Sir John Key lampoons Govt's COVID-19 approach but rules out return to politics for 2023 election

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key has lamented the Government's approach to COVID-19, saying they are "walking round like we got concrete shoes on" - but he's ruled out a return to politics. 

The National Party started a petition calling for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) to be scrapped on Thursday. In just over 24 hours, it has received over 50,000 signatures.

The former Prime Minister shared the petition on his Facebook page saying: "I’ve just signed. MIQ is a hoax. It’s failed and continues to fail tens of thousands of Kiwis. Sign the petition and end this nonsense now."

Sir John appeared on The Project on Friday and continued to criticise MIQ, saying it isn't "fit for purpose" and that the bureaucrats "haven't altered to the reality of the situation."

"What you do is establish rules and facilities and ideas when they are fit for purpose, so MIQ worked when there wasn't COVID in the community and when your fear was people from overseas would introduce it," he said.

"But again you have way more COVID in the community than coming from MIQ. 

"What you're currently doing is stopping New Zealand functioning properly. If you're a Kiwi that has been travelling overseas for a few years, you can't come home.

"If you're a Kiwi - which there are probably about a million of them overseas - who want to come back for whatever reason, you can't do any of that stuff all because the bureaucrats haven't altered to the reality of the situation, which is MIQ is way past its use-by date."

Sir John has been in the public spotlight a lot recently voicing his disapproval with the Government's handling of COVID-19, but the former Prime Minister quickly ruled out a run for the top job in 2023. 

"No, I'm not running in 2023," Key laughed. "No, no, no, I'm definitely not doing that. I'm a very proud National Party supporter and we have a great team but I'm not running in 2023."

Key says his experience as Prime Minister for eight years taught him he has to be flexible and he feels the Government currently isn't doing that. 

"One thing I learned from being in the job for the better part of eight years as Prime Minister is that you need flexibility, you need to change and you need to adapt," he told The Project.

"If you don't do any of those things then you've got antiquated and old rules. 

"We change all the time but we are walking around like we got concrete shoes on when it comes to MIQ and our approach, and actually to a whole lot of things when it comes to COVID-19."

The National Party have quickly changed their tune to their feelings around MIQ, with the Opposition only recently calling on the Government to build their own quarantine facility.

This came when the New Zealand was going in and out of lockdown and Chris Bishop, National's COVID-19 Response spokesperson, said Kiwis can't afford to keep going doing that any longer.

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