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Statement from Winston Peters:
New Zealand First’s position from the beginning of discussions, has been to stop the current Royal Commission altogether and start a new, broader, independent, and public inquiry. We have consistently advocated for this position.  
We support the establishment of a ‘second phase’ for the inquiry as it achieves the outcomes we campaigned on. 
However, we disagree with allowing the current inquiry to simply continue as ‘phase one’ in its current form, the current Chair remaining in place, and the further extension of its report back period.  
We believe that ‘phase one’ of the Royal Commission is simply a continuation of the current inquiry, which is far too narrow in scope and remains compromised by the current Chair’s direct involvement with the previous government’s administration and direct planning of the Covid pandemic response.  
New Zealand First campaigned on the fact that the current Royal Commission was nothing more than a Labour Party political tool, being used to craft a message through its lack of scope and lack of suitability of the commissioners.  
We believe the public perception of bias of the current Chair represents a reputational risk for ‘phase one’ of the inquiry.  
New Zealand must have an independent and robust ‘lessons learned’ report that can be used for any future pandemic response for our country.  
New Zealand First respects Cabinet’s decision to invoke the ‘agree to disagree’ provisions in the coalition agreement.
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