“How astonishing that the Australian Health Minister finds himself having to defend his Government having only vaccinated 670,000 Australians when New Zealand has managed less than 10 per cent of that number,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The difference between Australia and New Zealand is not only how much better they’re doing by comparison, but how much heat their Government is copping for being short of their target.

“Why the difference? Part of the reason is Jacinda Ardern’s Government doesn’t have targets – at least not ones they’re willing to publish.

“We just get told nebulous things by her Ministers like ‘we’re making good progress on group 1’ and ‘it’s a good, solid start.’

“These are utterly meaningless statements that won’t hold water for much longer.

“It’s high time the Government stopped treating the public like mushrooms – keeping them in the dark and feeding them excrement.

“Just seven days ago ACT pointed out that 12.2 million people a day were being vaccinated across the globe, which if the rate stayed static would mean 2.85 billion people would be inoculated six months from then.

“But we noted the daily rate wouldn’t stay static – at that point it was growing by about a million more doses a day per week.

“Well what a difference a week makes – today’s it’s up three million to 15.2 million.

“If that rate stayed static by September well over 3 billion people would be vaccinated, getting towards half the people on the planet, and a majority of those eligible for vaccination because most countries aren’t vaccinating under 16 year olds.

“But again, the rate won’t stay static, it’ll keep growing.

“So where will New Zealand be in September? No one knows. The Government can’t tell us. They are petrified of being held to account.

“What we do know is no one believes the majority of New Zealanders is going to be vaccinated within 2021. We’re now too far behind the eight-ball.

“The vaccination rollout is being treated like a provincial cottage industry rather than an industrial tour de force. Potential vaccinators still don’t know whether they’ll be asked to participate, there isn’t a functioning centralised booking system and the prototype doesn’t work on mobile phones.

“New Zealand is amateur dramatics while much of the rest of the world is the West End or Broadway. With the greatest of respect we shouldn’t be second to last in the OECD for vaccinations, nor should we have vaccinated fewer people than Zimbabwe or Guatemala.

“Sometimes it feels terrible to be right – especially now with so much at stake – but ACT has been warning New Zealand about this since early January, when the Government and the Ministry of Health were taking a long holiday.

“On January 6 we called for a vaccine timetable review, and on January 20 we said the public deserved clarity and consistency on vaccine timing.

“Since then we’ve published a COVID Response Plan 2.0 which has been well received by health professionals but completely ignored by the Government.

“New Zealand needs a plan. The response needs to involve the private sector instead of shunning it. It needs to embrace technology. COVID is going to be with us for years and the variants are going to complicate the response. Where we stand today it feels precariously like we’re going from hero to zero.”