Aussie refusing Covid test should be deported - Collins

Lucinda Baulch spent 28 days at the Grand Mercure MIQ facility in Wellington. Photo: NZ Herald
Lucinda Baulch spent 28 days at the Grand Mercure MIQ facility in Wellington. Photo: NZ Herald
The Australian woman refusing a Covid test in a Wellington MIQ facility should be deported back across the ditch, opposition leader Judith Collins says.

Australian woman Lucinda Baulch is to be released this week from MIQ after 28 days - having refused to take a Covid-19 swab.

The National party leader today slammed the Government's "soft approach" in allowing arrivals into the country to refuse Covid tests, and suggested that the woman be deported back to Australia.

"If a New Zealander went to Australia and refused to get tested at an MIQ facility, what do you think would happen to them? They'd be back on a plane to New Zealand."

"So unless this woman is a New Zealand citizen… the Australian Government, they need to take back their own person if she's one of these."

Collins also said she would be putting pressure on the Government to shift the MIQ facilities out of the Auckland CBD and into purpose-built facilities.

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern dismissed the idea of developing purpose-built facilities to quarantine recent arrivals as a "significant ask".

She also said some incursions could be traced back to human behaviour, such as returnees catching Covid through a shared lift or bin.

"So not always has the facility been the problem, but the virus within it."

She also said as New Zealand's population was immunised, evidence could emerge that the vaccine reduced the chance of transmission, which could "change up" border requirements.

Judith Collins.
National leader Judith Collins. File photo
Collins said it was not too late to build a new MIQ facility, even with the Covid vaccine rollout now under way.

"Even with vaccinations Covid is going to be around for quite some time … we just think it's an unnecessary risk having these lockdowns, now our third in Auckland."

"It's just not something that's sustainable long-term, particularly for people who are in small businesses."

"Viruses do mutate and I think it's got to be something that we prepare for."

When asked if this would mean building a whole community from scratch, she said this was not an unreasonable idea, pointing to Twizel as an example.

Twizel was built in the 1960s to house construction workers on the Upper Waitaki Hydroelectric Scheme.

Collins said they had not called for this earlier as they had expected the vaccine rollout to be quicker.

"We thought the vaccine would be out earlier, we believed the Government when they said we were at the front of the queue.

She expected the Government to look into the creation of a purpose-built facility, which was also being considered in Australia.

"New Zealand needs to be at least taking some steps to work out how that could work.

"We need to just have a solution that's not about locking down our country."

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