“Hipkins told journalists yesterday:

‘I do regret the division that vaccination has caused…If I could go back again now, I would try so hard, even harder than we did at the time, to try to keep the country together.’

“Vaccine mandates caused huge division and left people feeling like they weren’t being listened to. It’s sad that it’s taken an election to get the former Covid-19 Minister to admit that his mandates were deeply divisive.

“Labour should have adopted ACT’s position that people should have the choice of being vaccinated or regularly tested. That would have stopped division, but Chris Hipkins didn’t listen.

“The American and Danish governments, and Air New Zealand, all allowed testing as an alternative to vaccination.

“The last three years have shown us the damage that one party rule can do.

“Now, the same people who led the Covid-19 response have set the terms of the Royal Commission to investigate the consequences of their own mistakes. It means some things are currently off limits:

  • What was the real disruption to mental health and education?
  • How were the priorities set around the Cabinet table?
  • Was the response consistent with the rule of law?

“ACT believes that is simply wrong. If we are to learn the lessons, then we need to have the courage to ask tough questions and ensure that all Kiwis’ voices are heard.

“New Zealanders could have had their voices heard as part of the Royal Commission, but they have been shut out.

“That’s why ACT would reopen the terms of reference, give all New Zealanders a say on them, and change them based on the feedback, so all concerns are heard. That’s a more constructive – and less politicised – process.”

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