Chris Hipkins & Grant Robertson via Getty
Chris Hipkins & Grant Robertson via Getty

Lloyd Burr: When senior government ministers disagree in public, you know something’s up.

Opinion 04/11/2021

OPINION: When senior government ministers disagree in public, you know something’s up. Especially when they’re good mates. 

So when Grant Robertson publicly smacked down an idea from Chris Hipkins about how to manage the Auckland border over summer, it spoke volumes. 

Hipkins - who’s the COVID response minister - suggested there could be allocated departure times for Aucklanders wanting to leave for Christmas. 

Only vaccinated people would be able to cross the border, meaning police would have to check vaccine certificates. 

But that would mean unprecedented queues of cars as police checked every single person’s vaccination status. 

So Hipkins revealed one of the options on the table to prevent these queues is to allocate departure times for border crossings. 

But this morning, Grant Robertson - who’s deputy Prime Minister - poured cold water on that option. 

He said he didn’t think it's likely there would be an allocation system.

He said: "It wouldn't be very practical. But we do have to find a way through in the event that we still have a boundary there”. 

Then an hour ago, Hipkins double-downed on his claim, releasing a statement saying: “No system will be perfect, and it will be challenging …[but we] need to make a land boundary work safely and as smoothly as possible”

While it’s not the most groundbreaking public disagreement, it shows us two things: 

1 - Government ministers are not on the same page

2 - The government has no idea how it’ll police the borders for the Christmas exodus, which is only six weeks away. 

So what’s going on in Wellington? Who’s making these decisions? Why hasn’t this been thought through before now? 

And why does there need to be Auckland border checks? Surely by then, those who want to be vaccinated, will be - and those that aren’t, will just have to live with the fact they chose to put themselves and their loved ones at risk… and deal with the consequences.

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