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:

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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:

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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.

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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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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