“Jacinda Ardern’s decision to keep under wraps that a man had escaped from MIQ and posed a risk to the community shows how far her Government is prepared to go to avoid scrutiny,” says ACT Leader David Seymour. 

“Ardern stood at the podium at 1pm yesterday and neglected to tell New Zealanders that a man with Delta was on the run from MIQ. 

“Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has protested that she found out minutes before the press conference, why did she not delay her arrival and get the facts, as she has so often has? She had no intention of telling the public in any event.

“Robertson has described the escape as ‘relatively low risk,’ but this only shows further hypocrisy.

“It seems Delta is ‘relatively low risk’ when the Government is in trouble.  On the other hand, the South Island remains in lockdown because the Prime Minister says ‘there’s just no margin for error with Delta.’

“The only good thing about this episode is it shows the true nature of the 1pm press conference, just a PR exercise. 

“Each day Ardern and Chris Hipkins stand at the podium proclaiming “good news” with stats they have spun to sound as good as possible. Real news is omitted if it might make the Government look bad.

“Now we know for sure there are things they’re not telling us. 

“This man had already left his home when he was meant to be isolating, only to later leave MIQ. Grant Robertson made much of how few people have absconded from MIQ, that is actually a reason why someone who had breached isolation should have been a focus. 

“He was in the community with the highly contagious Delta variant, but Jacinda Ardern didn’t see fit to warn Aucklanders. 

“That information would have meant people out for exercise or groceries would have known to avoid him, and could have alerted them to call the authorities if they’d seen him. 

“Ardern knew that by not giving this information at 1pm, she would avoid scrutiny in a room full of journalists and that she wouldn’t be questioned in the final sitting day of Parliament for the week. That, she decided, was more important than public health.

“This morning she has sent her Deputy Prime Minister out to answer the questions she should have faced yesterday. Grant Robertson has described it as “relatively low risk.”

“It’s time this Government started being transparent and faced up to the scrutiny it needs. Start treating New Zealanders like adults and give us the information we need and deserve. It’s time to cut the spin and give us the story.”