30 Jul 2020

Judith Collins: 'You can't play around with people's privacy'

4:35 pm on 30 July 2020

National Party leader Judith Collins has told reporters the inquiry into the leak of private details of Covid-19 patients is in line with her conclusions.

This morning she spoke to Christchurch Indian community, North New Brighton Community Centre before a visit to Akaroa Salmon New Zealand.

She was not at all surprised by the findings of the Heron inquiry into the leak of private details of Covid-19 patients, and they were in line with her conclusions.

"I thought the findings were absolutely on a par with my own thoughts about what had happened and what should have happened and I would say it's a very big lesson to people that you can't play politics with other people's private medical records."

"You can't play around with people's privacy," she said.

She described Michelle Boag, who was the party's president 20 years ago, as the main person involved and said she had made "a very bad mistake".

Hamish Walker had paid the price of what he had done by losing his career as an MP, Collins said.

"He's made an error of judgement, he's actually lost his career. What he hasn't done is, so far as we're aware, committed a criminal offence."

She said it was appropriate for Walker to stay on until the election and he was reporting directly to her, working on maternity care in Wanaka and inspecting flood damage at Milford Sound.

"I'm satisfied he's doing the job."

National's housing spokesperson Jacqui Dean had made her mistake this morning with her claims on National's state housing record.

"I tell you will never make that mistake again," Collins said.

Dean was relatively new in the portfolio and was was embarrassed about her error, she said.

She, alongside small business spokesperson Andrew Bayly, yesterday announced the party's BusinessStart policy which would give aspiring business people access to up to $30,000 from their own Kiwisaver retirement savings.

She has also criticised the government's plans to charge only some people arriving in New Zealand for their stay in managed isolation.

This afternoon, she said there were not enough places in managed isolation and New Zealanders wanted people to contribute to costs.

"We are thinking about how we can address that as well" - the number of managed isolation places.

Her party has been fighting back against a recent poll which showed the party had dropped to 25.1 percent popularity.

She said the party's internal polling showed it was higher, and promised to release that information to her caucus.

Another poll is expected to be released this evening.

Collins said she was always in campaign mode, which was "about respecting people".

She said she was hearing on the ground that people were happy with the way she was dealing with the matters that made it into the media in the last few weeks.

She said she was looking forward to focusing on policy as opposed to who had done what, where and to whom.

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