HAS THE WANNABE LEADER CULLEN SNAPPED?

  • Winston Peters
Treasurer

Labour's Dr Cullen got it wrong yet again when he hurriedly issued a press release today claiming the Treasurer refused to rule out new user charges and means testing for health services.

Let me reiterate, what I clearly told the House of Representatives this afternoon in response to Mr Cullen's question:

"This Government is committed to a sound, accessible public health system that delivers the best quality health care possible."

How anyone can interpret this as ruling in new user charges and means testing for health services, is completely beyond me.

"Perhaps Mr Cullen hasn't been getting the medical attention he clearly needs," said Mr Peters.

For the record, the following is what I told the House of Representatives in response to Mr Cullen's question this afternoon:

Question:

Given the views expressed by the Prime Minister yesterday in his speech to the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, is he proposing to include measures to introduce income or asset testing or other user charges in the public health system into next year's or future budgets?

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Hon Winston Peters (Treasurer) replied:

What the Prime Minister said in his speech was that "there is a moral as well as an economic imperative that we adopt a more focussed approach based on the simple premise that help should go to those who need help."

I agree with that point. I also agree with the point made by the Prime Minister in his speech that "it may not always make sense to target a particular programme" and that "there may be good public policy reasons for wide coverage."

Decisions on future Budget measures have yet to be taken an in any case, the context on next year's Budget and future Budgets is not available for disclosure now.

I want to reiterate this Government's commitment to a sound, accessible public health system that delivers the best quality health care possible.

Supplementary Question:

Will the Government remain committed to improving the public health system?

Answer:

Yes. I can give this House a strong assurance that the Government will continue to be strongly committed to improving the public health system and to providing it with the necessary resources for making those improvements.