Otago Daily Times

War of words heats up on home stretch

- DEREK CHENG Politics · Climate Change · Ecology · Wellington, New Zealand · Arbeidersparty · New Zealand National Party · Wellington Region · New Zealand · Jacinda Ardern · Judith Collins · Heather Simpson · Victoria University in the University of Toronto

WELLING­TON: Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern is brush­ing off Judith Collins’ claim that she lied over Covid­19 test­ing at the border.

Ms Ardern has fired some ver­bal barbs of her own, call­ing the Na­tional Party leader ‘‘mo­rally wrong’’ on cli­mate change, ‘‘des­per­ate’’ with her on­go­ing claims about the Greens’ wealth tax, and ‘‘sim­plis­tic’’ in her com­ments about per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity and obe­sity.

With only four days left un­til polling day, the war of words be­tween the two lead­ers shows no signs of slow­ing.

Ms Ardern and Ms Collins both spent yes­ter­day in the Welling­ton re­gion, shoring up the cam­paigns of can­di­dates in mar­ginal seats in­clud­ing Hutt South.

Ms Collins fired a morn­ing shot telling me­dia Ms Ardern had lied about the test­ing of border­fac­ing work­ers; she hoped the Labour leader would sue her be­cause she was ‘‘happy to prove it’’.

‘‘Who let Covid­19 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 bor­der­fac­ing staff in those quar­an­tine fa­cil­i­ties was be­ing tested reg­u­larly.

‘‘Then when it turned out that they weren’t be­ing tested reg­u­larly and Covid­19 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% of the border fac­ing staff were be­ing tested . . . not 100%, not a third, not two thirds, seven.

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

Na­tional con­tin­ued to raise the sce­nario of Labour fold­ing to the Greens and adopt­ing their wealth tax in post­elec­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ms Ardern has re­peat­edly dis­missed this as ‘‘fic­tion’’ and ‘‘mis­in­for­ma­tion’’, and she did so again yes­ter­day.

‘‘I have said the same thing on this pol­icy no less than prob­a­bly 50 times. I have ruled it out.

‘‘What you’re see­ing from the Na­tional Party, frankly, is des­per­ate.’’

She dis­missed be­ing called a liar over test­ing at the border as ‘‘Op­po­si­tion pol­i­tics’’.

The Gov­ern­ment had said on June 23 that all border­fac­ing work­ers would be reg­u­larly tested, and Ms Ardern had said pub­licly that it was tak­ing place.

When she found out dur­ing the sec­ond out­break that it was not hap­pen­ing, she brought in Heather Simp­son and Sir Brian Roche to en­sure the test­ing was im­ple­mented.

Asked about Ms Collins’ com­ments on obe­sity — she said it was an in­di­vid­ual is­sue of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity — Ms Ardern said there were many con­tribut­ing fac­tors.

‘‘If you’re so sim­plis­tic sim­ply to call it an is­sue of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity, then it’s never go­ing to be an is­sue that we col­lec­tively re­solve,’’ Ms Ardern said.

‘‘It’s wrong. If you lis­ten to those who work in this space . . . ex­perts, they would re­ject that — and so would I.’’

Ms Ardern used a speech at Victoria Uni­ver­sity to at­tack Ms Collins — with­out nam­ing her — on cli­mate change.

Ms Collins has re­peat­edly talked about New Zealand’s tiny con­tri­bu­tion to global emis­sions — 0.17%.

‘‘Any­one who ar­gues that our small con­tri­bu­tion to emis­sions means it doesn’t matter what we do is wrong,’’ Ms Ardern said. ‘‘They are mo­rally wrong.’’

She sought to por­tray cli­mate change as a point of dif­fer­ence be­tween her and Collins, and re­peated yes­ter­day that New Zealand needed to play a role and trade on its ‘‘clean, green’’ brand. — The New Zealand Herald

 ??  ?? Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern
 ??  ?? Judith Collins
Judith Collins

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