Kate Hawkesby: When will Government stop talking and start doing?

Author
Kate Hawkesby ,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 13 February 2019, 7:03a.m.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

(An earlier version of this editorial unintentionally left out appropriate attribution. This has now been corrected.) 

COMMENT:

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has gone full noise on a Capital Gains Tax, saying we need to question whether the Government deserves to be re-elected if it doesn't implement one.

We're still waiting for the Government's decision on this. The tax working group was one of the first commissioned big working groups, and yet it'll be April before we know definitively on any CGT.

Which leads me to another commissioned inquiry - mental health. That inquiry handed in its report last November, off the back of more than 400 meetings around the country and about 5000 submissions.

So what's happened since then?

Well, a new working group's been appointed. Why? Good question.

Because there was criticism that the original 21-member group tasked with advising the Government on how to act on these findings was stacked with too many officials. Too many people with vested interests of DHBs, but not enough people actually living with any grass roots experience of mental illness.

So it's been replaced. With what? Well, more working groups. Are we not just repeating the exercise? Will this not just be a duplication of the work already done?

More concerning, will this now delay any implementation of the recommendations? Is this more bureaucracy for the sake of it?

You can change the makeup sure, but let's be honest, we're just adding more working groups here.

Which begs the question: when does this Government stop talking and start doing?

It's due to formally respond to the inquiry in March – so in matter of mere weeks, but it needs to act on advice.

Where is that advice now coming from - and will it get to them in time? The timeline on the recommendations being implemented is between March and June of this year.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson's raised concerns. He says it looks a bit like going back to the drawing board. He puts it down to "a learning curve from the ministry in re-engaging with these issues".

As reported by Jessica McAllen for RNZ; "there's also confusion among those in the mental health sector around why the Government needs to seek more answers - when that was the whole purpose of the inquiry in the first place". 

Which is not dissimilar to the tax working group which reported back, and was then told to go away and try again on Capital Gains.

So what have we got?

Working groups still working, new working groups replacing working groups already put in place, and more chat around whose in the working groups.

Surely in this, the PM's self proclaimed 'year of delivery', the rhetoric, the talk, the working groups and inquiries, need to start wrapping up.  And we need to see some definitive action.

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