Otago Daily Times
War of words heats up on home stretch
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