Better, sooner, healthier

August 31, 2014

Health Minister Tony Ryall  has announced faster access to treatment for people whose doctors suspect have cancer:

If your doctor suspects you have cancer, the Government will ensure you see a cancer specialist and receive treatment faster than ever before.

Health Minister Tony Ryall announced a new faster cancer treatment target will be introduced from 1 October during a visit to the Cancer Society’s Domain Lodge this afternoon with Prime Minister John Key.

“The new target will extend the scope of the current health target so people with suspected cancer receive faster access to all services from diagnostic tests to surgery or other treatment,” says Mr Ryall.

“Waiting for a cancer diagnosis is a very stressful time for people and their families.

“We inherited cancer services which were failing New Zealanders. Patients were waiting months for treatment and some had to travel to Australia because of lengthy delays here. Thankfully those days are over – all patients now receive radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment within four weeks of being ready to treat.

“We will build on our successful plan and introduce a new national health target which will ensure cancer patients receive their diagnostic tests, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy even faster.

“If your GP suspects you have cancer, you should see a cancer specialist within two weeks. Diagnostic tests and clinical investigations will be completed in a faster, more streamlined way and our goal is for patients to receive their first cancer treatment within a maximum 62 days of their original GP’s referral.

“The new target is much broader than the current cancer health target, which focuses on how long patients wait to start their chemotherapy and radiotherapy when ready to treat. The current cancer target didn’t include surgery, which is often the first treatment step for patients, or the time patients wait to see a cancer specialist and have tests done.

“The maximum 62 days is an international gold standard for cancer treatment. Currently in New Zealand around 60-65 per cent of patients receive their first cancer treatment within this time.

“The new target will be for 90 per cent of patients to receive their first treatment within a maximum 62 days of seeing their GP by June 2017.

“Having a similar target has had a big effect in other countries. When the measure was introduced in the UK in 2001, about 60 per cent of cancer patients received their first treatment within a maximum 62 days – by the end of last year this had risen to over 85 per cent.

Mr Ryall says New Zealand will see similar improvements here.

“This Government has invested more than $100 million extra to support people with cancer and improve services – and we have already made significant progress.

“It is only through the sound economic management of the National-led government that we have been able to invest in, and deliver world-class cancer services.”

Implementing the new target is part of the faster cancer treatment initiative already budgeted for – the Government has already spent $19 million and will spend a further $41 million over the next three years.

“The new maximum 62 day faster cancer treatment target will build on the gains we have made over the past five years and provide New Zealanders with even faster cancer services,” says Mr Ryall. 

Faster cancer diagnosis and treatment can help ease the burden for patients and families. ntnl.org.nz/VRIRu9 #Working4NZ

Better, sooner and more convenient treatment for health problems was one of the promises National made before becoming the government and it’s one that’s working thanks to the Minister and the health professionals who have accepted the challenge of meeting the targets.

Another improvement announced this week is the introduction of a single patient information system for all hospitals in the South Island:

“The South Island Patient Information Care System (SI PICS) will connect hospitals and health services in the South Island so health professionals can share information securely and provide patients with better care,” says Mr Ryall.

“Replacing each district health board’s patient information system with a single streamlined regional system will provide health professionals with more accurate information, and allow them to spend less time on administration and more time on caring for patients.

“It will also manage a number of patient services for district health boards (DHBs), including patient appointments, admissions, discharges, and transfers.

“The new system will also be more timely and cost-efficient than the patient information systems it replaces. Together, the DHBs are expected to save around $40 million over the next 15 years,” says Mr Ryall.

SI PICS will be introduced throughout South Island hospitals in stages, beginning in 2015 with Burwood Hospital in Christchurch and then with hospitals in the Nelson/Marlborough region.

The South Island Alliance, a collaboration of the five South Island DHBs, is working with Orion Health to develop and implement SI PICS. . .

If re-elected National is promising to invest $50 million extra of new money over the next three years in a plan to help New Zealanders live free from bone, muscle and joint pain and provide thousands more people with elective surgery.
Delivering more elective operations provides more patients with mobility and independence: ntnl.org.nz/1mUUqIC #Working4NZ

 

“It is estimated up to a quarter of GP consultations are related to arthritis, lower back pain, orthopaedic or other bone, muscle and joint conditions,” says Mr Ryall.

“Experts tell me with earlier intervention we could improve the quality of life for many people suffering from what’s termed musculoskeletal pain, such as osteoarthritis.

“We will invest $6 million to create primary care based early intervention teams that will identify patients who are likely to suffer from bone, muscle & joint conditions in the future and support them to make changes to help prevent patients heading down the path towards surgery.

“The teams will work with a range of community health services such as GPs, dieticians and physiotherapists and will be coordinated through general practice. There will also be close links with hospital services such as rheumatology, orthopaedic and pain services.

“They will provide nutrition and lifestyle advice, assist with pain management and provide education so patients can better manage their condition themselves.

“This approach will enable some patients to be treated early enough to maintain independence. Others however will require surgery.

“To ensure the people requiring surgery receive it faster, we will invest $30 million of the new money to further lift our record numbers of orthopaedic operations – delivering an extra 2250 hip, knee and other orthopaedic operations over the next term in addition to the usual increases.

“The remaining $14 million will deliver more than 1500 extra general surgeries, such as hernia, gallstone and vein conditions.

“As a result of this initiative, plus our normal annual elective surgery increases, we will be providing an extra 14,500 elective operations a year by 2016/17.

“Reducing pain, increasing patient mobility and independence, and increasing elective surgery is a priority for this National-led Government,” says Mr Ryall.

“Thanks to our strong economic management, we have been able to increase our investment in health by an average of $500 million every year we have been in government, and this year the health budget will be a record $15.6 billion.”

This is why National is focussed on the economy, not as an end but the means to better public services and that focus is working for New Zealand.

National has a clear plan to keep New Zealand moving in the right direction. In the last week alone, we have announced a range of policies to help achieve it:</p><br /> <p>•         Boost international trade and economic partnerships to lift job-creating exports<br /><br /> •         Help 90,000 Kiwis into their own home through our HomeStart programme<br /><br /> •         Support regional growth with a $150m investment in rural broadband<br /><br /> •         Invest in health to improve cancer treatment and provide thousands of extra elective surgeries<br /><br /> •         Invest in aged care to support our elderly and those who care for them


Tony Ryall’s valedictory

August 1, 2014

Health and States Services Minister and Bay of Plenty MP, Tony Ryall delivered his valedictory statement on Wednesday:

Thank you Mr Speaker. Can I start by acknowledging three very special people: my wife Kara, son Llewellyn, and daughter Maisie, who are with us here today. Thank you very much for the fantastic support and contribution that you have made to my career.

My wife will tell you that in 1997 when we got married, I told her that I was only going to do another 6 years in Parliament. I think I actually said six terms, but she is running that line. I would also like to acknowledge my parents, Malcolm and Lenore, who have come down from Whakatane today, my mother-in-law Pam, and the rest of the family who are here too. Can I say it has been an absolute privilege to work with a group of exceptional and highly talented people in the National Party over the last 24 years. Every one of those people has been an outstanding New Zealander, and it has just been the greatest honour to have any association with them over that time. I have to tell you, I think they are all looking absolutely fantastic this evening.

I was first elected in 1990—one of 32 new MPs who came to Parliament in that stage. That is actually bigger than some caucuses in Parliament. I must say, I am really surprised in the intervening years just how much I have forgotten, because actually I knew everything when I first came here in 1990. I had spent 14 months campaigning. I would like to acknowledge the support of my parents during all that period of time. I spent 14 months campaigning, and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn so much about the different communities in what was then the East Cape electorate. We spent a lot of time door-knocking to get known in those days, and you really have to take every opportunity. I was out door-knocking in, I think, Richard Street in Opotiki just opposite the high school. That was not the most salubrious part of my electorate. I am out there knocking on this door and then all of a sudden, along from the side of the house, comes this pit bull terrier. It looked at me, I looked at it, and it came for me. I got my clipboard and I tried to protect myself. It bit my leg. It hung on my hand. I had this dog like this, hanging off my arm, and I managed to get rid of it. I have got to say, it was really quite a worrying experience. I got back in my car and I drove back home to Whakatane. I rang up Ian McLean who is with us here today and who was my caretaker MP, and I said, “Oh, well, you know, I’ve had a very bad day. I’ve been bitten by a dog.” “Great!” “No, no,” I said. “I’ve been bitten by a dog.” He said, “Fantastic! Did you get a photo?” So I drove all the way back to Opotiki, had my hand re-bandaged, and had a nice picture in the paper. In fact, that story got on the front page of the Herald, which was no mean feat when you are a new candidate. I think they were somewhat attracted to my quote that the dog bit me, but if it had been the Labour candidate, it would have eaten her.

I have been supported locally in the National Party by a great team of people over the years. You know who you are and I am very grateful for all the support that you have given me. When I came to Parliament back then, David Lange and Robert Muldoon were still here. I had dinner with Sir Robert one night. I have got to tell you that after I struggled to make any conversation, we sat there and ate our dinner for 15 minutes in silence. Then he got up and he went: “Right, that was really good. Let’s do it again sometime.” But look, it has been fantastic. I have had tremendous satisfaction from the work that we have done in electorate. I just was reflecting today on some of the amazing things that people ask you to do. I remember just a few days before Christmas a lady rang me up and said: “My husband is stranded on a live sheep shipment in the Middle East and I can’t get him home for Christmas.” So you would ring your MP, and I rang Don McKinnon, and he got home for Christmas. That was fantastic. There is also the number of people you have assisted at their saddest time to get bodies back to New Zealand when their children have died overseas and the fantastic support that happens there. I am reflecting on how every year our family gets a Christmas card in an email from some guy that I helped 22 years ago. Every year, he sends a Christmas card. I have been reflecting for years on what I actually did to help him, but whatever it was, it has just been marvellous.

I would like to reflect on my electorate agents. I would like to acknowledge them—Pam Eglington, who was actually the best employment decision I ever made, because she is now my mother-in-law. Robyn, Pam, Jenny, Trish, Nigel, and Jackie have been fantastic in the work that we have done. We have had a lot of challenges in our area and a lot of natural disasters—floods, oil spills, kiwifruit collapses, Labour Governments. We have got through them all. I want to also acknowledge that the constituents have been fantastic. They have been kind and they have been incredibly generous to my family and me over all the years. Often you hear about people getting problems with constituents shouting and screaming at them. I have got to say that the people of the Bay of Plenty and the East Cape have just shown the greatest kindness and generosity to me and my family over time, and I would like to pay great tribute to the people of the Bay of Plenty. It has been a very fast-growing electorate in the western Bay of Plenty. For example, when I started as the MP for Papamoa—I came into my electorate in 1996—there were 6,000 people. Today there are 21,000. So it just goes to show if you get a good MP, lots of people shift to the area. I want to acknowledge Dame Jenny Shipley who, as Prime Minister, promoted me to Cabinet in 1997. It was my great privilege to play a part in delivering New Zealand’s first woman Prime Minister, and it was a great privilege. We were a group, as we were planning that, called the “Te Puke Bypass Committee”, as some will remember, and it is a great pleasure to me that we are now spending $400 million on the proper Te Puke bypass, and that will be opening shortly. Mrs Shipley gave me the fantastic opportunity to be a Minister. I have got to tell you that when you have a young baby at the time, your mind is sort of on everything. I remember pulling in at the Whakatane Airport one day, taking the baby out of the car, checking the luggage in, and getting stopped by a constituent. Then we flew off to Auckland. As we were flying, there was an announcement: “Ah, Mr Ryall, we’re just letting you know that your car keys are at Whakatane Airport. You left them in your car, running, with the driver’s door open.” So it always pays to have a sign-written car.

Opposition was incredibly frustrating—a very frustrating 9 years—but the one thing I learnt there is that it is a great opportunity to listen, learn, travel the country, and find out about things that you did not really know about. Many people were very generous with their time and helping me in that role. In 2005 Dr Brash, who is here today, gave me a responsibility as being the health spokesperson. I will touch on that shortly. I have certainly appreciated the responsibility the Prime Minister has given me as the Minister for State Owned Enterprises, working with Bill in the mixed-ownership model programme. Bill commented to me the other day that in both my roles as Minister for State Owned Enterprises under Mrs Shipley and in this role, we have privatised or partially privatised $7.7 billion worth of assets. He thought that was more than Richard Prebble, but we are not going to tell anybody about that. The Prime Minister also gave me the job as Minister of Health. I have got to say this has been the best job in the Government. You work with quality people every day who are dedicated to the welfare of New Zealanders. I wake up most mornings and I turn to my wife and say: “Ugh, imagine being Minister of Education.” That is a really tough job. Look, I think many people underestimate the size of the health sector in New Zealand. It is 10 percent of GDP. For every $1 spent in New Zealand, 10c is spent in the health sector, not only in our $15 billion public health service with 75,000 staff but a very strong and dynamic private sector, with $1 billion in natural health products, $1 billion in health IT and devices, and some great New Zealand companies. I think it is this intersection of health and technology that is going to provide an opportunity to create untold wealth into the future and it is really important that New Zealand is part of that. I am very proud of our Government’s health plan that we are rolling out and continuing to do. I think the seminal decision was that we would stick with the structures that we inherited and really focus on results and improving performance.

I think over the last 6 years our doctors and nurses in the team have delivered exceptional results for New Zealanders across quality, productivity, and the financial domains within constrained funding—those six national health targets. You know, doctors and nurses are very competitive people, and no one likes being at the bottom of those national health targets. That has really driven much better performance—40,000 extra elective surgeries, quicker emergency departments, and much faster cancer treatment. Immunisation—I noted Dr Hutchison talked about the fact that in 10 of our 20 district health boards, the 2-year-old Māori immunisation rate is now higher than the Pākehā immunisation rate. No one would ever have thought that that was possible in New Zealand. There are shorter cardiac waits. Tobacco smoking—fantastic work that we have done there. I went to the World Health Assembly in Geneva—I have got to say, I have taken only two overseas trips, Prime Minister, as Minister of Health. I was there talking about this work that we are doing in smoke-free New Zealand by 2025, a programme that we have systematised across the whole country called ABC—ask if you are a smoker; if you are, it is a “b” for a brief conversation, because that is quite effective in getting people to quit; and, “c”, offer you cessation medicine—ABC. So I went to the World Health Assembly and I was giving a talk about this. I do not know how many people in this House have ever given a speech where you lose your audience—it had never happened to me before that time. Everyone from Africa started talking amongst themselves, and I thought “Oh my goodness, I have caused an international incident.” So I completed my contribution and I sat down next to a lady from Jamaica, and I said “Why was everyone from Africa sort of quite dislocated by my speech?” She said “Well, in Africa, they have ABC for HIV Aids—“a” for abstinence, “b” for being faithful, and “c”, if you cannot be faithful, use a condom.”, and they could not work out how that stopped smoking. So we have got a lot of acronyms in this area. It has been a fantastic portfolio and with the Prime Minister’s support we have achieved quite a lot. I think the decision that we made to fund 12 months’ * Herceptin for New Zealand women is something that has made a huge difference to the lives of so many people. I remember an experience I had at a cafe in Tauranga a couple of weeks after the 2005 election. I was standing in the line and this chap whom I had never met came up and gave me this big bear hug. I thought, well, this is very dislocating, in public. It turned out to be a guy who said that a month before the election, he had had to put his house on the market to get the money to buy Herceptin for his wife, and the day after the election he was able to take his house off the market—fantastic, that contribution. So we have done a lot. I must say I had a fantastic opportunity meeting a lot of people in the health service. It always pays to be very careful. Jo Goodhew, as the Associate Minister, is doing this hand hygiene thing. I was visiting an endoscopy suite a couple of years ago and I thought, well here is a great photo opportunity with the hand gel, which I did, and proceeded to rub my hands, to which every person in the endoscopy suite theatre gasped in horror. I thought “What is all the worry here?” Of course, it was lubricating gel. So we are going to get that prostate awareness programme started. I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about what the next 10 years in this health area is going to be, because with chronic disease and ageing—the rate of population growth or ageing of people over the age of 80 is going to treble in the next 10 years. So everything is going to stop this—who is over 65 is just not the issue any more, because 65 is the new 45. I am trying to convince myself as I get there. I think there are five big mega trends and it is just the interaction between all of them is going to change health care completely. The first of the five is care closer to home. All this care is coming out of hospitals into communities, into people’s homes, pharmacists, general practitioners, home care workers, nutrition advisers—all these people are playing a greater role, and there is going to be this much greater responsibility that we are all going to have to take for our health care in something that they call self-care. It is a bit like Air New Zealand—it is getting us to do all the work and we like it. This is where we are going to have to take responsibility. Sir Ron Avery is developing a piece of technology the size of your wrist watch, with a beam that comes on your wrist and measures your temperature, your blood pressure, and your pulse, and that information is then transmitted to a device that can be monitored by your general practice.

So you can imagine this technology thing is going to change everything. That is my second point—that this anywhere, anytime use of innovative technology is going to change our health care. It is this device it is just going to help change everything over the next 5 years to 10 years. You are going to be able to plug your own personal ultrasound device into your cellphone. You can imagine beaming that message to your local general practitioner. These advances are incredible. Thirdly, intelligence and insight from big data—this work that we are doing, collecting information across Government departments, across patients, across people with all the privacy protections, is going to allow us to build a picture on how health care interventions change people’s lives, and the best place to do it. Fourth is personalised medicine. All this knowledge about your genome and your biomarkers is going to allow clinicians to develop very personalised therapies solely to you. They are going to be able to provide you with information about your risk factors into the future. These have huge ethical issues about whether we actually want to know these risks, but this personalised medicine is going to be amazing. I think the fifth big trend that is going to affect health care is that we are going to have this expanding role of non-physicians and payment that actually rewards the quality of care and the outcome that people provide. I would like to also just take a moment to thank the fantastic people who have supported me over the years. I would like to acknowledge my ministerial staff, in particular my head of filing, Peter McCardle. Thank you for the wonderful contribution they have all made. Officials at the Ministry of Health, the State Services Commission, Treasury’s State-owned enterprises unit, the travel office, the security guards, the Bellamy’s staff, the messengers and the gallery officers, the VIP drivers, the cleaners, the district health board staff and their chairs in particular. But I cannot finish off without acknowledging my three comrades, Bill, Nick, and Roger. You know, Parliament can be a very lonely place. It can be full of self-doubt and frustrated ambition. I think it is pretty unusual for any member of Parliament to have had three very close friends throughout their whole career. The relationship with those guys has been enduring and sustaining. They are extremely capable people who have continued to be friends over the last 25 years. Contrary to public opinion, we have never worked as a group. Frankly, we can never agree on anything. On any issue, it is always 2:2, and the two always varies. So it has been wonderful to have that association with them. It has just been the most fantastic association anyone could have in Parliament, and I have just really appreciated the support that those guys have given. Everybody else is going to be going off and I am going to be supporting the Prime Minister by campaigning as well, and I wish you all a lot of activity and all the best on our side for the work that you are going to do over the next period of time. You will all be going out—many of you may be doing rest home visits. I stopped those a few years ago. I remember going to one, and you spend a lot of time giving out your card, and, you know, shaking everyone’s hand. I had the name tag and I did all that, and as I left the day room I heard one of the ladies say “Was that the nice new young doctor?” Then I discovered that they all had voted 2 weeks earlier. So thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to be here to thank my fantastic family for the contribution and support that they have made. It has just been marvellous. And thank you for the great privilege it has been to be here, to represent the National Party and the Bay of Plenty, and to have worked for New Zealand over the last 24 years.

 His colleagues paid tribute to him by emulating his sartorial style:

A colourful bunch I must say! Having a bit of fun in honour of Tony Ryall.


Good people

July 31, 2014

Yesterday I was in parliament’s public gallery for six valedictory speeches.

National MPs Shane Ardern, Phil Heatley, Paul Hutchison, Eric Roy and Tony Ryall, and Labour’s Ross Robertson delivered their reflections on their time in parliament.

All were very different but there was one similarity – all had come to parliament, motivated by their desire to serve their constituents and improve their country.

Politicians in general are often derided. Sometimes individuals deserve that derision.

But listening to all the speeches yesterday reminded me that most are good people and most do good work, some in smaller ways, others are able to achieve something bigger.

It also reminded me that there is a lot of common ground on ultimate goals. The divisions are often much less about where we’re going and far more about how to get there.


Tied up for Tony

July 30, 2014

Parliament will be especially colourful today.

The best Health Minister in recent times, Tony Ryall, is delivering his valedictory speech this afternoon and his National Party colleagues are getting all tied up in tribute to his sartorial splendour:

Photo: On the day of his Valedictory Speech, National MPs are emulating Tony Ryall's infamous shirt-and-tie combos in tribute to an exceptional career.


Rural round-up

July 20, 2014

Back agriculture back our Roads:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement to increase investment in our deteriorating rural roads, but has concerns at whether it will be enough.

“A proposed increase of 4.3 percent per annum for local road improvements, and a 2.4 percent increase for local road maintenance, is long overdue but it remains to be seen whether it is enough.” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government Spokesperson.

“To date, the investment in our rural roads has not kept up with inflation and it is evident in each pot hole and/or goat track that farmers, families, school buses and contractors navigate everyday.

“We are pleased this is now being addressed but is it a sufficient recognition of the importance of roading to an economy reliant on primary production, and in turn it’s long rural roads? . . .

More places earmarked for rural medical students:

Health Minister Tony Ryall has today announced there will be an additional 34 medical places for students next year at our two medical schools, including more positions earmarked for rural students.

Mr Ryall made the announcement at Taumarunui Hospital, a busy rural health facility in the King Country with around 100 staff. 

“Research shows that students who grew up in rural areas, such as Taumarunui, are more likely to go back and work in those areas. These extra places will help encourage more doctors to work in our rural communities,” says Mr Ryall.

“Since 2009 this government has now funded 170 extra medical school places. . . .

New Zealand Seafood Industry Assures Australian Consumers that its Seafood is Sustainable:

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) list of imported fish that it’s telling consumers to stay away from, sounds like an ‘underarm delivery’ to the New Zealand industry.

Seafood New Zealand’s Chairman George Clement says it seems that the AMCS is has just gone through a list of imported seafood to arbitrarily warn people against most of it.

“Species by species, as we go through them, we can see how misinformed the AMCS report is. They’ve provided no transparent criteria nor openness in their assessments. There’s no indication that they have actually challenged themselves to examine the facts when they’ve drawn up their list.” . . .

Seafood New Zealand welcomes community funding for seabird conservation work:

Seafood New Zealand today welcomed Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith’s announcement that the Government will provide $300,000 of funding to two community groups to support their work in protecting some of New Zealand’s special seabirds.

The seafood industry is one of the founding partners in the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust which has received $100,000 towards a seabird smart recreational fishing initiative that aims to reduce the number of birds accidentally caught by recreational fishers in the upper North Island. . . .

From the last will and testament of a farmer c1986 – Gravedodger:

To my Wife,  my bank overdraft. Maybe she has an explanation for it.

To my Banker, I bequeath my soul, he has the mortgage on it anyway.

To my nearest and dearest neighbor, my clown suit, he claims he is going to carry on farming.

To The Rural Bank, my grain silo and my Fertilizer Bin, he has them as chattel security anyway.

To the local scrap metal dealer, every item of crap machinery I have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep from his possession. . . .

Otago woman named NZ’s top young amenity horticulturist:

New Zealand’s top young amenity horticulturist has been found after an intense day of competition at the Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year event in Hamilton yesterday.

The annual competition is run by the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) and serves as the qualifier for the prestigious Horticulturist of the Year competition, which will be hosted in Auckland in November.

Otago woman Sarah Fenwick emerged as the judge’s choice after planning, planting and potting her way to victory. The 30-year-old former vet nurse narrowly beat second place getter Josh van der Hulst, from Kamo, to take out the prize. . . .

Tax officials to work with bloodstock breeding industry:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy and Revenue Minister Todd McClay have confirmed that Inland Revenue officials will work with the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association on a number of tax issues raised by the industry.

The issues cover questions the NZTBA has over the application of tax rules for the industry and are expected to be dealt with as part of the normal consultative process between the private sector and tax officials.

“We are confident that the majority of the issues can be worked through, providing a positive result and greater certainty for what is an important industry to New Zealand,” Mr McClay says. . . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s largest A&P Show:

Show organisers for the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show are calling upon showing enthusiasts from throughout New Zealand to send in their entries and compete in the country’s largest Agricultural and Pastoral Show. For over 150 years, The Show has been attracting and showcasing New Zealand’s best animals and talented competitors. In addition to showing success, exhibitors will be competing for over $100,000 in prize money.

More than 3000 animals and close to 1000 competitors are expected to compete in 1700 classes including sections for horse and pony, beef and dairy cattle, sheep, alpaca, llama, wool, goat, dog trials, poultry, shearing and woolhandling, woodchopping and vintage machinery. Entries are also open for two of the feature competitions of The Show – the Mint Lamb Competition where New Zealand’s top lambs are put to a taste test, and the Young Auctioneers Competition where up-and-coming stock agents get to show off their skills. . . .


Valedictory roster

June 19, 2014

Parliament’s Business Committee has released the roster for valedictory speeches from retiring MPs:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Cam Calder

4.15pm – 4.30pm John Hayes

4.30pm – 4.45pm Chris Auchinvole

4.45pm – 5.00pm Colin King

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Chris Tremain

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Kate Wilkinson

Thursday, 24 July 2014

4.45pm – 5.00pm Dr Rajen Prasad

5.00pm – 5.15pm Darien Fenton

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Dr Pita Sharples

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tariana Turia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Paul Hutchison

4.15pm – 4.30pm Hon Phil Heatley

4.30pm – 4.45pm Eric Roy

4.45pm – 5.00pm Shane Ardern

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Tau Henare

5.15pm – 5.30pm H V Ross Robertson

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tony Ryall

The Herald opined that valedictories should be the preserve of “deserving” MPs:

No fewer than 14 National MPs are retiring at the coming election, plus a couple from other parties. While the turnover is refreshing for public life, it carries a cost if every departee gives a valedictory address. . . .

Few voters could name many of those retiring this year. Many are leaving because they have not been able to make much impact and accept that they should give others a chance. More credit to them, but valedictory time should be reserved for those who have made their mark and will be missed.

That is very ungracious and also shows a depressing level of ignorance about the role of MPs.

Most of the good work MPs do never makes the headlines, much of it can’t because it’s helping people over matters which must remain private.

Maiden speeches and valedictories are among the best speeches given.

All MPs deserve the opportunity to do one and in doing so show their work and parliament in a far better light than it’s normally portrayed.


Politics Daily

June 12, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break. I’m not pretending to be balanced. While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end. You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Election

Claire Trevatt @ NZ Herald – NZ Game of Thrones – does Cunliffe dare to play?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Caucus can safely roll Cunliffe from next week

John Armstrong, Adam Bennett & Isaac Davison @ NZ Herald – Election 2014: Parties ready but are you?

CameronSlater @ Whale Oil – The magic “Seven reasons” that will drive this election

Pattrick Smellie @ Stuff – Early date a savvy move from PM

Vernon Small @ Stuff - Curious case of deal with Craig

David Farrar # Kiwiblog – National’s potential election deals

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Paranoid Winston Peters dumps candidate?

Nookin @ Keeping Stock – A guest post on a new Labour policy

Pete George  @ YourNZ – Civilian Party and United Future announce campaign deal

Beehive

Chris Finlayson - Agreement in Principle signed with the iwi and hapū of Te Wairoa

Chris Finlayson – Screen NZ formed to boost NZ’s profile on world stage

Todd McLay – Intergovernmental FATCA agreement signed

Tony Ryall – Health Minister opens $67m Whakatane Hospital

Steven Joyce – International education numbers set to grow

Gerry Brownlee - Performing arts precinct off to an exciting start

Hekia Parata – Pegasus School opens

OCR

Brian Fellow @ NZ Herald – Wheeler yanks the leash

Tony Field @ TV3 – OCR rise good for savers

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – OCR goes to 3.25%

Crime

Rachel Smalley – Labour politicising a terrible tragedy

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Smalley tears into Labour

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Violent crime

Education

Inventory 2 @ Why don’t they mention the PPTA?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour against paying the top teachers more

Other

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Misrepresenting the current abortion law

Cameron SLater @ Whale Oil – David Cunliffe upsets Chief District Court Judge

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Fine tuning immigration to drop Auckland House prices? Reserve Bank says yeah… Nah

Pete George @ YourNZ – Labour vs Reserve Bank on immigration

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Trevor Mallard continues to show that for Labour, facts are optional

Matthew Beveridge – Compare and Contrast: Chris Tremain and Todd Barclay


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