Prime Minister Pre-Budget Announcement At Wellington Regional Hospital with Health Minister Tony Ryall
By Mark P. Williams
Today the Prime Minister gave a pre-budget announcement at Wellington Regional Hospital; he was accompanied by Health
Minister Tony Ryall.
He announced a number of new initiatives which came to an investment of $101m over four years which will be largely
funded by an increase in prescription charges and other savings within the health sector.
Under the changes, prescription charges would increase from $3 to $5 for the first 20 prescriptions per year; after that
they would be free. The Prime Minister emphasised that the level of prescription charges in New Zealand remained one of
the lowest among comparable nations; lower than both the United Kingdom and Australia.
The Health Minister spoke of investments in surgery and cancer diagnosis and treatment. The Minister said that the
government had increased elective surgery operations by 27,000 extra operations over the last five years and intended to
increase this further. He said that he intended to increase availability of cancer treatment including investment in
dedicated nurses who would act as first points of contact and case coordinators for cancer patients.
The Minister emphasised that the increase in prescription costs was limited to the first twenty items only, adding that
no family need pay more than $40 per year for prescriptions.
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Questions on Health
The PM was asked what allowances would be made for beneficiaries; he stated that this was the first increase in
The PM was asked how much of the spending on health would be coming from cuts in other departments and other areas
The PM and Health Minister were asked about the legal implications on recent legal judgments on payments for family
members acting as carers for disabled or aged relatives
The Minister was asked if the increased prescription charges constituted a cut to frontline medical services—both the
minister and PM emphatically rejected this
The PM was asked questions about similar changes to education and other areas
The PM was asked about whether he would support gay marriage; he said that it was not his number one issue and
reiterated that he considered economic issues to be larger priorities but indicated that he was not personally opposed
to gay marriage.
The PM was asked why he was making changes to labour laws; he said that it was the fulfilment of policies the National
Party had campaigned on: including allowing partial reductions for partial strikes, and removing the 30 day rule that
forces non-union members to take union terms and conditions—the only new change was in the period of time allowed for
unions or employers to initiate collective bargaining.
The PM was then asked whether he felt it was likely that New Zealand would be going into recession, he said that nothing
he had seen indicated that this was the case