Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and fiance Clarke Gayford are refusing to answer further questions about the extent to which Gayford tried to get Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) for his friends.
On Wednesday the Herald reported a pharmacist alleging Gayford had tried to help friends get an RAT via a phone call and being “very unimpressed” when he was told that the health guidance was for a PCR test, rather than an RAT.
The friends were suspected close contacts of a Covid-19 case and current Ministry of Health guidelines say close contacts should get a nasal PCR test, not a rapid test.
The country was facing its first community case of the Omicron variant at the time.
In a Facebook post, the pharmacist alleged Gayford had said the Ministry of Health policy had changed and allowed close contacts to get an RAT.
Gayford admitted a friend had put him on speakerphone while in a pharmacy to discuss RATs, but did not give his version of the phone call. He apologised for any “confusion”.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister’s office refused to answer further questions about the extent to which this was a one-off occurrence, and whether it was appropriate for him to try to get the test.
Is a woman responsible for her fiancée’s actions?
But when the woman is the Prime Minister the questions are legitimate and deserve an answer.
When other media approached the Prime Minister’s office about the story, the office refused to comment, but referred reporters to a statement issued by Gayford’s managers.
But on Thursday morning, Gayford’s managers were not issuing his statement – already published by the Herald – to other media, impeding their ability to cover the story.
In a news story, TVNZ’s 1News said it “approached Gayford’s management team for a response,” after being directed there by the Prime Minister’s office. However, Gayford’s management “refused to comment”.
Only in the afternoon were other media able to obtain the statement – after some had raised the issue with the Prime Minister’s office. Gayford’s management blamed the delay on holidays and staff needing to talk to senior management before sending the statement.
Gayford’s management refused to answer further questions about the incident.
How to make a bad story worse – try to keep it quiet, especially when there are so many questions that have yet to be answered.
Why would musicians think calling their mate who just happens to be engaged to the Prime Minister would help him get an RAT?
Why would the mate then try to persuade the pharmacist to give them the test?
This is a particularly nasty case of the Omicrony variant.
Apropos of the Omicrony variant, even if the musician in the pharmacy wasn’t from overseas, how do others in the music industry manage to get to the front of the MIQueue?
How can these people take precedence over New Zealanders desperate to get home and essential workers in sectors including health, agriculture and education which are desperate for staff?
And apropos of those oblivious to the plight of the desperate would-be returnees is the case of Labour list MP Marja Lubeck who spent summer in the Netherlands:
The list MP, who contests Auckland’s Kaipara ki Mahurangi electorate, was born in the Netherlands and later moved to New Zealand.
Lubeck’s trip is possible thanks to her securing an MIQ spot, allowing her to isolate upon her return to New Zealand. But the MIQ system is becoming increasingly controversial; regular releases of MIQ places are almost always oversubscribed, meaning many New Zealanders are barred from returning home. . .
There is no question that she got that spot by anything other than luck but that is no comfort for the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who are stuck overseas and in far, far greater need of getting to the front of the MIQueue but who have had no luck in the MIQ lottery.
That she could think it was fine to compete against those people for one of the scarce spots shows a serious error of judgment.
Compounding that, what does it say about her judgment that she left the country in spite of the government of which she is a part having a travel advisory that very clearly tells New Zealanders to stay home:
Do not travel overseas at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, associated health risks and widespread travel restrictions. This do not travel advisory (level 4 of 4) applies to all destinations except the Cook Islands….Read more . .
The musician made an error of judgement, Clarke Gayford made a bigger one and Marja Lubeck made two, all of which reflects badly on them and both Gayford and the PM compounded the damage by refusing to answer questions.
Could it be that compromised judgement is one of the symptoms of the Omicrony variant?