Yesterday was a pretty spectacular day. It was the day that the country learned conclusively that for National winning political advantage was more important than keeping the population safe from Covid.
I don’t know what other interpretation to put on it.
Two weeks ago I said this:
It appears that National has decided to oppose every thing the Government is doing. And publicly trash efforts by claiming that the effort is a national disgrace while pretty well every country is looking at New Zealand and wishing they had achieved something similar. And I can’t help but wonder if some within National are secretly cheering for a second community outbreak to occur.
Harsh I know. But how else do you explain Michael Woodhouse’s decision to score political points rather than alert the government about what could have been a significant risk? That period of a day or so where clearly senior levels of the Ministry of Health did not know about the road trip could have been disastrous.
National’s rhetoric about how badly the Government was doing and how inept its response was can now be augmented by the news that National operatives actively leaked confidential medical information. And then National jumped up and down about the privacy breach.
Hamish Walker’s explanation does not make sense. He has offered two explanations.
The first is that he wanted to justify his claim that Indians, Pakistanis and Koreans some infected with Covid were on their way to Queenstown.
The second is that he wanted to highlight the failure of the Government to keep the information confidential.
Neither explanation stands up. And if the second reason was the real reason he could have gone public and said that he had been given confidential information and then handed it to the authorities. But I guess then he would have dropped Boag in it.
Audrey Young has poured a huge dollup of scorn on the claim. From the Herald:
The National Party has suffered a massive breach of sound judgment from top to bottom.
MP Hamish Walker’s confession to being the person who sent the names of Covid-19 patients to media outlets was bad enough — but his apology has reinforced his shocking judgment.
It is an apology for an apology. It smacks of self-righteous post-fact justification, and downright deception.
His statement suggests his motive for sending the list was akin to some kind of white-hat hacker, trying to expose weaknesses in the Government’s information systems.
“By exposing a significant privacy issue I hope the Government will improve its protocols and get its safeguards right.”
The gall of it.
His actual motive, as understood by my colleague Amelia Wade who received the list, was to defend his reputation against allegations of racism.
He had been accused of racism for saying it was disgraceful that communities in his part of the world, Queenstown and Dunedin, had not been consulted about them possibly being used for managed isolation, and singling out three countries.
“These people are possibly heading for Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown from India, Pakistan and Korea.”
Apparently the list he sent through doesn’t actually list country of nationality or where they had flown from and so the list proved absolutely nothing — except poor judgment.
The information concerning where infected kiwis had flown from is paradoxically available publicly. Figures for the past two months are:
And this morning there were further developments highlighted by Radio New Zealand. These include:
The lawyering up by Walker is particularly interesting. What was he hoping to achieve?
This episode displays how poor Walker’s judgment is. And how much of a mess National’s caucus is in. And how Muller has no control over his caucus. And how elements within National are happy to trash the Country’s Covid response for political advantage.