Government’s vaccine deceit a disgrace

Revelations that the Government used PR spin to deceive New Zealanders and mask its failure in securing the Covid vaccine is a disgrace, says Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins.

“That the Government started funding expensive spin doctors three months before it bothered to fund anyone to negotiate to buy the vaccines shows exactly where its priorities lay.

“At a time when the public needed the truth about what was being done to manage the biggest public health issue facing New Zealand and the world, the Government was deceiving us all by using PR and spin to hide its failings.

“Instead of getting on and securing the vaccine as quickly as possible, as the Prime Minister assured us was happening, the Government was in fact focused on spinning the message to shape the story around its failure to get a deal for the vaccine.

“It misled experts and used them as pawns in what was nothing short of cynical, manipulative and dangerous politicking designed to fool New Zealanders and cover up for their ineptitude.

“Ministers were carefully scripted – in short, told how to lie – about how vaccine procurement was going and to create the deceit that everything was going well.

“The truth is procurement wasn’t going well. Despite being told otherwise, New Zealand was in fact a long way behind our peers in the queue to get the vaccine, and the Government knew it.

“But, with the 2020 election on the horizon, the Government couldn’t afford to have New Zealanders know the truth about its failures, so it carefully stage-managed a PR campaign funded by taxpayers to fool us.

“Had the Government put half the effort into actually procuring the vaccine as they did on creating spin and lying to the public, we wouldn’t have had the slowest vaccine rollout in the developed world and more than a million Aucklanders wouldn’t be stuck in an ongoing and draconian lockdown.

“Jacinda Ardern must take responsibility for this deceit. New Zealanders deserve an explanation and an apology.”