8 May 2020

Ministers told to 'dismiss' interviews on Covid-19 documents - leaked memo

7:03 pm on 8 May 2020

The prime minister's office has directed all ministers not to give interviews on a Covid-19 document dump, saying there is "no real need to defend" themselves.

The Beehive

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Thousands of pages of official papers, minutes and advice were published by the government on Friday afternoon following its final media conference for the week.

A leaked email, sent to Beehive staff today, directed them to issue only "brief written statements" in response to media queries about the documents.

"Do not put Minister up for any interviews on this," it stated.

The directive stated that the government had no need to respond because of the overwhelming public support, and should instead "lead the changing conversation".

"There's no real need to defend. Because the public have confidence in what has been achieved and what the Govt is doing," the email said.

"Instead we can dismiss."

The memo also included "key messages" for Ministers and staff to stick to in their written statements, including: "No one had the luxury of time," and, "Perfect would have been the public enemy of the good".

It also suggested ministers say: "Tough calls had to be made... The results speak for themselves."

Another point noted: "Evidence shows our decisions were the right ones".

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