National calls for an investigation into ‘graph-gate’

It is critical we get to the bottom of why the Minister of Health turned up to a press conference and released a manifestly inaccurate and misleading graph on New Zealand’s vaccination roll out, National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins was under pressure for a vaccine roll out plan and out of the blue released a graph which supposedly showed how the rollout would work.

“National, and media, asked for the underlying data that created the graph. The Government was forced to admit that there never was any data, it was simply an ‘illustrative’ graph.

“Our vaccine rollout is critical. But rather than be clear with New Zealanders about its plan, and how well we were going as a country, the Government chose to mislead Kiwis.

“The Government has never answered why this illustrative graph was created in the first place, and why the Minister’s office chose to release the graph to New Zealanders knowing it wasn’t based on anything scientific.

“Graph-gate comes after the Ministry of Health delayed the annual Mental Health report due to ‘negative statistics’. Rather than come clean with New Zealanders and spent more time and energy on getting our roll out right, the Government seems to be more focused on hiding information.

“There should be an investigation to get to the bottom of this graph debacle.

“Sir Brian Roche’s continuous improvement group should run a short, sharp investigation and question the relevant officials. Was the Ministry of Health going rogue? Did the Minister ask for the graph?

“This is yet another example of this Labour Government’s lack of transparency and accountability on an issue of huge public interest. While Australia releases daily vaccine numbers and updates, including a comparison to the rest of the world, New Zealand only receives weekly updates.

“We would suggest an investigation could be carried out by the Health Select Committee, but based on past experience National has no confidence Labour would allow it.”