Andrew Dickens: Civil servants have stuffed up Covid-19 response

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 May 2020, 12:40PM
Ashley Bloomfield with former Police Commissioner Mike Bush. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Dickens: Civil servants have stuffed up Covid-19 response

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 May 2020, 12:40PM

So this is awkward.

I go a flu jab this morning. And what makes it even more awkward is that I never even asked for it.

This doesn't bode well for the narrative that the government has lost 700,000 vaccinations

So last week I got a text from my medical centre telling me that I was eligible for a funded jab and would I like to come in on Monday morning.  I phoned the centre and said yes and then asked why I was getting a funded flu jab.  Have I suddenly become old or elderly of frail?  Is it some sort of mistake.  The receptionist had no idea.  I took up the offer after all, just like Damian Grant taking up a wage subsidy he didn't need.You don't look a gift vax in the mouth.

So I turned up this morning and found out that the reason I got offered the vax was that I had cancer and surgery last year. The practice had looked through it's records and determined the perceived vulnerable, made their order quite early in the piece and then the jabs came through.

Their first tranche was a bit slow but since then everything has been fine. To give you a perspective, this medical centre with six doctors identified and administered the vaccinations to 12,000 clients.

So I asked my nurse if the government lost half a million jabs.  She didn’t think so.  She reckons some DHBs and their distribution networks just aren’t as good as others.  Welcome to post code medical care. 

It must be so frustrating as a government to be constantly disappointed by the civil servants at the ground level. It’s much like how the police failed to check up on the self-isolated inside three days.

And speaking of the police, the question has been asked whether they had the legal power to enforce the lockdown and the closure of businesses after a leak of an email from the Deputy Police Commissioner that showed the police were concerned.

This is a question that Simon Bridges was putting to Commissioner Andy Coster last week in the Pandemic Response Committee.  He never got an answer to it because Coster ran rings around him.  Coster is a lawyer too and Bridges just never got the right question together.

If the emails are correct, it doesn’t look so.  It appears Ashley Bloomfield used the wrong Act to issue the specific regulations.  He used the Health Act and not the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act.

I had been wondering why Ashley announced three revisions of section 71.  It turns out he was floundering around trying to get the law right.

I find that amazing.  Saint Ashley Bloomfield didn’t know how to legally enforce the lockdown he ordered.  You would have thought that would have been sorted out decades ago.  The law should have been ready to go at a moment’s notice.  It’s called having a Pandemic Plan.  

You get the feeling that the Department of Health was making it up as they went along. That's not good enough.

There will have to be an inquiry and a very hard look at our health civil servants to figure out how they got the very basic things wrong.

And again, it must be so frustrating as a government to be constantly disappointed by the civil servants at the ground level.

So did the police break the law enforcing the lockdown?  It doesn’t look so.  Because it seems like they just didn’t enforce it for two weeks until it was fixed.

The phrase is non-coercive community policing powers. In other words, they just asked us to shut the country down, nicely.  And being good and polite Kiwis, we just did. Incredible, really.