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Newly appointed Health Minister says juggling two big portfolios will 'require careful time management'

Newly appointed Health Minister Chris Hipkins says juggling two big portfolios will "require careful time management" but that he's up to the task.

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Chris Hipkins, who is also Education Minister, outlined his plans for the health sector. Source: Breakfast

This morning on TVNZ 1's Breakfast, Mr Hipkins, who is also Education Minister, outlined his plans for the health sector.

It comes after former Health Minister David Clark yesterday announced his resignation following a string of issues in the Covid-19 pandemic, including his breaching of lockdown rules.

While he admitted he's working long days, Mr Hipkins said education was "in a good space" and he was looking forward to getting stuck into some big challenges in the health sector.

"If you can manage your time right you can get through anything," he said.

"It is going to require careful management, there's no question about that.

"I'm used to managing my time carefully, I'm also used to figuring out what are the bits that are urgent that you have to deal with now, and what are the bits that can wait 24 hours and I think that I'll certainly need to apply all of those skills in the next little while."

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The MP is just the latest Labour Cabinet minister to resign. Source: 1 NEWS

However, he also said while taking on the big portfolios he will be supported by fellow MPs.

"If you look at the big portfolios like health, like education they actually all require the whole Government to be looking at the whole reform programme.

"I think if you look at Covid-19 and the response to Covid-19, for example, it's not just a health response that's required here, it actually requires joining up all of the Government, and as Minister of State Services I've been involved in that process already," Mr Hipkins said.

When asked about the recommendations from Health and Disability System Review, Mr Hipkins said Government needed to review the recommendations and decide which would be accepted, which need more work and which are off the table.

"The implementation for these is over several years, they don't all happen in a big rush," he said. "The DHB changes, when they're agreed, if they're agreed, won't all happen overnight, it'll be over a period of time."

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Dr Clark had a number of issues during lockdown that normally would have seen him sacked then. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Hipkins couldn't say if any decisions around the review would be made before September's election, but he assured New Zealanders would have "a clear indication" post-election if a Labour Government is re-elected.

"The system at the moment is incredibly fragmented and that is really difficult for the people who use the health system but also very difficult for the people who work in it.

"There are very high levels of debt in DHBs but we're also not getting the best value for money out of the spend we have on DHBs."

When asked about New Zealand's border issues, Mr Hipkins said he believes the Government has got it right at the moment.

"One of the things that I will be doing very early on, in the next 48 hours or so, is looking very closely at our testing and contact tracing systems because any further change at the border in the future will rely on making sure that we've got those systems very, very robust."

However, he added that New Zealand was not up for opening its borders, as Opposition leader Todd Muller and others have called for.

"We are going to have to get used to doing things differently for a period of time and that may be for several years, I'm not saying the borders are going to be closed for several years, but the economy is going to look very different for several years because globally the world is going to be dealing with Covid for a long period of time.

"We're going to have to get used to the fact that the world economy is going to look quite different for quite a long period of time."

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"He's put the team first, he's put New Zealand first," the PM said today. Source: 1 NEWS