Todd Muller questions PM on whether 'country can take her seriously' after recent Covid-19 testing bungles

Source: 1News

Todd Muller today questioned Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern over whether she believes the "country can take her seriously" after recent Covid-19 testing bungles in managed isolation facilities.

The National Party leader repeatedly questioned Ms Ardern over the Ministry of Health's recent failure to carry out mandatory Covid-19 tests on every traveller in managed isolation facilities on day three and 12 of their quarantine.

"Does she really believe the country can take her seriously when she says at the core of her view is a strident border when the Prime Minister announces on the 8th of June there is mandatory testing but has to wait till yesterday to formally confirm it for the country?" Mr Muller asked.

"That is factually incorrect," Ms Ardern replied.

In earlier questions Ms Ardern stated that testing was always meant to be mandatory and it was a failure of the system, not policy, that it didn't always take place.

Mr Muller pressed on with his line of attack.

"Does she or her Minister of Health have any idea of what is going on in the quarantine facilities and managed isolation facilities of this country, when you have a clear view testing is mandatory, but for two weeks it has been voluntary?"

Speaker Trevor Mallard ruled the question out as there was "no properly authenticated question in that."

Instead, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters asked Ms Ardern about National's calls to "open the border to China".

"The Opposition repeatedly urged us to rush toward Alert Level 1 and open the border," Ms Ardern agreed with Mr Peters.

She went on to say that New Zealand has, "some of the most stringent restrictions in the world" and she "stands by restrictions in place to keep New Zealanders safe."

Failings in the testing system came to light last week after two women let out of managed isolation early on compassionate grounds were not tested for Covid-19 before being allowed to drive from Auckland to Wellington.

They later tested positive for the virus after going to a testing station in Wellington of their own volition.

Ms Ardern said there was "quite decisive action taken as soon as the matter was "brought to our attention".

"That should never have happened, it was wrong. It was completely against the protocols that existed around compassionate leave, which were that you had to be in a facility for six to seven days and you had to have a test before you could be considered for that compassionate leave. So that should never have happened," she said.

"Since then, we have doubled the Defence Force staffing across our facilities. We've put in Air Commodore Darryn Webb, who is in charge now, of the facilities end-to-end - not just logistics but including issues around compassionate leave and the testing regime."