Luxon slams Covid decision as National rises in new poll

National Party leader Christopher Luxon says Auckland should now be in the ‘orange’ level of the traffic light system, not ‘red’. Photo supplied

Botany MP and National Party leader Christopher Luxon says the Government should immediately move Auckland to the ‘orange’ level of the Covid-19 protection framework instead of waiting until December 30.

Auckland is currently in the ‘red’ level of the framework, which is also known as the traffic light system.

And in a sign of Luxon’s increasing popularity since becoming leader, the National Party has risen in a recent political poll.

The poll was conducted by Curia Market Research, commissioned by the NZ Taxpayers’ Union, and publicly released on December 14.

It has Labour rising 0.2 per cent to 39.5 per cent, National up 6.4 per cent to 32.6 per cent, the Greens up 2.3 per cent to 10.9 per cent, Act down 5.3 per cent to 10.6 and the Maori Party up 0.7 per cent to 3 per cent.

These numbers would give Labour 49 seats in Parliament, National 40, the Greens 14, Act 13, and the Maori Party four.

On the preferred prime minister numbers, PM Jacinda Ardern is up 5.1 per cent to 39.1 per cent, Luxon is up 16.3 per cent to 20.4 per cent, and Act Party leader David Seymour is down 4.9 per cent to 5.6 per cent.

Ardern publicly announced this week that Auckland as well as most of the rest of the country would move to the ‘orange’ level of the traffic light system at 11.59pm on December 30.

Luxon has slammed that decision and says the Government is not following its own criteria.

“By the Government’s own admission, the ‘red’ stage should be used when our healthcare system is overwhelmed and we’re facing unsustainable levels of hospitalisations, neither of which are happening,” he says.

“The Prime Minister spent a long time in her press conference outlining how the outbreak is under control. “There are just 61 [Covid] cases in hospital, with only four in ICU [as of December 13].

“New Zealand is just 48,000 doses shy of 90 per cent of the eligible population being vaccinated.

“Auckland is one of the most vaccinated places in the world.

“All of these signs indicate Auckland should be in ‘orange’, not ‘red’, right now.”

Luxon says the traffic light settings make a “huge difference” to the economic viability of small businesses, including those in the hospitality sector.

“Many of those businesses will be beyond frustrated at being given a glimpse of further freedoms but having to wait another 17 days, despite being at their peak summer trading period.

“The Government should also drop the idea of continuing to enforce the Auckland border over summer.

“It simply doesn’t make sense to delay Aucklanders for hours in their cars to check whether they’re vaccinated or have had a recent rapid antigen test.

“The costs of doing this simply outweigh the marginal benefits of doing so.

“Around 600 police officers will be involved in manning the Auckland border over summer or working in MIQ.

“Every police officer on the Auckland border is a police officer pulled away from tackling real crime around the country.”