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National MP Paula Bennett calls out Hamish Walker's Covid-19 patient detail leak as 'deplorable'

National MP Paula Bennett has called the actions of her colleague Hamish Walker "deplorable" after he confessed on Tuesday that it was him who leaked Covid-19 patient details to media.

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Ms Bennett said she had a lot to do with the outgoing Clutha-Southland MP when she was deputy leader. Source: Breakfast

Mr Walker yesterday announced he would not run as National's Clutha-Southland electorate at the upcoming election in September after National Party leader Todd Muller earlier told TVNZ1's Breakfast he didn't want him to.

The party's board is looking for a candidate to take his position.

This morning on Breakfast, former deputy leader of National, Ms Bennett, said she had a lot to do with the MP when she was in her old role.

"It's sad. I mean, look, there's no excuse, he has to take responsibility for his own actions," she said.

"He's actually done a disservice, not just to other National MPs, but actually to all MPs because it's just behaviour that is just in no way acceptable.

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The National leader also told Breakfast he thinks former party president Michelle Boag should step aside from any involvement with the party in the wake of the Covid-19 privacy leak scandal. Source: Breakfast

"I do also sit there an know that he's got a wife and a baby as well and so this will be, I'm sure, some of his darkest days, but it is consequences for your own actions and those actions quite frankly are deplorable.

"But he's human so I don't want to sit here and put the boot into him either," she said.

Mr Walker confessed to the leak on Tuesday evening. His statement was closely followed by a statement from Michelle Boag, a former National Party president, as she confessed it was her who'd given Mr Walker the information in the first place, having abused her position as acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

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The man said the National MP should have known right from wrong. Source: 1 NEWS

It all came after the Clutha-Southland MP had earlier landed himself in hot water after he sent out a press release claiming 11,000 people from high-risk countries, specifically India, Korea and Pakistan, could be coming to town. Mr Walker was accused of racism, but stood by his comments last week. 

Also on Breakfast this morning, though, Greens MP Chlöe Swarbrick said it wasn't helpful to hypothesise about why he leaked the details, but to instead wait for an investigation.

"This is really gutting for the New Zealand public who will now be looking at politicians and going, 'Oh, you're all the bloody same,' when actually I hope we get to talk about the substance of this election, we get to talk about the substance of what is on offer to the general public and we also get to talk about some of the issues New Zealanders are facing.

"We're facing a once in a generation economic downturn, the issues of climate change still haven't gone away, so hopefully we get to get into those, but all of that being said this doesn't do away with the fact that of course wrongdoing occurred here."

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The Clutha-Southland seat, soon to be called just Southland, is becoming a poisoned chalice for National, says Benedict Collins. Source: 1 NEWS