Funding cuts, lead to difficult decisions

Hon Barbara Edmonds, MP for Mana.
This story has had 253 views!

Column by Hon Barbara Edmonds, MP for Mana.

This month, we’ll continue feeling the impact of National’s choice to make everyday life harder
for New Zealanders.
Here in Mana, I’m particularly concerned about people being unable to afford their medications,
with the $5 prescription charge returning for some people from July 1. We have heard from
people who are having to choose between medications as they can’t afford everything they’ve
been prescribed – a choice nobody should be forced to make.
Research has shown that this could increase the number of people admitted to our hospitals,
with doctors seeing more people come into A&E after not being able to afford treatments like
antibiotics, asthma medication or pain relief. This is a pressure our local After-Hours service
simply cannot undertake. We should be doing everything we can to make sure our health
system is running smoothly and wait times are kept down. Instead, National has chosen to bring
back prescription charges, repeal our anti-smoking laws and cut administration roles, leaving
stretched doctors and nurses to pick up more paperwork. I know for many in Mana, this will
raise concerns about their access to care in an already uncertain time for Kenepuru After-Hours
service.
Meanwhile unemployment, rates and rents are predicted to rise, and the National Government
has no plan to ease the cost-of-living pressure for families. Instead, National has cut thousands
of jobs in important sectors, including people working to stop child exploitation, improve our
biosecurity, keep our healthcare system running, and restore the habitats of our native and
endangered species.
Among those who have lost their jobs are families with kids to feed and experts with nowhere to
turn but abroad. Cutting thousands of jobs while spending billions of dollars on a tax break for
landlords, charter schools, and more prison beds is short-sighted and will leave our
communities worse off.
However, I would like to acknowledge the shared relief many of us will be feeling at the
Government’s back-track on Pharmac funding. Thanks to all of you, we have been able to put
enough pressure on the Government to ensure they commit to their promise to fund important
cancer drugs. Once again, this is proof that together we can rally the change we so desperately
need to see. Now it’s time for this Government to acknowledge their wrong-doing and apologise
for the distress they have caused.
Not all things are on the up though. National is making life harder for those in work too. The
recent minimum wage increase was half of what officials advised, and the minimum wage top-
up has been scrapped for hundreds of disabled workers, meaning some could be paid as low as
$2 per hour. In Government, Labour was working to end the minimum wage exemption for
people with disabilities, ensuring all workers could keep their jobs, work with dignity, and be paid
fairly for their time and effort. The National Government is also coming after sick leave for part-
time workers, despite Christopher Luxon promising during the campaign that he wouldn’t.

Rather than supporting the things our communities need and deserve – like healthcare,
prescriptions, housing, healthy school lunches, secure work, and affordable public transport –
National have chosen to make life harder for Mana.
So, as always, I continue to encourage you to reach out if you’re in need of support or want to
express your concerns. If you’d like to book an appointment or just pass on some feedback,
please email my team at: [email protected]