'Weasel Words'

‘Weasel words’ – The Dominion Post: local, national & world news from Wellington’s daily newspaper

The DomPost has bothered where John Armstrong hasn’t, to actually read the report and they have come to the same conclusion I have. It is nothing but weasel words.

A report on conflicts of interest at Hawke’s Bay District Health Board skirts key issues and “completely exaggerates” board failings in an attempt to clear Peter Hausmann of any wrongdoing, its former chairman says.

Kevin Atkinson, sacked with the rest of the board last month, says the “weasel word” report is a “whitewash in every sense of the word”. He urges the auditor-general to investigate.

Their editorial is even stronger.

It will be the fervent hope of Health Minister David Cunliffe and Director General of Health Stephen McKernan that the report, released yesterday, into conflicts of interest at the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board ends speculation about why Mr Cunliffe sacked the former board and appointed a commissioner to run health services in the region. It is a hope that is doomed to disappointment, writes The Dominion Post.

The editor reiterates that the DomPost has been silenced by court orders at the behest of Hausmann and the D-G of Health. Clearly they don’t believe in transparency. Annette King cops a flogging albeit by insinuation.

But given the disquiet created by the sacking of the board just 72 days after it was elected, the existence of a substantially different draft report, the contents of which the National Party has begun dripfeeding in Parliament but which The Dominion Post has been prevented from reporting by lawyers acting on behalf of the director-general of health and Mr Hausmann, and the relatively narrow focus of the inquiry, the report will not be the end of the matter.

The board was clearly remiss in its handling of conflicts of interests. Quite possibly it deserved to be dismissed. But the wider question of whether or not Mr Hausmann should ever have been appointed to the board has not been addressed. Nor has management’s role in the debacle.

Mr Cunliffe has achieved the remarkable feat of uniting public opinion in the Hawke’s Bay on a health issue, but it is not a feat for which his Labour colleagues will thank him. There is a sense of aggrievement in Hawke’s Bay and it is not a sense that will be assuaged by a report into some, but not all, the causes of the health board’s troubles.

The region has been poorly served by the board, board staff and government ministers.The only beneficiaries are the National MPs campaigning to retain the Napier and Tukituki electorates later this year.

Yes indeed, there will be few party votes for Labour this election in the Hawke’s Bay, that alone may swing the election for National. This story isn’t done yet and he next phase will be launched in parliament this afternoon.

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