“ACT can reveal Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has attended Cabinet 17 times this year, a breach of Cabinet’s own rules,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Ashley Bloomfield probably speaks more in Cabinet than most Cabinet Ministers. He almost certainly attends Cabinet more than Ministers out of Cabinet, such as James Shaw.
“Bloomfield has more power than any unelected person since Queen Victoria appointed Governor Hobson. He told media this morning he couldn’t remember any other advisors being there this year.
“The problem with the Government’s response to COVID-19 is it’s totally dependent on the Ministry of Health, it’s effectively made Ashley Bloomfield an unelected Cabinet Minister for COVID.
“The Cabinet Manual states ‘The Secretary of the Cabinet and the Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet, who provide secretariat services to Cabinet, are the only officials to attend Cabinet meetings regularly. Occasionally, senior public service officials may be invited to give a special presentation to Ministers in the Cabinet room.’
“Seventeen times is not occasional. The Ministry of Health has proven time and again its incompetence, whether it’s saliva testing contracts, rapid antigen testing or involving GPs and Pharmacists in the response.
“The Government was elected to lead us through this. It is completely captured by one man. It has ignored all other views, whether from the business community or anyone with health concerns other than COVID-19.
“It’s time for Jacinda Ardern to broaden her horizons, take advice from multiple sources on an equal basis, and have a democratically elected Cabinet without unelected cling-ons”
The Written Parliamentary Question:
Reply 44671 (2021) has been answered
Portfolio: Prime Minister
Question: How many meetings, if any, of Cabinet has the Director-General of Health attended in whole or in part in 2021?
Reply: I am advised that the Director-General of Health has attended a Cabinet meeting 17 times to date in 2021. The Director General attends only to brief Cabinet for the purpose of Alert Level decisions.