Who let the bugs out?

There is a very serious question to be answered about how Covid-19 got back into the community.

I think almost everyone would agree with Dr Bloomfield that it hasn’t been sitting here undetected for 100 days, as we have had so much testing during that time.

So a safe assumption is that the virus originated with someone who returned from overseas. But they are all in isolation for 14 days until they have two negative tests. So it is unlikely they directly infected the family member – especially as there is no known contact.

So what is extremely likely is it spread though someone who works at the border or an isolation facility, who caught it from a traveller. And there have been stories by Newshub about how staff are not being routinely tested. Off memory a number of bus drivers who transport the travellers said they had never been tested.

So this outbreak (unlike the earlier ones) may well be due to a failure at the border or isolation facilities. What is concerning is they can’t even trace it back to someone there.

So the Government needs to be held to account (not the same as blame) for this, but we have a problem.

  • Parliament is due to be dissolved today
  • There is no question time to hold Ministers to account
  • There are no select committees to question officials
  • The Government abolished the specialist Epidemic Response Committee chaired by Simon Bridges

The Government is making major decisions such as locking Auckland down, with no ability for the Opposition to hold them to account.

This suggests that at a minimum Parliament should not be dissolved today. In fact it should be summoned to meet.

The wider issue is whether you can proceed with an election when campaigns have been suspended and a third of the population is locked down. National’s campaign launch in Auckland on Sunday will inevitably be cancelled or postponed I’d say.

A decision on delaying the election doesn’t need to be made today but I would say within a week max. If Auckland goes to Level 1 within a week, can possibly carry on. But if Auckland remains under restrictions for more than a few days, it would be grossly irresponsible and unfair to continue.

Ministers and MPs should be focused on Covid-19, not on campaigning. But campaigning is a vital part of elections.

As I said at a minimum the dissolution of Parliament should not proceed today, and a special sitting should be scheduled for say Friday.

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