PM's office confirms Assistant Chief of Defence had been part-leading COVID-19 isolation/quarantine operations for several weeks; It remains unclear how his promotion to fully lead this will strengthen the system

PM's office confirms Assistant Chief of Defence had been part-leading COVID-19 isolation/quarantine operations for several weeks; It remains unclear how his promotion to fully lead this will strengthen the system
Ashley Bloomfield. Getty Images.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office has confirmed Assistant Chief of Defence Air Commodore Darryn (Digby) Webb had been managing the operations and logistics related to COVID-19 isolation/quarantine for “four to six weeks”.

He had not however overseen the health side of isolation/quarantine. Now he will.

Ardern on Wednesday called a press conference to announce Webb would be in charge of isolation/quarantine. She did this as the Government came under fire for letting two women, later found to have COVID-19, out of isolation on compassionate grounds without testing them first.

Ardern failed to mention the fact Webb had been involved in leading this work already.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield and the all-of-government response team didn’t specify this either when on Thursday asked them a number of questions around how Webb’s appointment would improve the system.

It was known that Webb had already been involved at a high level. However the impression Ardern gave was that his promotion would see the military swoop in to save the day.

Webb will continue reporting to former police commissioner Mike Bush, as he always has.

The spokesperson for Ardern's office said having Webb in charge of all components of isolation/quarantine would break the silos between the agencies involved in the response.

When earlier asked the all-of-government team to detail exactly how things would change under Webb’s leadership, it said details were still being worked through and Webb would be able to talk more about this on Friday afternoon.

Bloomfield at the 1pm press conference said the military could contribute additional resources to help ensure isolation/quarantine processes and protocols were followed.

“Ever since the facilities have been set up, the oversight and the management of the facilities have been an all-of-government responsibility,” he said.

“The announcement yesterday was affirming the role that Air Commodore Webb has, and the ability to draw on defence resources as required to ensure that those facilities have the staff that they need and they’re able to be run in accordance with the very strict protocols that we, from a public health perspective, require them to be run.”

Whether Webb’s new position would fundamentally change things, was a question National’s defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell asked Defence Minister Ron Mark during question time in parliament. Mark couldn’t provide specifics either.

Mitchell believed Ardern on Wednesday gave the impression the Defence Force would have a more proactive role than it would in reality.

She said her job was to "fix" things after there had been an “unacceptable failure of the system”.

Bloomfield couldn’t say how many people had been released from managed isolation/quarantine without being tested, since this became a requirement on June 9 under Level 1 rules.

There was one new case of COVID-19 reported on Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases in the country up to three.

The latest case is a man in his 60s who arrived in Auckland on June 13. He came from Pakistan via Doha and Melbourne and is in quarantine in Jet Park hotel.

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Dont worry Jenee , I dont get it either .

I dont see how the army is suddenly able to do something the Health Ministry , or the Police as law enforcement cannot do more sympathetically or compassionately .

Our army is not trained for this type of thing , and given the army have never attracted our brightest , and more so given the manpower and skills shortage in the forces is and always has been probelmatic .

That said , it has strong leadership of able men , and we do have a proud military history.

We are not a militaristic society in any shape or form , and I dont generally see our military as having skill sets to deal with a civilian pandemic .


You do realise that our army is renowned for their humanitarian and aid missions right?

They played a big part of the recovery in Christchurch after the quakes.

Of course the army did good work after CHCH quakes and also Kaikoura ............they were doing things they are trained to do

Flying in essential supplies
Ground Logistics and relief aid
Checkpoint control to stop people entering the city
Preventing looting
Helping the injured
Digging bodies out of the CTV building
Carrying and fetching stuff
Night patrols
Handing out blankets , tinned food and powdered milk
Running Field kitchens

Covid -19 ................... not the same

If they help strenghten ground logistics and ensure strong checkpoint control then their presence is definitely going to help.

Stop saying army. The defence force is made up of the navy,air force and army. And considering we only have a special forces base in Auckland the majority of work will be done by Air and Navy.





"A word of caution: the military is no quarantine panacea. NZDF personnel have been on quarantine patrol duties since April 1, and yet breaches occurred. The NZDF record on transparency is poor. It has a record of coverups and whitewashes (e.g Operation Burnham). So yes, it has the legal authority (under the declared state of national health emergency) and logistical capacity to improve quarantine restriction enforcement, but it is an open question as to whether it will perform better or report honestly on its mission. The Navy crowd control exercise last week now seems oriented towards more than overseas deployments and suggests that the govt knew that things were amiss in the quarantine regime well before the breaches were made public. There is much to unpack here." via

Clearly our health officials are incompetent and don't know how to follow instructions. Ignoring testing requirements, setting up birthday parties and sharing spittle infested cake to one and all, mixing and mingling day 1 arrivals with day 13 residents, strutting the potentially infected around crowded Auckland streets etc..... These actions show not only do the health officials lack training, they also lack common sense.

Hopefully a military presence will at least ensure orders are followed. That's all they need to be trained to do, follow orders.

Someone cynical might say it's to get people used to the presence of the military so it's not such a shock having them visiblly present when we move back to level 4 in a couple of weeks. But Jacinda and her crew aren't cynical are they?

You sound like Duncan Garner on the AM show this morning during his political segement, at the end he said" if you need any help Judith, just give me a call ". Disgraceful journalism. To her credit she walked away or was this just a smokescreen. Breakfast shows should not be this biased.

You sound like you'd be better off watching Breakfast, that's full of leftie sycophants.

XX, I worry that your own echo chamber is turning you slowly but surely into a likeness of the grizzled emperor of Star Wars.

Actually. I find them quite balanced.


Quarantine, to be effective, requires strong enforcement.

I think this is something the Defence Force can bring to the table.

C'mon custard ........enforcement ...........With a gun ?.

We are not a lawless society that requires military rule , we are really a very compliant society compared to some places I have worked in or experienced .

That military enforcement nonsense belongs in Africa , the Middle East , PNG , and parts of South America , not here

Good grief – could we be more dramatic.

A presence - making sure everyone knows what’s expected of them and follows the rules – rules which the individuals concerned have agreed to by their act of returning.

Not hard.

Why their presence will have such effect? like, if you see uniform wearing soldiers in Auckland airport, you are then more likely to follow self-quarantine procedures?
The problem must be with procedures: they are either not properly designed or they are not properly being implemented. No one clearly communicate on where the problem is exactly. If they communicated that, then we could be able to see if military forces involvement would have been helpful or not. For all talk of transparency, the current government communication on every topic continues to be inaccurate and incomplete.

To bad our current ROE states that all enforcement will be done by the police.

*unless you're in the Mob, BLM or you have a couple of mates from an internet chat room. Speaking of which - could you vouch for me on my gun license application? Cheers.

RNZ's Checkpoint has just tweeted this. I've made inquiries. 

HT mr Foyle.

Interesting - I wonder what “in charge of” really means - clear and absolute authority in all matters or sort of baby-sitting?

It could mean Chris Bishop didn't lobby the MoH or Labour, but Digby Webb for the release of these ladies out of quarantine. But I'm only speculating of course

Here you go again .. did he lobby for them to be released without a test or a proper interview ? Pretty desperate .. obviously no other way to deflect from the shambles.

Maybe Digby votes Blue and likes Chris Bishop's mullet?

May be you just have nothing meaningful to say and are therefore spewing fantastical smears ?

You could actually be right about something for once?

Personally I think it was stupid for the press and others (including rabid, frothing facebookers) to be pushing for exceptions willy-nilly. In what fanciful universe did they ever think NZ had the resources to manage all manner of exceptions without anything falling through the cracks...Hard enough as it was already to try to manage a global pandemic. Idiocy to be asking for exceptions to isolation and quarantine.

Government has so far borrowed several 10's of billions for lockdown costs and has around 400000 employees, and you are saying they are under-resourced to quarrantine/isolate 4000 people effectively 3 months after lockdown started? The only thing lacking here is planning and execution, pretending otherwise is just advertising your tribalism.

Is the act of lobbying a bad thing..

as the local MP he did his job advocating for the family, it is not his fault the whole set up stinks and like they say a fish rots from the head.
the stories coming out ie the DR whom went through the Novotel quarantine and wrote to the heads weeks ago to say they are not up to scratch, no testing and cohorts from different countries and arrival dates mixing and mingling with each other.
the guy flying to christchurch who mixed with the two women whom was not tested,
the homeless man that joined the queue and got a free two week stay, this one is really disturbing as they are not checking passenger manifests against people checking into the hotels, would not be surprised to find someone slip out without being noticed
i know people that work at the airport that have no PPE and come in contact with these people that now check their rosters when news reports come out to check if they were on as they are not tested and more of a worry the incoming passengers are not covid tested on arrival so they have to wait 5-7 days to hear on the news if they may have came in contact with one of them.
when you know what is going on its makes you mad about being locked away in level 4 for 4 weeks doing the right thing so a bunch of incompentants can ruin all the good work.
someone please explain why we dont test test test, they should be tested on arrival to see if they already have it , after 6 days in case they picked it up on route(incubation is normally 3-7 days) , and after 12 days to give the all clear to be released

I’m speechless. Surely you missed the /sarc tag? I knew this site had more than its fair share of leftie apologists but I didn’t have you figured for one.

Yes I dont put sarc tags in deliberately because it's hilarious seeing people's reactions

Even Willie Jackson toned down his rhetoric this morning. Ardern needs to own this. I have never bought into her as PM (no surprises there). I think she is responsible for one of the most ineffective governments in NZ history. However, apparently until yesterday far more saw it a different way.

Dragging Bishop into this yesterday stunk and I think many people saw it for what it was. A government with no answers reverting to pointing the finger.

Bishop hasn't come out and defended himself so of course he is culpable in this crime. Natio al always wanted to open up the borders at Level 4 so there is no where to hide here. Muller has made so many negative statements he has certainly got the worst Track Record of any minister in the house, currently.

Logicthinker, this debunks your claim.

What is the crime you refer to?
the Muller list you are keeping, where can we see it?

I'm also curious which Ministry Muller has made missteps in. As leader of the opposition, that's quite a feat.

Amazing how far people will go to slur the party they just don't like and what dazzling levels of stupidity they will overlook from the party they do like, especially if it's the one in charge and actually the party making all the fumbles.

Why has he gone on Twitter rather than make a National statement on Stuff and/ NZ Herald. He looked like a possum in a cars headlights on the TV1 news last night. Maybe he should have kept his mullet as a disguise. He looks to be playing Muller political tactics to me and we know how low his political profile is at the moment or is really a wannabe Labour candidate. Even Bridges fluffed up on Whats My Number this week by saying Lets Do This.

Thanks Logicthinker, you have given us all any early worked example.

cognitive dissonance
the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.

He went on RNZ Checkpoint yesterday with Lisa Owen. I note this was the day after the PM, Bloomfield and Health Minister declined to appear on RNZ Checkpoint.

Absolutely incorrect. He was on Checkpoint last night getting a grilling with questions likely furnished by Labour spin merchants. He fronted unlike most of the Cabinet in the last three months.

People who think Muller is mr bland should watch his thundering takedown of the serially incompetent minister Clark in parliament. It got my attention and I'm looking forward to him going head to head with the princess of dreams. Maybe not the corporate patsy blockhead I worried he might be.

I dont think he will be operating in the Lower Hutt electorate after the upcoming election. He could always grow his mullet back and join a hippie commune.

Bishopgate is a desperate CoL spin attempt to deflect attention from its reckless incompetence. It ain't working.


Looks like the bringing the Military in was all fake, Webb is no clean skin.
Why did PM and her dept let the fake story run.

This was written 4:08pm this afternoon.

Powerplay - Public confidence in New Zealand's border controls has been shattered.

The obvious anger of the prime minister when talking about the latest border bungle shows that goes right to the top.

The fate of Health Minister David Clark and potentially Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield hang in the balance, having ultimate responsibility for putting the rules in place, and making sure they're followed.


Labour is demonstrating it can still lose the election. If Jacinda wants her public support to stay up, David Clark, Ashley Bloomfield and Mike Bush all need to be sporting black eyes and various other rolling pin injuries next time they are seen in public.


Mike Bush bailed before the Royal commission highlights the failure by police to follow proper process when providing mosque shooter with a firearms licence.

And creating a thick smokescreen to cover his disastrous vetting process failure by noisily demanding a draconian and poorly targeted gun confiscation and registration regime. The previous process, including relaxation of the rules he supported and Ardern's committee implemented, would have have foiled the mosque shooter scum if properly implemented.

I've had clarification of the situation from the PM's office. Story has been updated.

Politics and optics... 


Having also served in the RNZAF as well as Police I'll back the Air Commodore to sort this. One thing the military does very well is logistics. Personally I'd sack Bush and put Webb in overall charge, including over the health ministry, he'll be more competent and make stuff happen. One thing about the military is the corroborative approach to getting the job done, quite different to the commercial world.

I would not think that armed forces personally would be armed for this work unless they were based at at a port.

Cheers Scarfie. I took a little offence at Boaties comments above re the collective intellect of our military. Clearly he has never been a member. I do accept that there are a few who are not too bright and get through the respective filters, but over all these few do not last long as the expectations are too high on individual performance. Having said that the military is an ordinary organisation which ultimately produces it's own code ethics and resulting behaviour, which on occasion can be questionable. But overall the standards are very high.

As to arming them, I understand that there are laws that specifically allow the Police to carry and use firearms in the execution of their duties (specifically defined circumstances) but these laws do not (or did not) cover the military. I think the Government would have to enact specific legislation to allow the use of weapons, potentially against NZ citizens, in a non-wartime scenario inside the country.

The RNZAF is full of bright people, try fixing a Hercules or Blackhawk (I worked on Iroquois amongst other work). The Avionics technicians are smarter than most of the officers. But you need some stupid ones that will obey orders :-P

What you will find is that the armed forces pick up a lot of people from rural areas that don't see much opportunity for work there. They also pick up classic under achievers, which is a category I'd put myself it at the time. That is why I didn't stay long. Best job I ever had though, a real camaraderie I never found in the Police. I'm still friends with people from that time and would be accepted amongst the group again instantly. There is also an instant trust and respect found when you come across ex-military people in your journey. When you have both served it breaks down a barrier, you know you have both been through the same filter, the same process to get in. A criminal in the military is rare, they can't get through basic training. A small, but significant, number of questionable disposition get into the Police.

Yes correct on the the firearms. There is sometimes special charters for parades where services are permitted firearms with bayonets attached. I've marched up the main streets of Whangarei (Anzac Day), Waitakere, and Auckland City where the council extended such an invite. What could conceivably happen is that personnel are made temporary constables. I doubt that is necessary though, they just need the boots on the ground to make stuff happen.

Btw Murray, I'm sure that war veterans would be turning in their grave at the civil rights violations this government and Police have perpetrated. They fought for that freedom and it was given away very lightly. Doesn't matter what good cause you find, all good causes are equal. The cause is temporary, the principle of freedom endures and affects generations to follow.

Possibly Scarfie, but I do know a few veterans (Vietnam) these days and while they understand your perspective, i've not found one who agrees. They all accept this being about the greater good, and life and death decisions. those two women decided their rights were more important than others rights to remain disease free and possibly alive. That, to me, is unconscionable under any circumstances. The 'freedoms' you toss around so lightly include being able to be protected from the other idiots in society who think they are more important than the next person. A comparatively minor inconvenience versus a lot dying, or a lifetime legacy of health issues? The inconvenience wins hands down I suggest.

That's all well and good as long as it stays as a "minor inconvenience"and doesn't further encroach on our lives, correct?

I don't think those that lose their jobs permanently will find this a minor inconvenience. I did a back of the envelope calculation based on data from the downfall of Russia and the resulting increase in mortality in the young from the economics effects. New Zealand can start to expect around 15,000 premature deaths per year in under 65's. I'm only calculating heart attacks, cancer and suicide, so it could be worse. I saw how this works in a neighbour post GFC, being unable to pay the mortgage and look after his young family had a devastating effect. It was a skin condition with him, so very visual. I've not been bothering to argue this much, most can't see past their bias to apply rational to the problem. We'll have to wait and see in two years time. Too late by then though. My economics professor friend knows the data well and is doing a paper on Covid-19 to account for it all.

Note I said 'comparatively' and as compared to dying or a lifetime ongoing impact it is relatively minor. I have lost jobs in the past and had to retrain, jump sectors etc, and lost a home due to upheavals so I do understand the impacts. But they are all less than dying!

When the final wash of COVID data comes back, look for an accounting of the mortality, direct and indirect, or delayed. I picking it won't be pretty. I think you're right about bias's and it seems you might be struggling to see past your own.

The simple statistic I saw early, thanks to my professor friend, is that the mortality of an unemployed working age person increased by 63%. That is for the USA. In Russia it was more marked, death from heart disease doubled for under 65's. So the death rates are actually well known. I've never said done fight it, but count the whole cost before you do extreme measures. In the great depression New Zealands unemployment rate went to 35%.

I posted the final wash the other day for the USA. Overall death rate, all causes all ages for the year to the end of May, up 2%. As the professor says, statistically insignificant despite the crowing out how badly they are managing it.

I know how the immune system works Murray, not many do. No bias, just science. Healthy people are already immune to the virus, about 40% of the population going by stats coming from cruise ships. Vaccines are not going to help in this one.

Principles too Murray, pandemics are a part of the future no matter what. Only defense is being healthy.

Mere collateral damage, deferred thus hidden from view. Holding onto power is the game thus immediate objectives that can be understood by short attention span voters.

This government has been guilty of treating the public like idiots the last couple of weeks

And its supporters as idiots for three years.

The Count.
We have seen examples of too few in quarantine, people spilling out.
There is now the case of too many being in quarantine.

So much for a roll call, head count, sounds like didn't score a test either. Did he miss out on the qr code wrist band too.

A homeless man enjoyed an all-expenses-paid stay at a plush hotel used for isolating arrivals in Auckland after wandering in off the street, in what could be the making of a Kiwi folk hero.

It is understood the man walked into the Crowne Plaza in central Auckland, currently being used for the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of new arrivals to New Zealand.

Michael Woodhouse revealed the man bluffed his way into an Auckland hotel during a television interview on Thursday morning but did not specify which one.

Stuff can exclusively report the hotel was the four-star Crowne Plaza in Albert Street.

and now looks like someone in contact with the women mixing and mingling at the novatel may have got infected, if i was them i would sue the government for lack of care, how would you feel you come back to NZ because its safe, you go into 14 day quarantine to keep NZ safe but the people supposed to keep you safe let you mix and mingle and catch it from an infected traveller

another story emerging, it will be interesting if they do another poll soon labour will find they have lost all their lead over the incompetence they are showing looking after the borders

Dream on. Muller has proven to be a more negative candidate that Bridges. No National believer ever thought that was possible, I am sure.

The same bridges who on stuff this morning is described as :
The only person who has come out well is former National leader Simon Bridges who was pilloried – and eventually lost his job – for claiming that the while the “team of 5 million” had done its job in stamping out the virus, the Cabinet and wider Government needed to step up.

He was probably hearing the exact same things people blindly dismissed as 'negative smears' because our PM couldn't possibly be spinning things to the point they became disconnected from the truth.

Can you tell us what the going rates for labour social media operatives these days? I know some people looking for work, and it's clearly a growing industry with a lot of job openings coming up to the election.

The PM shrugs off apologies/responsibility because she says her job is to be a leader, and as a leader, her job is to fix the border control isolation/quarantine debacle. If the situation wasn’t so serious, her act would be more akin to a laughing jackass comedy show because the overall border control fiasco does vividly highlight once again, what a labour/socialist government is good at. Regardless of whether you are rich or poor, they are so good at spreading and sharing misery around equally.

1) Covid19 test at the international flight origin before boarding flight(s) to NZ
2) Mandatory masks on planes -
3) All airport staff to wear masks & gloves
4) All pilots & crew to be quarantined. There are plenty of unemployed pilots & aircrew
5) All quarantine hotels to be separate a) symptomatic hotels & b) symptom free c) other hotels
6) International flights can use CHC, AKL, ZQN, DUD, WLG, IVC to spread the hotel load
6) Mandatory Covid 19 tests on arrival, day 6 & day 12
7) No one leaves quarantine until day 14
8) Tighten up seaport borders to similar standards -
9) Mandatory isolation until a test result if you are a contact through track & trace
10) Separate Covid19 wards/hospitals totally isolated from other facilities and with full PPE

and now 4 people came of the thai flight this morning with very high fevers and taken straight to hospital, and they are not required to test before boarding or to wear masks because that is an international flight, only from aussie now do you need to wear masks.
at least japan has the right idea you must test before getting on the plane to go there wear masks on the plane and be tested again when you land
its like MOH wants more cases here to give them something to do

Wait, that's coming FROM NZ and arriving in Thailand? Oh wow...

'Ardern failed to mention Webb had been involved in leading this work already'
'Bloomfield didn’t specify this either when asked how Webb would improve the system'
'The impression Ardern gave was the military swooping in to save the day'

Lies, deception, spin or empty headed waffling. Take your pick.

It's like watching South Canterbury Finance all over again.

Except you knew that while Hubbard was out of his depth and confused about boundaries, he wasn't a practised deceiver.

Not so sure on that one. His son/daughter is pretty good at deception

A big part of the problem is that those performing incompetently at the operational coalface know there will be "no consequences" - Adern even said herself she wasn't interested in a witch hunt. But, this is exactly what needs to happen, as well as fixing the slack procedures. There needs to be some real fear instilled in these workers, ie really serious consequences for failure. Remember, the consequences for failure could cost us billions of dollars as well as further lives lost. I wonder what the penalty would be in China for such gross incompetence? Surely not capital punishment, but a lengthy stay in jail would surely be on the menu.

Interesting comment from Adern's office that giving the military control over the whole quarantine procedure instead of only part of it would break down the agency silos. Yet we are also told that the border response is a 'whole of government" response presumably with all silos intact. She could have been more honest in making us all aware that the military was already involved knees-deep!

I'd be happy with fixing the problem rather than the blame. But given the ongoing pattern of failure in everything the coalition does it appears the problem really is the leadership.

now they bring in the fix it lady for another ministers stuff up
Housing Minister Megan Woods is set to oversee Covid-19 isolation facilities as the Government tries to get a handle on mounting problems.

You mean someone to be the Mr Wolf character.

What about Kelvin Davis.
Tourist hotels, not housing.

They bought her in to fix kiwibuild after Twyford had muffed it last year, with no improvement as far as I can tell. Think this is more about optics than real change. Still the issue is so politically charged now thanks to the opposition doing their job that I am sure they will get it right going forward.

Poor old Ash, looking to wagg the dog.

The tracing app, it won't make up for the rubbish quarantine, track trace isolation test system, the whole of country system & people required workflow.

The extra layer of difficulty he has now is the change management part of deployment.
He and MoH/PM dept have lost the hearts & minds of too many now.

Thanks Jennee. More disingenuousness from our open and honest Prime Minister then.

she'll be avoiding media for another few days then?

Megan Woods demonstrated that labour is a weak political party evading issues by using phrases such as “ you should understand”
If they were serious they would promise prosecution to offenders, with the fines or imprisonment, at the first opportunity.
But they won’t...