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Covid-19 border debate: Grant Robertson accuses Todd Muller of having 'consistency of a bored cat'

The Finance Minister today called National leader Todd Muller's consistency on border issues that "of a bored cat", with Mr Muller hitting back by calling the Government's legacy one of "non-delivery". 

Grant Robertson began his speech in Parliament today focused on National MP Paula Bennett's decision to leave Parliament at the election and notifying comedian Tom Sainsbury before Mr Muller. 

"Paula Bennett woke up in the weekend to decide that she was the next one to leave the sinking ship, and she thought about who to tell first... The choice was obvious: a person who had relentlessly been taking the mickey out of her, or Tom Sainsbury," Mr Robertson said. 

Ms Bennett announced her departure at 11am Monday. A video was released at the same time by Sainsbury of the pair dancing to Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive in her living room.

Ms Bennett told TVNZ1's Breakfast yesterday that Mr Muller did know she was "highly likely to be leaving".

"I just didn't tell him the day," she said. "I didn't make up my mind firmly that it was going to be yesterday until Sunday." 

Mr Robertson continued today: "The call was made to Tom, and as quick as you can say 'a bowl latte and a ham and cheese panini', Tom and Paula were filming a video in their kimonos. Meanwhile, Todd carried on in his blissful ignorance. Paula said Todd would not look good in a kimono."

Moving onto Mr Muller, Mr Robertson said he had the "consistency of a bored cat".

"When the border is closed, he wants it open; when the border is open, he wants it closed," Mr Robertson said. 

"Time and time again we see the flip-flop, the inconsistency, and the different positions. The favourite word of Mr Muller is 'shambles'. There's only one shambles here; it's over there."

Mr Muller said on Monday his reference to the border was around "making it very clear a shambolic internal border and a strategy that says we stay completely closed to everybody for the next 12-18 months is simply untenable". 

"We won't recognise this country in terms of economic impact if that is our reality in 12-18 months' time."

Recent border failures included two people who tested positive for Covid-19 after travelling to Wellington from Auckland before being tested, and a number of people having left managed isolation without undergoing tests. 

"There is only one definition of shambles, and that is that rambunctious group of Government," Mr Muller said today. 

"What a shambolic performance we've seen from this Government over the last few weeks. And actually, when we look at their delivery over the last three years, this has been a legacy of non-delivery from the moment they walked in here until right here, right now."

"When we are looking at the greatest economic crisis of a generation, 30,000 jobs a month going south, what this country needs is a Government full of ambition and capacity to actually drive results and an economic plan that's going to work, not a Government that sits at its core and says, 'What you have earned we want back, what you have struggled for we want a share of'." 

Earlier in the day, he and Jacinda Ardern clashed over tax, with Mr Muller asking for her to rule out increasing income tax rates while she is Prime Minister and Ms Ardern accusing him of spreading "blatant misinformation".