National calls for investigation into 'graph gate' after Govt releases misleading vaccination plan

The National Party is calling for an investigation into what it's calling 'graph-gate' after a baffling graph was presented at a press conference in March.

The graph, presented by Minister for the COVID-19 response Chris Hipkins, showed second vaccine doses would be given before the first ones.

It caused a great deal of confusion, and the Ministry of Health attempted to stop information about the graph from being released to RNZ, claiming it was "commercially sensitive".

RNZ complained to the Ombudsman and the details were released.

The released emails and documents show after a wave of requests for the graph's raw data from journalists, Ministry of Health staff moved from calling it a graph to calling it an "illustration". Staff also variously referred to it as a chart, a diagram, and a graphic design.

Ministry staff were also baffled by the graph and shared concerned feedback about what had been released to the public.

The errors spotted included that the graph showed cumulative doses of the vaccine, with one staff member noting that meant "the graph should never decline". But the graph declined massively which indicated an impossible scenario where more and more doses were given, the country had received fewer and fewer doses.

He also noted the graph showed a "spike in second doses which occur before the first doses".

The "illustration" has since been removed from the Ministry of Health website and replaced with one that actually makes sense.

National's spokesperson for the COVID-19 response Chris Bishop says it's an example of the Labour Government's "lack of transparency".

"Our vaccine rollout is critical. But rather than be clear with New Zealanders about its plan, and how well we were going as a country, the Government chose to mislead Kiwis," he said on Thursday. 

He says an inquiry into the graph is crucial - but has little faith the Government will allow one.

"We would suggest an investigation could be carried out by the Health Select Committee, but based on past experience National has no confidence Labour would allow it."