Dunedin will get its hospital: Woodhouse

National list MP Michael Woodhouse is staking his career on Dunedin getting a new hospital if his party retains power after coalition talks with New Zealand First.

Michael Woodhouse
Michael Woodhouse
Mr Woodhouse said misinformation spread by political opponents, including two elected members of the Dunedin City Council, the Labour and Green "machines" behind them, and Dunedin North MP David Clark meant his position on the hospital did not receive the "cut through" he expected.

National’s party vote went down in Dunedin and the issues surrounding the hospital were one of the reasons, he said in an interview yesterday.

"We struggled to get cut through with certain media in Dunedin and the revision of history by David Clark was incorrect.

"Dunedin will get what it needs. I will stake my career on this happening. Dunedin will get a really good hospital on a really good site in the right place, as quickly as we can get it.

"I know more about this area than any other member of Parliament. I know how hard this can be and it is naive to think we can start straight away.

"There is no doubt, Dunedin will get its hospital."

Asked about the misinformation being spread before the election, Mr Woodhouse, who has a background in health management and ACC, said the rebuild of the clinical services block (CSB) became obvious in 2014, when he and former prime minister Sir John Key came to Dunedin and made the announcement. The Government allocated $300 million for the CSB.

National did not make a hospital rebuild announcement at that stage. It came later.

Later, it was realised the wards were not fit for purpose and the issue came down to location and timing of a new hospital, something announced in August.

At no stage was there a suggestion the Otago Medical School would be shifted, he said.

The city councillors and Dr Clark deliberately tried to undermine the announcement before Prime Minister Bill English visited Dunedin in August to try to claim they had forced a backtrack, Mr Woodhouse said. That was not true.

Dr Clark said he had only spoken about the business case and it was still correct to say the business case for the hospital had been delayed three years.

"The situation requires some urgency. The telling example of that was the head of the rebuild group being unable to name the other members of the group 18 months into the process. The hospital needs to be urgently rebuilt."

National would be foolish to delay the process further, particularly as it still received strong party vote support in the South, Dr Clark said.

For National to further abandon the South, when it already had a reputation of regional neglect, would hurt it in the long run, he said.

Mr Woodhouse has been Immigration Minister for five years, as well as being deputy Leader of the House, Workplace and Safety Minister and the ACC Minister.

Asked if he harboured any ambition to become health minister and drive the hospital project, he pointed to his background in health and ACC.

He defended Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, who he said had been unfairly criticised in Dunedin.

Dr Coleman was "determined" to ensure the Southern District Health Board did well.

However, Mr Woodhouse was "happy to serve" in any area, if National retained power.


Seeing is believing Mr Woodhouse. His quote says the government agreed in 2014 a new clinical services build was needed. 3 years later we have lots of delay, lots of money given to consultants and other fly ins and only 3 decisions. A whole new hospital will be build in mid city and SDHB will be encumbered with a hundred million or so in lease costs per year to a private developer.
So Mr Woodhouse, if you want your message to be believed, stop the delay and start delivering.

Oh and an election for a new board wouldn't be a bad idea either. That's if the government supports openness re the SDHB that is.