Rural round-up

April 16, 2019

‘M. bovis’ effects force family off farm – Sally Rae:

Graham Hay is preparing to walk off the land his family has farmed for nearly a century.

The Hakataramea Valley property has been in the family since his grandfather took over in 1921 and Mr Hay has lived there all his life.

It is gut-wrenching to hear his voice choking, as he explains how he and his wife Sonja have had no choice but to sell their farm.

Already under financial pressure coming out of an irrigation development phase, he believed they could have farmed through that. . . 

Lessons learned: MPI holds public meeting with farmers – Sally Rae:

Painful lessons have been learned during the Mycoplasma bovis response and hopefully all lessons will be “locked in” and used in the event of another disease incursion, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

Mr Gwyn was speaking at a public meeting in Oamaru last week, as part of a series of farmer and public meetings throughout the country.

Those meetings came in the wake of the launch of the 2019 Mycoplasma bovis National Plan, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand last week. . . 

Yili bid for Westland Milk raises questions about dairy co-operatives – and Fonterra’s ownership – Point of Order:

On  the face  of  it, it’s  a  no-brainer.  Weighed  down  with  debt,  Westland  Milk,  based in   Hokitika  is financially  on  its  knees.  Riding  to  its  rescue,  Chinese  dairy  giant  Yili  has come in with a  $588m buyout deal   which  will yield  $3.41  a share   to the co-op’s  farmer shareholders,  and, as well,   absorb  Westland’s debt and liabilities.

According to  Westland, the  nominal value of its shares  has ranged  from  70c  to $1.50  per share. For the  average-sized  Westland farm, the  share offer translates to  about half a  million dollars cash.

The offer  looks even  more attractive since  Westland had to  cut its  milk payout  forecast, while other  companies’ forecasts  are rising.  Westland, which has  grown out of  the West  Coast’s  150-year  dairy heritage, hasn’t paid  a  competitive milk price   for  several years. . . 

Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade may force expectant mothers to travel further

Mothers may be forced to travel further to give birth after a Southland birthing centre was downgraded.

The Southern District Health Board announced the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade last August, triggering community outcry, a protest march, petition and appeals to the government.

The centre has become a maternal and child hub where babies are only delivered in an emergency.

The company that ran the centre said mothers travelled from as far away as Queenstown and Te Anau to use the birthing services. . . 

Farmhand’s common sense solution for vegan activism – Andrea Davy:

A YOUNG farmhand has offered up a commonsense approach for stopping the spread of misinformation around Australian farming.

Coming off the back this week’s vegan protests, which rolled out across the nation on Monday, Zoe Carter posted a Facebook live where she called on the industry to “step up” and increase education in schools.

Zoe has more than 140,000 followers online, an audience she has grown through sharing videos and photos from her life working in ag.

In the post, she said the current education system was leaving a huge knowledge gap on how food was produced. And, unfortunately, this space was being filled up with “lies” peddled on social media. . . 

Large-scale highly fertile stock finishing farm for sale:

A highly-productive farm whose grazing stock once produced prized wool used by one of New Zealand’s foremost carpet manufacturers has been placed on the market for sale.

Puketotara, near Huntly in the Waikato, was previously owned by Douglas Bremner – the businessman who founded the legendary Bremworth Carpet brand in 1959. Wool from the Drysdale sheep farmed at Bremner’s Puketotara farm was used in the production of quality carpet manufactured at the company’s mill in South Auckland.

The Bremner family sold the property in 1989, and soon after it was converted into an intensive breeding and finishing farm – stocking beef and sheep and producing cash crops.. . 


Marching for Waitaki’s health services

July 5, 2015

Nearly 30 years ago around 13,000 people marched through Oamaru to protest against proposed cuts to health services.

This morning there’s another march for the same reason and it’s got political.

Dunedin North MP Dr David Clark has been accused of trying to ”hijack” tomorrow’s health march in Oamaru, and has been denied speaking rights after refusing to accept a condition not to criticise the Government.
National Party Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean will speak at the march because she had agreed to that condition, Waitaki Mayor and march organiser Gary Kircher said.

The event was ”not political”.

The focus was the Southern District Health Board and its funding priorities. . .

The Mayor says more in a Facebook post.

. . . As has been clear from the start, this march has been about the cuts to our hospital funding proposed by the Southern DHB. Instead, David wants to make it political by bringing in the much wider issue of government funding and he wants to use our march to make his political statement.
Now, we all would love for central government to put more money into health, but the SDHB has had increases and they’re simply not passing on our fair share to us in Waitaki. They haven’t done so for years. Instead, we had no increase last year and they want to cut 5% from our funding this year! They would rather make our people go to Dunedin for services which we can deliver far more efficiently in Oamaru! For example, we have excellent scanning equipment and services in Oamaru Hospital but we only get around $15,000 per year to run them. People complain that they have to go to Dunedin for scans when they could be done right here! However, David doesn’t want to focus on this. Perhaps it’s because many of the Dunedin Hospital staff who benefit from this wasteful spending live in his electorate?
I have made the offer to David that he can march alongside me and our Councillors at the front of the march, I’ve told him that I will acknowledge him and his support for the aim of our march in my speech, and I had intend to have him up on the stage with the speakers and our Councillors. And I had offered to let him speak if he focussed on the reason for the march. But if he really prefers to let the DHB off the hook by playing politics, I make no apology for declining his last-minute request to speak.  . .

There is a legitimate argument about whether the population based funding model is calculated correctly for large areas with smaller and older populations but that is an argument for another day.

Today is not about whether the south’s share of the health cake is big enough but because Waitaki is not getting it’s fair share of the south’s slice.

Waitaki District Health Services chair George Berry puts the board’s case here.

 


Commissioner for SDHB

June 18, 2015

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has appointed a commissioner to replace the Southern District Health Board.

The financial problems at Southern DHB are longstanding. I do not have confidence that the current governance arrangements are suitable for delivering on the changes required in Southern DHB,” says Dr Coleman.

“Southern is forecasting a final deficit of $27 million for the current financial year. That figure has effectively doubled in the last six months.

“The DHB has also forecast that its deficit position will further increase in 2015/16 to between $30 million and $42 million – this accounts for over half the combined deficit of all 20 DHBs. This situation of fluctuating forecasts and progressively worsening deficits cannot continue.

“The Government is committed to the redevelopment of Dunedin Hospital and the provision of high quality health services to all the people of the Southern region.

“All DHBs are funded according to the same population-based funding formula. This formula includes adjustments to recognise rural populations, age and other demographic issues.

“In a tight fiscal environment, all DHBs need to use available funding effectively. No other DHB has failed to control its finances in the way that Southern has.”

Kathy Grant has been appointed Commissioner and takes up the role on 18 June 2015. After discussions with Mrs Grant, she has indicated that she intends to appoint Graham Crombie and Richard Thomson as deputies. A third deputy with a strong clinical background will be appointed by the end of the month.

“Mrs Grant is from Otago and brings significant local knowledge. She has significant business and governance experience and a proven track record in turning around struggling organisations,” says Dr Coleman.

“The team will bring together a mix of strong financial, governance and clinical skills.

“I would like to thank the Board members for their work to date. My decision is not intended to devalue their efforts and achievements. However, a new approach is now necessary.

“My decision is based on the need for a new approach to the DHB’s longstanding financial issues, and to help move the DHB to a more sustainable position over time.”

This is a good move by the minister and the commissioner has made a very good start in the appointment of her deputies:

Kathy Grant bio
Kathy Grant was born in Otago and has spent most of her life in the region.

Mrs Grant currently works as a consultant in the legal practice of Gallaway Cook Allan in Dunedin. She has significant governance experience. Mrs Grant holds several current directorships including Chair of the Otago Polytechnic Council (appointed 2010), a trustee of Sport Otago (appointed 2007), and a director of Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (appointed 2012), Dunedin City Treasury Ltd (appointed 2013), and Dunedin International Airport Ltd (appointed 2008). She was also a member of the Anglican Family Care Board (2009-2013).

Mrs Grant has been on the Board of Trustees for several schools and colleges, and a previous member of the University of Otago Council (2007-2010). She was also previously Chair of the Dunedin College of Education Council (2001-2006).

Graham Crombie bio
Graham Crombie is a Dunedin local. He attended Bayfield High School and Otago University. Mr Crombie has a strong background in accountancy, with a proven record in high level assessments of the sustainability of health organisations. He was President of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (2008) and went on to become chair of the organisation (2009-2014).

Mr Crombie also has lengthy governance experience. He is currently chair of Dunedin City Holdings (appointed 2012), Dunedin City Treasury (appointed 2013), Otago Museum Trust Board (appointed 2011), Dunedin Venues (appointed 2015) and director of Surf Life Saving NZ (appointed 2013). He was also the independent chair of South Link Health (1999-2009).

Richard Thomson bio
Richard Thomson was born in Invercargill and attended Otago University. After specialising as a Clinical Psychologist he took up a lecturer role at Otago Medical School. He is now a successful businessman.

Mr Thomson has key insights into Southern DHB. He was chair of Otago DHB (2001-2009) and became a Board member after Otago DHB merged with Southland DHB (2009-2015).

Mr Thomson is currently serving his second term on the Dunedin City Council.

They have a difficult job to do but it must be done to secure health services in the south.

All DHBs have population based funding which takes into account a variety of factors.

Advocates in the south have long-argued that the formula doesn’t take enough account of the costs of servicing a smaller population, which isn’t growing much and is older than the average, spread over a large area.

The ODT editorialises:

. . . The fairness of the opaque population-based funding model again has to be questioned. The South failed to attract the increases of other areas in recent times and for various reasons could be seriously disadvantaged.

If the appointment of a commissioner is the signal for a fresh start then everything should be on the table, including how funding is calculated with an analysis of its fairness. After all, the South has to cope with the largest geographic area, the extra costs for teaching and many – and usually more costly – older patients. . .

The commissioner and her deputies will have to make the formula work or prove the advocates right.

 


Commissioner for SDHB?

June 9, 2015

The Southern District Health Board may be replaced by a Commissioner:

The board has until Thursday to respond to Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman’s proposal to consider appointing a commissioner under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, it was revealed yesterday.

A commissioner would have the powers and functions of the board, except for procedural aspects relating to meetings, a letter from Dr Coleman to chairman Joe Butterfield says.

”Based on the board’s previous history of failure to deliver on its annual plan expectations, I do not have confidence that the current governance arrangements are suitable for overseeing the strategic plan or delivering on the changes required in Southern DHB,” he wrote. . .

The SDHB might not like this but the boards of the smaller hospitals it funds will be relieved.

The proposed action follows months of uncertainty after Dr Coleman confirmed in February he wanted to replace Mr Butterfield with a new chairman, but no appointment was made.

In the meantime, proposed cuts to head off a projected $42million deficit in 2015-16 met opposition and put pressure on Dr Coleman and local National MPs.

About 1700 people attended meetings in Central Otago last month to protest against possible reductions to Dunstan Hospital services.

George Berry, chair of Waitaki District Health Services said the proposed cuts would result in a serious downgrade of Oamaru Hospital.

The cuts to funding of Oamaru, Dunstan, Balclutha and Gore hospitals would be serious for them and make only a small difference to the SDHB’s deficit.

They’d also add to costs in Dunedin Hospital when patients unable to be treated locally were transferred to the city.

I was deputy chair of WDHS from its formation in 1998 until 2005.

It and the boards of the other rural hospitals have had an on-going struggle to get their fair share of funds and the financial situation of the SDHB has deteriorated.

Sacking the board and replacing it with a commissioner is a serious step but one which must be taken for the security of health services in the south.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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