Duncan Garner 'gobsmacked' at Labour's decision to declining funding for Gumboot Friday

The AM Show 02/07/2021

OPINION: It's fast becoming a pretty regular dust-up this one, and I can't stop watching it. 

Mike King versus the Government and the Ministry of Health and it's fast becoming an embarrassing botch up from this Government.

If you'd asked me a few days or weeks ago, would Mike King's mental health charity Gumboot Friday be given taxpayer funding, I'd say what a silly question - of course it will.

Gumboot Friday provides five to 24 year olds who are struggling with their mental health a free visit to a counsellor. 

It's so vital getting these young Kiwis in front of a professional and it might save their life. 

Because the local hospital might not be able to help, but Mike can. 

This is where the rubber hits the road for us parents.

If our kids need help as taxpayers we don't want to hear it's too busy - we want to hear help is on its way.

But the Government has told Mike his Gumboot Friday should not come Monday. Why? Because Mike's application for funding missed a self-imposed Ministry of Health deadline. 

I know, I'm gobsmacked too. 

A crucial and successful service now with an uncertain future because the Health Ministry is getting all pedantic about dates. 

If it works, fund it, if it doesn't, chop it. 

I would have thought Labour would be desperate to park some of the underspent and underused mental health money. How embarrassing being caught out talking up a big game but not spending it.

Labour and its officials just missed a golden opportunity to get Mike back in the fold, to give his charity what it needs and to look responsive and nimble in the face of criticism. 

The Government is big, Mike is small. Labour needed to act and look like a bigger party when faced with criticism.