“If Labour wants to end unfair differences in access to healthcare, it should start with the racial lottery it is deliberately creating,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.
“Today in Parliament I revealed that pregnant mothers are receiving $50 prezzy cards simply for turning up to pregnancy assessments and 6-week assessments. The catch? You have to identify as Māori to get the prezzy card.
“The funding for this divisive policy has been taken from Community Services Card funding. Labour is taking money from a scheme which benefits the economically vulnerable, to give it to a scheme which exclusively benefits mothers from one ethnic group.
“I asked Associate Health Minister Willow-Jean Prime why the Government is giving out incentive payments defined by race, rather than need. Despite me putting the question to her on notice and her having an entire day to prepare, she didn’t have any idea what I was talking about, and instead referred to free pregnancy assessments.
“This is sadly a classic example of what’s happening everywhere in the bureaucracy: arguing over identity rather than solving problems. We need to tell the public service that treating people differently based on race is lazy and divisive – they must get better at targeting need equally.
“Using ethnicity to prioritise healthcare is lazy and divisive and it’s not who we are as a country. New Zealanders are frustrated that people get access just because of who their ancestors were. If that isn’t the very definition of a lottery, I don’t know what is.
“ACT will address the causes of poor health outcomes, by investing in education, by making it easier to build affordable housing, and by properly funding healthcare – especially primary healthcare – so that everybody – including Māori and Pacific people – can see a doctor when they are unwell and can get help to live a healthy lifestyle.
“Labour never asked New Zealanders if they wanted access to public healthcare to be determined by ethnicity, and even now they won’t be open about the extent to which ethnicity determines access. ACT, on the other hand, will be direct with Kiwis – no ACT Government will use ethnicity to determine access to public healthcare.”