The conflicted Covid Chair

Kata MacNamara reports:

Details of Tony Blakely’s involvement in the New Zealand Government’s response to the pandemic raise serious questions about the work of the Covid-19 Royal Commission of Inquiry over which he presides.

It has long been clear that Blakely, a respected epidemiologist and professor at the University of Melbourne, has a network of colleagues who were key players in advising the New Zealand Government on its Covid policies and indeed who worked deep within the government response.

But the extent of Blakely’s personal involvement, including his friendships with these players and the advice he gave them, has only now been publicly disclosed. …

It seems pointless to carry on this work – either narrowly focused or otherwise – if there are questions over the impartiality of the inquiry chair.

Van Velden may yet ask Blakely to resign; she told the Herald: “The makeup of the inquiry commissioners, as well as scope of the inquiry are decisions that I am currently considering.”

Tony Blakely is an honourable guy, but is too conflicted to be seen independent enough to be Chair of the Royal Commission. I think he should be retained as a member, but the Minister should appoint a new Chair.

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