The Dirty Politics of Labour’s health campaign

The Labour Party is gasping for air and in the process they’ve lost a few brain cells.

Their latest scheme is to try and convince New Zealanders that their local DHBs have experienced funding cuts under National. They have set up a web page to ‘prove’ this:


What is immediately apparent is that this is a data gathering exercise. In order to find how much National has cut from your local DHB you need to enter your full name, email address and street address and underneath all this by default is a ticked box saying “Yes! I’d like to hear more about Labour’s campaigns.”  

Anyway once you click through (having unticked the box) you get told some fairly startling (and shoddy) “facts”. This is an example:


Now we don’t need to go into all these numbers. We’ll just pick the statement “National has cut $30m from your DHB since 2010 in real terms” and absolutely tear it up in no uncertain terms. This will show you how terrible Labour is at doing their homework. By default we don’t think it is worth wasting more time re-inventing the wheel and bashing the other ‘facts’ with it.

And to make  matters worse Labour Rotorua has actually pulled this “$30 million” line out in public. Witness Labour Rotorua spitting the dummy. They’ve shown they don’t know how to use email (and for the record Phil Campbell did not send Tim’s email to Whaleoil), they also don’t know how to deal with data.


Rubbish, absurd nonsense.

First of all the fine print. What is Labour’s explanation?

In order to maintain services, Government spending has to keep up with real cost pressures, such as population growth, ageing and inflation. If increases do not keep up with this demand, this is an effective cut because there is less money to go around. It’s like when you go the supermarket, with only a little bit of extra money each year, but prices are going up faster and your family keeps growing, you end up with fewer items in your shopping trolley and growing need as time goes on.

Good. Agreed. So we’ll do this then.

In the above example, and it can be tried with DHBs across the country, Lakes DHB was funded to the following amounts since 2010 (in millions):

2010  $244,578
2011  $251,977
2012  $259,791
2013  $268,494
2014  $273,225
2015  $278,253
2016  $284,778
2017  $300,118

So the first step is to look at inflation. $244,578 million in today’s money would be $273,017 million. You can work it out yourself by using the Treasury Inflation Calculator. Note I’ve been as generous as possible to Labour in setting parameters so that they can’t fault us for not giving them a fair trial.

The next step is to adjust for inflation. It was reasonably hard to get data on population changes in the Lakes region for the given years, though I’m sure with a lot of digging it would be possible. So instead we went to national population changes which if anything should be higher than in regional New Zealand.

So factoring in population changes with inflation, the 2010 spend on health would have been $290,580 million in today’s terms.

And look! That is still $10 million less than what we’re spending today. In other words Lakes DHB has had its funding increased by $10 million in real terms since 2010.

So Labour is $40 million out on their maths. What else can we factor in? Did the Lakes DHB region grow 4 times faster than the rest of New Zealand? Did the region age overnight in some massive unexpected boom? Have they had a mini (and unnoticed) inflation crisis?

Of course not. But if Labour wanted to advance another theory we are all ears.

Now these models are always going to get slightly different results.

$1 million here, $1 million there.

But we can assure you, Lakes DHB has not had funding cut by $30 million since 2010.

The other DHBs on Labour’s website have not had their funding cut either.

New Zealand currently has the highest health funding on record and that IS when you factor in population growth and inflation.

Well done National.

You know the Labour Party is really struggling for issues when they have to make them up.

But I’m starting to think that this advertising campaign is so inherently dishonest that a complaint should be made to the Advertising Standards Authority.


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  • Spiker

    Whakatane has a brand spanking new hospital, thanks National.

  • Damon Mudgway

    Good work WO, hammer it home and watch them squirm.

  • sheppy

    The politics of smear and muck throwing, because the left have absolutely nothing to offer this country other than waste and recession. Very very sad!

    • Boondecker

      Some might bemoan we have now the most left-leaning National government ever, but its obvious
      there is some serious thought going into continuously stealing Labour’s rug from
      under them and thus chasing them off to the far left (where few others fear to tread) to seek fresh policy platforms. Labour are stuck in an unwinnable spot – and will be with the voters until they can reclaim some middle ground. So, you have to give it the powers that be in the National Party. They are the real strategists – very quiet and simply clever.

  • Woody

    In the House, members are not allowed to say that another member is lying but have you noticed how often John Key and Jonathan Coleman have said in reply to Labour members that they are “Making things up”, in other words, lying. This fits right in there with stuff that is made up.

  • RightofSingapore

    What about the fact that there are more surgeries, procedures and tests than ever before along with more drugs? Is the current funding keeping up with new advances in medicine? If there are more procedures, tests etc to fund, then the question arises as to whether there is enough funding to cover them all and whether these funding increases are keeping up.

    • Damon Mudgway

      I think the fact will always remain you could always spend more. I would like to see less taxpayer dollar being spent on corporate welfare and more on the core services the government of the day is supposed deliver. Frozen budgets for Police and eductaion ain’t helping anyone.

      • SlightlyStrange

        If there was a significant drop in the spends on corporate and general welfare, the first places I would want it spent are health, education, and emergency services (our ambos need a BIG chunk more funding a year to even break even. Its a disturbing state of affairs)

    • ReginaldWellingtonJnr

      How much does that factor in general inflation? We know the cost of all services rise over time and that was factored into above numbers. How much more than inflation has the cost of individual treatments increased? On raw numbers MoH seems to be doing more than in 2010 so I’d suspect some things are cheaper or more efficient. Besides a positive statement by Labour needs positive evidence, not assumptions.

    • ReginaldWellingtonJnr

      In nominal terms that is also why National has increased their budget by $56 million since 2010.

  • Yellow Admiral

    Haven’t airlines and other organisations recently been pilloried for having pre-selected choices on their web pages? And the box and description on the Red ad is so small most people will overlook it …

  • Bartman

    A complaint is absolutely necessary – for how important is the governance of our country compared to specific industry sectors where such blatant miss-leading been castigated and remedied! The Labour leadership should be flogged in the village square for this – the only mitigation is that the vast majority of us simply ignore Labour crisis calls at every turn.

  • Jude

    Goodness I hope they are not copying and pasting those email addresses and calling them “Members” . I do not believe there is a law that dictates membership fees, they could be “free memberships!

    • JEL51

      When I was in my twenties (an age ago now) I was even back then, an ‘anyone-but-labour’ thinker which drove a friend to ‘gift’ me membership to their cause. I am not sure how long the membership lasts but it has done nothing to persuade me to ever vote for them.

    • Boondecker

      Wouldn’t surprise with Labour their current state. In the ‘old days’ of the internet, that kind of thing was described as a scam and laws were passed to stop it. Ask for contact details and then claim them as members or, at the very least, supporters? That’s just plain being dishonest. Somethings never change.

  • Rick H

    A man drives his car to and from work each day. he has a 40 mile round trip. His car gets 20 miles to the gallon. he uses 2 gallons a day, 10 per week, and 212 Gallons a year, taking into account the 4 weeks he stays home.

    At first, the petrol was only $1.00 per gallon, so he spent $212.00 that year on petrol.

    Over the years, the price went up. he has worked at the same place for 20 years, and finally the cost became 8.20 per gallon, (exactly what we pay now) that would be a yearly cost of $1728.40. He has just changed jobs, and now has to drive 50 miles a day return; so from now on he would be paying 25% more – $2,173.00 per year.

    He sat and pondered this for a while, and decided to sell his car and buy one that used less fuel. He settled on a nice, smaller car, but one that was still comfortable, and actually did 40 miles per gallon; cutting his annual cost for fuel in half. Now only costing $1086.50. With the $1086.50 saving on fuel, he was now able to take his wife somewhere nice for the holidays.

    Labours way – spend more for the same result

    Nationals Way – spend the same as Labour, but get far more for it.

  • Wheninrome

    Can we fill in Andrew Littles name and email address and untick the box or is that against the rules, could be funny though.

    • SlightlyStrange

      I gather it has been done before, when they were digging for stories on poverty and overcrowding.

  • Technomage

    Seems as though Labour doesn’t care about the Chatham Islands!

    • Second time around

      That will be in Andrew Little’s safe Rongotai electorate when Annette King moves over for him.

  • Wheninrome

    Cuts for the elderly, not from my experience, the NDHB did everything they cou,d to keep my elderly 96 year old mother in her home, morning, afternoon visits help with meals, showering, security checks, meals on wheels, she had to pay for her meals on wheels, $4.00 a meal, seriously. However ultimately she has gone into a resthome as a full paying resident. The government would prefer you stay in your own home, cheaper for the tax payer and nicer for the person. Don’t tell me they don’t care, I could not have dealt with a nicer more caring group of people during the needs asessment period, a stressful time for all.
    The taxpayer gets value there and should be reassured when their time comes, if National is still in power.

    • NZ_Stormer

      My 83yo father-in-law who lives with us has had treatment for cancer and had complications. The level of care he had was outstanding when in hospital and the offers of home visits etc was also very good.

      I would also say that the Cancer Society was also fantastic in the level of support and assistance they offered. Volunteer drivers took him to hospital every day for 7 weeks and took a lot of pressure off us.

      Perhaps we should recognise that we do have a very good health service that is in good “health” and getting better despite what the naysayers would have you believe.

      • KGB

        I care for my 81 year old Dad, 80% of the time. He is terminal.
        I cannot believe how wonderful our health system is. I struggle at times and there is always someone to listen, let alone help.
        One could easily consider a lot that is done for Dad would be ‘good money after bad.’ But I have never experienced any penny pinching behaviour.
        I often wonder if I live on the same planet as these fools.

  • Second time around

    If health was delivered in exactly the same way now as it was in 2010 or 2004 when Annette King was minister it would be a valid concern. However there is no longer the expense for airfares to ship cancer patients off to Australia for radiology when our systems couldn’t cope or one of the unions was on strike. Treatments have changed, chemotherapy even replacing some dramatic, expensive but ultimately unsuccessful cancer surgeries. It is less likely that patients will receive the wrong medications because of better IT.

    Nostalgia is good, but so is progress.

  • Anthony

    That para mid way thru should say ” The next step is to adjust for population growth”.

    So where are Labour’s calculations? They may have some technical reason like health costs rising faster or something but I’m sure most people will read it that the government is cutting spending – Helen Kelly was trying to run the same line on TV this morning.

    • ReginaldWellingtonJnr

      We obviously don’t know their numbers nor their working. That is part of the problem. If they want to use secret methodology or data then they can show their workings.

  • Of course, the easiest way to tackle this nonsense is to ask Labour if they will increase health funding by $1.7 billion and, if so, where would the money be coming from?

    • ReginaldWellingtonJnr

      1. Yes
      2. Corporates and the rich.

      • Sounds familiar. That’s one single promise and you are already at a top tax rate of 45%.

      • XCIA

        Don’t forget all of us caught in the middle.

      • WBC

        Remember, the “rich” is everybody who is not signed up to a union.