National Party deputy leader Nikki Kaye says the public can continue to trust her party in the lead up to this year's election amid the Covid-19 patient details leak saga.
Her comments come as National MP Hamish Walker and former National Party president Michelle Boag resigned from their positions after it was revealed they shared information about Kiwis who tested positive for Covid-19.
Yesterday, National’s health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said he also received other information which was “not the same” as what Mr Walker received, from Ms Boag containing patient details.
Ms Kaye told TVNZ 1’s Q+A this morning the National Party could still be trusted as people had been held to account.
“We could've done better, but I do not accept that people have not taken responsibility in a timely way.”
When asked whether it was hypocritical of the party to criticise the Government’s handling of patient information when it was Ms Boag who had leaked the information in the first place, Ms Kaye said: “I do not accept this is hypocritical.”
She said it “it’s not dirty politics” that the information was used to criticise the Government.
She said Mr Woodhouse would keep his portfolio as he was able to hold the Government to account over its management of the border.
“[Mr Woodhouse] did not share the information which is very important,” she said, which was why he had kept his job while Mr Walker had not after giving the patient details to the media.
What the party leadership knew of the patient details leak according to Nikki Kaye
Ms Kaye was pressed this morning about the timeline of the information leak.
She said it was important to consider “there is a human element to this”.
“We were dealing with not only a legal situation, an MP whose career was ending and, from my perspective, I was totally focused on that.”
Ms Kaye said she had not received any information about patient details from Ms Boag.
Monday 6 July
“I found out about Hamish [Walker] on the Monday night [National leader] Todd [Muller] rang me,” Ms Kaye said.
She said at that point, she didn’t know of Ms Boag’s involvement.
Tuesday 7 July
Ms Kaye said she and Mr Muller found out “Michelle was somehow involved” on Tuesday.
She then called Ms Boag after her and Mr Walker released statements outlining their involvement in the leak. Ms Kaye said Ms Boag was crying and “incredibly upset” on the phone, so she didn’t ask at the time whether Ms Boag had given any other information about Covid-19 patients to any other National MP.
She said she found out “late, late Tuesday” from Mr Muller that Mr Woodhouse had received what Mr Woodhouse had described as “unsolicited emails” from Ms Boag. She said Mr Woodhouse had first told Mr Muller.
Wednesday 8 July
Ms Kaye tells Amy Adams, National’s Covid-19 recovery spokesperson, to ensure Mr Woodhouse cooperates with the inquiry into the leak of Covid-19 patient details.
She said Mr Woodhouse was establishing whether the information he received from Ms Boag was the same information Mr Walker had received.
Ms Kaye said she called Ms Boag on Wednesday night to ask about Mr Woodhouse.
Ms Boag resigned from Nikki Kaye’s Auckland Central electorate and campaign team.
Mr Walker announces he won't stand at the next election.
Thursday 9 July
Reporters ask Mr Muller: "Have you checked with Woodhouse, specifically, whether he received that same information from Boag?”
Mr Muller said he was only aware of one MP, Mr Walker, receiving information from Ms Boag.
Ms Kaye said Mr Woodhouse was preparing a public statement at this point regarding Ms Boag’s involvement in the information he received.
Friday 10 July
Mr Woodhouse releases a public statement which said he received patient details from Ms Boag.
“I received four unsolicited emails from Michelle Boag containing information that, while not the same information that is the subject of the Inquiry led by Michael Heron QC,” Mr Woodhouse said in the statement.
Ms Kaye said it was an issue with perception, and that Mr Muller wasn’t lying on Thursday.
“It was very clear that the information [Mr Woodhouse received] was different [to the one from Hamish], so Todd was accurate.”