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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Dr SHANE RETI (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes, including the Government’s $136.5 million investment in supporting the hosting of the 36th America’s Cup, in particular the development of the Cup Village, which is a legacy for the people of Auckland for generations to come. And, on behalf of the Prime Minister, I want to wish Peter Burling and the team all the very best for today and, if the wind does not behave, for tomorrow as well.

Dr Shane Reti: What does she say to the people of South Auckland, who last week heard that Counties Manukau District Health Board (DHB) is 150 nurses short, and when can they expect a trans-Tasman bubble to be opened up to free up 40 percent of MIQ spaces that could be available for more nurses?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: In answer to the first part of the question, what I say to the people on behalf of the Prime Minister, what I say to the people of South Auckland, is it is a pity that there wasn’t a Labour-led Government for the nine years when National consistently underfunded the Counties Manukau DHB.

Dr Shane Reti: Would bringing more healthcare workers into the country help to speed up our vaccine roll-out; and, if so, why is she refusing to immediately open the trans-Tasman bubble to free up 40 percent of MIQ spaces?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: On behalf of the Prime Minister, no.

Dr Shane Reti: Are there any benefits to healthcare workers to opening up as trans-Tasman bubble?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: On behalf of the Prime Minister, I find that question difficult to answer. The benefits to healthcare workers of opening up the bubble would be similar benefits to those in a number of other industries. I don’t particularly think it is special to the healthcare workers.

Dr Shane Reti: Does she agree that having stressed and overworked nurses in our MIQ facility increases the risk of another border failure, and that freeing up MIQ capacity to bring more healthcare workers into the country could make the border safer?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: We are acutely aware of the hard work that has been done on behalf of all New Zealanders by healthcare workers, and we’re in constant communication with them, and with those who employ them, to ensure that their wellbeing is maintained.

Dr Shane Reti: How many life-saving surgeries in New Zealand public hospitals have been affected by the absence of a trans-Tasman bubble that has prevented highly skilled Australian specialists working in our DHBs?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: On behalf of the Prime Minister, I would question the premise of the member’s question. What I would say is that we have put significant extra resources in to make up for delays that were caused by the original COVID lockdown, to ensure that New Zealanders are getting the surgery and services they need.

Dr Shane Reti: Would opening a trans-Tasman bubble improve the number of healthcare workers in New Zealand that would further improve our coronavirus response?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The situation we have in New Zealand at the moment is a hard-working health workforce that is doing their job well. It is not the goal of a safe travel zone with Australia in particular to improve the number of health workers that we have. We are doing the job on behalf of New Zealanders to plan for this but, more importantly than that, those health workers are doing their job on behalf of New Zealand, and we should be very grateful to them for that.

MIL OSI