Covid-19

Simon Bridges’ full speech on State of Emergency

Here is the full text of Opposition leader Simon Bridges' speech to Parliament on Wednesday on the declaration of a national State of Emergency:

We are in tough times, as coronavirus sweeps our globe taking people's lives and closing economies as it goes.

The response around the world has varied. Some nations have been more effective than others. New Zealand  – our country – Aotearoa New Zealand has not been immune. We have seen numbers surge as the virus spreads and we test more.

Today we could look backward at what's been done well and perhaps not so well. It is not a time for that. We are where we are and we are all in this together. And today on the big questions, in this House and in New Zealand we agree, there's no National or Labour, or Green or ACT or New Zealand First, just New Zealanders. And we should be going to level four lockdown this evening. And we are putting in all the economic resources and investments required to defeat this common enemy.

In regard to level four, none of us can, of course, see the future. It is possible, I entirely agree with the Prime Minister, not at all likely, we come through this somewhat quickly.

Some will say that the shutdown was an overreaction. I prefer that that was the case because it means people didn't die needlessly. But if the models and the charts and the workings that I have seen, that Jacinda Ardern's seen, that this House has seen are right or even actually half or a quarter right, and if we follow the international examples to date, broadly speaking, level four in shutting down is clearly right.

In relation to the Government's investments - huge investments. Sort of budgets we haven't seen, ever actually. We saved for a rainy day as a country and now it's come. And our aim must be - I know the House agrees - to keep businesses in business and workers in jobs so we can come out of this sooner and stronger out of the tunnel and into the sunlight again.

Last week we stood here and said lift the cap on job support. To its credit the Government has. We called for bank guarantees and they are now being put in place. And I acknowledge the difficulty of being a Finance Minister today anywhere in the world including in this little country, Mr Robertson. Now we must ensure that on the things we agree on we are all

working together to ensure their effective, practical implementation today, tomorrow and in coming days and weeks.

In health that involves us gearing up with urgency. The masks, the ventilator, the beds, the spaces, the staff, the relief staff, the testing, the tracing, as they will be required.

Economically we must ensure that what we intend, what Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern and the Government intends hits the mark. We entirely support the intentions of the job support programme. We have questions on exactly how to ensure the support gets where it should with, for example, my colleague Paul Goldsmith and I talking yesterday and this morning about in Germany where they have an interesting model for paying for reductions in work from employers so workers are kept in their normal pay. But, Mr Speaker, fundamentally we stand with the Government on all of this as New Zealanders.

This virus is of none of our making but will affect at least a generation. The health and wealth of us as a people. We are all in this together. United against Covid-19. We all have a month, dare I say it, at least a month, to self-isolate, to show social distance, to do, or actually probably more accurately not to do, what needs to be done.

This doesn't mean that National will always agree with our colleagues opposite, but it does mean that as this Parliament ceases to sit for at least a month we will join with the Government in seeking to constantly improve our nation's response for the common good of our people.

Our Members of Parliament, and I say this, I'm sure, for all parties, but as I speak here in this House with just a dozen or so National MPs but 55 in spirit here today. Our MPs will be the eyes and the ears and the advocates for our communities.

In that regard I want to acknowledge our electorate agents, in my case Maree and Sonya back in Tauranga who aren't working in the electorate office but are working from home incredibly hard on all on the multiple issues that this virus has brought upon my local community, and in immigrant cases and those stuck offshore and those in Picton wanting to get home. Businesses and workers in need of financial support. I want to thank them. Use us as Members of Parliament, staff, Prime Minister as we can help a lot in the shared effort for our country.

I want to thank our supermarket workers, our petrol station attendants, our IT professionals, our essential infrastructure and health workers all over this nation, our police and defence and other first responders plus many, many more keeping New Zealand going. You're heroes.

I thank all New Zealanders who are following instructions as we head to lockdown tonight and the Prime Minister has put some of those very well. I'm confident we can show our best natures as Kiwis - following rules and the small acts of kindness through to those of us of faith praying for our communities and our nation at this tough time.

He waka eke noa. A canoe which we are all in with no exception. We are all in this together.

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