The news this past week featured the Auckland Grammar School headmaster, Tim O'Connor, who has said it's ridiculous that the school's been blocked from collecting a shipment of Rapid Antigen Tests that have arrived in the country. He says the rapid tests would mean they could check students at school - rather than immediately sending them home if they have a runny nose.
In spite of the tests being highly accurate and approved by health authorities throughout the world, NZ's Health Ministry stated, "Only approved rapid antigen tests can be imported. The Ministry is continuing to evaluate new applications, however, all applicants must go through a thorough evaluation process".
Why has a school been denied tests whilst it seeks to protect the health & safety of its own students & parents? Why has the government interfered with the contract? Our politicians and public officials would tell you that it has to do with things like MedSafe Approval - that health & safety red-tape is necessary when importing medical-related products.
However, that's just one half of the truth. The other half is that our government has a very strong ideological problem with private sector involvement in the health-care sector. For example, I advocated a few years ago for a change in the health system in NZ, which maintained the principle of universal health-care for all whilst at the same time, to control costs, featured more competition in terms of the supply of services, including from private non-for-profits.
The interest from our government was zero. Although the proposal was written with a former Finance Minister & formally submitted to Sir Michael Cullen who was chairing the tax working group at the time, we were never asked to present it, nor discuss it in any way. They threw it in the bin.
Yes, the government doesn't want buyers & sellers which it doesn't control coming together to do deals in the health-sector. Although they say its about public health, it's equally as much about ideology. Labour has an anti-privatization philosophy. At present, in the context of virus-testing, that philosophy has just become a health hazard.