“In a disturbing bout of banana republic-style lawmaking, the Government is legislating to take the private property of Covid-19 testing laboratories and questioning the motives of businesses who speak out,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill (No 2) allows the Government to requisition private Covid-19 testing laboratories like those owned by Rako Science and appears to extinguish any appeal rights businesses have. Under the law, laboratories must:

(i) deliver or use, in accordance with directions given under the order, specified quantities of COVID-19 testing consumables that the Minister considers necessary for the purposes of the public health response to COVID-19:

(ii) undertake COVID-19 testing solely for the purposes of the public health response to COVID-19 while subject to the order, whether or not the laboratory is contracted by the Crown for that purpose.

“Leon Grice from Rako Science this morning spoke out against the bill and told the Health Committee that it is already having an impact on its operations and customer confidence.

“In an extraordinary display of arrogance, Labour MP Sarah Pallett had the audacity to question why Mr Grice was speaking out against the bill:

‘If you were not benefitting financially from your submission, would you have made the same submission?’

“This is Venezuelan-style lawmaking that will have a disturbing impact on business and investor confidence.

“What incentive is there for businesses to invest and grow if the Government can simply take your private property?

“We’ve seen with the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration that Labour is deeply out of touch with the private sector. Rather than reaching out to businesses that can help with the Covid-19 response, it is simply legislating to take their property.

“Rako Science has the capacity to do 10,000 tests a day on top of Asia Pacific’s 3,500. Since 25 January, we have done just several hundred saliva tests in quarantine facilities. Community-based saliva testing has been virtually non-existent.

“ACT has long argued for greater innovation and faster tech uptake.

“While new testing technologies have become important overseas, our Government failed at scaling up saliva testing and prohibited citizens from importing point of care tests.

“Fast tech uptake has shown its value overseas, while the New Zealand Government has been widely criticised for its struggles with testing, tracing, and treatment technologies. We should have been a leading adopter of new technology.”