Winston Peters on the Government's Covid-19 border blunder

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 19 Jun 2020, 9:53AM
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters speaks to media during a press conference on Budget 2020 delivery day at Parliament. Photo / Pool

Winston Peters on the Government's Covid-19 border blunder

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 19 Jun 2020, 9:53AM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged that the public has lost confidence in the Government's management of Covid-19 at the border.

Her major focus is to now "restore public confidence and, indeed, confidence in the Government and [its] ministers".

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said today he was pleased the army was now running the quarantine and isolation process - up until now it has been the Ministry of Health.

Peters told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking that the army knew how to introduce and follow protocols and instil discipline.

He did not want to specifically point the finger of blame directly at Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield for the border bungles.

"It stops with the people who have the protocol in their control... at the place where it had to be exercised, and they didn't do their job. That's where the buck stops, and with anyone who knew they weren't doing their job.

"It's not good enough...some people are letting us down."

Meanwhile, Ardern and her deputy, Winston Peters, are on very different pages when it comes to what should be done to those responsible for the blunder.

Peters told the House that the Government would find those people "at the coalface who didn't follow the protocols".

"The only way we can eliminate this sort of irresponsible behaviour or failure to fulfil the protocol requirements is to identify those people and make sure it doesn't happen again."

But Ardern said told reporters she does not want to see a "witch hunt".

"This has been a failure of the system; I'm not interested in going down into individuals and finding out exactly who."

At a press conference, Bloomfield acknowledged that New Zealanders were upset by the Government's blunder.

Work is now under way to contact trace more than 350 close contacts of the women and Bloomfield said the "vast majority" had been tested.

He said he couldn't say how many of the 200 people granted compassion leave has been tested before they were allowed to leave quarantine facilities.

But the rules have been changed and now no one is allowed to leave a facility unless they have a confirmed negative test, even if it's under compassionate leave.

The story of the Covid-19 positive sisters was made worse when National MP Michael Woodhouse told the House that the pair had got lost while in Auckland and were given directions by a family friend.

Woodhouse alleged they gave the helpers a "kiss and a cuddle" but Bloomfield said put their "arm around them" and said that was the only contact they had.

This is despite the fact that Ardern and Bloomfield had claimed the pair had gone from Auckland to Wellington and made no stops.