- Date published:
8:38 am, July 31st, 2020 - 35 comments
Categories: health, making shit up, national, same old national, spin, uncategorized, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: clusterfuck, hamish walker, Michelle Boag
The Heron report inquiring into National MP Hamish Walker and Michelle Boag’s misuse of confidential health information has been released. And it is frustratingly short of detail.
It reads like a collation of press releases augmented with some carefully prepared statements and topped off with an analysis of Ministry of Health processes.
There is nothing new in the report, it confirms what we already know. Walker and Boag “were each responsible for the unauthorised disclosure of this sensitive personal information. Their motivations were political. Their actions were not justified or reasonable.”
The cause of this particular episode is rather strange. Walker was upset that he was called racist after he made a statement about how potentially Covid infected people from India, Pakistan and Korea were on their way to his electorate. He said he found that “extremely upsetting” and unfair. He also said that his “primary concern was the ability to quarantine a significant number of people in the electorate without the appropriate facilities to do so, not the race or ethnicity of the people.”
To add to the sense of cluster fuckery Walker gave this reason for releasing the information:
My intention was to show that my initial Press Release was based on fact and was not racially motivated. However, I accept that the spreadsheet sent on did not prove that point as it gave the names of people and not the places they had departed from, to New Zealand.
And to make things even worse the places that the people, who are all returning kiwis, departed from is publicly available. The figures from three weeks ago were:
So Walker released sensitive details about Covid sufferers to prove something the information could not prove and which was easily disproved by information that was publicly available. A more complete cluster fuck is hard to imagine.
Heron was asked to report on “whether there is a risk of ongoing breaches or further exposure of the information” so I was hoping he would ask who else Boag had sent the information to.
At a press conference he said (h/t Sachya Dylan):
I wish the report said this, just to be sure. Because it states:
I am assured by Ms Boag and Mr Walker that no further breaches or exposure will occur. Mr Walker told me: I have deleted the spreadsheet from my computer equipment. I do not precisely recall the information in the spreadsheet and I have no intention of further exposing that information.
… Ms Boag advised that she has retained material relevant to respond to this inquiry but will destroy it upon confirmation from me that it is no longer needed. I will confirm that to her.
For completion the report should have recorded that Boag had been asked which other people she had sent this or similar information to and her response.
Heron had the power to ask Ms Boag to bring her laptop and show who she had sent the information to. It looks like this did not happen. I guess the complete and abject surrender by Boag and Walker persuaded him that he did not have to. But I still wonder if the information may have made its way to other members of National’s caucus.
Apart from a comment that he should have counselled Boag not to release the information Michael Woodhouse escapes relatively unscathed. Although there is still an overwhelming feeling that he is a hypocrite and has been playing wide and loose by blaming the Government for Boag’s leaks.
And this cannot have helped National’s standing, especially with members of the medical community.
There will be a Privacy inquiry into what has happened here.