Law professor and economist flag concerns over Cabinet excusing government departments from providing Regulatory Impact Assessments on COVID-19 policies until August 31

Law professor and economist flag concerns over Cabinet excusing government departments from providing Regulatory Impact Assessments on COVID-19 policies until August 31
Jacinda Ardern. Press Gallery pool image from Getty.

Questions are being raised over whether the government is going too far, circumventing regular checks and balances to respond swiftly to COVID-19.

Cabinet has given itself the power to implement multi-billion-dollar policies in response to COVID-19 without being scrutinised by government departments.

It on March 23 decided departments won’t have to provide Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIA) for regulatory proposals responding directly to COVID-19, until August 31.

University of Otago public law professor Andrew Geddis maintains completing RIAs - even in a reduced way - isn’t too much of an ask. He believes this would assure the public the government is at least going some way to adhering to regular decision-making processes.

Meanwhile economist, Cameron Bagrie of Bagrie Economics, has grave fears the government is using the COVID-19 crisis to push through ideologically-driven policy. Scrapping RIAs temporarily only adds to this narrative.

Around $25 billion of taxpayer money has been allocated towards the COVID-19 response so far, with more expected at next Thursday's Budget. To put this in context, KiwiBuild was expected to cost $2 billion over 10 years. 

What are RIAs?

An RIA provides a high-level summary of the problem being addressed, the options and their associated costs and benefits, the consultation undertaken, and the proposed arrangements for implementation and review.

RIAs are typically published at the time the relevant bill is introduced to Parliament or the regulation is gazetted, or at the time of ministerial release.

There have been instances, such as the ban of new offshore oil and gas exploration, where the government has effectively made a decision before an RIA has been written. However the RIA still gets done and the relevant ministry’s advice gets put on the record.

A pointless exercise

Nonetheless, Cabinet on March 23 decided the RIA requirements “do not provide for proposals developed at pace to respond to emergencies”.

It said the process “consumes scare departmental and Treasury resources and time without adding value”.

On the flip side, it recognised scrapping RIAs risks bringing the process into “disrepute”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern couldn’t on Tuesday tell interest.co.nz whether government departments had voluntarily offered Cabinet RIAs, even after decisions had been made, in an attempt to follow the normal process.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson couldn’t provide this assurance either but said Treasury is still commenting on policy, even if this isn’t through the formal RIA process.

Treasury hasn't published any RIAs nor advice on COVID-19 policies like the wage subsidy on its website. 

Asked on Monday about the lack of an RIA in relation to the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, which interest.co.nz revealed was mistakenly included in a piece of legislation passed last Thursday, Ardern pointed to the limited usefulness of financial modelling in the current environment.

“There is a high level of uncertainty around take-up rates, default rates on policies, regardless of how much time you would’ve applied to debating the specifics,” she said.

Some normalcy should be the goal

Geddis recognised making projections in this uncertain environment entails an element of “punching in the dark”.

“Obviously it’s a once in a multi-generation problem we’re facing,” he said.

“But at the same time, we’ve developed processes of government, processes of decision-making that have worked pretty well for us as a society.

“Trying to follow those as much as possible can reassure that the government is responding to this in a way that can be trusted, as opposed to using this for some sort of nefarious power-grab.”

A ‘hellishly dangerous’ situation

Bagrie’s view was less generous.

He was worried an environment, "ripe for political ideology" to dictate the recovery effort, was being created. 

He pointed to the government’s decision, included in its first $12.1 billion COVID-19 response package, to lift main benefits on April 1, saying: “I have no problem raising benefits, but don’t tell me that’s a response package to COVID-19. Let’s call a spade a spade.”

Bagrie said it's essential all the borrowing being done is for a quality spend.

“Treasury’s got to be in the game. They’ve got to be undertaking that role. They’ve got a specific expertise that government officials do not,” he said.

“I think it’s hellishly dangerously at the moment that we’ve got a bunch of individuals deciding what the economy is going to be like on the other side, and they’ve got zero knowledge about business affairs...

“I have a lot of confidence in their crisis management. I have limited confidence in their ability to execute on what the New Zealand economy is going to need on the other side, because their track record is poor."

Criticism under wraps

Geddis likewise noted the difference between a crisis response and a recovery response.

“The government is committing to things on the hope they’re going to work, rather than gathering all the information and then picking the best outcome based on data," he said.

“That’s possibly understandable given we don’t have luxury to really be sitting back and doing the whole policy development process, because if we were to do that - the economy could’ve been completely [ruined]. You’ve got to commit to something.”

However Geddis also noted the politics at play, saying getting Treasury’s view on something that’s already decided, on the record, will likely only be used to criticise the decision.

“So why would the government want that out there?”

Geddis was supportive of Attorney General David Parker releasing the Cabinet decision around moving to Level 3, shortly after this decision was announced, and suggested this model be used with other decisions.

Only one Cabinet decision related to COVID-19 has been published on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website.

Pressure from the Opposition

National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith on Tuesday quizzed Robertson on this in Parliament, asking him: “What advice, if any, beyond the economic scenarios published on 14 April 2020, has he received from Treasury during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis?”

Robertson responded: “I have received a considerable amount of advice from the Treasury on a wide range of matters during the time period that he specifies.”

Then Goldsmith asked: “Why has none of this advice been released?”

And Robertson said: “Decisions around the release of the advice have been taken under the normal rules that we have, and I'm sure, in time, the member will receive it.”

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

84 Comments

33
up

Unbridled power without accountability.

No government is above the law and we have ever right to demand accountability.

However there is no such thing as normal or the old way anymore.
People like the ones in this item are the reason we are in such a mess so frankly I don't see much advantage in listening to them much now.
The rulebook has been thrown out the window on fire.
Time for us to write a new one and tell them what we want in it.

13
up

Beyond belief! We must demand accountability and the return of the democratic process. We don’t have a future without it.

These days you don’t often see the use of the word “hellishly.” Hard to imagine, in the circumstances as described, a better adverb though.

25
up

Transparency? Not. The student leadership in full control. And where is the opposition when you need them?

And seems likely they will be for another term yet LJM...

3 more years instead of 4 more years...

25
up

hardly news for this government

that banned oil and gas permits without discussing it at cabinet level - never mind with the industry
asked police to illegally enforce a complete lockdown
passed the wrong bill in urgency
is going to pass legislation to force commercial landlords to drop their rents -
insisted private landlords met standards a year before the governemt did

least democratic government in NZ history

16
up

Its called Socialism!

19
up

Have always suspected that the untimely and ungrateful demise of the Clark/Cullen lot left much unfinished business. As it was then, we know, we say, you do; approved light bulbs only, shower temps strictly controlled. God help us if that control freak nanny state agenda is now being dusted off, getting ready to re-launch under the smoke screen of this current crisis. If those former puppeteers are out from behind the curtain and have got the strings under their control again, then God Defend New Zealand twice over.

LED lights seem a lot better though. I never need to change a light bulb these days.

Hopefully National win the next election so that Simon can be the puppet of a real communist country eh.

There was I thinking it was Clarke and Cullen and the Socialist Civil Service who signed the FTA that opened the door. The first in the developed world. National just took the door off it's hinges and widened the doorway so the looters could get in faster.

New Zealand was also the first country to betray the Chinese people when we ceased to recognise Taiwan as the Republic of China in 1972.

Here is our shameful record of appeasement:

New Zealand was the first country to support China’s accession to the WTO.
New Zealand was the first developed country to recognize China as a market economy under the WTO.
New Zealand was the developed country (minor or major) to start negotiating an FTA with China.
New Zealand was the first developed country (minor or major) to sign and ratify an FTA with China.

https://archive.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/new-zealand-and-china-...

11
up

Fits perfectly with last Thursday.
You know the Forest Gump chocolate box legislation.

My momma always said, “Legislation was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get, or how much its gonna cost you” ..

It would great to find out who thought of this and who signed off on it. Cabinet minutes thanks.

I mean...good on them for at least formalising the contempt most probably only suspected Wellington had towards the rest of the country. Saves us a lot of time arguing about whether it's happening or not, I guess.

Would've been nice not to have completely obliterated the tourism industry, which may have been our largest export earner. I wonder if we could have gone half way between Sweden and Taiwan, ie relative normality with extreme hygiene (masks) and contact tracing measures. It's easy to be critical in retrospect though.

Happy to see tourism gone. The way it was it was going to implode anyway.

"it was going to implode anyway."

Just saying it doesn't make it true. Post evidence or at least a argument to support your claim.

10
up

It will not be this govt or any other here, any lockdown or any border control that kills tourism, it will be the fact that no-one will be going anywhere for quite some time, until such times as this virus is not around.
This is world-wide you know.

true, but was it really necessary make the Germans repatriate their citizens with specially chartered Lufthansa flights? What kind of F-You message does that send? We've gone full on North Korea when we could have taken a leaf out of South Korea's book. We have to make data driven decisions, speaking of which 712/3711 or 19% of people onboard the diamond princess were infected with COVID19, however only 14 of those old and immunocompromised patients died. South Korea and Taiwan both have far higher population densities that NZ but hardly any new cases.

If the situation were reversed I would be happy to go home, which possibly explains the wing wagging flight around Auckland before they left for Germany.
We have not gone anywhere near being North Korea, you are sounding like a drama queen. South Korea and Taiwan were all geared up from previous outbreak experiences, we weren't, nowhere in the world was, our bad for taking such possibilities lightly.
And I wonder how tourism is going in those places? I expect badly.

I recommend this argument between John Adams and Martin North who have opposing views on the lockdown. The debate is about political accountability, and the justification of ongoing lockdown measures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glcEXcYYVzU&t=7s

Everything gets politicised. My fear is that instead of acknowledging the fluidity of the situation politicians will be more concerned with demonstrating to the public that they were right and the other party was wrong. That may mean doubling down on your original position, and to hell with the consequences.

The consequences are going to be regardless of lockdown or not, this thing is devastating the world as we know it. My thought is, if we are to face hard times, then I would far rather do it without a killer virus to contend with as well. This is what bothers me, the opposers seem to think it will be BAU if we just let this thing alone. I cannot stress this enough - IT WILL NOT!
I believe we are doing the right thing, and as with all beliefs it could turn out to be wrong, but that is something we won't know till we can look back. Hindsight is called that for a reason.

"The consequences are going to be regardless of lockdown or not"

What this sentence lacks is any sense of proportion. It assumes (or glosses over) the fact that not all consequences are identical.

By this method we could justify (or gloss over) paying twice the price for the exact same item and pretend that because the outcome was the same (we both purchased the item) there are no material differences.

Yeah, or not

With that as an argument, I am happy readers can make their own judgement.

16
up

So financial modelling out the window, but health dept modelling now the gold standard. The same turkeys that have predicted empty hospitals not. What does the model now say, oops not what we want it to say.

10
up

Health modelling where the code is 13 years old and the author refuses to release it. "Ferguson revised down his projection of total UK deaths due to Covid-19 from more than half a million to “20,000 or less, two-thirds of which would have died this year from other causes” (in other words, a net 6,700)."
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-the-economic-legacy-of-lo...

I wonder if Jacinda mention in her Oz meeting today that we shouldn't bother to keep the AB / Walabies scores.

Yep, doubtful she would want them to be keeping score in the ledger either.

https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/119907289/extraordinary-scene-as...

After Morrison delivered some anodyne opening remarks about the countries being drawn together in tragedy Ardern went for the jugular over the vexed issue of Australia's deportations of New Zealand citizens that are basically Australians.

And
https://amp.theguardian.com/media/2020/jan/29/factcheck-is-new-zealand-h...

From the climate accountant:
The Australian published comments by four Coalition backbenchers suggesting New Zealand’s climate change minister, James Shaw, was a hypocrite for saying there had been an “allergic reaction” in the international community to countries wanting to use an accounting measure to meet their 2030 climate target under the Paris agreement.

Yep, accounting not too popular in these parts.

I don't trust Ozzy and this Tasman bubble thing. Guessing thinks they are the winners out of it.
Elimination is elimination, to open a boarder with a country that still has the Wuflu is stunning.
As I see it, we are well on the road to being virus free and that is something we can sell and sell at a good price. We dont need Oz or their sexiest, racist and win at all costs ways.

"We dont need Oz or their sexiest, racist and win at all costs ways."

Never been to North Melbourne I take it?

18
up

I'll vote against Labour just for this. Don't give a hoot who. McGillicardy, Conservatives, Fascists, don't care. As long as this lot are out.

12
up

Classic Nat voter non-logic. Vote for a Chinese jackboot stomping on your face forever to avoid imaginary reds under the bed.

I'm calling BS on that, it is what you were going to do anyway.

The classic Churchill quote about the failure of democracy and a 5 minute conversation (I won't quote it directly) comes to mind with this.

Classic apocryphal Churchill...

Hmm, is it possible you forgot to set the sarcasm font before you made this comment. Fascists?

So you're willing to vote for the party that isn't the COL (National), that is talking about removing the foreign buyer ban and selling our houses to foreigners again so our young people can't afford them? And one of the key countries that will likely buy those houses are a people from a communist state? (China).

So are you saying that you want more people from a communist state owning our country? So do you want to be communist?

Guess that line of logic makes sense in some kind of back to front way.

13
up

Thanks, Jenee, another ripper. Love the photo.

We have just one shot at this. One. No more. If a few weeks means we have the best shot, then so be it.
If we lose this battle it definitely WILL be all over economically, but if we win, there is much to be made from it.
Just get over it and get on with it.

Oh yeah, the end justifies the means argument eh.

Sometimes, yes. And this is one of those times.

You can't weight either of those things without knowing the underlying costs, and those are being deliberately obstructed from us by someone who promised the polar opposite when it came to transparency and openness.

Teleological ethics, otherwise known as consequentialism; the morality of an action is to be judged based on its consequences.

More than 80% of my students view the world through this ethical lens.

But I think it's more a case here of pragmatism, not ethics. Hopefully, once the budget is out we'll have a 'play list' for the first time since this started.

Yes, the idea that someone should be judged based on the decisions they made with the information they had at the time, rather than the information that came out after the fact, is a bit too nuanced for many of the commenters here.

In the same way that if you're sitting on 20 in blackjack and you hit, you've made a recklessly bad call even if the next card happens to be an ace.

Yes just imagine if no lockdown. Suddenly all the communist accusations would probably disappear from this site, or would be made from the ICU ward!

11
up

Point being, they're not allowing anyone to know the basis for their decisions!
Not many, if any, would deny the Govt made the right choice to lockdown and close the border....it's the subsequent propaganda, with all for one and one for all cheer-leading, without any release of debate/argument/criteria that has and still worries me! We've been over the initial emergency phase for weeks now... it's time for democracy to return and scare-mongers to retreat to their academic/bureaucratic cubicle.
Successive government can repeal law/regulation, but, not 10's of billions of $$ spent on ideological driven agendas that may send our nation in a direction voters do not want.
P.S. 'lock in the gains' is a the classic gamblers fallacy... objectives and strategy need to take heed of information as it arises.

20/20 hindsight, a special skill of a#@$&*(%s

Accountability by definition almost always involves hindsight.

You need some sort of template for that, we don't have one, everyone is operating on a wing and a prayer here.
You are just dreaming if you think we could BAU our way out of this.

The end only justifies the means when we pretend there is no cost.

Or we could ignore the elephant of cost by telling it 'get over itself', or in other words, "Let them eat cake!"

There is cost in everything, cost in doing something, cost in not. I am fairly certain the cost in not doing anything will be far longer lasting and probably far more "costly" than what we are doing.

18
up

The "Jacinda is Stalin" narrative is getting tedious at this point.

You'll know when you live in a totalitarian state because your friends will be getting snatched off the streets and getting their f-ing kidneys cut out. Not because the cops said you can't go surfing so that the hospital system doesn't collapse.

You want to see what totalitarianism looks like, ask Jian Yang.

https://chinatribunal.com/

Fill your boots.

Not totalitarianism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz1mYqMh4JE

Totalitarianism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08GDQCiU8uU

Can we all see the f-ing difference???

11
up

Yes when its been about kindness and community, she gets labelled a communist...Think its just a certain element of our society threatened by a women with power and convictions. Have family members who have labelled her a communist since elected, but they are getting on now and have voted for National their entire lives. Got to the point I just ignore their ranting now as its complete nonsense and out of touch with reality. And the odd thing I find about the current batch of National voters is that they label everyone communist they don't like, but then want to immediately get back in bed with China which is communist. So really I just figure that current National voters have lost their moral compass and don't know which way is north.

And I've been a National voter in the past and probably will be the future so hopefully I've removed any bias from this take on things.

Partisan politics. Counterproductive, destructive. One party prepared to shaft good legislation that would benefit both the nation and citizens, rather than have the opposition get the kudos. That is the USA, and that illustrates at a time of monumental crisis, exactly that point. NZ is too small, too remote and vulnerable to be able to entertain one iota of such irresponsibility. Sounding off that one party is less bad than the other? What the hell does that prove? Just about got to the point that you cannot have any confidence in anyone for your vote.

Yes I agree. I went to the Jonathan Haidt lecture in Takapuna last year. Have you watched his stuff on youtube or read his books?

He's an American social psychologist and found him fantastic on understanding partisan politics and the divide we're seeing. Its a bad as the civil war apparently in the US!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Haidt

The Coddling of the American mind is a great audiobook if you're looking for something to listen to.

As you say its all quite pointless so I think its important that where possible 'we' can remove the 'us' and 'them'. Having voted for both sides of the equation over the years, I find it difficult when we start labeling each other as communists etc when that is clearly not the truth.

IO on board with all of that. Personally have to admit more than disillusioned with all of our politicians, all segments of the house. Seems to me they represent the interests of the party and themselves foremost. For instance there are a number of cases before the courts over breaches of electoral regulations. So we have in our parliament lawmakers, as the USA like to call them, legislating rules of conduct, and then immediately themselves setting out to defeat that very same law. Call me a cynic but how can they possibly validate themselves as representatives of the people. It’s a can of worms and it sucks!

Women in power. If any further confirmation is needed about many people's attitudes about that, read this https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/300004611/jacinda-ardern-an...

14
up

Exactly. It's all just kneejerk nonsense at this point and the claims that they're trying to defend liberty are completely devoid of credibility. I have voted for a different party in every election I've voted in, but this is the first election I won't even bother to read policy it's that much of a clear cut single-issue for me.

Here's an offer for the National voters here: all of you get all your mates together and bombard Simon's inbox with the following requests:

- remove the CCP agent from the party list
- refund all donations from CCP associated parties
- join Scott Morrison in his calls for an investigation into the virus outbreak
- call for an official international investigation into organ harvesting and concentration camps in China
- develop a coherent, realistic plan to reduce NZ's economic dependence on China

At that point, I will stand corrected and believe that you give a flying f-k about liberty, sovereignty and independence and that you legitimately have some values that don't change with the weather. Get all that into the National Party policy platform and I'll change my vote. You can put whatever else you want on there, deep sea drilling, mining conservation land, go nuts. I'll vote National.

Until that day comes I will continue to believe you're making up a bedtime story for yourself to justify voting for the party you think will allow you to make the most easy money.

Two days in a row. Bravo!

These would be reasonable to ask of National if you weren't using them to defend Labour while ignoring that they're not doing any of this stuff either. Most of the wealthy Chinese donors (until Labour published their idiotic Chinese-sounding surnames smear anyway - which no one ever apologised for) were donating to both parties to protect themselves against this kind of thing, so chances are the same CCP donors you're so bent out of shape about have been funding both parties. And I can't recall Jacinda announcing plans for any of those other points either.

You can set arbitrary bars for National by all means, but using them to deflect criticism from Labour's actions (ones that challenge their self-professed values of openness and transparency) when Labour doesn't even do any of this stuff is extremely partisan, intentionally or otherwise.

This is one of the major issues we could fix right now. NO parties can accept donations, they get an allowance from the public purse and that's it.
If a party is caught taking donations or any other dodgy monitory gain the whole party is thrown out of parliament for two years or some such.

Lets end the corruption.

Telling people to dob in their neighbours in is not kindness.

Destroying peoples livelihood is not community.

Things are a lot more complex than you present.

It is the pandemic that is destroying people's livelihoods and would do so regardless. Not enough people grasp the reality of this.

At least the CCP change the laws to suit rather than breaking them. I guess it is NZs first time at it lol

I think we are fortunate to be where we are regardless off govt.But forget kiwi build market forces will take over from here. And lets not prop up businesses with no prospect of a future . Just saying as a tax payer.

I agree. As long as the public sector is trimmed accordingly

You speak as if totalitarian is an all or nothing on-off switch. That is a mistake.

* To remove a freedom is a step toward the totalitarian.

* To ask police to enforce something that might not be legal is a step toward the totalitarian.

* To use a disaster as a veil behind which to pass idealogical legislation is a step toward the totalitarian.

* To mock or hide from accountability is a step toward the totalitarian.

* To pass laws without oversight or effective review is a step toward the totalitarian.

A price of freedom is eternal vigilance. There are always those who claim vigilance is not required, or vigilance is not relevant, or that vigilance should not be allowed a voice.

That's why freedom is not free.

Bagries 100% correct - Political ideology overruling basic due process and low/ no accountability...

Any available reports, advise or evidence release is being kicked down the road till near election time

There is no doubt that the current circumstances provides a target rich environment for the opposition and the self-appointed armchair experts/critics who think they know better as shown in the comment stream and the subjects of the article. But the question is what would the Nat's have done if they were in government, and at what cost?

I largely agree with the government's direction here to firstly protect life, and secondly preserve as much as possible the economy. I am waiting for them to put in place some measures that will address a lot of the equity issues in our society, as GR has already identified that there is an opportunity to 'reset' the economy.

I believe that this Government was essentially trapped into providing subsidies for landlords when it was elected, and yes COVID19 has also forced it to provide a level of subsidies across the board, but most importantly it appears at least that they are working to ensure those subsidies are actually supporting those who need it most, the working people as opposed to business owners. Yes there are a few of those who have rorted the system, but their time of reckoning is coming. COVID gives them, the government, the opportunity to do what they have expressed that they want, but they still need to figure how to achieve that in a vastly changed world.

"the question is what would the Nat's have done if they were in government"

That's both a red herring and empty speculation.

The question is how can a government be held to account for its actions.

Point of regular debate here Ralph, you might have noted.

You may have also noted that many are ardently anti the current Government and strongly pro-Nats without offering much in the way of constructive debate. Thus the lack of response to that question.

As to holding the Government, any Government to account - how would you do it?

Well, as per Michael Reddell's constant plea, put in the public eye every scrap of official advice received about any and all major decisions, and keep Parliament in session to debate 'em. Used to happen - oh - only a few months ago (although not for RBNZ MPC etc....)

There is so much distaste for businesses in these blogs, with such a negative perspective on them asking for assistance or getting back to work, which is perceived to be a high risk request?
Yet evidence in terms of new infections and total deaths paints a very different picture, especially when you consider >30,000 people die to other causes every year which is nearly 600 every week (>5,000 p.a. from heart disease etc)
While employees have received payouts for 3 months, it is only 3 months... and businesses - particularly SME's are the lifeblood of job creation, and so to create a sustainable recovery they are absolutely vital

I have family members who runs service based businesses who employ 20-25 staff who were looking at selling their business 3-4 months ago for 7 figures, and now a mere 4 months later are saying they are forced to let people go and are questioning whether they should just shut up shop or risk losing everything
As even rents of 50% over a lot of rents coupled with zero income = hemorrhaging cash quickly, which is simply unsustainable

The sooner we get back to work the better for everyone, the more SME's that fail due to the lock down the longer the recovery will take - and we cannot rely on government to subsidize everyone indefinitely as where do the majority of tax payer dollars come? either directly or indirectly?, businesses... and this from someone who voted for labour

This is why governments must be accountable for their actions.

In my personal view, very often people emphasize the importance of what they do not posses or are simply the opposite of. The National party name is one example, they are many things but national is not one of them. Also, Jacinda is always talking about honesty, transparency etc. It is probably because she has never been either in her entire life. Through out this last three years, she has never given an honest and straightforward answer to any question asked of her. I never forget that at election time when she was asked if she has ever lied, she looked into the camera and said no! And I never forget that when she was questioned about lack of testing on Covid more than a month ago, she said that it has been the decisions of the doctors not to test and not the MOH protocol. She is so much like John Key in this regards it is painful.

How do you know what she was told? Unless she sat in on the decision making process she would have accepted advice from her advisers. Having worked in Health and knowing that a lot of the decisions coming out of the MoH are driven or made by medical professionals then her statement is quite reasonable. But then i guess if you are out to look for fault then you'll find it no matter the message.

Come on Murray. I do not know what she was told. that is true. But she has been born and bred in NZ. She must have some experience with NZ health system, and if she believed, even for 1 second, that NZ doctors will do something against the MOH protocol she must be very low IQ (which she is not).

I do know that many doctors often have issues with MoH protocols and are silenced by highly politicised health boards and systems. But i also know most if not all of MoH guidlines are based on advice or direct opinions of medical professionals, so i have no issue with JA's comments.

As to transparency, I suggest all Governments struggle with this balance and it is only with history , often as people start to write memoirs, or when journo's get their hands on internal documents that we know the full writ of just how transparent they were. Certainly JKs Nats were not very.

So they got rid of a few consultants. So what?

Jenee is not quite acheiving cut thru with me these days. Want to talk about using a crisis to drive through ideology ? Look no further than the failed string of policies the Key governments implemented across the lost decade. All done in the name of discredited ideology. I would suggest some of you consider that while barking at the socialist peril dog whistlers!

We are in the biggest shutdown since a World War and the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression.

I suggest it's time to live in the present.

Fair enough 4th Estate. Can't win 'em all. Just want to point out that Cameron Bagrie is concerned about ideology-driven policy being pushed through. I have never shared a view on this. The only opinion I have shared in recent times is in this piece. As per the opinion piece, I believe we need more transparency around decision-making. I have only ever shared a personal view on the process, not the specific policies or spending decisions.