Nats leader 'disappointed' at Walker's statement

National Party leader Todd Muller. Photo: NZ Herald
National Party leader Todd Muller. Photo: NZ Herald
National Party leader Todd Muller says he's expressed his disappointment to his MP Hamish Walker for a press release slammed as racist.

The Clutha-Southland MP sent a statement on Thursday claiming up to 11,000 people from "India, Pakistan and Korea" could be heading to Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown for quarantine.

"I've already had many calls, texts and emails from residents who do not want people in quarantine in Queenstown," Walker's statement said.

Walker didn't include other countries in the statement, despite most returnees coming from Australia, and didn't say the people were returning New Zealanders.

He wrote the statement in response to news the Government was assessing whether it was viable to set up quarantine facilities in Dunedin and Queenstown.

Muller today said he'd spoken to Walker about the statement.

Hamish Walker. Photo: NZ Herald
Hamish Walker. Photo: NZ Herald
"I've expressed my disappointment and I certainly don't condone what he said."

Muller refused to answer questions about whether he thought the statement was racist and what his concerns were.

Walker defended his statement last night after Cabinet Minister Megan Woods called it racist.

"Calling me a racist is Labour's default tactic when they are unable to defend their blatant failures. It's not about race," Walker said.

"This is about the live cases in New Zealand and what countries they come from."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also expressed her concern. When she was asked if the press release was racist, she said: "I certainly thought it was inappropriate".

"We need to make sure that we are welcoming the return of our permanent residents and our Kiwi citizens. And the response I have had from a number of those housing them is that they see this as the return of their people and their communities, and we should treat it as such."

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