The Prime Minister’s year has ended badly with the release of the review of the Tuia250 data breach, National’s Cybersecurity spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“This is the Prime Minister’s own Ministry, she knew the report was bad and has cynically sat on it until the last week of the year when it could not be scrutinised by Parliament.
“The independent review found three privacy breaches, out of date policies and raised a conflict of interest with staff and the website supplier.
“The key fault was a change approved by the Deputy Chief Executive of Tuia250 that was outside of the contract and that altered the website from being promotional to collecting personal data.
“At that time the previous security settings that allowed information to be downloaded were not changed, and all of the personal information became searchable by web engines and downloadable.
“The website supplier was not on the approved panel of suppliers and was initially recommended by a member of staff with whom there was a ‘connection and a professional relationship’. This relationship was known by other staff and management but regardless the contract was initially directed to only that supplier.
“The staff member was eventually recused from further decision making but not before providing information that helped the supplier eventually win a contestable Request for Proposal to build the site.
“Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Jacinda Ardern has many questions to answer. This is a very serious matter, the Prime Minister has overseen more young people having their personal data breached this year than any other Minster, and yet her attitude in Parliament to the four breaches has been flippant and dismissive.
“Jacinda Ardern has been distracted and taken her eyes off her own Ministry, and has allowed 71 young people to have their personal data accessed. That is completely unacceptable, and for the Minister to release this information just before Christmas is deeply cynical.”
the Independent Review of the Tuia 250 Voyage Trainee Privacy Breach can be found here
National will seek to address Māori health inequities by relentlessly focussing on early detection, prevention and setting targets, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Our overall strategy takes a needs based approach and Māori currently have poorer outcomes and lower average life expectancy than non-Māori across most health metrics. Our Health Discussion Document looks at ways to address this through targeted interventions which advance and promote Māori health.
“As part of our commitment to reducing inequities, we’ll reinstate the requirement for every DHB to report against a Māori Health Strategy annually. This will focus resources and attention to high need areas.
“We’ve asked DHBs and Māori health providers where funding for Māori health could have the greatest impact.
“They’ve told us that lung cancer is the most common cancer in Māori women and the second-most common in Māori men. National has listened and we will do something about it. For all smokers who meet the criteria, National will pilot low-dose CT scanning to ensure early detection and treatment of lung cancers.
“We also know that Māori experience gout at much higher rates than non-Māori. Gout is estimated to cost New Zealand more than $200 million per year in economic costs.
“We’ll explore a nationwide programme of gout management in collaboration with Arthritis New Zealand. We’re proposing measures which ensure Māori and Pasifika have equitable access to medication which lowers their uric acid levels and improved public education.
“These targeted measures will have a big impact. National is doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020.”
The Tuia250 data breach earlier in the year was just the beginning of cybersecurity issues at the Ministry for Arts, Culture and Heritage, National’s Data and Cybersecurity spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Official documents show sensitive emails were incorrectly sent from the Ministry to a Victoria University email address just a few months ago.
“The unencrypted email contained an attachment titled ‘Upcoming MCH papers’ with papers across multiple Ministries including Arts, Culture and Heritage; Sports and Recreation; and Broadcasting portfolios attached.
“Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to release the titles of the papers, which signals the potential sensitivity of them.
“Adding insult to injury, her Ministry also mistakenly sent me official information that revealed the Ministry had been keeping her in the dark about these data breaches.
“This is sloppy process with the potential for big consequences. The Minister should not be finding out about issues like this simply because the Opposition started asking questions.
“It also begs the question of what other data breaches the Ministry has not told the Minister about.
“The Government is overseeing data breach after data breach, which is undermining any confidence New Zealanders have about the management of their data.
“Following on from the firearms buyback data breach, Phil Twyford’s lost USB drive, the failure to protect their own Budget material, and now multiple issues within the Prime Minister’s own Ministry, it’s clear this Government cannot be trusted to look after New Zealanders’ sensitive data.”
National is exploring options to replace first year Fees Free, supporting a university into the Top 50 international rankings, and we’re looking to invest in a third medical school in our Education Discussion Document, National’s Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“First year Fees Free has been an expensive failure. It’s failed to increase tertiary participation, in fact there are fewer learners now than before. We are asking for feedback on a range of options including possibly replacing first year Fees Free.
“National has been very clear about the Government’s reform of tertiary education – we oppose it. A National Government will return polytechnic assets back to polytechnics where they are still available, and return decision making back to regional polytechnics.
“We know the regions and local industry are best placed to teach their students.
“National is also looking to improve the international rankings of our universities. If we had a university in the top 50 university rankings, we would attract more overseas talent, lift academic excellence and improve productivity.
“By lifting the international rankings of our universities, we lift the overall quality of tertiary education in New Zealand.
“There is a huge demand for GPs in rural areas around New Zealand. We have listened to rural communities and National will explore a third medical school focused on retaining GPs in rural communities.
“This is something the previous National Government committed too and was cancelled by the current Government. National backs rural communities, they shouldn’t be missing out on vital medical care. If we have the privilege to Govern in 2020, we will address the 200 GPs per year experts tell us are needed, especially in rural communities.
“Our discussion document contains a raft of proposals we want New Zealanders to give feedback on, but one thing is for certain, tertiary education under National will be targeted and evidence based with clear objectives.”
Hot on the heels of her refusal to release the ‘Let’s Get Wellington Moving’ letter, Julie Anne Genter has been embarrassed into releasing another letter, this time on measles, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“In response to written questions, Ms Genter stated that releasing the contents of a letter from the World Health Organisation sent in March this year, was ‘not in the public interest’.
“She then was forced to release the letter in Parliament today, bizarrely citing the large number of written questions that I sent her on measles as a reason for not doing so earlier.
“As well as a warning about the heightened emergence of measles, the WHO letter also made recommendations. Ms Genter said the Government was in the process of implementing these recommendations, and that some of them were already in progress when the letter was sent.
“It’s clear that’s not the case. Recommendation three from the WHO letter was ‘maintaining a reserve of measles vaccines and syringes’. But supply of the measles vaccine ran extremely short and even now 30-50 year olds still cannot access it.
“We already know that the Government missed other early warning signs on measles this year, including three outbreaks in January and February. These warning signs should have been a clear sign more vaccines were needed. Instead, none were ordered until it was too late – and almost 2,000 New Zealanders have contracted measles this year.
“The Government’s action on measles has been too little, too late. This is yet another example of an incompetent government that purports to be open and transparent being the exact opposite.”
The Government has finally taken up National’s suggestion to allow pharmacists to vaccinate against measles, but it’s a shame it sat on its hands for so long, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Almost two months ago National called for pharmacists to be allowed to vaccinate for measles.
“It’s clear the Government recognises what a sensible measure it is to utilise the resources of our more than 800 vaccination-qualified pharmacists, but it’s a shame that’s taken it so long – the outbreak peaked weeks ago.
“Julie Anne Genter needs to explain why she took so long to allow pharmacists to vaccinate for measles when it was obvious more people need to be vaccinated and both pharmacists and National were calling for this to happen.
“The Government should have rolled out vaccinations as widely as possible, as early as possible. Instead, it ignored the early warning signs this year, from three outbreaks in January and February, to a letter from the World Health Organisation specifically advising of the risks from measles.
“Measles is a preventable disease and Julie Anne Genter should ensure as many Kiwis as possible are vaccinated.
“The previous National Government introduced health targets that resulted in higher immunisation rates. This Government scrapped them.
“Pharmacists have long been able to vaccinate for flu, but this simple change will allow many more Kiwis to be protected from measles, which has so far infected almost 2,000 New Zealanders this year.
“Finally smart, simple moves that will immediately increase access to vaccines are being taken up. National is pleased to have collaborated with pharmacists to get to this point.”
Julie Anne Genter has crowed about ‘a significant increase in MMR immunisations’ while nine outbreaks have swept the country on her watch, people have caught measles from hospital workers and we’ve exported measles to the Pacific, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“It’s disingenuous for the Minister to talk about more vaccines being administered. More than 1,800 New Zealanders have contracted measles this year and the Government’s response has been too little, too late.
“Ms Genter deprioritised 30-50 year olds in September when vaccines ran short, admitting today there was ‘unprecedented demand’. But the Government should have ordered more vaccines, sooner.
“It ignored the red flags about rising numbers of measles cases, starting with three outbreaks in January and February of this year and a warning from the World Health Organisation in April. We’ve now exported measles not only to the USA, but to the Pacific, including Tonga and Samoa which are especially vulnerable because of their low vaccination rates.
“This Government scrapped the health targets that led to higher immunisation rates, and ignored a call from National to allow pharmacists to vaccinate for measles, even though that would have improved access for hard-to-reach groups.
“Some of this year’s measles cases were picked up in Canterbury hospitals, and twenty DHB workers have contracted measles when they should have been immune. New Zealanders expect that frontline health workers have been vaccinated, both to protect their own health and because they work with at-risk patients.
“It’s time the Government got a handle on measles.”
The Government’s decision to extend the measles vaccine to all babies in Auckland over the age of six months is too little, too late, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The measles outbreak peaked weeks ago and the Government’s self-imposed vaccine shortage meant that those who needed to be vaccinated, couldn’t be. Vaccination is of the utmost importance, but it’s also important vaccines are available when we need them.
“The shortage was there because this Government ignored the warning signs: there were three outbreaks in January and February alone. That should have been a clear sign more vaccines would be needed as the number of measles cases continued to mount.
“Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter is desperately scrambling to look like she’s taking action on measles, but this is just too little, too late. National proposed allowing pharmacists to vaccinate for measles weeks ago in a move that would have widened access, but Ms Genter ignored our calls for action.
“Over 1,800 people have contracted measles this year already despite warnings to the Government from the World Health Organisation in April.
“What’s more, giving MMR vaccines to six-month-old babies can reduce seroconversion meaning a third vaccine may need to be given.
“The current measles outbreaks were preventable. This Government scrapped the health targets that resulted in higher immunisation rates, missed the early warning signs of an outbreak and then deprioritised 30-50 year olds when vaccines ran short.
“If the Government has enough vaccines now, it should be encouraging all New Zealanders to get vaccinated.”
The Government’s deprioritisation of 30-50 year olds to manage low vaccine stock could be leading to an average of around 20 new measles cases each week, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Among age groups that have been able to access vaccines, the spread of measles has slowed, but among those aged between 30 and 50, the outbreak hasn’t let up. Last week there were 26 new cases when we would expect the number to be falling.
“At the end of August, Julie Anne Genter recommended everyone under 50 be vaccinated. Less than two weeks later, the Ministry of Health deprioritised 30-50 year olds in order to manage low vaccine stock. This remains the policy across almost all of New Zealand.
“Especially concerning is that the hospitalisation rate for this age group is over 20 per cent. Many of those people will have children or jobs they can’t afford to be away from.
“It’s important that children are protected, but 236 adults between 30 and 50 have contracted measles this year, and many of these cases could have been prevented through vaccination.
“The Government’s botched response to measles is hurting New Zealanders. Now the promised 100,000 vaccines have arrived in New Zealand, Ms Genter needs to update the guidelines and allow 30-50 year olds to be vaccinated.
“It wouldn’t have had to limit vaccine provision if it had heeded warning the warning signs and ordered more vaccines sooner. There were three outbreaks in January and February alone – this should have been a clear sign more vaccines would be needed.
“On top of that, the World Health Organisation sent warnings about the risks of measles to all governments in the Pacific in April.
“This Government ignored the signs, scrapped the health targets that resulted in higher vaccination rates and ignored National’s proposal to allow pharmacists to vaccinate for measles, which would have improved access.
“Julie Anne Genter needs to show leadership on measles so that New Zealanders are protected.”
The United States-based Center for Disease Control has revealed in an update that New Zealand has exported two cases of measles to the US this year, more than either India or China, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“This shows how serious the current measles outbreak is. There have been over 1,600 confirmed cases in New Zealand, more than across the entirety of the US, which had 1,249 confirmed cases as at 1 October.
“Given the seriousness and scale of the New Zealand outbreaks, it defies belief that the Government cannot offer vaccine protection to all of those at risk, including those over five who have not been vaccinated, or those between the ages of 30 and 50 who have only had one vaccine. These groups were all included in the vaccination guidelines until the Government deprioritised them to manage the shortage it caused.
“New Zealand now has a measles outbreak bigger than all of the US, is exporting cases abroad, and yet we still don’t have enough vaccines to ensure everyone is protected.
“The Government missed the early warning signs: three measles outbreaks in the first two months of this year and a warning from the World Health Organisation in April.
“It has scrapped the health targets that resulted in higher vaccination rates, and been asleep at the wheel as the current outbreak has taken hold.
“Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter needs to let the public know when all New Zealanders will be able to be vaccinated and reinstate health targets.
“National called for pharmacists to be able to vaccinate for measles a month ago, which would have improved access and ensured more Kiwis could be vaccinated, but the Government hasn’t implemented it.
“It’s time for Ms Genter to show some leadership on measles.”
Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Update on Measles Cases and Outbreaks can be found here.