Police Commissioner Andrew Coster cites Springbok Tour as reason not to use force against anti-mandate protesters

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says the reason behind the lack of force used against anti-mandate protesters is they don't want a repeat of the 1981 Springbok Tour.

It's been 13 days since the protesters first began occupying the Beehive's grounds and illegally parking on surrounding streets.

Now, Newshub understands Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard is looking into getting a fence built to stop this from ever happening again.

He has requested scoping work to see what's needed to build something around Parliament's precinct.

It isn't a surprising move given the hundreds of cars, tents, and people entrenched around the Beehive.

But police are still opting for discussion, not action.

"I think police could clear the protest. I don't think the harm that would come from how we would need to do that is acceptable. Police would have to move in, using batons, probably using tear gas - it's likely to lead to extended confrontation," Cmmr Coster says.

He doesn't want to see a repeat of 1981.

"During the Springbok Tour, one of the things was a real hardening of the protest activity based on the law enforcement response to it, so we have to look quite carefully on how we manage that whole picture," Cmmr Coster says.

ACT leader David Seymour has waded back into the subject, saying it's time to change our COVID policies. He referred to the mandates as segregation - a favourite word of the protesters.

More and more people feel it's a form of segregation and they're unable to participate in stuff they've normally done.

And Seymour wasn't happy when Newshub pointed out to him that he was adopting protester speak.

"If Newshub is arguing that we have to have a compliant tone before we can have a discussion, then I think people will judge that for themselves," he says.

"While it's still very important to be vaxxed to reduce hospitalisation, the idea of segregating a side, a group of people who are just as likely to have Omicron as anybody else may have passed its use-by date."

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster cites Springbok Tour as reason not to use force against anti-mandate protesters
Photo credit: Getty Images

In response to Seymour, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Newshub that he doesn't know what ACT's trying to achieve and that it looks like a "dog-whistle to anti-vaxxers".

He says Seymour's flip-flopped on mandates after being one of their strongest advocates and now is not the time to end them.

But that's what the protesters want, and research released on Sunday gathered during the first week of the protest shows there is an increase in frustration.

"This time last year 6 percent of New Zealanders said they were feeling angry about the restrictions on their lives. That's doubled to 12 so those are the people we're seeing down on Parliament," says Amanda Dudding, research director at Ipsos.

It also found 25 percent of Kiwis want restrictions like mandates gone, which the Government's previously said will happen once it's safe to do so.

But it's worth pointing out that 50 percent are happy with current restrictions and 25 percent want them even tighter.