Watch: Winston Peters forced to apologise for saying 'some doctors make you sick' in reference to Dr Nick Smith

Winston Peters drew the ire of the Speaker in Parliament today for saying "some doctors make you sick" in reference to National MP Dr Nick Smith.

The Deputy Prime Minister's comments came after Dr Smith interjected when he was being questioned by National MP Todd McClay over the Government's response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack in the UK.

Speaker Trevor Mallard reacted to the interjection first, simply saying "Dr Smith" before Mr Peters cut in saying "well he may be a doctor to you".

Mr Peters was then made to withdraw and apologise by the Speaker, which he did with another quip added on to his apology.

"I withdraw and apologise sir, but there are some doctors that make you well and some make you sick," he said, drawing laughs.

The Speaker however was not impressed, this time asking the Deputy Prime Minister to "withdraw and apologise unreservedly".

Mr Peters followed his orders, and after the second apology Question Time continued.

Jacinda Ardern gives rough estimate of cost to taxpayers for visit of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal visit to New Zealand could cost taxpayers around $1 million, using past royal visits as a rough guide.

The dates for the royal tour were revealed last night to be October 28 to November 1.

Ms Ardern believes the benefits to the New Zealand economy will be worth the cost.

"At this stage we have had very rough estimates and once we are through the planning we will have a better guide. There are benefits to New Zealand for these visits and we will be looking to maximise them. 

"The rough guides we have had in the past for a royal visit have tended to be around the $1 million mark," Ms Ardern said today.

She says the exposure from international media around the royals visit will be beneficial to the country and hopes that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a "special" time here.

The Duke and Duchess will arrive in Wellington on Sunday October 28 and will visit Abel Tasman National Park the next day.

They will visit Auckland on Tuesday October 30, and Rotorua the next day, before departing the country on Thursday November 1.

The couple will also visit Fiji then Tonga. 

Further details regarding the itinerary will be released closer to their arrival.

Jacinda Ardern said they are still working through the details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s trip. Source: 1 NEWS

Overmedication injuring and killing elderly people, world-first NZ study shows

A world-first study of its kind in New Zealand shows elderly people taking multiple high-risk medications for sleeping, pain or incontinence are twice as likely to fall and break bones, with many dying within a year of injury.

The University of Otago, Christchurch study is the first in the world to measure the impact of taking multiple medications on fractures in the elderly.  

It found people taking more than three Drug Burden Index medications - specific medicines that sedate or affect a person’s cognition - are twice as likely to break their hip than those taking no medications. 

Between 20 and 30 per cent of elderly die within a year of suffering a fracture, and 90 per cent of fractures in elderly people are the result of a fall.

The information will now be used in a nationwide study of pharmacy databases to see if prescriptions of certain high risk drugs can be reduced in the elderly.

The overmedication and fractures study was led by geriatrician and University of Otago, Christchurch researcher Dr Hamish Jamieson. It also involved scientists from six other Universities, including Harvard and John Hopkins Universities and the Universities of Sydney and Canterbury and was funded by the Government’s Ageing Well National Science Challenge.

Dr Jamieson says the impact of fractures on individuals and the community is immense. They result in loss of mobility, poorer quality of life, early entry into an aged care facility, and in up to a third of people with a broken hip, death within a year of the injury, he says. 

Dr Jamieson says understanding how taking multiple medications impacts on falls and broken bones is a significant piece of information for patients, their GPs and pharmacists. 

The reason multiple medications cause falls is because drugs have side effects and each medication may react with others to create additional effects, he says.

Medications linked with significantly increasing the risk of broken bones had ‘sedatory’ and ‘anticholinergic’ side effects. These medicines are common and prescribed for many conditions such as sleeping, pain and incontinence. Side effects of the medicines include sedation, a dry mouth, blurred vision, dizziness and confusion, Dr Jamieson says.

“All medications have beneficial impacts.  However, increasingly we are studying the long term side effects of medications in the elderly.  The impacts can be subtle but this can cause a major impact in the frail elderly and can cause falls, loss of independence and even premature death.”

Dr Jamieson says a number of factors predispose the elderly to medication side effects. This includes not being able to metabolise medications as well as young people, being on multiple medications, and frail and more susceptible to side effects.  

Rather than stopping medications themselves, elderly patients should regularly get their GP to review their medication, he says.

University researchers measured the impact of taking multiple medications, finding they can react with others and cause falls. Source: 1 NEWS


Kiwis who don't shop around paying more for electricity - report

Information released today shows the problems that have contributed to pushing up electricity prices in New Zealand, which includes the disparity between customers who shop around and those who stick with the same company. 

A review had released a document finding issues "that need to be addressed", said Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

"New Zealanders deserve affordable electricity but too many households are struggling to pay their bills."

Residential electricity prices were 79 per cent higher than they were in 1990.

"Over the same timeframe commercial prices have declined by 24 per cent and industrial prices have increased by 18 per cent," Ms Woods said. 

She said a two-tier retail market was developing, with one containing "people who actively shop around enjoy the benefits of competition, and those who don't are stuck with higher prices".

"Some households struggle to understand the various plans and how to choose the one that's best for them, and low-income consumers miss out more often on prompt-payment discounts, which can be as high as 26 per cent of the bill."

Ms Woods said major challenges for the electricity sector could be changing technology. 

"Our electricity market needs to be agile enough to adapt to the challenges that technologies like EVs, solar panels and other forms of distributed generation will pose to affordability.

"It’s clear that if we don't manage these changes well the costs will fall on those least able to afford them."

The review would move into its second stage and develop recommendations on how to address the issues.

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6. 

An investigation has found more than 100,000 households are in energy hardship, spending more than 10 per cent of their income on their power bills. Source: 1 NEWS

Barbara Dreaver on the Pacific Islands' Forum: 'Da plane, da plane' - if Jacinda Ardern hadn't shown up we would have been penalised for it down the line

Now that the phosphate dust has settled and the shameless self-promoting headlines about the Pacific being "leeches" and a waste of time and money have lost their hysterical edge - let's take a look at some facts.

The song called Jacinda New Star in the Sky clearly delighted the Prime Minister. Source: 1 NEWS

Firstly to deal with the issue of "da plane, da plane" – it seems only appropriate here to bring in Tattoo from Fantasy Island for those old enough to remember this dubious 80s TV progamme.

Yes, it cost money to send up an extra plane to Nauru to make it possible for our Prime Minister to get there.

That is true.

What is also true is there have been several, not just the one, but several multi-flight trips organised by the former National government around the Pacific because some politicians across the political landscape found it uncomfortable to travel on the C-130 Hercules the whole way.

It's not unusual so I'm not sure why this suddenly became a big issue.

It was important for the Prime Minister of New Zealand to be in Nauru for the Pacific Islands' forum for a multitude of reasons.

The geo-political landscape in the Pacific has changed radically in the last couple of years.

The Prime Minister is making a one-day appearance at the Pacific Island Forum. Source: 1 NEWS

At this forum Air Force 2 flew in a US delegation, a high profile Chinese delegation were there, other Asian countries, the European Union all vying for influence.

From a geo-political stance alone it's crucial New Zealand is a player in this.

Just ask Australia which is having kittens over the thought of PNG and Vanuatu giving port power to the Chinese. Then there are serious security issues.

South East Asia and a bigger push since 2016 from South American cartels are pushing drugs through the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand, fisheries are being depleted - these are all issues that affect New Zealand – why wouldn't we be there?

Instability in the region is bad for New Zealand.

Bi-laterals with Pacific leaders are equally important.

New Zealand wants island country votes at regional and world level – the UN security council which we headed at one point is a case in point, the World Health Organisation and many more. Votes are gold and don’t think that NZ doesn't want to tie up Pacific votes any less than the big players.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters could easily have done the job but he's not Prime Minister.

You can throw money around the region as much as you like but to underestimate personal relationships in the Pacific is sheer ignorance.

Mana is quite rightly attached to New Zealand's leader being there and if Jacinda Ardern hadn't shown up for her first Pacific forum we would have been penalised for it down the line one way or another.

New Zealand cannot afford to tread with the same ignorance Australia does as it blunders through the region – incredulous that things are happening that they don’t like.

To suggest that Jacinda Ardern is not tough enough is ridiculous. I’m told by people who know first-hand that she more than holds her own in a bi-lat and so she should – it's the very least we would expect any of our Prime Ministers to do.

While the above is important there is also something else. A palagi friend who I really respect had the following to say and I couldn't agree more.

"For me the importance of the Pacific is much more cultural – we are part of this place and Pacific Islanders are part of us.

"It's who we collectively are. We give to each other and sustain each other with language, music, laughter. And in doing so we are all creating a unique culture that is different – the rest of the world can only wonder and admire us."

As someone who has lived and worked in the region for nearly 30 years I have nothing but contempt for the sheer ignorance I have been reading from those whose idea of the Pacific is lying poolside at Denarau with a pina colada.

New Zealand needs the Pacific as much as the Pacific needs New Zealand. In fact some countries have made it clear they don't need New Zealand at all.

The National government understood this - so does this Government. Let's move on.