National calls for royal commission for Delta response

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The National Party is calling for a royal commission of inquiry this year into the government’s response to the pandemic.

Judith Collins
Photo: Pool / NZME / Mark Mitchell

Leader Judith Collins said recent news reports suggest planning for a delta eruption did not begin until July, although the variant first made its way into MIQ in early April and quickly spread around the world.

She said the government had failed on many levels, including the transition from an elimination to a suppression strategy.

Less than 20 percent of the country’s population was fully vaccinated when Delta arrived.

“There was no preparation, especially in the intensive care unit health system – the inability to actually prepare for it when other countries were doing it.

“No specific work has been started on a vaccination certificate.”

Collins said the government’s pandemic response did not adapt or evolve in 2021, and New Zealand – Auckland in particular – are now facing the consequences.

“It is now clear that the government went ‘all in’ on the elimination strategy and assumed that beating Delta would work.

“While other countries were vaccinating and investing in contact tracing as soon as possible, rolling out saliva testing and deploying rapid antigen testing, New Zealand followed the same playbook that worked in 2020.”

Collins said answers are needed as to why vaccination adoption has been slow and Māori vaccination rates have dropped.

Government spending on Covid-19 was also murky at times, she said: “The Covid Response Fund was not spent on preparing the health system … but on art therapy and cameras on fishing boats.

And she criticized the government’s transparency and communication, saying the reinstallation of the Epidemic Response Committee would have allowed for better scrutiny.

-POOL- Photo by Mark Mitchell: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking with Director General for Health Dr.  Ashley Bloomfield arrives at Parliament, Wellington.  04 October 2021. NZ Herald photo by Mark Mitchell

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a daily stand-up case update this month with Director General for Health Ashley Bloomfield.
Photo: POOL / NZME

“The government’s continued refusal to publish any of the latest public health advice is deeply worrying. There is simply no justification for this lack of control at a time when government is making such far-reaching decisions.

“The Prime Minister keeps saying that everything she does is based on the advice of the Director-General for Health, but he has made statements that strongly suggest that this is not entirely true. Since she refuses to publish any of that advice, we have no way. ” to know who is right. “

Collins said a royal commission could begin collecting evidence immediately, and a full investigation could begin next year or after the immediate crisis ends.

“In the meantime, the Prime Minister could improve transparency and accountability by immediately posting all updated public health advice and modeling.”


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