The Informer - March 2016

Columns
Saturday, March 12, 2016

Should we change our flag? The flag debate is hotting up as we get closer to decision time about our whether we retain or change our flag. This is the first time we as individual New Zealanders have had a chance to have a say in what flag we should have.

Whatever your view I urge you to complete the voting paper which you will have received by now and return it by the 24 March.

Superannuation and Family Support Increases: The National government has made an iron clad commitment to keep the retirement age at 65 and to keep the rates of superannuation and pensions for veterans at 66 per cent of average incomes. As a result there will be a 2.73 per cent rise this year for both married couples and those living alone.

However we are also aware that families need support and the $25 per week Child Hardship Package announced in last year’s Budget will take effect on the 1 April along with increased support for low income working families. Over half a million children will benefit from these changes.

Leave Drug Decisions to Pharmac: I am very sympathetic to melanoma patients who are undergoing treatment and recognise that the expensive new drug Keytruda would be beneficial to some sufferers.

Keytruda clinical trials have examined 8 months’ worth of data. For one-in-three patients there was a clear benefit, but not for the remaining two-thirds. This demonstrates to me that more data is required

Pharmac are involved in complex commercial negotiations with a number of drug companies who supply similar medicines. Keytruda is not the only one.

I stand behind the decision-making process of Pharmac. They have to consider all patients to ensure the best spend of the health dollar to benefit all New Zealanders. There may be some good news in the May  Budget as the National government has substantially increased health spending in every budget since 2009 and I suspect the next one will be no different. Indeed Prime Minister John Key made public comments along those lines last week. This year’s Budget will be presented on May 26th by Finance Minister Bill English.

Please never hesitate to make contact with me if I can be of assistance with any matter. For an appointment you can phone my electorate office on 07 868-3529. email: mpcoromandel@parliament.govt.nz