"In conclusion, therefore, there is no basis whatsover for a prosecution of Mr David Parker for an offence or offences under s377(2) of the Companies Act 1993 of making or authorising the making of a statement in an annual report that is false [or] misleading knowing it to be false or misleading."
1. How quickly will PM Clark reintroduce Parker to the Cabinet?
2. How quickly will calls come from those who like taking Labour apart of corruption, interference and dishonesty?
3. Will Ian Wishhart and Investigate take any time to mention this development in subsequent editions?
Maybe it will just be a race to see which happens first, although I think I know where the safe money is.
UPDATE: Go the Appleby's on winning question 2 before anyone else!
Who's to blame...some would argue that unless National institutions within targeted nations reform to encourage development and eradicate corruption and inefficiency, there are no accomplishments worth celebrating and there's no point to continuing to help them...
I respond that the blood, so to speak will be on everyone's hands if even one country is left behind as a consequence of no cooperation. Everyone will have to sacrifice a little; New Zealand has boosted its foreign aid budget to 0.27 - 0.28% of GDP, but still way, way, way below the (voluntary) 0.7% target set by the UN, which will provide the funding to complete all eight MDGs.
Likewise, an equal commitment is needed from countries that need assistance. A commitment to surmount the forces of the West to undermine their achievements and blast negative stereotypes is absolutely necessary.
The report requires one action from all of us...shut up and help out. Let the praise and blame come forth at the end of the day, not at lunchtime.
But I always find my patience thin in matters regarding healthcare. And yes it may be so that "teeth are teeth and people should get help on the basis of need, not race", according to Tony Ryall (National, Bay of Plenty) in the NZH. Indeed teeth are teeth, but the people whose gums hold them aren't. Put it this way, health professionals have to be very aware of the need to make their patients feel comfortable, in fact it makes patient outcomes better.
I wonder how comfortable women would be if all OB-GYNs were men again, in the current social climate (I'm wondering if Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty would agree with this assertion); If I was a woman, I am certain that I would feel more comfortable with a woman doctor (if given the choice), and I'm sure that's the same for many other people: it helps to be comfortable, patients are more likely to be honest and forthcoming and I argue they would be more receptive to following treatment. Building trust is easier in a comfortable setting.
Think about how doctors, already handle patients differently to carry out their jobs. Dealing with a homicidal, drug loaded, patient in the A&E at 2 in the morning is different from working with a lethargic child with cancer at 9.30 in the morning. We value our health professionals, because they can deal with a number of patients from different situations, providing medical service, tailored to get the best outcome.
Well, Mr Ryall, please think of that when cultural concerns should not be accounted for, and while it may be flippant to consider the Treaty something different from what many, if not most Maori hold, health practitioners had better be wary not to be so in dealing with people of differing cultural backgrounds. Empathy should be in their bag with the rest of their tools to treat patients. It's the responsible and professional thing to do.
Back in February 1990, Helen Clark (Labour, Mt Albert) was the Minister of Health, and was trying hard to cut health costs (for example, she was asked to cut health expenditure by 2% in 1989). In the meantime, blood products like factor IX (used for haemophiliac treatment) screened for hepatitis C was available on the market. Despite advice from the Health Department, it was not introduced due to the cost. After the December 1990 election, The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) wrote to the incoming Health Minister Simon Upton about mandatory testing of donated blood, blood that was used for amongst other things, blood products. No response. In July 1992, the Haemophiliac Centre at Auckland Hospital wrote to the Minister of Health stating that high-heat-treated factor IX was still not available and asked for funds to buy safer supplies. Upton delayed his response to September that year, explaining that the blood transfusion centres were responsible for providing services, funded through money direct from area health board and not the ministry directly ( in line with the need to ‘privatise’ the health system), and so he was not responsible as Minister. Finally, in November 1992 the story went public…Upton stuck to his story. After strong criticism in Parliament and in the media, an inquiry by the Health Department revealed a sad story:
A total of 337,500 patients would have had blood transfusions between February 1990 and July 1992. Of those, 733 (including 70% of all haemophilia patients) would contract hepatitis C and in extreme chronic cases, lead to cirrhosis and cancer. Looking at only those infected patients, 323 (44% of haemophiliacs) would ‘probably survive’. By 1994 it was estimated that the remaining 410 would die.
The inquiry came and went, the patients suffered. The story died away, the patients suffered.
When Labour was re-elected in 1999, they provided a $7 million fund to compensate the victims (at a paltry $44,000 each), but claimants had to prove that they were infected between February 1990 and July 1992. Many could not, forcing sufferers to demand a police inquiry (which found no evidence of criminal nuisance by either Clark or Upton as Ministers of Health) and legal action (some that is still ongoing) and partially successful ACC claims, leaving many bitter. Attempts to uncover the truth were stonewalled by Archives New Zealand, restricting archived records of Clark and Upton
Then a glimmer of hope. A year ago, at a meeting of the New Zealand Haemophiliac Foundation, the Government was open to a new compensation deal: they would accept a new report from the foundation, effectively allowing them to make their case.
Then news on Sunday last that the Government, after 16 years, would be pushing the end of the story as close as ever before. A $10 million package including a $60,000 payout to each victim of the bad blood scandal (including those who have already died), but have been fighting in the courts to get justice. But notably, victims will receive a public apology from Prime Minister Helen Clark (a long held demand of victims for several years.). The deal requires all court cases regarding the scandal to be dropped.
But the most surprising thing is that the story broke with the rumour that the agreement was precipitated to avoid a smear campaign in swing electorates: a letter drop highlighting the broken promises to hundreds of sufferers. Whether it’s a political stunt to leverage the government or an olive branch to a cruelly afflicted group, it must be some consolation that after so many years of struggle, some patients will finally get a fair treatment, in more ways than one.
And the rest of the story...we may have to wait a few decades where the restrictions on Clark's and Upton's archived records will finally be released. Perhaps in 2020, by which some of Clark's records will be publicly available a new chapter can be added…probably too late for the 733 to ever see.
Dr Donald Brash
Leader of the Opposition
As you are well aware, your political opponents made a lot of hay out of your discussions with American officials regarding New Zealand's foreign policy and in particular New Zealand's nuclear policy stance. May I pass on a piece of advice before your upcoming meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick.
Whatever you do, do not for the sake your continued leadership of the National party discuss anything before lunchtime. In fact, I would have a large brunch.
Furthermore if you do talk about it, try not making any witty remarks that may be turned into potent quotes.
And make sure that you and your caucus colleagues have a clear idea of what is the party's stance and that you won't unilaterally create ambiguous comments to undermine your party.
In terms of context, I note that all of those who were indicted for fraud were first fired by McKesson. Not that it makes any difference, when so many have been due to the gross mismanagement. And I did not see anywhere the class action suits filed by shareholders, with 960 million USD so far paid out, according to this report.
But here's the biggest question that the NZ public will deliver when they delve into the details; who cares? The matter seems to be almost resolved, and the company's ability to provide service never was questioned, rather their ability to be honest with the books.
Put it another way, how many people use Kodak products even though they lost a patent case to Polaroid?
I think it's harsh to judge a corporation for the mistakes of the past, if they have paid their punishment and moved on with decent service...some tried to with our MPs and that didn’t work out (for those who tried it)
I agree that Plunket is a national institution, one that this decisionit has been argued could undermine it's lofty place in New Zealand families, but could we all agree that Plunket is not just a phone-in service, and the very reason why it has such a proud reputation is because they do a lot of things well. For example, TVNZ news also featured a news story on child seats, with calls from Plunket to get more seats into cars with children on board. The Plunket website shows that Plunketline was just one of a plethora of services, it's not like this will destroy Plunket’s good work, it just means it loses something that isn't maintaining a high enough standard
Perhaps it's more questionable that McKesson may not have the skill to maintain a good quality service. In fact the Plunket brand works against McKesson, a (relatively) new organisation has a higher than normal expectation to provide good service. Indeed, we should be cautious to think that unanswered call rates are an effective measure of a high quality organisation, and I can only assume that the criteria for assessment is far more stringent.
The reasoning for the change was partially because the list was lost off the template, but also to get a fairer idea of the current NZ political blogsphere.
Another other reason is cut out the dead/hibernating blogs, to make the list easier to use.
A new, insightful blog from members of the NZ governemt aid and development agency, featuring posts from NZAID members from around the world. It may be the first NZ Government blog, other that ones started by Members of Parliament. it also allows a closer look at NZAID funded programmes and projects.
First up is Catrina McDiarmid, who is travelling to Papua New Guinea on a visit focussing on the Millennium Development Goals and the Pacific, HIV/AIDS, and other sexual and reproductive health issues.
The progressives website has been hacked by an annonmyous hacker. The front page has been replaced with a scrolling message that conatins a repeated line:
"Hacked By HeLLBoY ---> MSN iLeTiSiM---> MeCHuLMeKaNSiZ@mynet.com [Turkish Hacker]"
One wonders how quickly the party will figure this out?
It is clear two point out that there are two major issues; the rights of whistle-blowing in the public sector and the allegations in themselves.
Speaking to the allegations, the Herald on Sunday reports the following:
And considering that this organisation has to deal with some the most destitute of people, who are trying to live and work in this country, makes me feel a greater sense of exploitation. This is a considerable shame, and so far seems like there is no end of criticism or a positive success coming HCNZ’s way.
The crisis could yet erode centre support for the labour party in particular, those who may feel that social provision must be prudent and tempered will not be happy if this supposed corruption is indeed intentionally malicious. Another unanswered question is if the reports sent to the ministry were known to be untrue by them. It will take a while to ascertain if this is the case. It's a relief that the matter has been quickly given to Ernst and Young to investigate.
On Blog and TVNZ Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom) has already leapt into the political crisis, it will be interesting how the ACT and other parties react, as well as how much damage that Hide will successfully deliever and most importantly if the New Zealand public actually care enough.
But speaking to the issue of Public Sector whistle blowing, there seems to be a larger problem. Why did it have to get to this point to get the allegations dealt to by the minister? Even Pat Sneddon agrees that the agreement that the executive made with the whistleblower that prevented the access to the minister was wrong.
But was the Office of the Ombudsman ever contacted? In 2001 the Ombudsman in a quarterly report stated:
The Ombudsmen’s two main roles under the [Protected Disclosures] Act are: "supplying information to and guiding anyone in the public or private sector who wishes to consider making a disclosure as to serious wrongdoing; and acting as an “appropriate authority” to whom complaints can be made".
Bell Gully also notes on their website:
To qualify as a protected disclosure under the Act the information must relate to "serious wrongdoing". This includes:
unlawful, corrupt or irregular use of public funds or public resources; acts or omissions that constitute a serious risk to public health or safety or the environment; acts or omissions that constitute a serious risk to the maintenance of law and the detection of offences and the rights to a fair trial; an act or omission or cause of conduct that constitutes an offence; or an act or omission by a public official that is oppressive, improperly discriminatory, grossly negligent, or that constitutes gross mis-management.
In addition the "whistleblower" employee must:
believe the information is true, or likely to be true; want to disclose the information so that it can be investigated; and want the disclosure to be protected.
…If the employee believes that the head of the organisation is implicated in the wrongdoing, then disclosure may be made directly to the "appropriate Authority". An appropriate Authority includes the Commissioner of Police, Solicitor-General, Ombudsman, or Director of the Serious Fraud Office.
Now, I’m also trying to figure out, if the gagging agreement signed would have been difficult to enforce if the allegations had involved the chief members of the executives of HCNZ, which the allegations above seem to have done.
[Update: Bill Hodge seems to think so, even of the agreement wasn’t devised by them, their consent was required. Strangely, I also agree with Hide, why is Helen Fulcher, the CEO of HCNZ still in her role, considering the allegations that swirl about her?]
PS: An american/ccanadian perspective on whistle-blowing is available here
PPS: The Auditor-General has now also entered the investigations, according to TVNZ.
‘Bishops call for action on climate change’
Although the article does frame the arguments they make outside of a religious context, I note this comment from the Bishop of Waikato David Moxham:
“He said some people might question whether Christian leaders should involve themselves with such issues but "God's world needs God's people to act for the redeeming of God's creation"
A while back, I blogged on a group of churches in the US who also made similar calls for climate change reform. I commented at the time about the possible split the Right may have in the US, coming up to the midterms without unanimous support being assured.
I commented on this topic in particular with a colleague, who dislikes organised religion with a vengeance. It really tore them up, to think that churches who in their eyes cheat, steal and exploit their congregations, especially those who have trouble getting enough money to survive each week, yet drive ‘fancy cars’ yet would show some leadership on issues of concern to their congregation.
The point is that organised churches can sometimes be a catalyst for social change. I still remember the Hikoi of Hope in 1998 (A google search is here), with many of my relations being a part of the march. I applaud the calls made by the Anglican Church, while we all have our own fallibilities, and we may look at many things differently it’s important to reach out to challenge important issues.
I was personally impressed with the turnout of people and the contributions from both the panel and the audience was useful.
Regarding the issue of blogger responsibility, I remember a popular US blog, Daily Kaos, is part of an group known as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who demand blogger’s rights, articulated in the United States context. Considering that the FEC also has released a series of regulations that govern how bloggers may contribute in this years midterms, the idea of imposed regulations is not something that fits in with the freedom of the internet.
Last night I suggested a voluntary, non profit, peer review organisation that will comprise of members who support a professional approach to their material, so as to convince the mainstream media, and the general public that blogs can be just as reputable in providing accurate and useful insight within the general discourse, but have the advantage of time and breadth of material that other media formats cannot possibly match. Members of this organisation must agree to a prepared charter of obligations, and it is the task of the membership to ‘peer review’ others works.
While I don’t have the clearest idea about what precisely should be a charter, these could be some elements:
Obviously some of these elements are highly subjective, but there must be allowance for those sites that do indeed have a political spin, but do contribute to the discourse.
My idea would in the end, feature a simple icon on the blog, showing that you are part of this group, a simple way for users to recognise a responsible, community based, peer reviewed system to help them select reputable blogs (or perhaps more reputable than others). It also shows that legal restrictions would and should only go so far in restraining the power of new media like blogs.
I would certainly enjoy more comments upon this topic, both positive and not so positive, but it would be a nice idea to get off the ground, for the sake of getting more people into a responsible and reasoned debate.
Questions to Ministers
1. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Prime Minister: Has she, the Prime Minister's Office or the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet received any written advice, briefing or opinion from the Companies Office or the Ministry of Economic Development in relation to the investigation into legal declarations by David Parker; if so, what were the dates and titles of all such communications?
2. H V ROSS ROBERTSON to the Minister of Transport: What advances in the UK-New Zealand Air Services Agreement have been made to allow Air New Zealand to secure a second daily service to London?
3. Hon Dr NICK SMITH to the Minister of Energy: Does he stand by the statement from the Government on 14 March that "I can assure you - no rolling blackouts this winter."; if not, why not?
4. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY to the Minister of Education: What reports has he received about the 2005 NCEA exams?
5. JOHN KEY to the Minister of Finance: Is he still committed to making progress on a single economic market with Australia?
6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Immigration: What reports, if any, has he received regarding yesterday's release of the Immigration Act Review Discussion Paper?
7. JUDITH COLLINS to the Minister of Veterans' Affairs: Does he stand by his statement that "This Government encouraged submissions to the Health Committee, and agreed to the joint working-group comprising representatives of the Ex-Vietnam Services Association, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association, and officials from the office of the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs New Zealand to address the concerns."; if so, why?
8. LYNNE PILLAY to the Minister for Disability Issues: What action is the Government taking to reduce barriers to information and services currently faced by deaf New Zealanders?
9. PANSY WONG to the Minister for Tertiary Education: Does he stand by his statement that "We have already made significant progress in improving quality and increasing participation in the tertiary education sector." in regard to senior citizens; if so, why?
10. KEITH LOCKE to the Prime Minister: What human rights issues, if any, has the Government raised with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to New Zealand?
11. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON to the Minister of Health: Will he confirm that he has now committed to a full-scale inquiry into shortcomings of care within the disability sector, or will his inquiry be confined only to shortcomings of care from the disability provider Focus 2000?12. CHESTER BORROWS to the Minister of Health: Does he have confidence that ambulance services in provincial areas are appropriately resourced to ensure community safety; if not, why not?
Questions for Oral Answer
1. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Does she still stand by her stated objective "to restore public confidence in the political integrity of Parliament and the electoral process."; if not, why not?
2. DARREN HUGHES to the Minister for Tertiary Education: Has he received any reports on reactions to the interest-free student loan scheme, which came into effect on 1 April 2006?
3. GERRY BROWNLEE to the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services: Does she share the concerns of the Auditor-General who, in his Inquiry into funding arrangements for Green Party liaison roles, stated that "there is a risk arising out of the 3 individuals being based in the Green Party's parliamentary office ... the 3 individuals may be drawn into activities outside the scope of the Vote: Ministerial Services appropriations"; if not, why not?
4. PETER BROWN to the Minister of Transport: What criteria would his Ministry follow were it to study a potential code-share agreement on trans-Tasman routes between Qantas and Air New Zealand?
5. SIMON POWER to the Minister of Police: Has she seen any recent reports about levels of violent crime?
6. TARIANA TURIA to the Minister of Fisheries: Does he agree with Northland oyster farmer and Ngati Kuri and Ngai Takoto chief executive, Ben Waitai, that in respect of the allocation of marine farming space, this Government "worries about tax evasion - this is Treaty evasion", and what will he be doing to respond to the claims that the Government's aquaculture legislation is unworkable?
7. JOHN KEY to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement to the Finance and Expenditure Committee, in relation to comments previously made by the Minister of Revenue, that, "I'm the person responsible for either having or filling fiscal holes. In the end, that buck stops literally right here."; if so, why?
8. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology: What reports, if any, has he received about Government investment in research and development?
9. Hon TONY RYALL to the Minister of Health: How is the rate of inflation in hospital costs measured, and what reports has he received on the Hospital Price Index over the past 12 months?
10. HEATHER ROY to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Does he stand by his statement that "Labour is targeting tax credits where they are needed", and does he believe a backbench MP with five children and no earning spouse should be eligible to apply for extra welfare assistance because they need it?
11. SHANE ARDERN to the Minister for Biosecurity: Can he assure New Zealand there will be no biosecurity risk as a result of a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry proposal to allow honey and bee products into New Zealand?12. MARYAN STREET to the Minister for Information Technology: What feedback has he received on the Government's promotion of information technology?
Seriously, would the fact that the cigarettes would be causing more malignancies be a factor in making chemotherapy ineffective?
I don't fault the research as much as the fact that this story seemed to make it onto Reuters. More relevant news please?
I have consistently been of the opinion that these proceedings should be freely public, especially when not everyone can make it to Parliament. It also gives a (relatively) unbiased account of what goes on in the House, and may be a catalyst for bringing House performance back as a factor in public support for political parties and members. And considering that the current state of House spin and posturing does nothing to help the level of debate, more media exposure will probably not change that element of spin mongering, but it may teach some members how to be civil in the chamber.
Molesworth and Featherston reported on Saturday;
"We hear the [parliamentary press gallery] AGM was dominated by discussion of extensions to the gallery's parliamentary office space, including a big new development to house recording studios and the yet-to-be approved unit to broadcast Parliament. We wonder if the offer of new offices might be a stalking horse to deflect criticism from the big bucks going into MPs’ vanity broadcasting venture."
So the idea of broadcasted parliamentary sessions is certainly not dead in the water yet.
On a related note, The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed two bills aimed at bringing television cameras into federal courtrooms, including the Supreme Court. The courts still have the power to exclude cameras if it interferes with due process and considering that a number of Supreme Court justices do not like the thought of cameras in the courtroom, they may yet find a way to exploit that condition.
Blogging & the Public Sector
Thursday April 6 - 5:15 - 7:00 at Archives (10 Mulgrave Street Thorndon)
New media is having an increasing impact on the way we gather and distribute information. These new technologies are providing exciting new channels for public sector communicators. To look at the impact of blogging in the public sector, we will be presenting a panel discussion featuring four Wellington bloggers who all work in the public sector. This will be a unique opportunity to hear about new media from the people who are practising it.
Archives New Zealand
10 Mulgrave Street
Light refreshments will be provided
Regarding one section in the NZPA article:
"One change would be resourcing agreements that lasted for several years to avoid fluctuations based on student numbers."
This could create problems for any institution that rapidly grows in size (in terms of student numbers), then suddenly drops as dramatically...
Anyone see a practical example coming soon?