Minister Willie Jackson under fire over attending Parker fight after Cabinet call

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 28 Feb 2021, 1:50PM
Minister Willie Jackson during a post-Cabinet press conference with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Minister Willie Jackson during a post-Cabinet press conference with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Minister Willie Jackson under fire over attending Parker fight after Cabinet call

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 28 Feb 2021, 1:50PM

Cabinet Minister Willie Jackson is under pressure from the Opposition for remaining at last night's Joseph Parker fight despite being part of the call to plunge Auckland back into lockdown.

Cabinet met at 7.45pm yesterday to discuss its response to the new community Covid case and decided Auckland needed to go into lockdown for seven days.

Jackson was on that call and stepped out of the crowd at Auckland's Spark Stadium to discuss the development with his fellow ministers.

He took that call, which was done over Zoom, in a more quiet part of the venue.

After finishing the call, he went back in to watch the fight. He was spotted by National leader Judith Collins at about 10pm.

Collins dobbed Jackson in on Q&A this morning, after questions about why she stayed at the event after Ardern's announcement.

Judith Collins and husband David Wong Tung at the Parker v Fa fight in Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

Judith Collins and husband David Wong Tung at the Parker v Fa fight in Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

She said Ardern had called her to let her know about Cabinet's decision.

"And she was adamant that [Cabinet] had already made the call that people who were there didn't need to move because of the fact that all those who were there were already there."

Jackson told the Herald he was at the event and was following the appropriate alert-level requirements.

"Cabinet occurred while I was at the event. The roll-back to level 3 came into play at 6am this morning."

But Act leader David Seymour said this was not good enough.

"I think people will be disappointed, but not surprised."

Jackson was not required to leave the event after making the decision – as the lockdown rules had not yet come into force.

But Seymour said going back into the event, knowing what he knew, sent a bad message to the rest of New Zealand.

"He's still a Cabinet Minister under Jacinda Ardern.

"The problem is that the signal goes wider to the whole community, as we're now finding at great expense."

Speaking to reporters last night, Ardern said the Government was not looking to create a scenario where "we are criminalising people midway through the evening".

But she also said: "If you have heard this request, we want people to act as though they are already in alert level 3".

She said although the Government was being realistic about the fact people were already out and about, "we want them to act now".