National’s Covid-19 patient info leak fiasco distracted "time and energy" from the Government's Covid-19 response, the Health Minister said today.
His comments come as National MP Michael Woodhouse also received leaked information from Michelle Boag after previously side-stepping the issue.
Chris Hipkins was asked if National leader Todd Muller had been honest about what he knew about the issue over recent days.
"That’s a matter for Todd Muller and the National Party, however over the course of the last week the National Party have had a lot of information they have chosen not to share," Mr Hipkins began.
"That could have cleared things up much more quickly, over the weekend both Mr Muller and Michael Woodhouse made some very strong comments about the release of this information and how unacceptable it was, when it was clear they knew how it had come to be released and chose not to share that information."
Mr Hipkins went on to say the issue is ultimately a "distraction" to New Zealand's Covid-19 fight.
"Our focus is on responding to Covid-19 and doing everything we can to keep New Zealanders safe, issues like this distract a lot of time, energy and focus away from that response."
Earlier, Mr Muller admitted he could have been more upfront about information Mr Woodhouse, his health spokesperson, had received from Ms Boag.
Mr Muller now says he knew on Tuesday night that Mr Woodhouse had been sent confidential patient information by Ms Boag.
Yesterday he said Ms Boag was not a source for Mr Woodhouse.
Earlier today, Mr Woodhouse admitted he was sent confidential information by Ms Boag in several emails.
The National leader now says that after he heard from Mr Woodhouse on Tuesday he talked with him again on Wednesday and, following that, provided information to the head of the inquiry into the leak of private information by National MP Hamish Walker to media.
Mr Muller says the information Mr Woodhouse received was not the same as the details Mr Walker leaked as Mr Woodhouse was emailed by Ms Boag at the end of June.
“I could have been more clearer," Mr Muller told 1 NEWS this morning. "But I make the point that what Michael Woodhouse received was not the same information as what Hamish Walker received.”
He also said they were "very different issues" as Mr Woodhouse had not gone on to leak the information to the media.
Asked if the New Zealand public could trust him, Mr Muller said: "I am sure they can and I am sure they do."