Board election interest inference 'unfortunate'

A media statement from the Health Minister Tony Ryall which implied there had been a low number of candidates in the Southern District Health Board elections was "unfortunate", board chairman Errol Millar says.

Last week's release said Waitemata had the highest number of candidates with 33, while the two Southern DHB constituencies (Otago and Southland) had the fewest candidates with 11 each.

Mr Millar pointed out it was the overall figure of 22 which should have been compared with other boards, since Otago and Southland were now one board.

When the combined figure was used, he had noted there were 15 boards with lower candidate numbers than Southern, including Auckland.

The release gave an "unfortunate negative interpretation" of the amount of interest in the South, he said.

He described the interest shown as "enormously positive", particularly after the merger of the boards this year.

The Otago Daily Times raised the issue of the portrayal of the numbers with Mr Ryall's office, suggesting it could be misleading, given there was one board involving seven elected members in total, the same as all other boards.

The fact there are two constituencies, Southland, which will produce three elected members, and Otago, which will have four, did not alter the overall total representation.

It is understood the numbers were presented separately because, unlike other boards, the Southern board comprised two constituencies.

It was considered people would be interested in seeing the level of support in each area.

elspeth.mclean@odt.co.nz

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