ACT leader David Seymour is proposing “smart borders” as his party’s answer to the country’s recovery from Covid-19.
At the party's election campaign launch today, Mr Seymour said the border aimed to allow economic benefits to flow to the country but not the virus.
“The message is not, ‘let’s open up tomorrow and see what happens,’ it is ‘we need to talk about what our national strategy actually is," he said.
“We must openly pursue having the world’s smartest border, not as a rhetorical device ... but actually a practical reality.”
This would be different from the Government, who used the idea as PR and rhetoric, Mr Seymour said.
Mr Seymour also outlined ACT's five-point plan which included:
A shift from fear of Covid-19 returning to New Zealand to asking what the country could do rather than what it couldn’t do.
“The whole tone of Covid-19 policy management must shift from fear to ingenuity,” said Mr Seymour.
He criticised the Government and said it was overreacting even after the worst of the pandemic had passed.
“Have an open debate”
He said the country’s largest issue wasn’t “ultimately health, education, welfare, or productivity or Covid-19” but, rather, “the flagging ability for us to be able to have debates and disagree civilly”.
There needed to be a debate on whether the state of eradication of Covid-19 was going to be kept at all costs, how people could enter and leave the country and how long people were prepared to wait for a vaccine, Mr Seymour said.
He said the Government should encourage open debate and call for submissions from the public and experts.
“Start working on a country-by-country basis”
“We should immediately be opening green lanes for our Covid-free Pacific friends,” Mr Seymour said.
He said ACT would start asking “‘Which countries can we safely open up to on what terms?’”
Use technology to help with the country’s public health response
On this, Mr Seymour said the country could look at technologies such as GPS and wearable technology to help with contact tracing.
“Bridge the chasm” between the private and public sectors when responding to re-opening New Zealand after Covid-19.
The public sector should look for solutions, he said, in areas like privately-managed managed isolation programmes by engaging with the private sector.