National MP Hamish Walker demoted after admitting to giving media outlets Covid-19 patients' personal details, provided to him by Michelle Boag - a former National president who worked for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

National MP Hamish Walker demoted after admitting to giving media outlets Covid-19 patients' personal details, provided to him by Michelle Boag - a former National president who worked for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust
Hamish Walker

National MP for Clutha-Southland, Hamish Walker, has admitted to giving the media the personal details of Covid-19 patients in quarantine in an attempt to draw attention to this information supposedly being insecurely stored.

Former National Party president, Michelle Boag, has confessed to passing the information on to Walker, having received it in her capacity as the Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.  

Boag has since resigned from that position, meanwhile National leader Todd Muller has taken Walker’s Forestry, Land Information and Associate Tourism portfolios off him.

Walker, Muller and Boag issued statements on Tuesday afternoon, after State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes on Monday appointed Michael Heron QC to lead an investigation into the leak.

Media organisations that received personal details of the 18 Covid-19 patients didn’t report these details, but reported the fact the information had been leaked.

Walker said he passed on the information to “expose the Government’s shortcomings”.

Boag pointed out she received the information in an email sent to her personal address.

Walker: 'I have not committed any criminal offence'

“It was never intended that the personal details would be made public,” Walker said.

“I have received legal advice that I have not committed any criminal offence.

“The information that I received was not password protected by the Government. It was not stored on a secure system where authorised people needed to log on. There was no redaction to protect patient details, and no confidentiality statement on the document.

“By exposing a significant privacy issue I hope the Government will improve its protocols and get its safeguards right.

“I made serious allegations against the Government’s Covid-19 response and passed on this information to prove those allegations.

“Private health information does not have basic safeguards in place and the Government needs to immediately change its protocols and store the information on a secure, safe network that at a minimum requires a password.

“I sincerely apologise for how I have handled this information and to the individuals impacted by this. I will be fully cooperating with the Michael Heron QC inquiry.”

Muller said: “I have expressed to Hamish my view that forwarding on this information was an error of judgement.”

Boag said: “This was a massive error of judgement on my part and I apologise to my colleagues at ARHT whom I have let down badly.

“I very much regret my actions and did not anticipate that Hamish would choose to send it on to some media outlets..."

Situation has a 'ring of dirty politics to it'

The Heron investigation will continue and is expected to wrap up in three weeks' time. It will look at who or what caused the disclosure of information, what, if anything, might have prevented this happening, and what, if any, improvements might prevent this happening again.

A spokesperson for the State Services Commission said costs would likely be recovered from the various parties involved. 

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins said the situation had a "ring of dirty politics to it". 

ACT leader David Seymour tweeted: "Incredible this information wasn't password protected. No business would get away with that. A completely incompetent operation."

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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101 Comments

14
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We definitely not a team of 5 million. Why do we pay people to fight against each other all the time. They not our smartest employees.

20
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This is another case of Muller not being in control of his party, not that he can control his own media sessions. First it was Bishop, then Woodhouse now Boag and her idiot, Walker.
You can expext to see a big drop in the next polls.
They should all take a one way flight to Wuhan. They wouldn't need to pay for their flights, Pooh would take care of that. They are all an absolute embarrassment.
One could ask where does National go from here but who really cares.

What a sordid, incompetent, malevolent and poisonous shower of sh++ the National Party are.

Couldn't have said it better....what person with any morals could possibly vote for a party that conducts this type of abhorrent behavior?. One will argue that this is a rogue MP but they have a history of "dirty politics" which should be banished from our political arena.

Agreed, and I have have voted for them on occasion. Labour are far from perfect, but it's a no contest win to them for a decade.

26
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I sincerely apologise that I was caught

33
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This is the sorry face of National pre 2017, the like of Gilmour and Barclay. This is the modus operandi of National that Winston Peter’s reacted to over the leaking of his confidential information. This is the face of National that the people of NZ came to see as being conceited, complacent, careless and downright shifty. This is the face of National that caused voters to turn quickly and easily to Jacinda Ardern because big corporate business was far more important than they were. Pete Seeger wrote “when will they ever learn” not this lot ever from the look of it. For a start the perpetrators should be booted out, never to return.

How idiotic is Hamish? He already got a ticking off from his leader. He should have taken Boag's information and gone to Muller with it to work out what to do next. What a numpty.

Walker should have exercised some brainpower and tactical thinking and said "Thanks Michelle, I'll give it some thought" and then tossed it in the "Trash bin" What a fool

Wonder how many beverages he’d consumed?

Very different takes on breakfast news programs this morning, the Muller interview on the AM Show was very brief as opposed to One which was more expansive.
Such a biased outcome by Mediaworks.

Ah yes, the state broadcaster has no inherent bias whatsoever. You'll be telling me RNZ is militantly centralist next.

I only report what I see. You have your own biased opinion, obviously.

We all have our biases. Pretending one outlet is biased and one outlet isn't just because that outlet reinforces your own biases is a problem. I give The AM Show's ranting about the same weight as I do Q&A panels or Lisa Owen on RNZ.

RNZ peddles porkies. And you can quote me.

And they fail to amend, when repeatedly told what/where/hpow their message is deficient.

This isn't a matter of Left/Right, this is a matter of growth being unsustainable, and the pursuance of same being therefore stupid (it must end in collapse). So all their parroting of 'growth' and GDP, unqualified, is essentially peddling a falsehood.

And they're not alone - the difference being they don't need clickbait to survive.

Yes but by your view point, everyone is peddling porkies, so no point singling out RNZ as if they're somehow worse.

All growth ends in decay, PDK. When we're dust, the planet will regroup, so need to worry so much.

This is a group who used dirty politics attack tactics and "one Chinese, one Indian" race-based thinking. Not surprising people's private information was misused for politicking.

What's startling is just how much dirt seems to come out of their Southland offices in particular. Why there?

its not the first time a national mp has released private info of the public
No apology from Bennett over leaked income data
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10827271

Wonderfully expressed Foxglove. Self-entitled, above-the-law prats.

Are they still called the National Party or the "W.. Nationalists Party"??

Well you're going to get your wish. Muller has written to the board overnight and asked them to dump Walker.

What is he going to do with the other clowns - Bishop,Woodhouse, Seymour - stand them down as well. Boag is another problem he has got to sort out.
The election is getting nearer......tick/ tock.

Why do you think Muller has the authority to stand down David Seymour, leader of the ACT party?

Not sure what Bishop has done here. If you're referring to the letter regarding the two women in quarantine that he advocated on on-behalf of someone as a constituent matter, then 'doing what all electorate MPs do' is setting a pretty high bar. But then again that might be expecting a bit much from someone who calls themselves 'Logicthinker' but also suggests Muller can stand down the leader of another party.

As I understand the situation, Bishop actually assisted the two english ladies in their road trip to Wellington. Why do you think he is "Lying Low" .
Seymour is actually occupying Goldsmith's seat. Muller may say at the election that Goldsmith should own his electorate, that would say goodbye to Seymour.
After all, Seymour is part of this mess that Muller will want No Stone Unturned for his own political clarity.
He knows Luxton will come all guns blazing, early next year.

That's ok, you are a yummy, crispy piece of fish to eat.

19
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Entitled clown. Southland seems to produce a few of them.

Probably got one of the more interesting work histories among the younger MPs: "Hamish has also previously held roles as a commercial fisherman, police jailor, gold miner, mentor for youth living with diabetes, successful business owner and former First Class Rugby Referee.

Hamish is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors, and has served on the Otago Rugby Board. He was previously a member of the Otago/Southland Lotteries Committee."

Your grooming machine is malfunctioning

16
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Well well well... what a bunch of tossers...from top to bottom.

An own goal for sure.

10
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National are doing a very poor job of capitalizing on Labour's incompetence. I mean the leader of National couldn't even remember which party he was representing, and now this?? What a silly old man, representing a corrupt political party.

An upside-down Tino Rangatiratanga flag hung behind Muller as he spoke - and during his speech he had to correct himself after saying he'd joined the Labour Party.

https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/heather-du-plessis-allan-drive/audio...

I have given up on the Nationalists Party. They run by clowns wearing pointy white hats now.

I would like to see them come back to the table with some real policies that reconnect with NZ both present and future, and which reintroduce some nationalism to back up the National name. Cut the influence of the Chinese Communist Party, and start to reintroduce some values of Burkean conservatism: where it matters what sort of society and country you leave to coming generations.

Ditto Rick, ditto!

29
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And Boag is a long confirmed idiot, too.

13
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She did wonder what happened to the other 18 COVIDs and how come we're on 19 already.

Walker is a complete and utter retard. Seymour is showing poor judgement by obliquely sanctioning it (at least justifying anyway) Muller needs to bang some heads so hard their noses bleed. Another complete display of incompetence and poor judgement from a junior MP. What a shambles

Muller is just as bad with his gaffes, let alone Bishop, Woodhouse, Boag and Walker.
Seymour should sack himself as he is now, political toast. Next offering could be a dancer. He Tworkes pretty well doesn't he.
Muller's only redemption is he has stood down Walker straight away.
Quite honestly, Muller should demote himself before the next polls are released.
Bridges must be laughing his head off.
Where are Garner and Richardson going to hide on the AM show tomorrow morning. Three were very brief on the news item tonight compared to One which was more expansive. Tell's a story dosen't it.

Twerks. That sort of thing shows your age like nothing else

Corrected.

Is there anyone worth voting for left in parliament? Jacinda definitely, Robertson maybe, anyone else? Nikki Kaye?

Andrew Little, David Parker. Chris Hipkins seems to have been generally competent, although not showing any particular wins.

David Seymour did a good job on the euthanasia bill. I think Julie Ann Genter has done a good job generally. Nicola Willis sounded good this morning when talking about state housing and admitting that National shouldn't have sold off state houses.

Spot on, they are also ones I would agree with (not so sure about Parker). Seymour was anti lockdown which wasn’t so smart on reflection, although he kind of had to be really with his party’s ethos. I think also James Shaw very good too.
So not much worth voting for on the right wing, I think even devoted blue supporters are struggling to support them.

David seymours Biggest failing is jumping to the defense of the national party when they do something stupid but i guess that is the price you pay for being gifted a seat, and i think his euthanasia Bill is the best thing he has ever done

Still, because of that he has got to be rather good at jumping, or should that be read as jumpy.

Kris Faafoi

Nasty and dim at the same time. Nice one. Time to sell some more State Houses or let some more PPPs?

24
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Dirty politics through and through. National believe they have a right to be in power, they are corrupt to the core. How about that mp the media hasn't been able to speak to since he's been in parliament too?

NZ is in a crisis situation. We all know that. Yet rather than providing the maturity, decency and leadership that is their sworn duty, and what we the electorate are entitled to expect, these identities resort to guttersniping, and playing loose with the confidential information of private individuals. And for what exactly? Their own priority of self interest, self gain at the expense of everyone else. Representation for good of the people? Not bloody likely, not by a long shot. This is a shocking indictment on the calibre and scruples of our political scenario, this party in particular.

Heard on the radio he has done some English interviews. About 4 I think. (If we are referring to the same Chinese MP).

Early in his career, perhaps? Before things came to light.

16
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What drives this lot - entitlement? Hamish Walker has shown himself to be a true southern redneck and even his comment here doesn’t even really apologise. He needs to go back south and grow Swedes for someone. They both should be prosecuted as going by Todd Mullers earlier comments stated this was a major breach. Walk the talk Todd. I give up on his lot - no policies, arrogance and now complete disregard for other people’s privacy - imagine if they released your medical records out there!! What next !!

Exactly, what is going to come next......
National is going to be in the political world -a -less after this debarcle.
You might as well resign Muller. You carn't control your own party. They have no confidence in confiding in you. You dont have the knowledge and/or the experience at this level.
Just step down and give Crusher Collins do the job.

A bit hypocritical to not fire him , I imagine National don't want another independent Mp going into the Election.
As for Boag, I have no idea why anyone takes any notice of her.

'Firing' would realistically mean de-selecting him for the seat at the election. I'm not sure how much power National's constitution gives head office have over electorate selections, my understanding is not a huge amount. We'll see if he lasts the week I guess.

He would be in the same boat as Jami-Lee Ross, and the way things are going , if he decided to stand again as a independant, could siphon off votes. Hard to imagine a split National vote letting Labour win Southland , but you never know.

Blue voters in southland will vote blue.

No matter what.

12
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you could put a sheep up in that seat for national against anybody and it would still win

14
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And it would talk more sense.

The heat is on. Walker will soon be a runner. No other answer possible.

So the "leak ", according to Seymour and Walker(and I guess Boag), is that someone at the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust presumed that it was safe to send information to the Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust?.
Seems to me that there is no question that the rescue helicopters should have been in possession of this info , what if they had picked up the escapee from last week for instance. If there is no real leak , then Boag should be charged with leaking the information.

12
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Michelle Boag - what else would you expect?

23
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It's laughable how many idiots like her are on the boards of companies. Huge amount of cronyism at play.

Let’s not forget the ‘I resigned yesterday so it’s not my fault’ director Mainzeal once had.....

A Tale of Two comedians ?
You know who I mean...
Simon is gloating, waiting for an encore.

17
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maybe national need to run some inhouse spy workshops, they have an MP qualified to run them for them, that way they wont get caught so easy next time

19
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Can we all just spare a thought for the cheerleaders, it’s been a tough few weeks for Hosking (Mr & Mrs) and Richardson.

12
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Yes, must be hard calling the government idiots and then realising (if they actually have any self realization) that your favored 'team blue' are even worse.

I'm starting to think we need to pay politicians more.

Of all the brilliant minds I know, earning big $ (even the lefties like me), none aspire to politics.

Right now, the depth in most parties is embarrassing (fewer than 10 genuine talents across all parties?)

For how much is at stake, lets pony up a few more $ and let better minds be attracted to a life in politics.

I agree being in business myself. The problem with the current applicants is at their 12 month employment review most would be on their final written warning!!

Yes, something I have been thinking about. I am not convinced it would attract better calibre, but in theory it might help.
I think it would need to be a lot higher to make much difference.

And take away some of the parliamentary privileges that make them immune to accountability for their actions

Get real no way. The propaganda minister is already 7th highest in the world. I'm sure trump doesn't do it for the money nor do nz pollies such as the air nz guy

Everything Trump does is for the money. He ran for ratings for his reality TV career. He's now benefiting from cash subsidies for his businesses having removed supervision over these subsidies.

How on earth did he think releasing the personal details of COVID-19 patients to media was a good idea?

Clearly he doesn’t respect Muller otherwise he would have briefed him first.

I think they need to start IQ testing MPs this is getting ridiculous

not enough to strip him of portfolios -- should have demoted him to 70 in the list or deselected him - for STUPIDITY

Breaking News:
Monkeys' kidnapped from Auckland zoo......zookeepers suspect men in navy-blue pin-striped suits and blue ties who had been seen loitering around the monkeys' cage early this afternoon.
Police Superintendent Inspector Ron Smith said that they are following up leads, particularly one where an alert witness took the number-plate of a car full of monkeys and men in navy suits that he spotted driving south down the Southern Motorway. The police ran the plate and traced it to a Southland address believed to be the residence of the president of the local National Party.
The head of the Political Studies department at Otago University, Professor Jeremy Knowal, said that there had been a lack of political talent in the Southland electorate for some time and he saw this kidnapping as a desperate attempt to make up for this deficiency.

Boag and Walker very busy together... brainless weirdos. Good on todd for axing Walkers spokesperson roles. Gone by lunchtime I would think, ya cant go disseminating personal info without very good reason and for pollies to do ... gee

Michelle Boag isn’t brainless, far from it. She’s a major player from way back, with a few skeletons in the closet.

You evidently don't listen to her on The Panel. She is a very shallower thinker.

Walker should be de-selected.

Walker will resign. Should have done so by now. If not he should be made to do so pronto. An individual who peddles confidential personal information to the media, for political gain, is not fit to be in parliament, or anywhere else for that matter. Just get up and go boyo, you are a disgrace.

He doesn't appear to be vindictive or nasty, perhaps just naive and inexperienced.

But either way sending personal details of patients to the media crossed the line and really theres only one course of action and thats for him to be shown the door.

He doesn't appear to be vindictive or nasty

Saying that he didn't want 11,000 Indians, Koreans or Pakistanis in managed isolation in Queenstown because they might have COVID-19 sounds pretty nasty.

Deliberately releasing the names and addresses of 18 people with COVID-19 to the media to prove his point about the nationalities of people with COVID-19 sounds pretty vindictive.

If only we had a benchmark for someone using leaked data about surnames to prove a point regarding race...

An individual who peddles confidential personal information to the media, for political gain, is not fit to be in parliament, or anywhere else for that matter.

That's exactly what Paula Bennet did, using Parliamentary Privilege. She stayed a minister and even became deputy PM. No one in National had any problem with her actions.

Remember the out-roar from National when Bridges' public purse campaign expenses were leaked early? A full on investigation ensued.

Yet when Winston Peters had his personal superannuation details leaked Simon Bridges said:

"I think he should focus on government and New Zealand, not his own personal vendetta."

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12069101

As Yoda would have said about this Hamish Walker "The stupid is strong on this one!"

Another youngish Nat MP in the poo. What is going on with these people and who picked them all? They seem intent on getting Labour re-elected. And what’s with Seymour axing his deputy Betty Houlbrooke and dropping her into the realms of oblivion at the 11th hour? Conversely, some of the COL people are growing by the hour, Hipkins, Woods, Tracey Martin, Nash. Would be an easy choice at the election if it wasn’t for the Greens moving to the left of Ho Chi Min.

'Some of' you mean literally just those people? Labour doesn't exactly have a great pulpit to preach on here when it comes to fronting up for mistakes you make. How many months before Clark got stood down, again?

National needed to reinvent themselves after Bridges but instead they have given him a role in shadow cabinet and resorted to gutter politics.

JA must be delighted there is no credible opposition but the country needs a lot better.

Agreed Hamish Walker is an idiot and clearly gone today.

What surprises me with this is Michelle's involvement in this. She has been the invisible hand beside the scenes directing traffic in the National Party for many many years and clearly has to walk away after this debacle.

Muller can only come out of this by taking a firm line and seeing the back of both of them. Whilst Ardern might tolerate incompetence he can make it clear he wont.

This is not incompetence, this is a malicious and deliberate breach of NZ citizens' private medical records for political gain. Say what you like about Clark (I agree he's a moron) but to suggest there are similarities between these two events is disingenuous.

Idiots both. Intolerable. Firing squad is the only option. Why Walker thought the info in the spread sheet was newsworthy has me intrigued. It was common knowledge quarantine admin processes were a shambles so even this clown would've understood that some dolt omitting a spreadsheet password wasn't newsworthy. In his tiny brain he thought this was something bigger and his silly statement a few days earlier that he 'had information' thousands of east asians were about to be quarantined in southland possibly provides a clue that for some reason he believed ethnicity of the listed names was significant. Speculation of course but it's hard to believe his apparent level of dumbness. More to emerge I suspect, especially if he goes Jamie Lee Ross postal. We shall see but meantime Muller has fortunately belatedly grasped that he can't follow the Ardern/Curran limp wrist playbook on this one.

The only thing that can save National now is the Greens' wealth tax. And even that might not be enough.

Yes. The likely progression was Boag getting the info and looking for a patsy to leak it. Walker wouldn't have been in her circle so there's a middleman/woman or three in the frame, too.

Annnd he's gone. Won't seek re-election.

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