15 Mar 2021

Mosque attacks: Ardern highlights $1m community engagement fund

5:23 pm on 15 March 2021

The government is establishing a $1 million community engagement response fund for community groups to engage with the Royal Commission into the mosque attacks, and an advisory group to guide the government's response.

Ardern says the government has listened to many people from the hui held recently as part of the Royal Commission into the mosque attacks, and learnt from them.

The government is establishing a $1 million community engagement response fund to help more people engage with the work the commission does, she says. This fund will help support staff, often voluntary, from community groups continue to engage with the commission's work.

It will also set up an advisory group to ensure the "timely and effective and accountable implementation of the government's response". Both of these were asked for, Ardern says.

A collective impact board will also be established, to guide and advise on the services needed to support long-term recovery needs.

"I'm committed in ensuring New Zealand continues to play a strong role in countering violent extremism and of course we all remain absolutely committed to honouring the 51 lives lost on March 15."

Ardern says the long-term plan includes issues of hate speech and "our national security architecture".

When asked if the government was moving fast enough on the Royal Commission's recommendations, Ardern says there is a "real job" to do to ensure the government is prioritising things that affect people's daily lives, while not losing sight on the commission's recommendations.

Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

"We prioritised the things that we think will have an immediate effect, but still working through those issues that are bigger and more structural, but we need to take more time on."

Minister responsible for GCSB and NZSIS Andrew Little says there is ongoing mental health support for victims of the mosque attacks and their families.

He acknowledges ACC does not cover witnesses of the mosque attacks, saying any changes to that would require significant work.

He says while some recommendations from the Royal Commission can be implemented quite quickly, others will take longer.

Ardern says there has been a number of support programmes available, from driving courses, help with literacy, opening bank accounts and there has been a request for specific work broker support which is being brought in as well.

Cook Islands PM to visit NZ

The Cook Islands Prime Minister will visit New Zealand next week, the first international leader to do so since borders closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It is significant," she says. "We have not been receiving guests, something which is so core to who we are as a nation, for a very long time, so you can imagine, as we would for our Pacific neighbours, we'll be really making sure that PM Brown is well looked after."

She says the impact of the lack of tourism has been significant for the Cook Islands, and will be one of the main points of conversation along with the vaccine rollout and "what the next 12 months looks like for us".

Reports that child was deported by Australia

Ardern says she's aware there was a minor deported with other 501s from Australia recently, she says, but doesn't have the full details.

She says she has asked for a briefing on media reports a 15-year-old was on last week's deportee flight from Australia. She says she would expect "particular care to be taken" if a minor was involved and she would expect officials to be involved and notified.

She wants to look at the circumstances in which the deportation happened, saying it is important to ensure the deportation was carried out appropriately.

"We will be going back and looking at the details here."

Ardern says Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison knew her position on the deportation policy - which she objects to. She says she has raised the issue before.

Trans-Tasman travel bubble

The Australian government is working on a plan to create a travel bubble with Singapore.

Ardern says the issue of Singapore having a bubble with Australia has been on the table for a long time, and has not stopped New Zealand working on a trans-Tasman bubble.

"The work has never stopped - we remain committed to it."

She says there are many "complicating factors" to establishing a travel bubble with Australia and right now you don't hear many stories of people being stranded.

"I can guarantee if we had a two-way quarantine-free arrangement you would certainly hear if we had issues in Australia which caused us to take a pause and shut down flights, you would certainly hear concerns around people being stranded, so we need to be prepared in how we could manage that, particularly if people needed to get home."

Covid-19 and alert levels

Cabinet made a preliminary decision on Thursday night to move Auckland to alert level 1 if there were no new cases overnight. The following morning Ardern announced the change would take effect at midday Friday.

There have been no new community cases since 27 February, when a mother and her son tested positive, prompting Auckland's latest level 3 lockdown.

There were seven new cases reported in managed isolation today.

On pre-flight tests, Ardern says for "the most part" she is happy they are valid, but it cannot be assumed all tests are run the same way.

She says New Zealand's pre-flight tests can pick up all stages of an infection, but she does not think all countries are as "rigorous" as New Zealand.

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