Media statement for immediate release
Rako Science today asked for Parliament to protect the rights of all New Zealanders by amending the Bill that gives coercive powers to seize laboratory supplies and requisition services from COVID-19 testing laboratories. Rako Science is New Zealand’s largest COVID-19 PCR saliva testing service and in the last four weeks has collected and processed 30,000 saliva tests.
“All we want is a chance to provide our services to our customers. We don’t want to be subject to special powers and the whims of government officials,” Rako Science Director, Leon Grice said.
“Rako Science has made repeated offers to support the public health response and the Ministry of Health has never entered negotiations with us, at its insistence.
“The COVID Response Bill No2 is being rammed through with special provisions to give Ministry of Health officials the ability to seize private businesses as they see fit.
“These draconian powers are totally unnecessary when Minister Hipkins himself says he doesn’t anticipate using these powers.
“There is nothing stopping the Ministry contracting with laboratories right now for actual and contingent capacity and there never has been. Rako Science has been offering its solution to the Government since December 2020.
“This is a blunt and clumsy attempt to deflect from the Ministry of Health failure to deliver testing across Aotearoa New Zealand. Testing in New Zealand swings from hours-long queues to empty carparks because the Ministry fails to address the real problems in their approach.
“If you don’t have collection systems that have broad reach into all New Zealand communities you will have long queues, low testing rates and long delays in processing during periods of high demand and when most needed.
“We have other concerns about lower standards for testing contained in this Bill. The current “she’ll be right” attitude is not an acceptable medical testing standard.
“Seizing Rako Science’s testing capacity will have real impacts. Our customers are those with the biggest risks from COVID-19 including hospitals and critical national infrastructure. They would be stripped of protection when they need them most.
“There are real problems within the Ministry of Health and the answer is to not to double down on those problems with dangerous legislation. If this is rammed through our advice to the public is to not to need elective surgery or be immuno-compromised. We hope the Prime Minister will restore sanity to our public health response,” Grice said.