Labour’s Public Health announcement is a death blow to neoliberal  politics


Go hard or go home. Labour has NOT gone home!

  • All DHBs will be replaced by one national health body, Health New Zealand
  • A new Māori health authority will be created, with power to commission health services
  • A new Public Health agency will be created
  • The Ministry of Health will be bolstered and will monitor performance, and advise the Government

There are two huge take aways here.

The first is the confidence of this Labour Party to embark upon such enormous reform, you only try this if you believe you are going to win the next election.

The second is that Covid taught the entire system that the free market can’t and won’t save people and Labour have finally stepped up to that lesson. The neoliberal experiment of splintering services so that that they can’t fight back under the guise of competition and choice is dead.

This is the biggest change in Health Care for a generation and marks the greatest departure from neoliberalism we have ever seen.

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It’s no longer ‘communism by stealth’ if the entire country is shouting for it.

Now we need this courage by creating a Ministry of Works to build State Houses and reform the toxic culture inside MSD & WINZ.

This Public Health announcement makes me feel hopeful and proud.

Standing ovation for Labour.


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  1. This is big, this is real, behold the glory…its a TWOFER week for Labour, first Nanaia served it to the 5 Eyes Anglophiles with “Taniwha & Dragon”, and now this huge transformation plan for public health!

  2. BUT will they GENUINELY and properly fund it ?
    If not it is ONCE AGAIN, purely shuffling the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks.
    The DHB’s like so much of Govt agencies are ‘make work’ organisations, BUT for the middle class. Seemingly it’s NOT acceptable to the voters of NZ to do likewise for the poor and to actually CREATE something e.g. public housing, railways etc.
    BUT if the money isn’t there, and I MEAN REAL MONEY, then this is another JacindaBlair propaganda media show with ZERO substance.
    The more things change, they more they stay the same, has NEVER been more apt than under JacindaBlair LINO

        • Sam with deck chairs rearranged but under ministerial responsibility then moving onto funding en mass rather than a budget broken up into several entities all failing to meet budget targets, can hold the Govt and minister more accountable.
          When National privatised ACC with its enormous nest egg waiting to be pilfered. luckily Helen had enough backing to undo that foul blatant attempt to purposely mismanage the ACC process as we saw happening with unattended claims , stalling procedures and payouts dropping rapidly. An old story with a new chapter all about ultimate theft of the public commons.
          Now taxation needs to be increased at the higher levels of income and international flight of our money as corporate dividends levied and tax avoidance ( called minimisation ) tightened up. Greater revenue for functions of state are necessary to service the growing need left by previous govt policies and actions.
          Our national infrastructure has been neglected, PPP funding of highways privatisation of public spaces, and the falling lid on Health causes a rising health related death toll and abject misery.
          The wealthy elite have reaped their lot and now its time to allocate resources more widely.

          The National disgrace of polluted ground water, depleted rivers and wildlife with unswimable stretches in major rivers, highly polluted groundwater leading to increased cancer rates all associated with National and johkey sacking ECAN and putting in his cronies: leaves many billions owing for the taxpayer to attempt remediation of the carnage.

          People need to be told and vent their anger. MSM won’t allow their columns to take part in exposing world news let alone the local enigma

    • This qualifies as the most pointless, and self defeating attempt at relevance I’ve seen so far today.. Trust the tory wannabies to utterly fail to understand what just happened… I ask you, do people in NZ really pine for another nine years of having their money stolen, their childrens education dependent on how much money their parents have, a health system that adds to the death toll, an ACC that will leave you homeless, and still damaged if you don’t fit guidelines that are designed to shut out as many people as possible? And that is just the tip of the iceberg when we start to list the attacks on us that went on under both the Bolger/shitlet, and Key/Whatsisname governments… FFS, wake up! I get the feeling that kiwis are getting as bad as Aussies for whinging about nothing, because they lack the substance to think in any meaningful way… Of course limited intellect dictates that we assume the government is as bereft of common sense, and forward thinking as the average tory…

      • Stephan
        Taking taxes as a redistribution measure and fundin social needs is not stealing as many right wingers may prompt other to believe.
        Public education should not depend on parent assistance and yet we have let this dependence grow through both lack of funding and some purposeful malfluence.
        Acc has not recovered from the National govt pre privatisation policy of having a nest egg there to cover future needs of current cases. That nest egg should be used for deserving assistance and when it is used up then taxation continues that role.
        Pointing out need in a society with growing systemic inequity is not whinging.

        Yes FFS we should open our eyes and demand greater address of the neoliberal creation that has demolished past standards of family existence.

    • Kevin: “BUT will they GENUINELY and properly fund it ?”

      I doubt it. I spent many years working in the health sector. In all of that time, it was chronically underfunded. I hold out little hope that things will improve on that front.

      We will see how the reorganisation goes. Given this government’s ability to cock things up, I expect that it’ll be as big a shambles as everything else they’ve touched.

      I note the proposal to establish a Maori health authority. Good luck to anyone who believes that’ll make the slightest difference to the poor health stats.

  3. If they can carry it off the changes would be great for the nation and it’s citizens but this is the same government that stuffed up kiwibuild have introduced policies that have increased rents and house prices and promised Auckland erst would be travelling on a light rail system by now .
    Let’s hope the changes bring new life to a health system that is struggling due to under resourcing by succeeding government for years .

    • Maybe combine their policy and put the patients in the motel rooms with the homeless and the MIQ.

      Yay for motels! Saving our Future.

      • You’re both just a waste of space.. Attempts at wit by those who don’t possess it…
        ” stuffed up kiwibuild”. Considering that this is an ongoing program, and so far has had many people/companies attempting to sabotage it, the latest being Carter Holt Harvey choosing to export framing timber rather than selling it to builders screaming for it here… Seriously boys and girls, what will it take to get you to grow up a bit?
        “policies that have increased rents”.. Bullshit.. I’ve been looking at renting in Auckland to get closer to work, and the rents on offer are actually still dropping.. ($!0-$35 so far) It’s not he government you should be looking at, but the greedy, irresponsible arseholes who will fuck everyone up just because “they can”.. Yet more political/economic sabotage attempts by the barking dogs of the colonial power structure.. Get your snouts out of the trough, and look around. It’s not the labour party that is the enemy, it’s self serving tory arsewipes who would destroy the economy purely out of self interest…

        • Agreed mostly Sefan
          Rents need regulation after the mess of house demand after the 9 years of National allowing off shore buyers, chronically excess immigration and setting up a bonanza for the banks, all cost the families seeking housing.
          Muldoon imposed regulation around housing and NZ sorely needs rent regulation and more supervision of the conditions under which renters are forced to struggle.
          Housing should never be a commodity.

    • This is looking more like a split in the labour party. The latte Socialists had a crack in the first term and fuck’d everything they touched up.
      Now for the grown-ups, the Left within the party to take control of the wheel and teach these latte lightweights how to do shit!

      Maybe Jacinda’s day of retirement is coming sooner than we all think and she’ll be handing over the reins to Little & Co?

      Latte Lite Labour v the Left.

    • Trev the biggest stuff up with Kiwibuild was not making a return of the Ministry of Works to run and provide building of houses. Instead it was left to the private developers to land bank and not be responsible to the aims of the project.
      Anything of a large scale is potentially best handled by Govt not private for profit players.
      New NZ homes will suffer a further set back with logs going to China rather than to the NZ sawmills. Our Govt will be hard pressed to prevent our loss of logs due to WTO and the traitor neoliberal Michael Moore, acceptance of unregulated trade provisions.
      China knows full well that our logs will provide employment and opportunity to create wealth as a raw material that will be processed into high value good with relatively cheap local Chinese labour.
      Without restraints on log sales off shore imposed by the NZ govt, then timber prices could rise dramatically affecting the whole of NZ and all new houses.
      China is not silly but it appears we are and that is not China’s fault but ours.

      If all logs were sold through a govt agency then regulation could be orgasnised within international constraints.

  4. Ah…? AO/NZ’s particular iteration of ‘Neoliberalism’ isn’t politics.
    It was a label stuck to a cartel who envisaged a racket then proceeded to enact their scams and swindles on an unsuspecting AO/NZ population thus behold !? We’ve spent the last 35 + years being fucked without the kissing.
    Just because a trumped up set of laws states the this and that’s of a thing doesn’t mean it’s any less morally wrong across the political spectrum which, given the good nature of social democracies must mean that it was surely illegal and injurious to the public good despite the paper work fictions scribbled up by people educated beyond their intelligence. ( And by that I mean lawyers who were dumb enough to believe in their own greed enhanced by their ‘degrees’ which gave them a passport to appropriate our money which they convinced themselves they deserved. They operated within their own brain-fart bubbles of self aggrandisement’s while helping themselves to our money, stuff and things. Think mike hoskings but as a politician with a law degree?)
    We need to move past the whole ” Aw gee… I thought neoliberalism was a good idea? Sorry. Really sorry. I didn’t mean to fuck you all over then make off with your money while leaving a trail of societal destruction behind. Please forgive me and let me retire on hundreds of thousands? Really sorry. Didn’t mean to. ”
    How about instead go ” You’re under arrest. There will be trials and it looks like you’re going to be asset stripped and sent to prison.”
    I haven’t seen a single sign that, that’s about to change. The crooks get richer, we get older, sicker and dumber and foreign accomplices will eventually get to own our AO/NZ. 

    • “We need to move past the whole ” Aw gee… I thought neoliberalism was a good idea”
      And this is a start. We could even use the language of the cultists themselves and call it ‘rightsizing’. It’s probably more humane than what you’d have done with them, and they should probably count themselves lucky. And better it happens now than when the natives get really really restless and a Mussolini moment happens.
      Every little bit helps (said the old biddy as she spat into the ocean of neo-liberal, micro-managerialist bullshittery)

  5. Don’t overlook that there’s that report on the provision of education that still needs to be addressed. I was in despair that it had been shelved which would be a real tragedy. Maybe there is still hope that Chris Hipkins will be similarly decisive as Andrew Little.

  6. At last!!! Something big. something bold, something useful and something achievable from this govt. I salute that move wholeheartedly.

    or it could be like ‘Kiwibuild’.
    The spell binding wait to see if Labour can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! After all it is the party that never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

  8. Finally, something transformational.
    Well done Andrew.
    On ya bikes to a stream of needless bureaucrats. I understand Uber Eats and Deliver Easy are still looking for people

  9. It is about time our public health system along with some of our other bloated top heavy government agencies have not delivered for many for too long. Too much of the health dollars goes to those not actually delivering the services. And those working on the coal face are often underpaid and undervalued. We have too many layers of bureaucracy too many managers and too many foreigners in these highly paid positions who are simply not suitable. We cannot continue to do the same old day in and and day out. A recent report highlighted Maori who suffer from a traumatic event are more likely to die. Well I can relate to this my brother was in a serious work accident while driving his work truck and my sisters and I have had to fight for him to save his leg from being amputated. Just a few months ago he was very sick and unable to get out of his bed for days and unable to eat. Our youngest sister forced him to ring an ambulance to go to our local hospital, once there he was seen and quickly sent home. But our brother was very sick and should never had been sent home. My sister forced him to return to the hospital days later but this time my sister and I were there with him at the hospital and we refused to leave the hospital until he was admitted onto the wards. My brother was basically sent home to suffer and die he is only 46 years of age and he has young children dependent on him. This is but part of our story but why should we have to fight with the staff and nurses at our public hospital just so our brother can receive decent and timely treatment preventing him from becoming another bad Maori health statistic, this can wear you down and it has.

    • CIP
      Our health system is a series of DHBs all run in isolation to each other and that’s the way the neoliberal divide and rule system works.
      Our hospitals are staffed by immigrant workers as we do not train enough nurses nor health professionals in NZ and have not for some decades when user paid education was foisted onto NZ.
      Free education would change that.
      Look at a country that provides free education like Cuba. Yes you may laugh if ignorant but Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors per thousand population in the world in spite of the heavy sanctions unjustly imposed by the USA on Cuba and its traders. Cuba exports doctors to needy countries abroad.

      NZ runs a university course that is expensive and students accumulate many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete higher qualifications in the medical arena. Nurses similarly run into deep debt and our hospitals have a gross shortage of Kiwi nurses and Kiwi doctors ans specialists.

      The remedy is simple . Free medical education and bond the graduates for an equivalent time or double that,to work in the professions

      • John W: “…Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors per thousand population in the world….”

        Yes indeed. Many more people need to know the full story of Cuba. I was profoundly shocked by what I learned about it, and the US treatment of it, at uni many years ago.

        Cuba is a communist country. Which means that its health and education services are well-found and free to its citizens.

        Cuba successfully dealt with an epidemic of meningococcal disease, at about the same time as we in NZ were failing to get on top of a similar epidemic.

        Uncle Sam has always hated having a communist country so close to its mainland: hence its attempts to white-ant that polity over all the years since Castro seized power. The CIA tried numerous times to assassinate him. Unsuccessfully, of course.

    • Michelle: “My sister forced him to return to the hospital days later but this time my sister and I were there with him at the hospital and we refused to leave the hospital until he was admitted onto the wards.”

      It would be a mistake to conclude that this experience has anything to do with you being Maori. It’s a symptom of a system under serious stress from lack of funding and staff shortages.

      Many of us have been in the same situation. I and others I know certainly have. In my experience, it’s often necessary to be a forceful advocate for relatives, so as to ensure that they get proper treatment. Indeed, diagnosis in the first place.

      This happened to me with my late mother, and that was in the 1980s, almost 40 years ago. In a provincial town, to be sure, but even so. Things haven’t improved, unfortunately.

  10. All I’m seeing is more restructuring and more restructuring. More money and disruption wasted in the wrong areas.

    For a moment there, I thought I’d be seeing real progress of more hospitals housed with more doctors and nurses and making sure that they get rid of all the waiting lists for surgery.

    Looks more like they put the mega polytechnic, university merger policy and then twinked in Healthcare.

    • There is a win in just taking over the Health Baord debt that limits funding for operations and staffing. And ending that neo liberal bureaucratic monstrosity of requiring a return on capital given for buildings.

      An intelligent direction to health funding, as ACC provides with intervention to secure operations for workers so they can go back to work, in the management of illness is now more likely. The way Pharmac saw itself as doing good saving money on cheap drugs, regardless of the cost in unemployment and subsequent expensive health care provided by the Health Boards was just sad.

      • Pharmac’s role is to bargain with drug companies and through bulk commitment drive down costs, so in effect we get more drugs for money made available by govt.
        National was pressured to get rid of Pharmac.

        • John W: “National was pressured to get rid of Pharmac.”

          It was National which established Pharmac in the first place, in 1993. I doubt they’d have been too keen to disestablish it.

          It surely hasn’t been perfect, but on balance it’s been effective in what it was set up to do.

          If I remember rightly, when the US muscled its way into the TPP negotiations, the disestablishment of Pharmac was one of its demands.

          • D’E
            That was one of the avenues of pressure applied.
            Now the TPPxxx looks to be on again with Trump gone and the Biden group are assembling their onslaught.

            What National agreed to behind the scenes I don’t think has been made public although there have been leaks. The full document agreed to by NACT should be released unless I have missed that.

  11. Let’s see. The same neoliberal people in control of the 20 DHBs will slither into another role in the newly created entities. The most interesting part of the whole process is the establishment of the Maori health Authority. If 5 years after it’s creation Maori health stats haven’t moved is then the institutional racism claim not valid? It will be fascinating to watch.

    • Agreed Frank ,BUT if it means it will be free for parents to consult a medical /health professionals in a welcoming non judgmental environment then I have my fingers crossed more children will be assessed sooner and ear infections, school sores, rheumatic fever will be detected sooner. Hopefully the message about not feeding kids sugar laden foods and drinks will get thru as well. It’s worth a bloody try .

      • Shona: “…free for parents to consult a medical /health professionals in a welcoming non judgmental environment…”

        GP visits are already free for children up to the age of 14. And dental care is free for children to the age of 18.

        “….more children will be assessed sooner and ear infections, school sores, rheumatic fever will be detected sooner.”

        Given that this service is also free, I’m not sure what more could be provided by any reorganisation. No doubt there are workforce shortages, but that’s down as much as anything to chronic underfunding in the health sector. Any hope that the current government’s chucking of all the health sector cards into the air will result in more funding? I doubt it.

        “Hopefully the message about not feeding kids sugar laden foods and drinks will get thru as well.”

        What do you think the health sector’s been doing for the last 50 years at least, that I know of? In virtue of what would you think that a radical reorganisation will induce parents to listen to those messages, if they haven’t already?

        I worked long years in the health sector. I assure you: it needs another reorganisation like it needs toothache. What’s urgently needed is MORE FUNDING, applied at the so-called front line. Will that happen? Oh lord: was that a pig that just went overhead?

    • Gee five years ain’t long Frank and you expect us to turn around 150 yrs of neglect and inequities in 5 years you need to get real mate. It will definitely take longer than that and while we will see some improvements, to really make a difference it will take at least three government terms the same amount of time the national party had to deliver our brighter future.

      • The current government will get 3 terms – that is almost undoubted. Let’s see where we are at in another 4.5yrs. I’m thinking it will reflect Ramsay Bolton’s best quote as opposed to walking arm and arm down the road towards a rainbow.

  12. With the two complaints from Richard Prebble in the Herald and the countless complaints from National we all know this is a winner.

  13. Will combining all the DHBs into one Super DHB work out as well as combining all the Auckland councils into one Super City?

    • That’s my fear too. The health care company I work for centralized to Auckland – the Aucklanders who man the phones don’t seems to understand our area at all and you really feel you are a unit. The system set up by National (to privatise public health) has been riddled with leeches – grabbing the large salaries and hiring their mates in the private sector to suck more money out while contributing little. But what is being missed is the removal of white collar work in towns like Whanganui or ever Palmerston North – I cannot imagine jobs in the new agencies taking many of them.

  14. the most interesting thing is the ending of the funder/provider split. Funding and delivery within a single organisation.
    I feel like that is the biggest, most fundamental shift in thinking.

    • /agreed
      Which is another reason I’m sceptical about PSB reforms. After all the asset stripping and empire building that’s gone on on the name of ‘fishinsy and fektivniss’ they won’t go far enough – but that’s for another thread.

    • Syd: “the most interesting thing is the ending of the funder/provider split.”

      I don’t think that’s existed since the disestablishment of the CHEs and the establishment of DHBs in 2001.

      “Funding and delivery within a single organisation.”

      That’s how DHBs have functioned since their establishment, I believe.

  15. One hundred years ago in a place known as Europe, there were uprisings and liberal Democratic states and governments were overthrown by the rigged ballot or the sword or a good ole fashioned purge.

    The Politburo Health Authority emerges in NZ, just in time one hundred years late(r).

    • Oh. Who can hear the whirr from all those shredding machines at DHB HQ? 🙂

      When questioned in parliament months later by a select committee. DHB heads will say, “We advised our staff to ‘archive’ these destroyed documents.”

  16. Even just rationalising the bureaucracy and IT systems is a major benefit. And of course there goes Doktor Shane and Jude’s retirement plan – tucked up on some local DHB counting beans and lauding it all over one another. Doktor Shane is already moaning like hell while most people seem to be happy with the proposals.
    One day we might even get an ambulance service that isn’t run as a charity.
    I guess Andrew’s called in his favours and put his foot down. About time. Let’s hope it rubs off on one or two others

  17. At this point it is an announcement, a good one no doubt.
    Announcing, implementing and ultimately delivering are wards apart.

    SDHB alone the average length of time they are waiting has skyrocketed from 50 days to 134 days.

    And that is just hip replacement.

    Keep your posters of Jacinda on your walls by all means, but stop fecking kneeling in front of it.

    • You see, you just couldn’t help yourself particularly for someone self proclaimed as having no political affiliation. Your hatred of Jacinda is here for all to see.

  18. Well if they are going to actually really do something then it must be fully funded and that includes St John Ambulance that has to go begging for money every year and charge the public to actually use the service in an emergency.

    And a fully funded medical helicopter rescue service should also be included so that they can stop being a advertisement for corporate Australian banks.

    A paediatric service is desperately needed as so many vulnerable sick children can be seen before they perish waiting for life saving treatment

    Corporate sponsorship has no place in a full funded public health service !!

    I am cautiously optimistic but being the Social Democrats they are the devil will be in the detail.

    I don’t trust them an inch. Sepuloni , Faafoi , Megan Woods and Phil Twyford have been utter failures in areas that need neo liberalism purged from these services.

    And the tax working groups recommendations not being implemented showed just how traumatising it is for this social democrat government to do anything would offend the usual susupects.

    Removing socialism from the rich and giving it back to the people would be a start.

  19. If I remember correctly the DHB set up was one of competition. Market rules. Ministers in all likelihood pitting one against the other to save money, the winner being rewarded with more. That I know for sure was the operating model under National for other government departments.

    So cutting back the mindless executive duplication and all working as one may well be a very good thing. Time will tell.

    • Xray: “If I remember correctly the DHB set up was one of competition.”

      I was working in the health sector at the time. It was the CHEs – the result of an earlier reorganisation – which were intended to be in competition with one another. Hence the funder/provider split. Pharmac was established around the same time.

      The DHBs followed on, and were established in 2001 by the Clark administration. As I recall, they weren’t in competition. Their purpose was to apply funding to the health needs of their catchment populations.

      The sad thing is that they have been comprehensively underfunded from the start. As were the CHEs before them, and the AHBs before them. And the Hospital Boards before that. Nothing new under the sun, is there!

  20. It’s been a long time since I last commented on this blog.
    The problems with our public health service began in the 1980’s when the Rogernomes began the process of dismantling our public health system – a process that National gleefully picked up and accelerated in the 90’s.
    Remember the days when the first thing you saw when you entered a public hospital (sorry – I mean a “CHE”) was a sign that read “CASHIER”?
    If Labour’s reforms turns public health back from a BUSINESS to a SERVICE then go Andrew!

    • There was a period when hospitals started charging for services and sent baycorp after ” defaulters” most of whom were citizens who refused to pay.
      I received a baycorp notice and invited them to take me to court. Nothing happened then a don’t pay campaign arose forcing the DHBs to drop the charging which was announced as a magnanimous gesture but fooled few.
      So the neoliberals tried attack at the personal level charging individuals many of whom were somewhat frightened and avoided needed hospital care.
      The buggers who set the charge regime in motion should have been drawn and quartered.

      • John W: “…a don’t pay campaign arose forcing the DHBs to drop the charging which was announced as a magnanimous gesture but fooled few.”

        I remember that period: I was working in the health sector at the time.

        It was the CHEs which were charging for services. Simon Upton’s bright idea, I think: user-pays.

        Yeah, it went down with the populace like a bucket of cold sick, and the government was forced to backtrack.

        But it wasn’t the DHBs, which weren’t established by the Clark government until 2001, following the disestablishment of the CHEs.

      • John W: “…a don’t pay campaign arose forcing the DHBs to drop the charging which was announced as a magnanimous gesture but fooled few.”

        I remember that period: I was working in the health sector at the time.

        It was the CHEs which were charging for services. Simon Upton’s bright idea, I think: user-pays.

        Yeah, it went down with the populace like a bucket of cold sick, and the government was forced to backtrack.

        But it wasn’t the DHBs, which weren’t established by the Clark government until 2001, following the disestablishment of the CHEs.

  21. Lets do the job completely. Nationalise private hospitals, get rid of health insurance and have a true public health system.

  22. Pulling in control of Health and local government and Water as a step towards a “regretful’ privatisation and selling off of assets down the line.


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