Leak: Jacinda Ardern gags ministers on discussing COVID-19 response

Newshub has been leaked an internal memo sent to all ministers from the Prime Minister's office instructing them not to speak to the media about Friday afternoon's document dump. 

It directs that ministers instead respond with brief written comments that must be signed off by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

The gag order was sent ahead of a Friday afternoon document dump of official papers relating to the Government's COVID-19 response. 

"If you do get a media query on this please provide a written response," it reads. "I would like to sign off and see all written response (sic). Do not put Minister up for any interviews on this."  

The documents were released at 2pm - after the Government's only press conference of the day. 

Newshub requested an interview with Health Minister David Clark - it was declined. 

Leak: Jacinda Ardern gags ministers on discussing COVID-19 response
Photo credit: Supplied

The leaked memo provides specific talking points to keep them on message, including: "Perfect would have been the public enemy of the good," and, "Tough calls had to be made and we stand by them."

It says due to public buy-in the Government doesn't have to explain its response. 

"There's no real need to defend. Because the public have confidence in what has been achieved and what the Govt [sic] is doing. Instead we can dismiss."

It lists talking points by topic - including one for "Opposition" which points to a press release from National leader Simon Bridges on March 23. 

"We won't regret moving quickly to stop this virus spreading. We may have regrets if we don't," it attributes to the leader of the Opposition.

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