Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Judith Collins calls on Jacinda Ardern to front – clearly questions PM does not want to be asked

National Party leader Judith Collins is calling on the Prime Minister to “come out from the shadows” after several days of no-shows at previously daily press conferences.

Collins says for neither Jacinda Ardern or any of her ministers being forced to front – especially today when the Ministry of Health announced 60 new Covid cases in a written statement – is poor timing as the outbreak slowly spreads around the North Island.

“New Zealanders will be unsettled by the news – delivered via written statement – that we have 60 new community cases today and yet our Prime Minister did not even get one of her senior ministers to stand in for her at the podium.

“National have been critical at times about the unnecessary press conferences that were held when case numbers were very low, but if Jacinda Ardern thought it necessary to speak directly to the media then, why now with 60 cases is she missing in action?

“It is clear there are questions that Prime Minister Ardern does not want to be asked.”

Collins said the Government needed to front foot the role of gangs in spreading Covid around New Zealand.

Ardern continued to take a “softly, softly approach towards organised crime throughout her time in office”.

“It is easy to stand in front of microphones and cameras when you are being praised and things are going well. It takes a strong leader to front up when things are going wrong and the people of New Zealand have questions.”

Now was the most important time for Ardern to front media.

“Kiwis have questions; her own experts are asking questions publicly too. It is unforgivable that she has gone to ground with only carefully cultivated PR photos appearing on social media.

“Not one more day must go past without a press conference at which media can ask the vital and inconvenient questions of this Government.

“Either Jacinda must front – I am sure the media will go to her – or she needs to put up Minister Hipkins or Robertson.”

In a short statement to the Herald, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s office said there “has been no change to the advertised press conference schedule.

“Press conferences are planned for the majority of days this week.”

Either Ardern or a minister is expected to front a press conference tomorrow when the level 3 alert level will be reassessed for residents of North Waikato, Otorohanga, Waitomo and Waipa after cases first erupted in Hamilton East and Raglan a week ago.

Cases have since emerged in Northland and Katikati overnight while a person remains in hospital in Palmerston North.

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