Ashley Bloomfield says he should have turned down cricket tickets

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield says he should have refused free tickets to the deciding match of the T20 cricket series against Australia.

He originally said he attended in a private capacity but today accepted he was wrong.

“As I clarified earlier yesterday, I am in the role of the director-general of health every day,” he said.

“I recognise that the invitation was extended to me because I am in that position.”

He said he thought he was acting within the Public Service Commission Guidelines on gifts but on re-reading them he realised that declaring the free tickets was not enough.

“They should have been refused, as they will be from now on,” he said.

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It was important he avoid the potential for perception of any conflict of interest or personal gain, he said.

He has donated the price of the tickets, as well as tickets to two Hurricanes games he attended last year, to the Wellington City Mission.

Bloomfield earlier pushed back on any suggestions he was lobbied by cricket bosses to ensure players get preferential access to vaccines.

“I didn’t make any promises,” he told media yesterday morning.

Bloomfield was invited to meet some of the players after the game, where they talked about “a range of things”.

Vaccine prioritisation of players, he said, was “just was one of the things that came up in conversation”.

He told them that he “couldn’t make any promises or decisions” when it comes to this issue.

“What I said was: ‘Okay, thank you for raising it’.”

He said he couldn’t remember who exactly raised the issue of vaccines with him.
“It just was one of the things that came up in conversation.

“I did not go to the cricket to talk about vaccines. I went to watch the cricket.”

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he could imagine that a number of sports teams would have been lobbying to get ahead of the queue.

But it would have no bearing on the Government’s vaccine rollout, he said.

“Lobbying has not played a role in who is sitting in each group within the sequencing framework.”

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