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Legislation to disestablish the Māori Health Authority will be introduced by March next year
Legislation to disestablish the Māori Health Authority will be introduced by March next year

The BulletinNovember 30, 2023

The coalition’s 100-day plan and what it means for the health of New Zealanders

Legislation to disestablish the Māori Health Authority will be introduced by March next year
Legislation to disestablish the Māori Health Authority will be introduced by March next year

At number 43 on the coalition government’s 100-day plan, the disestablishment of the Māori Health Authority is being decried by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Government plans to utilise urgency to pass new legislation

The new 100-day plan is out. As described by prime minister Christopher Luxon, it is “hugely ambitious”. Approved by cabinet yesterday, it contains 49 actions. A full list here. Ten actions involve a “stop”, withdrawal or abolition. Twelve involve starting or beginning something, giving the government room to point to a process underway rather than completed when the 100 days are up. Six actions involve repealing legislation, and seven require introducing new legislation. Yesterday at the post cabinet press conference, covered in detail by Stewart Sowman-Lund, leader of the house Chris Bishop said the government plans to utilise urgency to pass new legislation this side of Christmas. Some actions are vague, like “begin work on delivering better public services and strengthening democracy” and “start work to improve the quality of regulation”. Some are far more concrete and consequential. If we start the clock from the release of the approved plan, that takes us to March 8, 2024, for the actions to be completed. As someone who likes to meter life out in “working days”, it’s 71. As yet, we don’t know when the House will return to sit after the Christmas break, but Luxon once again signalled a desire for that to be earlier than usual yesterday.

All the health initiatives

Under the heading “Deliver better public services” are several health initiatives. These include improving security at emergency departments (promised by Christmas by health minister Dr Shane Reti), signing an MOU with the University of Waikato to progress a third medical school, setting five targets for the health system, taking steps to extend free breast cancer screening, repealing the smoke-free laws, allowing the sale of pseudoephedrine and beginning work on repealing the Therapeutic Products Act. The Post’s Rachel Thomas has a good run down this morning on what the plan and the coalition agreements mean for health. At number 43 on the list is the introduction of legislation to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority.

Royal Australasian College of Physicians urges government to retain the Māori Health Authority

As Thomas notes, it remains unclear precisely what the disestablishment will look like or what will happen to its 400 staff. Yesterday, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), which advocates for more than 20,000 physicians and 9000 trainee physicians, spoke out and urged the new government to retain the Māori Health Authority. RACP president, Dr Stephen Inns said RACP supported the creation of Te Aka Whai Ora as a step towards transformative change in the health system. “We recognise our shared responsibility to close the gap in health outcomes for Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand and strongly support a by Māori for Māori approach at every level in healthcare,” he said.

Māori and Pacific medical school admission schemes due to be ‘examined’

It’s not in the 100-day plan, but examining Auckland University’s Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme (MAPAS) and its Otago equivalent is in the coalition agreement between Act and National. Dr Emma Wehipeihana, a surgical registrar, writer and recent MAPAS graduate, has penned a blistering opinion piece about what she writes is the coalition government casting “a malevolent spotlight on Māori and Pacific medical school admission schemes” that will make “every tauira feel that a ‘you don’t deserve to be here’ target has been painted on their back.” Wehipeihana continues: “Have you ever tried to sit a medical school exam? Can you imagine how difficult they are? Then imagine that your right to exist in that exam room is being debated by our elected government who will absolutely encourage the media to participate in this attack while you’re trying to remember the Krebs cycle or the anatomy of the brachial plexus.”

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