Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Some simple steps to be more transparent


“ACT is today calling on the Government and Ministry of Health to take some simple steps to be more transparent,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“They should release all the day’s data before or at 1pm. This should be before, not after, the Prime Minister’s performance. The data should include how many contacts have returned a test, not just the number of tests done.

“The Ministry of Health is being complicit in the Government’s spin cycle by not publishing its daily media release at 1pm, instead waiting until after the Prime Minister or the daily Minister on duty and the Director General of Health have finished their daily press conference.

“Publishing after the press conference finishes means media don’t have the most up-to-date information, information the Government would rather they didn’t focus on, such as how few close contacts have been located and tested yet.

“Withholding that information until Ministers and Ashley Bloomfield have left the stage ensures they aren’t scrutinised on the latest information in a timely fashion, only the cherry picked ‘good news’ they choose to highlight.

“Our fourth estate plays a crucial role in scrutinising the Government and they should be provided with the information they need to do their jobs.

“The Ministry and the Minister should also move to publish results of how many close contacts have been traced and tested. I challenged them for this data yesterday in the Health Select Committee and they were able to provide it. It is crucial information.

“In fact, what they provided was readily available and breath taking. Director of Public Health Carol McElnay had it right at her fingertips, they just don’t release it proactively. 

“McElnay revealed that, of 369 ‘high risk’ contacts, only 51 per cent had returned a test result. Of 14,967 contacts held by the National Contact Tracing Centre, only 56 per cent had returned a test result.

“To end the lockdown, the Government needs to know it has traced to the end of all chains of transmission and returned negative tests. To return to work, essential workers need to receive a negative test result. These are the relevant numbers, triumphantly reporting how many tests were done (but not returned) each day is irrelevant.

“Instead of giving a commitment to publish this from now on, they told me they would ‘talk about it.’ How about less talking, more transparency?

“It’s time to start treating New Zealanders like adults and allow us to see the information that the Government is using to make decision that impact every single Kiwi.

“ACT will be here to make constructive criticisms where necessary and helpful suggestions where possible, while asking the questions New Zealanders need answered.”