New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shut down a TV host after he questioned the country’s lifesaving lockdown measures.
Ms Ardern was being interviewed by Duncan Garner, host of The AM Show, earlier this week when she delivered the blistering take-down.
New Zealand has seen its second straight day with zero coronavirus cases, prompting some in the country to call for easing of its level three lockdown measures.
Garner argued that while the alert levels had worked well when the country needed to go into lockdown, “they’re now irrelevant and worse, could be making us sicker” because of the effect on the economy.
“What’s the figure you’re looking for to move us to level two … all the international experts are saying that this is going to be the new normal for months and months and months,” Garner said.
“What are we waiting for?”
But the PM wasn’t standing for Garner’s attempt at pushing New Zealand out of lockdown.
“I didn’t realise you were an epidemiologist – congratulations on your new qualification,” Ms Ardern replied.
Garner, who appeared taken aback by the comment, replied: “If you wanna get personal then that’s fine, but I’m just asking a question.”
The two butted heads a number of times in the interview, with Ms Ardern also clapping back.
“Duncan, do you for a moment question the fact that I do not have concern about the employment of New Zealanders? It’s why we have the wage subsidy, it’s why we put in the small business loan scheme last week, it’s why we worked with the banks on the business guarantee scheme, it’s why we have put through $3 billion of tax changes to get cash flow into business,” she said.
“I am desperately concerned about people’s employment, I’m also desperately concerned about their lives. Our job is to make sure that we do the best thing for both and it just so happens our strategy is focused on both. The sooner we win the fight against the virus the sooner we get our economy back up and running but I do not want to make hasty decisions that lead to a yo-yoing between levels. So I am going to listen to the evidence and the advice and the data.”
The leader lauded New Zealanders for their commitment to lockdown after a second straight day without a new case of COVID-19.
“Achieving zero cases two days in a row is the result of New Zealanders demonstrating commitment and discipline to our goal,” she said, before urging Kiwis to maintain their social distancing measures.
“We know the virus can have a long tail and other cases can pop up … so don’t do anything that snatches our potential victory at this point.”
Ms Ardern and Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday formalised a process for a trans-Tasman travel arrangement that has been mooted for weeks.
Australia and New Zealand plan to resume regular travel arrangements “as soon as it is safe to do so” according to a joint statement issued after Ms Ardern’s appearance at Australia’s National Cabinet.
Her appearance was the first time a Kiwi leader has attended a meeting of state premiers since World War II.
– with wires
Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg Receives ‘Death threats’ over JobKeeper
Josh Frydenberg is the first Australian Treasurer to receive 24/7 protection. Picture: AAP Image/Mick TsikasSource:AAP
The Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has been given a 24-hour security detail after threats were made to his personal safety.
Josh Frydenberg has become the first Australian Treasurer in history to be issued with a 24/7 security detail after he received threats to his safety in light of the coronavirus crisis.
According to The West Australian, Mr Frydenberg has been under Australian Federal Police protection since early April.
Coronavirus crisis: Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has 24/7 Australian Federal Police detail due to racist, extremist threats over the economic impact of COVID-19
While the exact nature of the threats have not been revealed, it is understood they arose following the Treasurer’s announcement of the JobKeeper wage subsidy package.
The 48-year-old confirmed the news during an interview with ABC TV this morning, but vowed it was business as usual and that he was not concerned for his safety.
“They’re matters the Federal Police handle and I will leave any comments to them and the Minister for Home Affairs,” he said.
“You know, they make their assessments and I behave accordingly.
“I’m getting about my daily job.”
As Australian employers began to receive the first round of JobKeeper payments today, Mr Frydenberg told the ABC another large round of economic stimulus was not on the cards.
“Our goal is to get those people off unemployment benefits and into a job and the best way we can do that is to generate economic activity,” he said.
The shock revelation comes just hours after the father of two announced Australia’s coronavirus restrictions had caused a severe economic blow to the tune of $4 billion per week during a National Press Club speech yesterday afternoon.
He predicted a 10 to 12 per cent drop in gross domestic product during the June quarter, the equivalent of around $50 billion, and also spoke about the controversial nature of the government’s signature JobKeeper scheme.
“At $130 billion, there are some that say JobKeeper is too costly, while others say it has not gone far enough and needs to be expanded,” he said.
“The reality is that we needed a program equivalent to the scale of the shock. JobKeeper was it.
“As John Howard said to me in the days before the package was announced, in ‘times of crisis there are no ideological constraints’.”
Mr Frydenberg said the government had struggled to strike a balance between coronavirus restrictions to protect public health and preserving the economy as much as possible.
“If these restrictions were increased even further, akin to the eight week lockdown in Europe, then the adverse impact on GDP could double to 24 per cent, or $120 billion, in the June quarter,” he said.
“This would have seen enormous stress on our financial system as a result of increased balance sheet impairments, widespread firm closures, higher unemployment and higher household debt.
“This was the cliff we were standing on. The potential economic consequences of the pandemic were immense.”
AFP protection is usually restricted to the prime minister only or for the opposition leader during election periods, although Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also has around-the-clock personal security due to death threats from crime organisations.
But Queensland shadow Tourism Minister David Crisafulli told Sky News host Peter Gleeson the social media age had sparked a more “aggressive tone” during political debates alongside a “lack of accountability”.
He said “people get behind that keyboard and spew vitriol”, creating an “undercurrent of hatred which is very dangerous”, although he said “only a very small minority would seek to cause threat or harm”.
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