Friday, November 19, 2021

Michael Bassett: Racially Charged Healthcare

If you want proof that Jacinda Ardern’s is the most racist government in New Zealand’s history, just take a look at the proposed legislation for the new health structure. The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill was sent to a select committee concerns itself almost exclusively with Maori health. Maori are mentioned in most clauses of the legislation. The health of 17% of the population seems to be the only concern of this government. 

Pacific Islanders get a look-in briefly, the Minister being required to produce a specific strategy for their health. But all the rest of us who make up 70% of the people are never mentioned, and are dismissed at one point as “the other populations”. By the time Maori health providers have been accommodated in the new health structure which is amazingly top-heavy and bureaucratic, there won’t be any room for Pakeha or Asian input on anything. The Bill is a further indicator that Jacinda Ardern regards Pakeha as interlopers of whom her government is contemptuous. Like so much else, it too has Nanaia Mahuta’s malign influence stamped all over it. She has become Rasputin to the Tsarina, intent on running a faltering ministry.

I started out reading the legislation thinking that there needed to be some kind of re-jig on Maori health, given the reluctance of more than 20% of them to get vaccinated against Covid, while the rest of us who have had our two jabs sit around waiting for them to come to their senses. Then I got to Section 7 of the Bill setting out the “principles” that should guide the new health legislation. “Equitable” access to services, yes; “equitable levels of service”, yes. But achieving “equitable health outcomes” for all, especially Maori, is demonstrably impossible. With more than 50 % of the new cases of Covid being Maori whose vaccination rate has fallen far behind everyone else’s, and with Maori leaders pleading with their fellow Maori to step up and get jabbed having little apparent effect, the health system would need to concentrate all its energy on the 17% before there is anything left for “the other populations”.

Achieving “equitable outcomes” in health or indeed in any area of life, is an impossibility. Always has been, and always will be. First, we aren’t all born with equal intelligence; we don’t all have parents who care about us; and up to 40% of Maori children are truant on any normal school day. But if all children got their ante-natal jabs, were cared for, got to school, made an effort, and passed their exams, they still wouldn’t have equitable outcomes in life, either amongst themselves, or with other racial groups. DNA and sheer luck play big parts in peoples’ lives. So, if the government persists with Section 7 (1) (a) (iii) of the Bill and gives achieving equitable health outcomes priority then the whole expenditure of $24 billion on Health is in jeopardy. Not even the resourcing of “Kaupapa Maori”, or “culturally safe services” reflecting an undefined “Matauranga Maori” in the delivery of services will produce equitable outcomes for them, let alone for all Kiwis.

But this is only part of the story with this racist legislation. The proposed Board of Health is clearly to be subservient to the stand-alone Maori Health Authority which the Minister is bound to take advice from. The new Co-Chair of that Authority is formidably well qualified and has plenty of relevant experience, but the levels of influence built in below her are a real worry. While the Minister can hire or fire members of the two parallel authorities in this racially charged system, there are lots of other ways Maori can challenge his/her decisions. The Maori organisations the minister must (not “may”) consult are legion. A host of Hauora Maori Advisory Committees and Iwi Maori Partnership Boards will govern ministerial functions. These requirements beggar belief. Anyone connected today with the delivery of health services knows how problematic it is getting suitably qualified Maori for boards or advisory committees, and how it is even harder to get those who are chosen, to attend on any given day. I see no sign in the Bill of any ministerial power to dock attendance fees for members who don’t turn up.

And what about the rest of us? With Covid preoccupying so much ministerial and DHB time these days, what is planned for the delivery of the huge array of health services needed by the rest of us? Amidst all the ways in which Maori can challenge ministerial decisions or protest about failures, where are the rights for non-Maori – the “other populations” – to do the same?

Better to scrap the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill and start again with inclusive legislation. Better again to shrug off our modern-day Rasputin whose malign influence has become the hallmark of Jacinda Ardern’s ministry.

Historian Michael Bassett, a Minister in the Fourth Labour Government, blogs HERE.


DeeM said...

How to ruin your country.
Focus to the point of exclusivity on the ethnic group which performs worst in virtually every societal measure. Encourage them to take up benefits and shirk work but then give them control of all government bodies and funding, and a veto over all non-Maori decision making.
Ignore the vast majority but expect them to pay for EVERYTHING.

Even communism wasn't this bad! This is apartheid, pure and simple. But it's much worse than that. In apartheid regimes, bad as they were, the most able group took charge, as you would expect. We are handing over everything to the least competent and most entitled, after years of being told how hard done by they've been.

This is recipe for catastrophe and the perfect way to turn a good country into a third-world economic basket case, rife with racism and division. Can't see kind and caring anywhere in this scenario!

Doug Longmire said...

Well said, Michael.
I completely agree with you Dee. The destruction of our nation is under way.

Janine said...

We cannot return our country to a democracy devoid of racial overtones unless we have a political party to get behind.

I say to National and Act on behalf of the "other New Zealanders" and to quote Charles Dickens " Barkis is willing".

If they don't take notice then, in my opinion, they are not worthy to even be in Parliament.

Fred H said...

National and ACT must state unequivocally that they will repeal ALL race-based legislation when elected. Without that commitment, which must be set in stone, neither party is worth voting for -- in addition to the Communist and the Greens, of course.

Jigsaw said...

We need a political party that will commit to legislating a 'colour-blind' country- that is a country where all laws and regulations do NOT have any mention at all of race or ethnicity of any sort in them.
As far as I can see this will be the only way that we can draw back from the abyss that is front of us right now.

Lesley Stephenson said...

Health, fresh water, seashore and seabed, air waves, media, govt depts,land,universities. The list of control and/or preferences for Maori just keeps getting bigger by the week. Roll over all you hard working people....your time is up. Don't think another political party will come to your rescue. What's done before the next election will remain. Maori are on a roll now with this Govt accepting everything the Maori caucus says.

Geoffrey said...

I reject the notion that there can be multiple populations within a single nation. There might be several ethnic groups but not populations, hence the power of the declaration within the Treaty of Waitangi, “we are now one people”. Maori activists cannot have it both ways. They cannot be permitted to demand equality on the one hand but special privilege on the other.

The obligation of the authorities to “take” advice from Uncle Tom Colby and all might be acceptable if I did not think that the term “take” would rapidly morph into “accept”.