Winston goes to Auditor-General on saliva testing

Winston announced:

I have today sent a letter to the Auditor General requesting an investigation into the government’s $60 million procurement contract with Asia Pacific Health Group (APHG).On 4 August 2020 the NZ Super Fund and a Canadian pension fund acquired APHG for a reported $550M.

On 12 March 2021 the Government put out a $60M contract for 12 months of saliva testing. The tender period was 2 weeks, closing on 26 March 2021. Of the tenders received only one company Rako Science had Covid saliva testing accreditation qualifications.

Rako Science, a New Zealand company, obtained validation and accreditation for saliva testing for Covid in December 2020 – three months earlier.

On 26 May 2021 the government, despite the critical requirement of saliva testing validation and accreditation being absent, signed a $60M contract with APHG.The award date was 10 June 2021.Rako Science had been validated and accredited months earlier and ready to rollout widespread saliva testing. They have since entered into contracts with private organisations but not the government.

The government contractor APHG’s product has not been tested and is yet to make any difference to the government testing programme.

Questions need to be asked about what happened here:

1. Was the recommendation for saliva testing made only to assist the NZ Super Funds latest acquisition of 4 August 2020?

2. Who were the decision makers in this procurement?

3. What influences came into play that ignored an accredited and validated option in favour of one that had neither?

4. Why did the government delay the introduction of saliva testing, with all manner of dismissive statements, yet now favour APGH whose product is not yet being tested?

5. Why has a validated and accredited saliva test achieved widespread use around the world yet being side-lined in New Zealand?

6. Is it a mere coincidence that the original Rako Science offer of service to government was $60 million – the precise figure that APHG offered the government?

All good questions

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