'Nonsense': Ardern rejects Brownlee's comments

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on the opposition to support New Zealand's response to Covid-19's resurgence after National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee labelled the timing of recent announcements as "interesting".

Both National leader Judith Collins were earlier this afternoon asked by media if they believed the Government was hiding anything and in response Brownlee questioned the timing of some recent announcements including the call for people to purchase masks.

National Party Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee looks on during a press conference at Parliament...
National Party Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee looks on during a press conference at Parliament today. Photo: Getty Images
He also said the information that had been released so far on the latest outbreak, including that people were tested twice to confirm they had Covid-19, left New Zealanders "in a position of wondering what do the health authorities know that they are not fully explaining", he said.

He brought up the timing of the Government stepping up communications of a possible new outbreak, calls for masking and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield getting a Covid-19 test.

"All very interesting things to happen a matter of hours before there was a notification of the largest residential part of New Zealand going into level 3 lockdown."

Asked about Brownlee's comments at this afternoon's 4pm press conference, Ardern said it was "nonsense" to suggest the Government was hiding information from the public.

"The idea that we would keep information back from the public when that is critical to us being able to look after their health and therefore their financial wellbeing and their jobs ... is just nonsense."

She asked for the opposition to focus its energy on supporting New Zealand's response to the resurgence of Covid-19.

"That is where I would ask them to put their energy right now, because that is what New Zealand needs."

Ardern about calls to delay the election she said she needed more time to deal with an election date, once more information was available. She hoped to have more information before Sunday.

"We've got time to deal with the date. Right now, our absolute focus is on that resurgence plan."

Ardern said she did give Opposition leadeer Judith Collins a briefing last night before the Level 3 announcement. Since then there hadn't been much to update her on besides the new orders.

"I will continue to keep the opposition involved ... because this is a significant health issue."

In return, she asked for some unity, saying there should be no politics at play.

New Zealand was not in a "caretaker mode" so Cabinet still had the ability to make decisions, Ardern said, but that hadn't stopped her from "reaching out" to Collins.

ODT and NZ Herald

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