Contradiction rife amongst ministers as Parker sits on fence regarding Auckland border come Christmas

The AM Show 05/11/2021

WATCH: Mixed messaging continues to stifle the public when it comes to how the Auckland border will be managed when it comes to Christmas, or if there will even be a border at all.

After comments made by MP Chris Hipkins around potential allocated times that Aucklanders could cross the border to see loved ones this Christmas the idea has been heavily scrutinised by members of parliament, the public, and even other Labour ministers.

Grant Robertson poured cold water over the concept while the PM has made no clear indication as to whether this will be actually put into practice. This morning, David Parker has offered no clearer insight into that plan which has been described by the opposition as a "dystopian future plan" and "stark raving mad" 

"Whether or not you have to depends on whether you have a border," said Parker Firday morning on The AM Show.

"Obviously the key to that is vaccinations - we're 10th highest in the OECD now, above Australia, US, Germany, UK, so our vaccination's amongst the highest in the world now. We'll know in the next few weeks whether we need a border. 

"If we do still have a border around Auckland, then you have to decide what to do in respect of unvaccinated people. Now there's some practicalities to that that we need to work through. I think most people understand that we can't just let it rip. But we have to have a practical solution rather than large queues of traffic."

Parker stands by the what seems to be the governments only plan to open borders which is getting the entire country to 90% double vaccinated.

Bridges responded saying the government "shouldn't play santa" and to give Aucklanders a firm date so Kiwi's can plan their summer holidays after what has been an incredibly difficult several months in intense lockdown.

"You shouldn't lay this on us as a surprise at the start of December. People need to know what's going on now so they can plan for Christmas and know what's happening, rather than open their presents a week or two or three before. That's totally insufficient and not good enough for New Zealanders."

The flip flopping on the public messaging around this is proof that there is "significant division" amongst the ranks in the Labour party.

"We haven't taken those decisions," said Parker, "but Chris Hipkins made one suggestion and maybe that wasn't as practical as he would have hoped. Grant Robertson responded saying let's hope we can do better than that. We're working these issues through."

Parker has said that there is a chance other regions could open up even if they don't hit the 90% target, which leaves little confidence in those planning major events such as R&V in Gisbourne currently sitting at 65% double dosed.

"The decision as to what will be the exact trigger on removing the border is yet to be taken. Simon might say that's irresponsible, but in my view what would be irresponsible is to take those decisions earlier than you have to before you've got real data on vaccinations... 

"The Gisborne region's at 65 percent, but they are racing up relative to where they were, so it's a bit early to tell where they're going to get to. If everyone's on the border of 90 percent, the decision is a lot easier. If there are some areas that are way behind... it's more complicated. But what's clear is Aucklanders will be able to travel for Christmas."

Though the government seems keen to push the responsibility of a free and open summer on the general public, Kiwi's could be in for a shock if things don't go according to plan.

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