Culture

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says he should not have accepted free tickets to a Black Caps match.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says he should not have accepted free tickets to a Black Caps match.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield (file photo) Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas
Dr Bloomfield was lobbied by cricket bosses for the players to get priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine, at the Black Caps vs Australia Twenty20 match in Wellington on Sunday.
He said two days ago that he had been at the match in a private capacity, but said he now accepted that was incorrect.
“As I clarified earlier yesterday, I am in the role of the Director-General of Health every day,” he said in a written statement. “I recognise that the invitation was extended to me because I am in that position. It is important that I avoid any potential for perception of a conflict of interest or personal benefit.
“I thought I was acting within the Public Service Commission guidelines on chief executive gifts, benefits and expenses.”
He said he thought he was acting within the guidelines.
“On re-reading the guidelines, I now accept that declaring the complimentary tickets to the game on a gift register was insufficient and that they should have been refused, as they will be from now on,” he said.
“I have clarified this with the Public Service Commissioner. I have donated the price of the tickets, and also the price of tickets to two Hurricanes games last year (also previously declared), to Wellington City Mission.”
The government is still considering whether sports players should be able to access vaccines when going overseas to represent the country.
Dr Bloomfield and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins yesterday revealed the government’s plan for rolling out the vaccine to New Zealand, and who would be prioritised.
The plan aims to have two million New Zealanders vaccinated within three or four months, and lists several main groups who would receive priority: managed isolation and quarantine workers and their families; frontline health workers in high-risk settings; over 65s in South Auckland; vulnerable people, older people, and people in residential care particularly Mori and Pacific people.
Hipkins said some other people who may need early vaccination, such as sportspeople going overseas or people who may need a vaccine on compassionate grounds, would be able to apply through an exemption process similar to that for managed isolation.
The specific criteria for those applications had not yet been decided on by the government, he said.