Judith Collins says Jacinda Ardern ‘lied’ about Covid border testing

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Judith Collins is ramping up attacks on Labour, saying leader Jacinda Ardern lied over testing at the border and she’s happy to prove it in court. Ardern is dismissing that as “opposition politics”.

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ

Collins began her morning campaigning with a transport policy combined with an attack on the Greens’ wealth tax in Grenada, but later turned her attention squarely on Ardern and Covid-19.

She told a public meeting at Waikanae Bowling Club that Ardern and her government had “let Covid in” and Ardern had “lied” about the testing of border staff.

Ardern later replied, saying they were issues that had been “well traversed” in Parliament’s debating chamber and wouldn’t go over them again.

Collins had told those gathered for her meeting: “Remember the second lockdown – did you have any Covid-19 here in Ōtaki? Did you have a level 2 lockdown didn’t you – did you do anything to deserve that one? No.

“Who let Covid-19 in? I tell you who did, Jacinda Ardern and her government, they let it in.

“She promised us all – and we believed it, foolish us for believing her – that every border-facing staff in those quarantine facilities was being tested regularly. Then when it turned out that they weren’t being tested regularly and Covid-19 had come back into the country we were then told … well they fessed up and said only a third of them were being tested regularly.

“Last week, we found out in an Official Information Act request, came out actually only 7 percent of the border facing staff were being tested … not 100, not a third, not two thirds, seven.

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“And she stood up and she told us 23rd of June ‘everyone is being tested’. What a lie, what a lie and I’ll call it out for what it is.”

Collins welcomed the chance to prove it, saying she hoped to be sued.

“When she says she went hard and fast she went slow and pathetic, and actually the other thing she did was she lied to us about what was happening and I’m happy to say that on the record – she lied.

“Gee I hope she sues me for it. Happy to prove it.”

“When I said in the debates ‘you let it in’, she said ‘no, no, no’. It was just here, miraculously apparently, living in your garden under a rock just waiting to pop out. No it wasn’t.”

Ardern rejects Collins’ claims

Ardern this afternoon dismissed Collins’ claims as politicking.

“Opposition politics. I mean look, these issues were well traversed in the debating chamber and so I don’t think that I need to go through all of that again. It’s all been very public.”

As for Collins’ call for court action she said: “I just think frankly that’s odd”.

She also rejected Collins’ claims over the Green wealth tax policy.

“I have said the same thing on this policy no less than probably 50 times. I have ruled it out. It is not our policy. What you’re seeing from the National Party, frankly, is desperate.”

Collins takes aim elsewhere

Judith Collins in Wellington

Judith Collins in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Desperation or not, Collins also turned her ire towards Labour’s coalition partners and any other minor party, hoping to shore up valuable votes.

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“Party vote National, do not waste your vote on minor parties, do not waste your votes on people who will already be there, you party vote National because that’s how we get the numbers of people, MPs into the National Party caucus … that’s how we give ourselves a real chance at this.

“How many more sleeps – is it four sleeps or five sleeps … today is Tuesday, right? Every day is just getting closer and closer and … one of these days closer to getting rid of this Labour, Greens, New Zealand First mess.”

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters would not say whether he was concerned whether anything about testing at the border may not have come out truthfully.

“Did Judith say I lied about it? … I’m not gonna give oxygen to that question, the way you’re putting it. I could answer you but it’d be so capable of being misrepresented I choose not to.

“Not to duck the thing … because you know from the word go even before we went into lockdown I wanted the army involved right then right now, and we started out with the people from Wuhan going straight to an army base north of Auckland, we should never have left off that plan.

“If you haven’t got a question for me about my party and my party’s policies, I haven’t got an answer for you.”

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