Government was advised testing all border staff wasn't viable when Health Minister was promising it

Newshub can reveal the Government was advised that testing all border staff was not a viable option around the time the Health Minister was promising to do exactly that. 

It comes as the Government has brought in a health power team to clean up the cluster of testing failures - Heather Simpson, who just reviewed the entire health system, and Sir Brian Roche who led the Government's PPE review. 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said he doesn't see it as a vote of no confidence. 

"In fact, I welcome it," he said on Wednesday. 

But the disconnection between what the Government said was happening with testing of border-facing workers, and the reality, are poles apart.

On June 23, under pressure after the Ministry of Health failed to test hundreds of people before releasing them from quarantine, then-Health Minister David Clark released the testing strategy which said there would be asymptomatic testing of all border staff.

Newshub has found that very same ministry testing strategy published in June, and still not updated, states that "screening of all asymptomatic border-facing staff would represent a zero-risk approach... however since risk mitigation measures are in place and given the invasive nature of the test... this approach is not thought to be viable". 

The Government was told it wasn't workable. 

"It was actually logistically complex. I've said that a number of times," Dr Bloomfield said on Wednesday. 

ACT leader David Seymour has questions for the Government.  

"Either they ignored the advice and told everyone they were testing everybody or worse still they took the advice, didn't do the testing and then lied to the public," he told Newshub. 

The current Health Minister Chris Hipkins won't take responsibility for the miscommunication. 

"The Cabinet's expectations were very, very clear and ultimately the Cabinet, their expectations, are what should be implemented," he said on Wednesday. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in Parliament that the Government is "not interested in trying to apportion blame". 

Seymour said what the Prime Minister is "really saying" is she's "not interested in accountability".

Her Deputy Prime Minister is though. 

"Oversight and accountability are critical," Winston Peters said on Wednesday. 

He's taking credit for the solution too saying the Simpson/Roche ring in is thanks to him. 

"It's an idea I had a long time ago... months and months ago," he said. 

He says he recommended the military too. 

"During the very first lockdown we said you've got to get the army in, you've got to do it now."