Labour blocks Covid scrutiny

The Government that said it would be the most open and transparent ever has once again done the exact opposite, National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

After the debacle of last month’s Health Select Committee hearing which saw it filled with endless explanations about the end-to-end user process for MIQ and soft questions from government MPs, National moved to establish a new Covid committee modelled on the former Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee, but that was blocked by Labour.

“As a second best option, National also put forward a series of sensible proposals to strengthen the Health Committee’s oversight of our COVID-19 response.

“I moved this morning for the Health Committee to schedule in an hour each week the Committee sits to hear from either the Minister or senior officials, with the Opposition deciding who appears.

“Labour voted against this. Credit to the Greens and ACT who supported National.

“Labour even voted against hearing from Dr Bloomfield and MIQ officials next week. It is unclear when the committee will next hear from senior officials who are at the heart of our response. 

“Instead, the Committee has agreed to invite the Minister to appear every two months, which may mean just three times before the end of the year.

“This is totally unacceptable given how important our response to COVID-19 is to our social and economic future. We must get our response right and Parliament can and should play an important role in making sure we do. 

“This is not the open and transparent Government we were promised. It is arrogance, pure and simple.

“COVID-19 deserves proper Parliamentary scrutiny.”