Jacinda Ardern stands firm on level 1 move despite Winston Peters' call

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 May 2020, 2:38PM
Photo / NZ Herald

Jacinda Ardern stands firm on level 1 move despite Winston Peters' call

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 May 2020, 2:38PM

The Prime Minister is standing firm on the wait for the move to alert level 1 and says she hopes the country can make the shift within four weeks.

On Monday, Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet had decided to stay at alert level 2 for a month, and will look at whether it was safe to move to alert level 1 on June 22.

But this morning Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said level 1 should be in place right now. He also shared what had been discussed with Ardern at Cabinet - which Act leader David Seymour alleged breached the rules.

On Peters, Ardern said his comments were a reflection of what she had said yesterday.

"From time to time, we will agree we will share differing views in public."

She said parties sometimes take a different perspective and there needed to be a balanced approach to avoid yo-yoing back to lockdown.

Asked if New Zealand was ready for level 1 now, she said she took the advice from the director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Within four weeks, she hoped to be at level 1.

She said a coalition government will have different views but there was consensus in Cabinet to move to stay at alert level 2 for at least two two-week incubation cycles.

Level 1 would still mean hand hygiene and border restrictions, but hospitality rules would be relaxed.

A proposal to test at the border in early June was about looking at areas where there remained the greatest risk, she said.

Level 1 would also see political parties being able to campaign as they normally would, Ardern said.

Ardern said she was happy to talk to the Immigration Minister about how migrant workers could more easily apply for work visas; 9000 applications have been rejected, and Ardern said that was because the criteria were very narrow at the moment.

She said Labour this election would have a positive campaign and would not be about "dirt-digging".

"We need to focus on the issues."

Ardern said diversity was important on the front bench. National leader Todd Muller has been criticised for the lack of Māori faces on National's front bench.

Migrants stranded overseas with work visas to be in New Zealand was something the Government was working on, Ardern said.

Govt scheme lends $1 billion to small NZ business

Ardern said the Government's small business loan scheme had now given more than $1b in interest-free loans to over 50,000 small businesses in its first fortnight in operation.

The transtasman bubble

Ardern said the transtasman safe border group will provide a blueprint in early June.

She spoke with Auckland Airport today and every aspect was being considered, including pre-flight eligibility and safety on flights.

There is "enthusiasm" for the proposal to proceed as soon as it was safe to do so.

She said the transtasman bubble wasn't ready yet, but the border work needed to be in place when the time was right to proceed.

New Zealand and Australia were in different stages of easing restrictions, and Ardern said it won't be "too long" before the time was right.