Live donor compensation Bill passes unanimously

December 1, 2016

Life will be easier for people who donate organs thanks to the  Compensation for Live Organ Donors Bill  which passed into law last night.

National List MP based in the Hutt Valley Chris Bishop is delighted that his Member’s Bill, the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Bill, has passed its third and final reading in Parliament unanimously.

“Live organ donors are heroes, but the status quo is manifestly unfair. These donors are compensated at the equivalent of the sickness benefit while they recuperate after their operation, even though their actions save lives, save taxpayers money, and contribute to a better and healthier New Zealand,” Mr Bishop said.

“My Bill will mean that live organ donors receive compensation of 100 per cent of their earnings for up to 12 weeks after the operation. It also allows for pre-operation compensation in some circumstances.”

During his speech Mr Bishop paid tribute to Lower Hutt woman Sharon van der Gulik and her grandson Matt, who inspired him to take the Bill up upon being elected to Parliament in late 2014.

“Mrs van der Gulik approached me at a public meeting in the Hutt during the 2014 election campaign and told me about how her grandson had donated a kidney to her, but was struggling financially after the surgery,” Mr Bishop said.

“I promised her that if I were privileged to be elected, I would look at taking up her cause.

“New Zealand needs to improve its organ donation rates. One big barrier to donation is the financial sacrifice that people are currently required to make while they take time off work for the surgery and recovery.

“The Bill adopts a cost neutrality approach, as in the United Kingdom, and means that people will be neither better or worse off from having donated. This should see more people choosing to donate.

“This will be good for recipients of organs, and also good for taxpayers. Research clearly shows that there are large fiscal gains for taxpayers from increased support for organ donors.

“This is a great day for organ donors in New Zealand.”

Bishop’s speech is here.

I happened to be driving home from Christchurch when the car radio picked up the debate on the second reading of Chris Bishop’s Compensation for Live Organ Donors Bill.

The speeches provided a wonderful example of parliament and politicians at their best – non-partisan support for a bill which will help those in need of an organ, ensure donors aren’t out of pocket for donating and also save public money.

Transplants save more than $120k in dialysis costs, net of the cost of the transplant and ongoing care.

Passing the Bill ends the unfairness of donors being penalised for their altruism, it is a positive move for those needing organs and those who donate to them and the multi-party support for the measure shows parliament at its best.

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Council charges council

November 18, 2016

Hawkes Bay Regional Council has charged the HB District Council in connection with the contamination of Havelock North’s water in August.

The regional council has charged it with resource consent breaches, which it said were discovered during an investigation of the contamination.

The outbreak in August, in which about 5000 people became sick with gastrointestinal illness, occurred when a bore contaminated the Hawke’s Bay town’s water supply with campylobacter.

The council said earlier today it had laid charges against an unnamed party “for alleged offences uncovered in the course of its investigation into the contamination”.

The charges related to evidence of a breach of the party’s resource consent, it said.

“If a breach is proved, the resource consent no longer permits the taking of water. [The regional council] has commenced a prosecution against the party, alleging the unlawful taking of water from the aquifer arising from the alleged failure to meet well head maintenance conditions.”

In a statement this afternoon, the Hastings District Council confirmed it was the charged party.

It said the charges had been laid under the Resource Management Act for a technical breach of the district council’s resource consent conditions for taking water from Brookvale Bores 1 and 2. . . 

Laying charges doesn’t mean the HBDC is guilty.

But if it is found to have been at fault will anyone take back the accusations thrown at farming?


Would beef tax help NZ?

November 11, 2016

40% beef tax suggested to pay for climate damage :

Global taxes have been suggested for beef and dairy products to pay for climate damage caused during their production.

The University of Oxford study argues emissions pricing on food could avert more pollution than generated by the aviation industry, save half a million lives and one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year if implemented in 2020.

The analysis, conducted by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, suggests beef would have to be 40 percent more expensive to pay for the climate damage caused by its production.

Milk and other meats would need to increase by up to 20 percent and vegetable oils would also face substantial rises.

The study estimates the suggested price increase would result in a 10 percent reduction in the purchase of these foods and drive lower emissions. . . 

This wouldn’t be all bad for New Zealand farmers.

Almost all our beef and dairy cattle, and sheep are free range livestock.

A Lincoln University study showed that our meat and horticultural produce had lower emissions than the same local produce in British supermarkets, even taking into account the transport from here to there.

If our produce incurred a lower tax than that from other countries whose production methods are far less efficient we’d have a competitive advantage.

Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Anders Crofoot said putting tax at the purchasing end, so the decision was in hands of consumers, had some merit.

“Conceptually there are some attractions, but as with most things with climate change it gets pretty complex quite quickly and I wouldn’t see a tax on food was going to be a particularly effective way of doing it.”

He said farmers could benefit from their product being more of a premium.

“I don’t think that reducing meat consumption is actually necessarily something we should recoil from if it can turn it into a premium product that people are willing to pay more [for].”

If there was going to be a tax on livestock and crops, what about other foods?

Nothing would be gained if people swapped from one type of food to another with no environmental gain.

The production of all food must have an environmental impact and that would have to be taxed too.

Some of the better-off might be happy to pay more for their food, others would resent it but could still afford it.

But what about the less well-off, too many of whom already struggle to buy nutritious food?

Rabobank’s Farm2Fork summit in Sydney last week and it’s F20 (F for food) in 2014 looked at the challenge of feeding the world population of nine billion by 2050.

No-one suggested taxing food.

Researchers would be better putting their time and our money into science that would improve the production of food that is healthy for both people and the environment .

 


366 days of gratitude

November 3, 2016

Even before I lived on a farm I tended to have a thousand acre stride which was incompatible with very high heels.

The older I get the less tolerance I have for footwear which puts fashion before comfort.

A pair of shoes which both look and feel good are rare but I have a pair in my possession and when I’m required to stand up for any length of time when dressed up I’m grateful for them.


366 days of gratitude

November 2, 2016

The first symptom of a sore throat was followed by a cough. Both persisted and persisted and persisted.

A friend said it would be a five-weeker and it was, but finally it’s gone and oh how very grateful I am for that.


How’s your musculo-skeletal health?

October 25, 2016

You can get a scan if you’re worried about your bone density but there’s an easier way to test your musculo-skeletal health:

One in three women and one in five men will suffer a fracture as a consequence of low bone density.

But a challenge has been launched for World Osteoporosis Day to help gauge our resilience against osteoporosis.

It’s a simple test to count how many times you can sit and stand in 30 seconds without using your hands.

It measures overall musculo-skeletal health, that researchers say is vital to preventing osteoporosis.

You start seated in a chair, then count how many times you can stand and sit, with arms folded, in half a minute.  It’s important to fully stand and fully sit at each repetition to get a good measure.

A healthy person with average fitness under 40 should be able to achieve a score of more than 19.

If you are over 40, you should be able to score 1-2 less than this for every decade beyond 40.

If you struggle, you may want to consult a health professional.

Fonterra Principal Research Scientist Linda Schollum says the challenge is not in a formal research setting, but launched as a fun and engaging way to raise awareness.

“The test is a bit of fun and anyone in reasonable health can do it. It’s really valuable to test how well your body is faring.” . . 

I managed 25.


366 days of gratitude

October 9, 2016

It started with a slightly sore throat.

That was followed by a blocked nose and then a cough.

The throat is okay again and the nose has unblocked but the cough is persisting.

Tonight I’m grateful for cough mixture.


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