“The Government’s extraordinary step of restricting New Zealanders from coming home reflects the level of its incompetence at the border and the fact that it has no plan for the future,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“New Zealanders will be asking whether it is legal to restrict the right of citizens to return home, or whether Air New Zealand has been pressured into restricting flights so that the Government can avoid any legal responsibility.

“More importantly, the Prime Minister’s claim to be creating the world’s smartest borders is now pipe dream.

“Yesterday, Jacinda Ardern said the Government hadn’t managed to establish a travel bubble with the Covid-free Cook Islands because she hadn’t spoken to PM Puna in two weeks and because our airports can’t yet sort passengers from safe and unsafe countries. This is really basic stuff.

“Rather than restricting the rights of New Zealanders, the Government should be innovating to create smart and safe borders.

“The Government could be modelling the risks of travellers coming here. It could allow passengers to provide data from their GPS-enabled watches to reduce the amount of time spent in managed isolation. It could allow user pays, privately-run managed isolation facilities to house seasonal workers and international students.

“The Government has a range of options for creating smart and safe borders.

“A competent and nimble government would set clear rules of the game and allow other organisations to step up and assist.

“But this Government is so focused on winning the election, it is locking down the country at all costs. And the costs of failing to reconnect with the world are sky high.

“It’s worth remembering that the minister in charge of the border is also the person running Labour’s election campaign.

“Right now, Labour is governing for Labour, not the country, and New Zealanders are paying the costs.”