Leader of the Opposition Chris Luxon sits down for a chat with Stuff Political Editor Luke Malpass.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon has lashed out at the Government, saying that there is no need for an Auckland border and the Government’s traffic light system makes little sense.
“Our view has been very clearly look, you know, when we get to high levels of vaccination rates, which we are there … we don’t fundamentally see a need for those borders,” Luxon said in an interview with Stuff on Wednesday morning.
Luxon’s comments come as Aucklanders prepare for the the supercity’s boundary to all but come down for vaccinated travellers on December 15. Those who are unvaccinated will need to return a negative test before crossing the border, while police will be conducting spot checks.
But while it will effectively be removed, the boundary will officially remain.
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Luxon also claimed National’s view lined up with the health advice given to the Government by Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
“You’ve had Ashley Bloomfield – that’s been revealed this morning – fundamentally say he advised the Prime Minister, that the public health advice meant that when the traffic light system came in Auckland didn’t need to have a hard border.”
“That, fundamentally, high vaccination rates meet that there was no need for a border – a hard or soft border – around Auckland.”
Bloomfield, in written evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal, wrote that “there will be no justification to maintain a boundary around Auckland under the CPF [Covid Protection Framework, colloquially known as traffic light system].”
“Put another way, the boundary around Auckland has served its purpose. It has been effective, alongside other public health measures, in greatly reducing the risk of the virus ‘escaping’ Auckland,” he wrote.
Luxon said that while the Government did “a very good job” in following the health advice in 2020 that policy was now “being made up on the fly a little bit”.
“And again, the Prime Minister can’t answer – why have we got borders in Auckland?”
Luxon, expanding on questions asked in the House yesterday questioned the application of the traffic light system more broadly.
“Why? On what basis again, what’s the criteria for the justification for who’s in which colours and why? And so you look at the piece of paper, and you go, ‘okay, if that’s what you want to do, that’s an interesting thought.’ But frankly, then it’s just not being implemented in that way.”
The Government has previously said that the orange and red light settings will be applied over the summer period while the new system is being bedded in so Covid-19 case spread can be closely monitored.
The Prime Minister has also said the “green” light setting of the system won’t be considered until at least January 17.
Luxon’s comments come as a political debate mounts over the iwi-led checkpoints being run by police in Northland starting on December 15, which he has called disruptive.
“It’s actually just not operational – that is the problem,” Luxon said on Tuesday. “Fundamentally we are going to have a thin blue line that just got a lot thinner.
The Government has pushed back against opposition to the move, with Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis claiming that the backlash amounts to racism.
“It’s about protecting families and loved ones up there – there are a lot of people who are really worried about what’s going on up there,” Davis said on Tuesday.
“If it was the business community, or Rotarians, or a group of farmers helping the police, they would be lauded by the community. But because it’s Māori it’s characterised as lawlessness, and I really reject that.”