff outside the front door in the dead of night and then drive off. That’s just rude.


An advisory group set up by Broadcasting minister Clare Curran stopped taking minutes at their meetings, after noting that minutes were discoverable under the Official Information Act, reports Newshub. The group is investigating a public media funding commission. Just a monthly reminder as well, Clare Curran is also the minister for open government.


Without a doubt my favourite local government in the country is the Horowhenua District Council. Why? Because the mayor Michael Feyen and his councillor mate Ross Campbell operate as a two blokes against the world unit, almost like a political buddy comedy. Here are a few examples.

Anyway, their latest move is to vote against their council’s own long term plan, reports Stuff. The plan passed because eight councillors voted in favour of it, but several called the mayor’s move “astounding.” Feyen said he was left out of the decision making process, and wants a full independent audit of it. Absolute scenes.


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It will be bizarre and you may hate it: Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog

Right now on The Spinoff: Rebekah Holt writes about speaking to a NZ teenager stuck alone in an Australian detention centre. Simon Day stayed up to midnight to file a news story about fifty people getting stuck on an Auckland train last night, with no toilets, food, or information from AT. And the film festival programmes are about to come out – David Larsen has some the expert view on how to navigate the big booklet.


So Stuff have been on a hiring spree recently, picking up talented people from all over the industry. And they managed to get one of our best. Today is the final day for pioneering editor of The Spinoff’s business section Rebecca Stevenson, before she goes to Stuff to become their National Business Editor. It’s a huge job, and one that is fully deserved.

In the year since she’s been in charge, The Spinoff business section has broken a fair few big, agenda setting stories. There was Madeleine Chapman’s investigation into World’s Made in New Zealand labelling. There was Glen Herud’s tale of the rise and fall of his ethical dairying company Happy Cow Milk. There’s was David Cormack’s piece on delayed payments for small businesses, which resulted in a member’s bill to name and shame corporate late-payers.

Those were all huge stories under her editorship, and she is just as good as a journalist. Two highlights stand out for me: Her investigation into the Trusts system and those who control booze and gambling in West Auckland, and her piece on the ill-fated ‘facebook for cricket,’ CricHQ.

Perhaps my favourite Peak Bex moment came when the subject of one story launched a series of attacks on the integrity of The Spinoff, and one of our journalists. A producer from another organisation rang up about the allegations being made against us, and Rebecca took the call. The question was asked, and she incredulously repeated it back – “do we stand by our story?” The whole room looked on as a withering look went across her face. “Obviously we do.” And in the space of ten seconds, that was the end of that.

To all the journalists who will be working with Rebecca at Stuff, you are very lucky that you’ll have her in your corner.


The White Ferns are into the final of their tri-series in England, after beating South Africa again easily earlier in the day. However, they’re playing a double-header, and are at the time of writing in big trouble against England, after collapsing late in the first innings. They’ll meet England again in the final.

Football World Cup results and spoilers 

Japan are the only Asian nation to make it through to the round of sixteen, despite losing to Poland this morning. They finished completely equal with Senegal, but had a better disciplinary record, so advanced ahead of them. The Senegalese just needed a draw against Colombia to get through, but botched it.

Meanwhile, England and Belgium are in the middle of what’s effectively a friendly match, given both have qualified. According to the Guardian live blog, that’s pretty much how they’re playing it too. The weird quirk about this match is that a loss would actually be preferable, as the winner will be placed on the side of the knockout draw packed full of monsters like Brazil, France and Portugal.


From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that one of the best reasons for lighting up the Auckland Harbour Bridge, is that it makes diversity impossible to ignore.


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