“How is it possible to lose enough Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to stretch from Auckland to Wellington and back? Minister Verrall says she has a contract to store just that many RATs, but she can’t say how much storage is costing, where it is, or who they’ve contracted to store them,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Despite specifically pointing out the cost of storing 17.8 million expired or expiring RATs to the NZ Herald as a significant factor this morning, Health Minister Ayesha Verrall was unable to tell Parliament how much taxpayers are paying when I asked her a simple and direct question.

“While hopelessly trying to defend the wastage of $158 million worth of expired or expiring RATs to the Herald, Verrall said: “I‘ve set an expectation that yes, they need to get on with it because there’s a cost of storage as well.”

“But when I asked her what the cost was today in Parliament, she said Te Whatu Ora had no idea.

“Either Te Whatu Ora has such little regard for how much taxpayer money they waste they don’t keep track, or they don’t want people to know.

“Verrall needs to get to the bottom of this. We already know her Government has burnt $158 million on wasted RATs, the question now is whether that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“This is a classic lesson in Government waste. No Government spends a dollar more carefully than the people they taxed it off would have. If we’re to believe Minister Verrall her departments don’t even bother keeping track of the dollars they spend.”

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