“Kiwis deserve better than another $80 billion debt from an experimental response the next time a pandemic arises. ACT would commission an independent investigation with local and foreign investigators into the Government’s COVID response and its effects on mental health, learning, crime, social cohesion and the economy,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“We have called for a Royal Commission into the Government’s COVID response, but Jacinda Ardern is pathologically unable to admit fault. As we saw in the Charlotte Bellis saga, you need to take the Government to court to get an apology for malice and incompetence, and even then it’s not certain.

“The current Labour Government doesn’t want to be held accountable for its actions, or even know whether it could have done things better. It has treated Kiwis with disdain, and they deserve better from the next government.

“Under Labour, the only illumination we get is from gaslighting. It pretends against all rational evidence that actions aren’t the reason our health system is crumbling, our businesses are closing, and our COVID cases are still rising.

“The impacts of our response have been immense. We have reason to believe there will be significant impacts on our children’s educations, mental health, benefit dependency, crime, social cohesion, business strength and infrastructure for years and years to come.

“ACT’s investigation will drill down into exactly what impacts have been had, so we can then go about addressing them and producing a plan that will protect New Zealanders across all aspects of a pandemic.

“This investigation will not be an inhouse affair carried out by a small coterie of anointed experts. New Zealand is too small for an objective investigation. ACT’s investigation would lean on experts from a range of countries that did things well, and not so well, to give an honest review. We would ask Taiwanese, Swedish, and Australian experts, for example, to be part of the investigation.

Its terms of reference will include, but not be limited to:

  • The effects of the Government’s response on mental health, children’s learning, and crime
  • The effects of the Government’s response on social cohesion and trust in institutions
  • The fiscal and economic costs of the Government’s response, including the use of unconventional monetary policy
  • The cost of Quality Adjusted Life Years saved from COVID in comparison with other challenges
  • Compliance with the Bill of Rights, and whether restrictions were always justifiable in a free and democratic society
  • Absorption of technologies such as for testing and tracing, into the response
  • Relationships with private sector partners including technology suppliers, GPs, and community vaccination centres
  • The quality of advice and the Government’s attention to advice from a range of departments other than Health, such as the Ministry of Education and Treasury
  • The timing of vaccine ordering and distribution

“The Investigation would be expected to complete within one year, and become an asset that could save New Zealand tens of billions of dollars in the future. It would also go some way to restoring New Zealand’s international reputation from being a backwards hermit kingdom.

“The investigation is not simply about learning what Labour did wrong. It is about working out what we need to do right. There will be another pandemic. Probably not this year, hopefully not in the next decade, but almost certainly in our lifetime. In the future, it could save New Zealand billions of dollars in costly mistakes. We literally cannot afford to repeat Labour’s handling of this Pandemic.

“Having a publicly available pandemic plan based on this research will take the fear and uncertainty away from society. In the event of another pandemic people will have certainty of our government’s approach, they won’t be expected to tune into to Government broadcast at midday every day to figure out the fate of their business or what new restrictions will be placed on their rights.

“Granted, there will also be variables in the event of a pandemic, but by being upfront with New Zealanders and planning ahead and learning from our past mistakes we can proceed with confidence that our response will protect New Zealanders in a way that doesn’t sacrifice their education, mental health, finances, and many other aspects of life. 

“Simply put, the next Government will become the experts in managing a pandemic.

“We can’t afford to have a lost generation who suffers due to the impacts of our COVID response, without even looking at what we could have done better and ensuring we don’t make the same mistakes again. While other parties are focused on the next election, ACT is focused on the next generation.”