Saturday, 4 July 2020

Quarantine Leak Shows We Need New Government

"This morning's revelation that a list of those quarantined was leaked raises too many questions for this Government to continue," according to ACT Leader David Seymour

"Number one issue: we've had a dead man walking as Minister of Health for the last three months. And then, even he realised it was time for him to go before the Prime Minister did.

"The Government shouldn't be asking how the leak happened, they should already know. Surely the Ministry of Health was not keeping the list on spreadsheets that can just be emailed around?

"A vaguely competent operation would have the spreadsheet locked. If the passwords were leaked too then it is malicious. If such data was being kept on an unlocked spreadsheet then the Government is not taking its duty seriously.

"The Health Budget is $20 billion. After welfare, the Ministry of Health is managing the second largest budget in the country. It dwarfs Fonterra, Air New Zealand, Spark, or any other New Zealand entity. The idea that it can't use a database is extraordinary.

"If the Government was using a database, it should know who had access to and downloaded the leaked information. User access records should allow it to identify who had the information.

"User access control should limit the number of people who have the complete record. If everyone had access to the complete record, that is hopeless.

"A private business that made this mistake would face serious consequences for privacy breaches. Sadly, there appears to be one standard for the Government, and another for the private sector.

"In normal times, perhaps we could say that mistakes happen, but public health has been the clear focus of Government for over three months since the Prime Minister asked the whole country to stay home for five weeks. Fighting COVID has been the total focus of more organised Governments, such as Taiwan's, for all of 2020.

"The real tragedy, though, is not this leak, it is the effects of this leak on public confidence. At a time when we should be having an intelligent conversation about how we can reconnect with the rest of the world for our economic survival, the Government will no doubt resort to blunter lockdown measures.

"Responsibility for this failure must rest at the top. It's not good enough to blame the Ministry of Health Officials or any recent Minister of Health. We are in this position because even the least competent Minister who was responsible for  Health realised he had to go before the Prime Minister did.

"The only way forward to an intelligent conversation about smart borders is now a change of Government. We need a Government that sets priorities and asks the right questions, rather than relying on kindness in place of competence.