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The new chair of the West Coast District Health Board has shown how little interest he has in the role with comments that he only intends to pay attention once every six weeks, National’s West Coast Issues spokesperson Maureen Pugh says.

“Rick Barker told media ‘I'm going to remain fully-focused on my role at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the Environment Committee. I've been in Hawke's Bay longer than anywhere else, so I call Hawke's Bay home. It's a monthly or six-weekly meeting, and the phones, emails work pretty well’.

“This is yet another slap in the face for the Coast by this Government.

“These comments are extraordinary. Not only is Mr Barker determined to stay put in Hawke’s Bay, a region vastly different and miles away from the West Coast, but it’s his impression the role will only require a monthly or even six-weekly meetings.

“This is a big role which requires a lot of attention. I’m not sure what Mr Barker thinks the role requires but it’s more than just a meeting every four to six weeks.

“This is just par for the course by the Government. It’s not interested in the views of Coasters, and instead it’s making a full frontal assault on this region. From attempting to ban whitebaiting, banning mining on all conservation land, blocking the Waitaha Hydro Scheme, and now it’s coming after our health representation.

“The West Coast deserves better from this Government. Instead it’s being pushed around and ignored on every issue.”

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