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Morning Briefing July 9: Ministry refuses to comment on data leak source claims

The fallout from the Covid-19 patient data leak continues this morning with former National Party president Michelle Boag claiming it was the Ministry of Health sending the patients’ data to her private email address.

Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Boag told RNZ the Ministry sent the daily updates to her private address in her capacity as acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust. The Ministry won’t comment on Ms Boag’s claims. 

The repercussions of the data leak have been swift for both Ms Boag and National MP Hamish Walker, who forwarded the patients’ details to media late last week.

Mr Walker was left with little option but to quit politics after National leader Todd Muller publicly expressed his preference he stand down.

Ms Boag has also stood down from her roles both within the National party and at the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust. 

The National Party now faces a scramble to find a new candidate for Mr Walker’s Clutha-Southland seat as it tries to stem the fallout from the scandal.

Mr Muller tried in vain to divert attention from the data leak yesterday by discussing roads – but seemed bemused when journalists didn’t want to ask about his proposed $1.5 billion four-lane highway.

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Patient blasts data leak

A recovered Covid-19 patient who had his own name accidentally published on the Ministry of Health website earlier this year told 1 NEWS he’s “disgusted” by the actions of Mr Walker and Ms Boag.

He says the release of his own private details had caused much concern to him and his family and he’s angry to see other people’s private medical information being deliberately released to media. 

“There’s no words to describe what [Mr Walker] did,” he says. “I’m just grateful there are professionals within the media environment within New Zealand who chose not to publish [the data].”

Covid case’s supermarket selfies

New Zealand recorded another new case of Covid-19 yesterday – and it just so happened to be a 32-year-old man who allegedly snuck away from isolation at the Stamford Plaza hotel to go to a busy inner-city supermarket.

More details have emerged about his visit to the Countdown on Auckland’s Victoria Street West, where he’s said to have spent 20 minutes in store, mostly in the health and beauty aisle. He was also seen taking selfies in the supermarket.

The man is now facing criminal charges.

Megan Woods, the Minister in charge of managed isolation, says there’s been a change of attitude within the quarantine facilities with some people struggling to comply with the rules – and Health Minister Chris Hipkins had strong words for the “completely unacceptable” behaviour. 

“These are acts of selfishness that we intend to use the full weight of the law to stop."

Fixing NZ’s drinking water

The Government has announced nearly $800 million in new funding to tackle the country’s water services – however councils will only be able to access the money if they opt in to the Government’s water reform programme.

The pool of money will go towards councils upgrading or modernising their water services, including drinking water, wastewater, and storm water facilities.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta made the announcement at the site of the bore in Havelock North which was determined to be the cause of a major campylobacter outbreak in 2016.

A woman who developed a neurological disorder following that outbreak told Stuff she’s pleased to see action being taken over the country’s drinking water.

Funeral for slain officer

The funeral for police officer Matthew Hunt will take place at Eden Park this morning.

The private service will include a guard of honour and flag presentation to his family. Constable Hunt died after being shot in west Auckland last month. 

The man accused of his murder appeared in court yesterday and denied all charges.

Other news of note this morning: 

A Bay of Plenty marae says it's considering blocking the Port of Tauranga unless it receives a Government response to claims heavy industry is making their people sick. 

A climate change activist has cut ties with the Green Party after 18 years because she believes it has become part of the “status quo”. 

Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher who married her former sixth-grade student after she was convicted of raping him, has died

The team behind a totara timber trial say they're confident the native wood can be harvested on a larger scale.

The Herald reports an Auckland man faces being stuck in a South American airport's transit lounge for the next month after he was stopped from boarding his flight home.

And RNZ reports some people who have been chronically homeless in Auckland are choosing to stay in permanent housing for the first time in more than 20 years. 

And finally...

Source: Seven Sharp

After 24 hours dominated by political scandals and worries about Covid-infected Kiwis escaping isolation, this tale about a trampoline might just be the palate cleanser we all need.

Papamoa woman Maria Moore shot to local fame when she spoke to 1 NEWS following a tornado in the Bay of Plenty a couple of weeks ago.

The colourful character mentioned her neighbour’s kids had lost their new trampoline in the freak storm and pleaded for somebody to replace it – and somebody did.

So, Seven Sharp’s Laura Daniel visited Papamoa to deliver the good news...