National calls for Epidemic Response Committee to return

Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee must return to allow proper scrutiny of the Government’s Covid-19 Response, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins and National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop say.

“The Government-controlled Health Select Committee has proven itself ill-equipped and ill-suited to the task of properly examining the Government’s COVID-19 response,” Ms Collins says.

“Whether by design or by accident, this has limited scrutiny of the Government.

“Today’s farcical hearing, chaired by a Labour list MP, was appalling. Repeated attempts by the Opposition to question officials on the numerous problems impacting the vaccine roll-out, MIQ, and border testing regime were thwarted by Labour’s committee members.

“New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 is of critical importance to our economy and society. The actions of the executive government require proper scrutiny.

“New Zealanders deserve better; our democracy deserves better.”

Mr Bishop says he will write to Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard today, requesting the Epidemic Response Committee, or an equivalent, return for the life of this Parliament.

The committee should be chaired by an Opposition MP, with party representation proportionate to the number of seats they each have in Parliament, Mr Bishop says.

“The Epidemic Response Committee in the previous Parliament was praised for the way it conducted its work, and I believe it improved the wider government response to COVID-19.

“That is as it should be – Parliament acting as a check on the Executive, scrutinising, questioning and prodding better public policy and effective government action.”