Collins says National would give skilled workers same treatment 'Ardern's given to the Australian rugby team'

Judith Collins has hit back at Jacinda Ardern over Labour's border exemption policy, and the so-called "bespoke arrangement" for Australia's national rugby team the Wallabies to train in New Zealand.

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The National leader says the horticultural industry is crying out for staff. Source: 1 NEWS

During TVNZ's first leaders debate moderator John Campbell asked how Collins and Ardern could get border exemptions right should either form the Government.  

The National leader said the current policy for border exemptions was not adequate. 

"It’s not enough John. We’ve got a $9.5 billion industry in horticulture that’s crying out for specialist staff to come in and actually they're not even getting a look in the door with Ms Ardern's policy.

"By the way John, a lot of them come from parts of the world where there is no Covid at all. Gerry Brownlee has already put out the policy on it which would actually be with those people coming here from where there is no Covid-19 at all.

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"We'd give them the same treatment Arden's given to the Australian rugby team."

Ardern said the Government would need to ensure it was supporting industries that have a skills gap by bringing in New Zealanders - and that it needed to be done safely.

"Kiwifruit industry is a a really good example, usually highly reliant on an offshore workforce and this season we partnered with them - we re-deployed those who had lost jobs in other areas to work in the industry," she said.

"If it's highly specialised yes, there will be occasions where we will use our border exemptions to bring in those who support jobs and support our economy. But right now, we have to just accept that there will be limitations to safe border management."