13 Oct 2021

Covid-19: Collins wants more information released about Auckland alert level 3 move

10:11 am on 13 October 2021

National Party leader Judith Collins wants the government to release the advice it received that prompted Auckland's move to alert level 3.

National Party leader Judith Collins during their press conference at Parliament, Wellington, 28 September, 2021.

National Party leader Judith Collins Photo: Pool / NZME / Mark Mitchell

Collins told Morning Report she believed the government would have felt it had to move down a level, but she wants to know more.

"I've always said that the government shouldn't be treating New Zealanders as they were mushrooms to be kept in the dark.

"They should release the advice, the public health advice that they received. They have not released it, and I think that would give a far clearer picture."

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Morning Report he could not say that a recent rise in cases caused the level change.

Collins said the problem was that the public could not see the official advice yet.

She agreed with Hipkins that the longer people were locked down, the more they felt they could break the rules.

"The longer you keep people locked down, the more likely it is that people are going to feel that they simply can't continue following the rules to the degree that they [the government] want to.

"So, that's their problem, release the information, have a plan that people can work to, get as many people vaccinated, get them the saliva test and get the rapid antigen testing, get the ICU units ready and actually prepared."

Collins said the National Party would have introduced rapid antigen testing for people crossing regional borders months ago, despite New Zealand's Covid-19 response being based on an elimation strategy.

She said the tests should be available for people to purchase at pharmacies.

"For instance, with teachers if we had rapid antigen tests at schools teachers could also test themselves, I mean that is something adults all around the world are doing."

"There's nothing wrong with using it in elimination if you're also doing the full nasal tests... there's also nothing wrong with having saliva testing and that has been recommended since September last year by the Simpson-Roche report and yet the government is only now getting on to it.

"There's been no plan, it's just been lockdown, lockdown and then finally oh yes let's get everyone vaccinated.

"We utterly support vaccination and we utterly support having all the tools available."

Collins said it would be ''pretty hard" to justify the implementation of any further vaccine mandates outside of the healthcare and education sectors.

However, she would not completely rule out supporting additional mandates.

"I'm very comfortable with the fact that the National Party believes in private property rights and it is very important that every business has the right to say who comes into their premises but you'd need to have other mechanisms in place for those who aren't unvaccinated."

Collins said discussions of further mandates are irrelevant until the government successfully rollout the vaccine certificate scheme.

She said it was important that the government communicated 'plain English' explanations of the need for vaccination for hesitant people working in mandated sectors.

Collins said she did not support 'bullying' of those people who were unvaccinated.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a tele-thon inspired 'Vax-a-thon' will be broadcast across several television channels as part of the Super Saturday nationwide vaccination drive.

When asked about the event, Collins had little to say besides the fact she would be self-isolating in Wellington during the event as she will have travelled across the Auckland border under an essential worker exemption.

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