Government only signed vaccine pass contract in October

The disclosure by Chris Hipkins in Question Time today that the Ministry of Health only signed its contract with MATTR to develop a vaccine pass for domestic use in New Zealand on October 13 is staggering, says National’s Covid spokesperson Chris Bishop.

“It’s been obvious to everyone since the start of the year that New Zealand would need proof of vaccination and a vaccine certificate in some form, but only in recent months has the Government bothered to do any work to get a scheme ready.

“Now we have the explanation as to why vaccine certificates aren’t ready to go right now – the Government only authorised the development of a certificate in July, and it took until October 13 before the Ministry signed its contract with MATTR to develop the vaccine pass system.

“This isn’t a trivial matter. Vaccine certificates are the underpinning of the Covid Protection Framework, which the Prime Minister and Director-General of Health said yesterday was better than the current alert level framework. But no certificates means no traffic light framework.

“If we had vaccine certificates right now, Auckland would be a markedly different place. Aucklanders could leave the region and travel to see loved ones. Hospitality could open. People could go back to work.

“The fact we don’t have vaccine certificates right now is the fault of this lazy, incompetent Government that simply had no backup plan if elimination failed.

“A sensible, competent Government would have been doing work on vaccine passes since February.

“This Government sat on its hands and put it in the too hard basket.

“Every other OECD country has a form of vaccine pass. New Zealand doesn’t and we are now seeing the consequences every day of not having one.

“This is a public policy failure of epic proportions.”