Dean under fire over hospital
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean denies she has ‘‘misled’’ the public in her efforts to get funding from government for the Maniototo Hospital rebuild.
In Maniototo Health’s latest newsletter, its says although the redevelopment was going ahead and a project manager - Sam Cadden of Logic Group - had been engaged, they were still short of the amount needed to complete the job. However, they praised Dean for her efforts to lobby government on their behalf.
Dean’s lobbying efforts have been questioned, based on information released under the Official Information Act. The OIA reveals the Minister of Health, Dr Jonathan Coleman, has not had any formal or informal meetings with Dean regarding the Maniototo rebuild from May 25, 2016 to May 25, 2017.
‘‘The Minister of Health does not hold any notes, emails, communications nor has he had any formal meetings with Ms Jacqui Dean - MP for Waitaki and Hon Stephen Joyce - the Minister of Finance in regard to government funding available for the Maniototo Hospital rebuild.’’
Maniototo Hospital bosses declined to comment on the OIA response. However, Central Otago farmer and former politician Gerry Eckhoff said Dean had ‘‘totally misled the residents of the Maniototo and indeed the wider electorate with her comments that she is lobbying colleagues and working hard on this issue’’.
‘‘Her statements that she is in touch with ‘‘colleagues’’ are clearly a gross distortion of the reality as exemplified by the OIA.’’
Dean said she had worked closely with Maniototo Health Services chairman Stuart Paterson and continued ’’to work hard for the people of the Maniototo to ensure they get the best possible outcome for health services in their area’’.
‘‘While no formal meetings regarding Maniototo Hospital have been held, I do meet informally with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, on a weekly basis.
‘‘My role is to advocate on behalf of the people of the Maniototo and I believe that I am doing the best that I can because I genuinely understand that Maniototo Hospital is a significant project for the area. To date, I have not been successful in my endeavours, but that doesn’t mean that I have given up trying.’’
❚ Candidates talk health, page 7
The Maniototo Hospital that the community is replacing with a modern, purpose-built facility.