The Government has deliberately withheld information from the public around data taken in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Tuia250 data breach, National’s Data and Cybersecurity spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal that gun licenses were also part of the Tuia250 breach but New Zealanders have never been told this.
“The Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry knew three firearms licences had been accessed the day after the data breach was notified, as did the Prime Minister’s office. Information given to media gave extensive details on other data, but make no record of the three firearms licenses.
“In fact, the Ministry has never told the public that three firearms licenses were part of the breach. It appears they have deliberately withheld this information from New Zealanders.
“Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Jacinda Ardern has overseen more data breaches than any other Minister in this Government. She needs to explain why she has never revealed gun licenses were also a part of the Tuia250 data breach.
“Given the gun register was announced several weeks later, Jacinda Ardern needs to answer whether the Tuia250 firearms license data breach was deliberately withheld so as not to compromise plans for the register.
“A few months later there was another gun register data breach, this time with the Government’s buy back scheme.
“It’s clear New Zealanders can’t trust their Government to look after their personal details, but what’s worse, is they can’t even trust the Government to come clean and let them know when their information has been accessed illegally.”
The Government’s tertiary reforms will gut New Zealand’s regional education, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The Government has today passed its Reform of Vocational Education, a Bill that will strip power and assets from regional polytechnics.
“National has vigorously opposed this Bill. It will see all regional polytechnics centralised into one megapolytechnic and will move apprentices from industry to polytechnics. For high performing polytechs, like the Southern Institute of Technology, this will be devastating.
“Despite Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ own officials telling him these reforms will fail, the Government has pushed on with its ideological changes.
“Regional polytechnics will now have their assets hoovered up by this Government and they will lose local decision making. At a time when we need more apprenticeships, these reforms will result in thousands fewer learners and thousands of job losses.
“Unlike the Government, National knows the regions and local industry are best placed to teach their students and understand their needs.
“National has been very clear about the Government’s reform of tertiary education – we don’t support it. We have been fighting for regional New Zealand against these idealistic education reforms.
“This is not the solution for polytechnics, a National Government will return assets back to polytechnics where they are still available, return decision making back to regional polytechnics and return industry training back to industry.”
Now the Measles outbreak is mostly over the Government has cynically announced a Measles catch up campaign, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s watch this Government declined a request from our largest DHB (Auckland) for a Measles catch up campaign in 2017 and more recently said no again right in the middle of last years’ outbreak.
“For Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter to offer vaccines now when there was a shortage last year is laughable. There had already been nine Measles outbreaks across New Zealand months before Minister Genter activated the National Health Co-ordination Centre in August. The Minister also tried to hide the letter the WHO sent warning New Zealand in April about a Measles outbreak.
“The US Centre for Disease Control confirmed in October that New Zealand had exported Measles to the US at twice the rate of Pakistan, India and Cambodia.
“Julie Anne Genter’s incompetence is further demonstrated by the fact 30-50 year olds are still not being offered vaccines and Pharmacists took months to be allowed to vaccinate.
“Given the vaccines don’t arrive until April, it looks as though the timing is to distract from reports over the weekend confirming New Zealand exported Measles to other countries, including Samoa.
“Minister Genter has repeatedly claimed there wasn’t a shortage of Measles vaccines, however DHBs have recently come forward and showed that there was.
“Any activity that sensibly improves vaccination rates is a good thing but timing is everything and this Government has missed the boat on this outbreak.”
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.”