Judith Collins says the Government panicked in its response to Covid-19, which has caused New Zealand “enormous harm to the economy”.
Speaking on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, the National leader also praised Australia’s response to the pandemic, saying there are many states - outside of Victoria - that have handled it well without destroying their economies.
“I think the Government panicked around Covid-19 and we've been spun a whole lot of stories around how dreadful it is in Australia. It's not at all. It’s only Victoria which is a basket case,” Collins said.
“But then you’ve got New South Wales, you’ve got Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia with actually really good results without destroying their economy.”
Breakfast host Jenny-May Clarkson pointed out to Collins that Australia's Government is state-run, a different governing model to New Zealand's, making a direct comparison difficult.
But Collins said that wasn't the matter.
"They've actually got some leadership and they've got some people that understand," Collins said. "You don’t have to stuff the economy just to keep people safe."
New Zealanders will today get an insight into just how damaging the pandemic has been to Aotearoa's economy, when treasury unveils its pre-election economic and fiscal update.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said New Zealand is in one of the best positions in the world, despite the impact of the virus.
But Collins disagrees.
“Today we've got the Government being forced to open the books and show us just how bad it is," she said.
“Tomorrow we’ve got the GDP figures, which is basically how much the economy is working or not working, and I think we’re going to see some pretty bad figures, and actually we could have done a lot better.”
She said it's important that New Zelaand has a "measured, sensible" Covid-19 response, which she believes has not been the case.
"What we’ve seen in New Zealand is a big fat hammer of the state coming down and frightening people, and we’ve had panic essentially, and a panicked Government has caused enormous harm to the economy, which means that we’ve got a lot of people who are now looking at being unemployed."