What progress has the Government made in reinvesting in New Zealand hospitals?
I am pleased to announce that the Government has today approved a $36.7 million redevelopment of Wairau Public Hospital at Blenheim. This is just the latest chapter in Labour’s reinvestment in public hospitals, which is the largest hospital programme in New Zealand’s history. This is what can be achieved when a Government invests in communities, instead of pouring money into reckless tax cuts.
Does the Government plan to invest in any other hospital building projects?
Yes, we do. I am also pleased to announce today that the Government has committed nearly $30 million for the redesign of Wanganui Hospital. I recognise the member’s diligent attention to the progress of this project, as does my predecessor, the Hon Annette King. The redesign will ensure that people in Wanganui have access to the world-class health system services that they deserve.
The member was hesitating. He was not in the middle of his question. The member needs time. Just give him the space and time to ask his question.
Will the unbudgeted $517,000 that the Whanganui District Health Board had to spend due to the ministry’s delay in approving this capital spending eventually be met by the ministry, or will this lead to a cut of half a million dollars in surgical services in Wanganui?
The member apparently does not understand, notwithstanding the fact that he is the current representative of the electorate, that this hospital is being built in partnership. The partnership is between the Whanganui District Health Board and the New Zealand Government. It is a partnership that is vibrant, that will be successful, and that could not have been successful had that member’s party won the election. Only 9 months ago he stood on the hustings and said: “We can afford tax cuts.” Now he has the gall to stand up in this House and ask: “What about a hospital?”. He can have the hospital, but only because the Labour Party won the election.
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Can we now take it that you have ruled that if a member asking a question pauses between being called and beginning to speak, interjection during that period is perfectly reasonable?
Yes, it is the interjection on the member speaking that is the purpose that lies behind it. Obviously, that member needed time to be able to think of his question in the light of previous answers.
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Those rulings also apply to interjecting on the Speaker while she is giving a ruling. In the middle of your ruling, Madam Speaker, Mr Gerry Brownlee shouted towards the back benches. I do not know whom to and why, but that clearly is out of order.
Yes, it is out of order. I would ask the member to take note of that and to please desist.
Could the Minister tell the House what plans there are—[ Interruption]
I am sorry, but there was an interjection when the member was speaking. Can the House please settle. I know it is members’ day. As I said, the purpose of the Standing Order is so that we can hear the question. Would the member please get on with his question.
I would like to, Madam Speaker. I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The problem I have is that I am not going to start my question while that raucous noise is coming from the other side of the House. I believe it is your responsibility to ensure that there is a platform on which members can ask their questions.
Could the Minister tell the House what plans there are for upgrading Kaitāia Hospital and indicate the planned costs of this upgrade, and has this been the outcome of the diligence of the MP for that area?
There are two members of Parliament in that area. I have heard from neither of them in respect of the Kaitāia Hospital upgrade. However, I can assert that my colleague the Hon Dover Samuels continues to stay on my back. I am pleased to be able to report to him and to the rest of the House that the Kaitāia Hospital upgrade is proceeding according to plan, and we should be pleased about that.
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. There was no way I could hear the answer to that question. I asked the question because I was after some information, but because of the noise from that side of the House, I was not able to hear it. I ask that the answer be repeated.
Two members of Parliament serve the area surrounding Kaitāia. I have heard from neither of them. I have, however, heard repeatedly from my colleague the Hon Dover Samuels, who has been on my back over this issue—and, I am sure, on my predecessor’s back—for long enough. The Kaitāia Hospital redevelopment is proceeding apace. The cost the member asked about is, I think, a little over $8 million. The latest phase—which, as I recall, was upgraded maternity services—was completed only a few weeks ago, and we should be pleased about that.