Simon Bridges defends controversial Facebook post criticising Govt after Level 4 extension

Source: 1News

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says he still stands by his social media post criticising the Government over how it has handled our Covid-19 response and decision to extend the nationwide lockdown.

Mr Bridges appeared on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning to talk about the Facebook post and delve deeper into his thoughts behind it. The post, which he wrote shortly after Monday's extension announcement, has copped heavy criticism.

The National Party leader said he doesn't believe he misread the room in hindsight, despite the 16,000 angry and laughing reactions from users and 27,000 comments, which were mostly negative, on the post.

"I think people will have their different views," Mr Bridges said.

"Those numbers are more than matched by the over 50,000 who have come to me on my petition for quarantining."

Mr Bridges said that support is also backed up in his inbox.

"I can tell you I have never received so many emails - I received hundreds of emails a day, in total thousands, from small business owners who understand Covid-19 but are doing it very tough.

"They literally can't sleep at night because they feel - as one of them, a baker in Tauranga, said to me - that they are the 'sacrificial lamb' here.

"[Finance Minister] Grant Robertson says, 'Well look, there may be some more help in the Budget on May 14,' but their problem is they won't survive."

Mr Bridges added he wasn't taking a shot at the lockdown itself with his remarks, but rather the Government's work behind the scenes.

"New Zealanders should be incredibly proud of what we've done - social distancing and self-isolation - but the Government hasn't done all the groundwork they should.

"In terms of testing, tracing, PPE and the like - things my committee will be dealing with today - that is absolutely, factually the case.

"We've had a report from an expert for the Government that is very critical about what hasn't happened in tracing and we've got the Auditor-General on to the Government now investigating in relation to the PPE.

"So it's not about being critical for the sake of it but it is about asking the questions that need to be asked and answered for New Zealanders to make sure we're in the right space to have the best response we possibly can."