Ministry’s grim report on the quality of drinking water should turn us towards health-enhancing liquor

October 27, 2010

Ducks crap in it and fish fornicate in it.

Alf is delighted that a Ministry of Health survey upholds the prudence of his practice of drinking nothing that has not been (a) boiled or (b) bottled as booze.

His liquid intake essentially comes from lots of coffee and plenty of good liquor.

He has aired the health benefits of booze in a previous post.

Today he is pleased to pass on the gist of a report which gives umpteen good reasons for steering clear of water as a thirst quencher.

We just don’t know where it has been.

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Forget about the conflict of interest, Tony – here’s your chance to chop out the spare mandarins

September 25, 2010

Bugger ... it looks suspiciously like a conflict of interest!

Alf has written to Health Minister Tony Ryall to draw attention to a money-saving opportunity.

Tony is dead keen to grab money-saving opportunities, and to thin down his ministry and to make district health boards look for savings too by constraining their budgets.

Yeah, it’s a bit like tummy-tuck surgery except it has the unfortunate consequence of leaving the public with reduced health services.

But dammit, we have a fiscal crisis on our hands.

Anyway, the cost-saving idea identified by Alf simply requires no more than a bit of redundancy among the ministry mandarins.

A glaring example of a candidate for redundancy is the Health Ministry official who says he will not resign if elected to Wellington’s district health board, because he believes he can do both jobs at once.

And no doubt he can knock off a couple of cryptic crosswords while singing “Yankee Doodle” in Urdu at the same time.

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Maybe Japanese whalers are the real source of funding for this new bunch of baccy lobbyists

May 5, 2010

Alf has always believed that he (or she) who pays the piper calls the tune.

When you have heard the tune played, but don’t know who paid the piper – does it matter much?

This and are lofty questions are raised by a Radio New Zealand report based on the latest wailings of the anti-smoking group, ASH.

ASH is making a fuss about (they allege) a front organisation being set up for tobacco interests to oppose the raising of tobacco prices through higher taxation.

Obviously this new outfit can’t count itself a roaring success so far, because Parliament the other day passed legislation to raise tobacco prices through higher taxation.

The passage of this legislation, of course, amounts to a public relations success for those of us (including Alf) who reckon ours would be a much healthier country if smokers gave up their habit.

Regardless of this success, ASH seems to be highly agitated by the activities of an outfit called the Association of Community Retailers.

ACR was established last month and ASH says it works from the same offices as a Wellington public relations consultant who represents Imperial Tobacco.

Maybe it does.

Alf – frankly – couldn’t give a damn.

Moreover, he would like to think ASH has more important things to worry about.

But no.

ASH director Ben Youdan says the association supports the views of tobacco companies and should reveal its funding sources.

Imperial Tobacco has yet to comment, but the PR consultant, Glenn Inwood, denies the company is funding the retailers association.

He says he pays the association’s costs, which will eventually be covered by membership fees.

And an association spokesperson, Richard Green, says to his knowledge, the group is not funded by the tobacco firm.

Alf would like to see the full client list of this Inwood bloke, who likes to go out to bat for clients with serious image problems.

For example, he has done a grand job doing his PR thing on behalf of Japanese whalers (who must kill a few whales in the interests of science).

It’s fair to point out at this juncture, therefore, that maybe Japanese whaling interests in effect have funded the new pro-tobacco lobby, by paying Inwood generously enough to enable him to do what he is now doing.

Certainly the new lobby organisation has been looking for funds, because:

Mr Green says he asked Mr Inwood to approach another company, British American Tobacco, for funding, but says the request was declined.

An outfit like ASH seems to have no great problems raising money.

We taxpayers toss it a big chunk of readies to enable it to develop community-led initiatives such as No Smoking Day and smokefree Te Matatini, and working with a wider range of organisations to increase their participation in tobacco control via training, media support and technical expertise on tobacco issues.

Alf learns this from their annual report, which says ASH receives funding via a combination of Ministry of Health and research contracts, membership fees and donations from the public and organisations.

ASH’s total income in 2008/09 was $882,372.

Contracts generated $794,226 of this dosh while its members coughed up a meagre $4098.

It paid salaries of $411,726.

So in effect, smokers pay taxes, a portion of which goes to the Ministry of Health, which gives some to ASH, which lobbies hard (and succeeds) to have the taxes on tobacco increased so smokers will be burned in the pocket.

What was that about he (and she) who pays the piper…????

Forget about Crusher Collins – let’s persuade her to become Slugger with this tasty idea

February 23, 2010

Alf has an idea for our Corrections Minister, the admirable Crusher Collins. Our Defence Minister, Wayne Mapp, is smart enough to see the possibilities, too.

Alf’s fertile mind was activated by news that Mapp, wearing his Research, Science and Technology hat, is thinking about coughing up good public money to help study toxic sea slugs.

As the NZ Herald reports today, scientists want to know how far the highly poisonous slugs have spread and why they have suddenly become toxic. But the Environment Ministry and other government departments have so far refused to pay.

Toxic snails? How toxic?
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Let’s disable this bloody tribunal before it cripples we hard-working taxpayers

January 9, 2010

Alf is troubled by the namby-pamby Human Rights Review Tribunal and its ruling about parents who care for severely disabled adult offspring.

It has decreed these parents should be eligible to receive payments from the Government.

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Berl, the booze bill and a backdown

July 7, 2009

Because boozing is among his favourite activities (he prefers to call it networking), Alf has been interested in the brouhaha over a study by Berl.

The NBR kicked it off, at least in terms of news media coverage, and Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr today gets in on the act in the NZ Herald.
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Rural patients given a shot for travel

March 30, 2009

More good news from Health Minister Tony Ryall on the rural health front: he has announced an increase in the mileage allowance that patients can claim under the National Travel Assistance (NTA) policy. It’s the first increase in 20 years.

He’s on the job, too, looking into rural doctors’ and nurses’ concerns about rural ambulance services.

Dr Carol Horgan, chief executive of Dunstan Hospital near Clyde in Central Otago, was among those who raised the matter at the Rural General Practitioners Network conference in Wellington over the weekend.
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