Off the Agenda

Written By: - Date published: 5:56 pm, December 7th, 2008 - 10 comments
Categories: john key, Media - Tags:

Well, if that was the best they could manage for the final Agenda then we haven’t lost much. There was one decent question in an hour. That was from the business editor of the Press asking Rodney Hide why if people wanted their councils owning local assets and bringing in a profit that wasn’t a good thing – it sparked a serious and nuanced answer from Hide and a good counterpoint from John Roughen. Other than that is was an absolute waste of my Sunday morning. Guyon Espiner, once again, wasted a great opportunity by not asking good questions. I mean, Key is about to push through a series of laws under urgency yet Guyon did not ask any critical questions about those laws. One would have through he might have said:

-‘why is it a good idea to take tax cuts away from the working class?’,

-‘why is it a good idea to pay for tax cuts for the rich by cutting Kiwisaver in half’,

-‘you’re going to put through legislation requiring Pharmac to fund Herceptin for 12 months, why are you more qualified to decide that should be the priority for the limited funds available for subsidising cancer drugs than Pharmac’s medical experts?’

But, no. Instead we got the usual crap that has passed for the best political interview show on New Zealand TV. Maybe Guyon missed the press gallery consensus that emerged last week: the honeymoon is over, Key’s incompetent handling of his foreign affairs tests saw to that – even Fran O’Sullivan admits as much.

Key enjoyed his free ride and reverted to his campaign lines. But there’s a danger for him in that. He doesn’t sound prime ministerial he sounds like he’s still spinning. One day, he’s going to get a hard interview, be forced to answer some tough question (I know, you’re laughing, but just because it hasn’t happened in the two years since he became National leader doesn’t mean it won’t happen some day) and all this patsies are not putting him in a good place to deal with it when it comes.

So, good-bye Agenda. I would like to say I will miss you but I won’t. Let’s hope TV1 comes up with something decent to replace it. For starters, lets not have a reporter do the interviewing, have someone like Kim Hill, a proper interviewer. And change the format. No more time wasting with whichever pair of rightwing commentators are available that week asking dumb questions and stupid bits at the dairy. Let’s try to do something like the BBC’s Hardtalk, a single, in-depth interview with an interviewer who really knows their stuff. Now, that would be worth getting up for on a Sunday morning*.

*[although, surely we could get a decent time slot too, how about getting rid of just one of those ghastly ‘Downsize my New Zealand’s next top house’ shows that dominate primetime]

10 comments on “Off the Agenda”

  1. higherstandard 1

    “‘you’re going to put through legislation requiring Pharmac to fund Herceptin for 12 months, why are you more qualified to decide that should be the priority for the limited funds available for subsidising cancer drugs than Pharmac’s medical experts?”

    Pharmac’s medical experts in this area CaTSoP (The Cancer Therapeutics Subcommittee) support the full regimen rather than the short regimen funded in NZ.

    Yes let’s do hard talk how about Cullen and Street are the first to be interviewed in relation to ACC ?

  2. HS. Yeah, but that committee is overruled by the next level up, who say there’s only so much resource to go round and Herceptin isn’t a good use of that money. In fact, I’m the head of Pharmac, who is a doctor, said if they were given the cash to fund Herceptin additional to their current funding their are other drugs he would rather fund instead.

    Herceptin is only an issue because breast cancer has strong lobby groups and other illnesses don’t

  3. rjs131 3

    SP

    The head of PHARMAC is not a doctor.

    I think you may be referring to Peter Moodie who is PHARMAC’s medical director – a part time GP. PHARMAC’s current CEO is a career bureaucrat prior to joining PHARMAC, he worked in various sectors including fisheries (fisheries science), transport (policy analysis), social welfare (forecasting and cost modelling), and the Treasury (tax analysis) – he is also one of the more arrogant sods I’ve had the displeasure of meeting in the health sector…… most of PHARMAC’s staff are excellent and do a good job in which invariably they will be unable to keep the public and the medical profession happy.

    “Herceptin is only an issue because breast cancer has strong lobby groups and other illnesses don’t”

    No more accurately Herceptin is more of an issue than many other medications which remain unsubsidised in NZ because breast cancer has strong lobby groups and certain other illnesses don’t.

    I’m sure there are other medications they would like to fund instead of Herceptin as I agree with PHARMAC that it’s very expensive in relation to the benefit it offers perhaps they should detail where they would like to see the money spent instead so the medical profession could have a rational debate on the relative merits.

  4. rjs131. Maybe it was the medicial director who I saw then. It was an article in the dom I think.

    Anyway, the point stands, Herceptin is not a good use of limited resources and the fact that National/ACT is prepared to change the law to overrule PHARMAC should be at least questioned.

  5. higherstandard 5

    SP CatSoP are Cancer and Haematology specialists the next level has no-one with specialist expertise in those areas even so that next level up is often overruled by PHARMAC’s board who are more motivated by their budget than anything else – I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be motivated by their budget but they should not hide behind the reality that their decisions very often have far more to do with finances than which medicaines should be made available.

    In relation to your other comments – no the head of PHARMAC is a career bureaucrat with no medical or clinical experience, I think you must be referring to Peter Moodie the part time GP who is PHARMAC’s Medical Director.

    “Herceptin is only an issue because breast cancer has strong lobby groups and other illnesses don’t”

    More correctly you could say that …

    “Herceptin is more of an issue than other medications because breast cancer has a strong lobby group which many other illnesses don’t” to suggest it’s only an issue because their is a strong lobby group is incorrect.

  6. ianmac 6

    Once the decisions are open to politicians and influenced by lobby groups, the floodgates will open. More men die each year from prostate cancer than women do from breast cancer. The best treatment for prostate cancer is probably the insertion of a radioactive isotope (?) but this does not fit into the Public Health option. Available only privately. Now of course we could lobby John Key for such treatment to be available through the Public Health system thereby over-riding thos dumb Pharmac people.
    Perhaps Guyon could have asked for such a decision from John this morning??

  7. Tane 7

    I’m reliably informed that quite a few National MPs were and are unhappy with the Herceptin electioneering, but each have been told it’s a dead rat they needed to swallow to soften their image with women in order to win the election.

  8. higherstandard 8

    Ianmac

    “The best treatment for prostate cancer is probably the insertion of a radioactive isotope (?) but this does not fit into the Public Health option. Available only privately. Now of course we could lobby John Key for such treatment to be available through the Public Health system thereby over-riding thos dumb Pharmac people.”

    No brachytherapy is appropriate for only certain stages of prostate cancer and being a surgical implant rather than a pharmaceutical would not be considered by PHARMAC anyway. The best treatment for Ca prostate as for almost any life threatening cancer is early detection followed by rapid treatment.

    I would support a complete separation of the medical advisors to PHARMAC from the decision making process on funding to ensure a transparent process rather than the current process which is primarily financially driven but masquerades as a clinical decision.

  9. Quoth the Raven 9

    SP – You shouldn’t be surprised that Guyon didn’t ask any apt questions. He does as little research or critical thinking as his vacuous non-entity of a brother. Beyond reading National party press releases and rewording them I don’t think they do any actual work.

  10. Higherstandard, you do realise they have an absolute budget don’t you? they don’t say anything more cost effective than X should be funded, they have a set budget to work within.

    I also see no problem in head of PHARMAC not being a doctor, when you look at what his role really entails. I’m sure the head of CaTSoP thinks its a good idea. Though I’m sure who ever is in charge of mental health medicine or some other part of PHARMAC thinks a different drug should be funded, Maybe the head of CaTSoP should tell us what herceptin should be funded at the expense of.

    I’m yet to see an argument that justifies the funding of herceptian, simple as that.

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