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Royal Commission to consider expanding COVID-19 inquiry terms

Saturday 3 February 2024, 3:32AM

By Expert Briefing

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The Royal Commission of Inquiry into COVID-19 Lessons, led by Chairman Prof. Tony Blakely, announced support for the government's consultation regarding potential expansion of the Inquiry's terms of reference.

The consultation aims to consider and clarify specific topics related to the pandemic response, coinciding with the Inquiry's upcoming public submission process for sharing personal experiences.

"We recognise that, as a result of this consultation, the Inquiry may be asked to look at additional aspects of the COVID-19 response, and we’ll work with the Government on what that might look like once public feedback has been considered."

Acknowledging possible changes based on public feedback, Blakely emphasized the importance of understanding individual stories to learn valuable lessons for the future.

The coalition agreement between the National Party and New Zealand First called for an independent inquiry into how the Covid pandemic was handled in New Zealand.

The current terms of reference for the inquiry exclude the evaluation of vaccine efficacy.

The Government is seeking feedback on the inclusion of the following topics, as part of its commitment to expanding the scope of the inquiry:

  • Use of multiple lockdowns
  • Vaccine procurement and efficacy
  • The social and economic impacts on both regional and national levels
  • Whether the decisions made, and steps taken, were justified
  • The cost-effectiveness of the Government’s policies, and whether the rules set by the Government appropriately balanced COVID-19 elimination with other goals
  • The Government’s utilisation of partnerships with business and professional groups
  • The extent of disruption to New Zealanders’ health, education, and business as a result of the Government’s policies
  • If the Government’s response was consistent with the rule of law
  • How New Zealand’s pandemic preparedness compared to other countries

Advocacy group Voices For Freedom said that while the scope has broadened, it is extremely disappointing that these additional points are being tacked onto the edges of the problematic existing inquiry and not starting afresh with a new inquiry as promised. 

"VFF will push hard to ensure a thorough examination of the safety of the mRNA injectable and its negative impact on individual health is included in this expanded scope. We will also continue to advocate for a full-scale, wide-ranging, independent inquiry as outlined in the NZ First/National coalition agreement."

Royal Commission website: www.covid19lessons.royalcommission.nz