6 Sep 2023

National, Waikato University planning third medical school 'for years' - Luxon

9:07 am on 6 September 2023
National Party leader Christopher Luxon

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Proper processes have been followed in National's decision to base a third medical school at Waikato University, National leader Christopher Luxon says.

Asked to respond to revelations by RNZ on Tuesday that the head of Waikato University referred to the setting up of the country's third medical school as "a present" to a future National government, Luxon said the university and National enjoyed "a constructive relationship".

Documents seen by RNZ show vice chancellor Professor Neil Quigley went to considerable lengths to help National develop its policy for the new medical school which both want to see operational by 2027.

Luxon told Morning Report he was comfortable with the process between National's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti and Professor Quigley that saw emails exchanged between the pair about the setting up of the third medical school.

"We are not mucking around, we are beyond talk and we now need to get to action and that's what we are going to do with the new National government," Luxon said.

He ruled out former National minister Steven Joyce playing any part in the third medical school plans.

Joyce's company, Joyce Advisory, was paid nearly $1 million for consultancy services to the University of Waikato over the last three years, RNZ has reported previously.

"He had nothing to do with that ... The country needs action and it needs a turnaround and come October 15 I'm not mucking around doing 'Kumbaya' and marshalling consultation. I'm getting things done..."

Luxon said both National and Waikato University had been supportive of the medical school proposal "for years".

With the country 1700 doctors short, it was time to do something about it.

Australia had a medical school for every 1.2 million people while in this country it was 1 per 2.6m people so it was not a case of picking a favourite ahead of the existing schools, Auckland and Otago, he said.

"We also want to do something slightly different in that medical school to put an emphasis on training doctors to be delivered into regional New Zealand."

That would result in another 120 more doctors out of the third medical school and Auckland and Otago would get another 100 places each from 2025.

He said it was sad that under the present government no more medical training placements had been opened up and 350 Kiwis were having to do their medical training in Australia.

Luxon not focusing on attack ads

National has complained about attack ads organised by the Council of Trade Unions, which accuse him of being out of touch and an advocate for a wealthy minority.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has hit back at National's claims that the ads are nasty and too personal by unveiling a long list of ads some of which were shared by National Party MPs.

Luxon said he was not overly focused on the ads and he has been concentrating on presenting a positive campaign. He believed debates should be about the party's policies not personalities.

Asked on Morning Report if the party was being hypocritical, he laughed and said the attack ads were a choice by Labour and the CTU "to go personal and negative on the scale that they have".

He preferred to concentrate on making plans to meet the needs of Kiwis who were worried about losing their homes or not getting a decent education or healthcare for their families.

"I think I'm modelling out a very positive campaign. We've been talking about 38 policies or ideas to take the country forward to deal with the challenges we've got."

He was disappointed the CTU which represented working New Zealanders was not "getting behind" National's tax cut plans that would benefit workers.

Asked about a poll that has seen ACT rise to 18 percent support for the first time, he said not much faith was put in that particular poll. He was focused on fixing the major economic challenges and disagreed with Hipkins assessment that the country's economic fundamentals were strong.

"The complete opposite is true."

On ACT leader David Seymour's announcement that improving productivity would be its top priority, Luxon agreed the country had had problems with productivity for 30 years.

People were working harder and harder but not necessarily smarter.

"So we are going to get the economy sorted so that we can actually get people to work hard and get ahead - that's what it's about."

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