Richard Prebble has many questions only a Royal Commission can answer:
. . .The Herald set out issues for a Royal Commission. The country’s pandemic plan was so “fatally flawed” it had to be abandoned. “In late March, stockpiles of tests were down to only six days’ supply. Our contract-tracing capacity was limited and able to manage only 10 cases simultaneously”. “New Zealand was ill-prepared. It was only by good fortune…- that we avoided the fates of Milan, New York or London.”
We can now add more issues. The critical shortage of PPE equipment. New Zealand was the 63rd country to close its borders.
The forecast of 3.32 million Covid-19 cases by July last year was wildly inaccurate.
Opposition MPs in an election year were placed under what was effectively house arrest.
The High Court has ruled the first lockdown was illegal. What was Crown Law’s advice?
Why was technology not used like in the UK to keep Parliament open? The Opposition was co-operating. If Parliament had been open legislation could have authorised the lockdown.
Why were butcher’s shops and greengrocers closed but supermarkets remained open?
Why did the Cabinet override officials and close down low-risk occupations like construction?
Are researchers correct in claiming because of hospitals closing down and deferring appointments and operations the lockdowns over time will kill more people than they have saved?
How is it that Taiwan with a population of 23 million has had fewer Covid cases and not one lockdown or school closure? Why can Taiwan track community transmissions in a few hours?
Why does the Government still not know the origin of the present outbreak?
The Prime Minister is placing the blame for the present lockdown on a 21-year-old. He got tested at his initiative. Would an inquiry find that as a known contact of a positive case contact-tracing should have ensured he was tested 10 days ago? Is the Government also to blame for the lockdown?
Then we have the quarantine. Is it sensible to lock up travellers for 14 days from countries that have no Covid?
The most serious long-term issue is the admission by the Prime Minister that the Government adopted eradication because our hospitals are so poorly equipped the health system would be overwhelmed. . . .
Other questions a Royal Commission could answer:
- Why did the PM and DG of Health keep saying there were no problems with PPE and flu vaccines when those on the ground kept saying there were and were proved to be right?
- Why were there so many mixed messages over who should be self-isolating after last month’s community transmission?
- Why didn’t contacts who didn’t respond to phone calls and emails get a visit?
- Why did it take so long to regularly test border staff?
- If we were at the front of the queue for vaccines, why have so many other countries been able to vaccinate so many more people so much sooner?
- Why don’t the Ministry and Ministers learn from mistakes?
And another very important question: why won’t the government initiate a Royal Commission?
Prebble has the answer:
The Government has concluded the political cost of refusing to hold an enquiry is less than the cost to its reputation of having one.
It was re-elected with an outright majority because of its response to Covid.
It, and the PM, have garnered international praise for that response.
But day by day it becomes apparent just how much of the success was due to luck and the latest debacle shows the luck is running out.
If the government is not prepared to undergo the scrutiny of a Royal Commission it won’t understand what went wrong and why, and worse it won’t be able to learn from its mistakes and ensure they don’t happen again.