The long short sharp lockdown in Level 4

by Judith Collins

First I want to thank everyone in Auckland who is coping with another week in lockdown. Auckland is doing the hard yards to keep everyone else in New Zealand COVID-19 Delta free.

This week we should think of the parents, teachers, principals and students who are struggling through another week of lockdown in Auckland. I am also very aware of the huge pressure on all the business owners who cannot trade or operate in this situation and especially those who are sole traders or normally work in our local shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. The National Opposition is very grateful to the people who are employed by the departments of Work and Income and Inland Revenue. They are working from home to process the thousands of applications for support that they are receiving from individuals and businesses at this time. As we know the government has resurgence payments and wage subsidies available but this time around those eligible for them have to apply every two weeks. This is causing extra work and extra administration costs for employers and businesses and also for those who work at Work and Income and Inland Revenue. They are processing thousands of requests every two weeks instead of once for six weeks as was the case in previous lockdowns. Why has the Finance Minister decided that this is a good idea? He has just announced he is allotting another $7 billion to the COVID-19 funding from the Imprest Supply Bill 2021/2022 passed last week so it’s not about saving money is it? We are confused that the Prime Minister speaks of total elimination to end lockdowns and before our borders will open. Then the next day the Minister of Health says vaccination of 80 per cent of the population is enough until we relax the controls and start integrating with the rest of the world. Let’s hope they have robust systems in place to control COVID-19 Delta and other variants at our borders before it happens. Despite the Minister of Health indicating that the government is changing its mind, I believe that we should continue on the path of eliminating the COVID-19 Delta virus until we have at least at 90 per cent of the population vaccinated. I am very pleased that at last there are mobile vaccination clinics going into the suburbs where people have the greatest need for protection. These people need this extra support to get vaccinated.

Anti-terrorism Law reforms The terrorist attack in the New Lynn supermarket during the Level 4 lockdown was really shocking to many of us, especially as the details about the attacker have surfaced. It appears that he could have been stopped for a number of legal reasons or could even have left the country voluntarily had different decisions been made by our leaders. It is really apparent that a proper inquiry into this incident is called for and I have appointed Mark Mitchell to be National’s counter terror spokesperson. His job will be to shadow the Minister in charge of the inquiry, Andrew Little. It is also quite clear that little has been done by the government since the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Christchurch Mosque attacks reported back and made its recommendations. We have seen nothing in place to shore up our immigration and counter terror laws since March 2017, until this year. The Labour government-dominated select committee has been looking at a draft Counter Terrorism Bill since April this year. Now they have said they will speed up the process and submit it for a second reading in the House soon. We support this urgency and want the Bill passed as quickly as possible. Surprisingly the Greens and Act both oppose this as they say the new criminal offences for planning terrorist attacks could be harmful if rushed. The Royal Commission into the Christchurch terror attacks came up with many recommendations including establishing a counterterror agency that would provide clear leadership, accountability and cooperation between agencies including the police. We need this now. It also recommended broadening terrorist acts to include ‘precursor’ acts like planning an attack. Recommendations included access to warrantless search and entry powers and creating terrorism control orders to allow monitoring of convicted terrorists when they re-enter the community.
The New Lynn attacker could have been stopped if our current laws had been enforced and the attacker’s own desire to leave New Zealand had been allowed. It may be that if the new counter terror measures had been in place this would have been easier to implement. Which is why we need them for the future. My thanks to all who have been vaccinated over the past four weeks. A really big shout out to everyone in Auckland. Thank you for continuing to stay in your bubbles. Thank you for following the level 4 lockdown rules for containing and stopping the spread of COVID-19 Delta.

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