Todd Muller says Ayesha Verrall's actions were 'unacceptable'

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Jun 2020, 3:38PM
National Party's Todd Muller says Labour's Ayesha Verrall's actions were unacceptable. Photo / Pool
National Party's Todd Muller says Labour's Ayesha Verrall's actions were unacceptable. Photo / Pool

Todd Muller says Ayesha Verrall's actions were 'unacceptable'

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Jun 2020, 3:38PM

National leader Todd Muller has taken a swipe at new Labour candidate Dr Ayesha Verrall for not declaring her intention to run while critiquing the Government's response to Covid-19.

He said it was "unacceptable" that Verrall, an infectious diseases specialist, was considering running for national government while pertaining to be an independent critic.

Verrall was yesterday revealed as number 18 on Labour's list.

During the Covid-19 crisis she was commissioned by the Ministry of Health to review its contact-tracing programme.

Verrall yesterday dismissed any concerns about her impartiality and said she made no public comments after submitting her candidate application on May 5.

On May 12, Verrall spoke to the Herald about her role in the pushing the Government to improve its contact-tracing capacity. The profile ran on May 23.

Dr Ayesha Verrall is now

Dr Ayesha Verrall. (Photo / Supplied)

Muller today told media that Verrall, who is the deputy chair of the Capital and Coast DHB after running on the Labour ticket, should have declared her intentions for national politics earlier.

"If you've made a decision to enter the political arena then you need to tell everybody that you're doing it if you're a public servant," Muller said.

"That is an expectation that we've had on public servants for many, many years and I think it's a test that if she looks deeply she'll, I think, find that she's not met the test."

All of New Zealand had expectations of "the highest level of integrity" regarding Verrall's role during the Covid-19 crisis for "independent and dispassionate advice".

"The idea that that individual also was minded to become a Labour list MP and then had formally become one before making that public is unacceptable."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no conflict of interest.

"You never would have found me criticising Christopher Luxon. He was the chair of my Business Advisory Committee. I absolutely accepted that he had a role that he wanted to play in politics. I take the exact same view for Dr Ayesha Verrall."

Labour Party president Claire Szabo told RNZ the work Verrall had done independently of the Government was "neutral".

'Deeply underwhelming' infrastructure

Muller called the Government's announcement on the 11 infrastructure projects it was fast-tracking "deeply, deeply underwhelming".

A bill to fast-track the process to have resource consents processed in 70 working days, instead of four to six months, will be introduced to Parliament today.

Among the named projects are the Kaikohe water storage facility, Papakura to Pukekohe electrification and Auckland's SkyPath. Further projects can also apply.

Muller said the projects in the bill were ones that had already been announced and the Government had "spent months scrapping between themselves" about which were included.

"And now we are to have confidence that has simply not delivered on infrastructure at all is going to fast-track and get these projects delivered.

"This a tepid, weak attempt by the Government at, what I think, is at the end of their run to put an infrastructure plan in front of New Zealand.

"They won't deliver it, they've got a track-record of failure when it comes to delivery and we need a National government to get infrastructure done in this country."

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