(National Party media release)

In another abuse of power, Labour has blocked a request for a briefing from the Ministry of Health into their response to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission’s monitoring report, National’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“The report was damning of Labour’s performance on mental health. Naturally, people want to know what the Government is going to do about it, so National requested the Ministry of Health give a briefing to select committee about how they will respond to the report’s findings.

“Our request was supported by ACT, the Greens and the Maori Party, but Labour used their majority to vote it down. It’s the second week in a row they have abused their power, after blocking our request for the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission to give a briefing on the report.

“Labour’s excuse this time is that the Ministry would not have had sufficient time yet to respond. However, in making our request for the briefing we proposed that the Ministry attend a briefing at a date suitable to them.

“The Government may not like what was in the Commission’s report, but continually preventing questions from being asked about it and blocking access to government officials and watchdogs is not what we expect to see in New Zealand – particularly from a government that once claimed it would be the most open and transparent ever.

“I strongly suspect the response to the Opposition’s two requests for briefings would have been very different had the report not been so damning of the Government.

“We don’t have time to waste when it comes to addressing New Zealand’s growing mental health challenges. I’m calling on Labour to reconsider their refusal for a briefing from both the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission and the Ministry of Health.”