12 Aug 2020

'Straight answers' needed from government on Covid-19 restrictions - Collins

9:52 am on 12 August 2020

The National Party wants answers from the government about why the country finds itself facing Covid-19 restrictions again.

National Party leader Judith Collins

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that there were four positive cases of Covid-19 outside of managed isolation or quarantine in Auckland.

National leader Judith Collins said the need to move Auckland back into level 3 restrictions would come as a shock to many, and was devastating.

"It's actually devastating for people, but what's disappointing is that we now have confirmed community outbreaks of Covid-19, that is the disappointment, for 102 days we were told there was none and people have got back to their lives and businesses.

"That's what devastating to me, that we've been told we didn't have Covid-19 in the community now it turns out that we do."

Collins told Morning Report she couldn't see how after so long with no community transmission, Covid-19 could " just spring up again".

"I just can't see how 102 days without any Covid-19 in the country and community that that's suddenly going to spring up again somewhere, is someone seriously suggesting that it's been manifested in the community and no one's known about it? In which case what's happened to the testing?"

Follow the latest here:

Straight answers from the government were needed, she said.

"I think there needs to be a lot of questions asked and a lot of answers given, and straight forward ones. I'm the leader of the Opposition, this is important that I ask these questions as to what's happened, how it's happened."

It would be "helpful" to delay the dissolution of Parliament today if any legislation needed passing, she said.

"But also we may need to debate this issue, so it's the sort of thing I'd expect the Prime Minister's office to talk to me, or my people, about because this is actually really quite serious, because it's not only Auckland, a third of the population, at level 3 but the rest of the country at Level 2."

If Parliament were to be dissolved today it would limit the chance to get detailed briefings, she said.

National was delaying its campaign launch, Collins said, and if the situation in Auckland didn't improve the election might need to be postponed.

"I think it's inevitable that people will be asking these questions and I actually can't see how we can have the Government saying well it's all just fine and we'll get the Electoral Commission to do some postal ballots or something, that's not going to be acceptable, this is a liberal democracy and people do need to be able to have a fair go.

"I think it's going to have to be [delayed] unless it's sorted out by Friday, so let's see how Friday goes and I'm ever hopeful that we'll have a decision straight away, we'll have something that can tell us we can get back to where we have been.

"But if it doesn't, if goes to Level 4 or level 3 and the rest of the country at level 2, I think we're going to have to look at it."

ACT leader David Seymour wrote to the Speaker last night asking him to postpone the dissolution of Parliament.

"Terrible news tonight. It occurs to me that Parliament does not need to dissolve before the election.

"I strongly urge you to postpone the dissolution of Parliament tomorrow until at least this time next week when a clearer picture of the Public Health situation can be had.

"It is possible that the election will now need to be delayed. If that is the case, I believe the people would want to have Parliament available for an epidemic response committee or perhaps sittings," Seymour said in the letter.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs