National scathing of Government's COVID-19 document dump and gag order

National is accusing the Government of "deeply cynical" conduct after it dumped official papers relating to the COVID-19 response on Friday afternoon.

A leaked memo from the Prime Minister's office shows ministers were told not to speak to the media and said 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."

National's Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says the Government's decision to dismiss questioning of its decision-making over COVID-19 is "deeply troubling".

"Billions of dollars are being spent and 1000 people a day are losing their jobs. Now especially the Government should be scrutinised and held accountable for its decisions," he says in a statement on Saturday.

"It is not the New Zealand way to have one voice deciding everything for us and declaring what is right and the truth and then not being accountable."

The leaked memo shows ministers were told to only respond to media enquiries with brief written comments that must be signed off by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Greens co-leader and Minister James Shaw told Newshub Nation on Saturday he has no problem with the memo, although he didn't receive it.

"It is really important in a time of crisis that the Government speaks with one voice, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been that voice, and I think it's appropriate that she continues to be that voice."

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

This gives journalists limited time to investigate what's in them before the 6pm television news and helps the Government avoids being held to account.

"This Government's long tradition of Friday afternoon information dumps is deeply cynical and deserves scrutiny," Goldsmith says.

"The released documents raise countless questions. One is why there was no comparisons or comments on what we were learning from Australia's different approach in the Cabinet paper considering when and how the Government should decide to come out of level 4.

"The Government should have demanded this important information when making their decision. If they did, then it's in a paper that hasn't been released.

"Rather than dismissing and concealing, the Government should be explaining and justifying."