Jonathan Coleman 'left behind far too many questions' - Duncan Garner

  • 09/04/2018

Duncan Garner has laid down a challenge for former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman - come on TV and explain yourself.

Middlemore Hospital has had a serious rot and mould problem for several years, but the extent of it wasn't revealed until just a few weeks ago.

Appearing on The AM Show on Monday, National leader Simon Bridges said the party had no idea there was an issue.

"I've checked that with minister Jonathan Coleman and with others as well.  We just didn't know."

Mr Bridges said the district health board had asked for more funding, but failed to tell them "what was going on there".

AM Show host Garner wasn't having it though.

"Middlemore Hospital sounds like a basketcase, doesn't it?" he asked listeners and viewers on Monday.

"Buildings falling down and sewage - sewage! - leaking into the walls. Why wasn't it funded and fixed? Why wasn't it fixed? Some stuff just has to happen. Why are we hearing about it now? What did National know? Been around since 2012. Why didn't the CEO or board tell ministers? Or the caretaker? What did Coleman know? What did [former Health Minister] Tony Ryall know?"

Garner said the issue should have been fixed before it became serious.

"Nine billion dollars a year goes into health, and a sewage leak should have been fixed routinely. It shouldn't even be an issue at Cabinet. We had a rock star economy, and a cesspit hospital. It looks like penny-pinching, doesn't it? $10 million would have fixed this, no problems.

Dr Coleman announced his retirement from politics the same day the Middlemore story broke. When questioned about it the next day on RNZ, he said he simply wasn't told about it, and hung up the phone.

Garner slammed Dr Coleman's departure as "cutting and running".

"He's forcing this by-election because he doesn't want to be an Opposition MP, he's bigger than that. He's left behind far too many questions in health. I think he should answer these before he goes. He's welcome on this show tomorrow - I look forward to hearing from him and his people."

The AM Show has reached out to Dr Coleman for an interview on Tuesday morning. Watch this space.