Systemic failure to blame for Auckland COVID-19 outbreak - Judith Collins

Judith Collins has come out swinging against the Government blaming a "systemic failure" for the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Auckland. 

In an interview with The AM Show the National leader said it was "pretty obvious" COVID had "come in from somewhere".

"We had all been told all the workers facing the border were being tested - turns out that wasn't true and now eight weeks later they're scrambling to get everyone tested," she said.

Newshub revealed on Thursday that as of last Monday, 63.5 percent of border workers in Auckland had never been tested. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted on Tuesday the testing rates were not up to standard and said the Government has since passed an order that makes it mandatory for front facing border staff to be tested. 

"We have now gone back through and all that [testing] is happening now and we have set out our expectations in an order to make sure that does happen," she said.

A Ministry of Health press release on Monday confirmed testing of all government agency frontline staff at the Auckland border is expected to be completed soon.

In Auckland, where more than 2500 staff work in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, 2100 staff have been swabbed on site, with further staff tested at community testing centres and GPs, the statement said.

Collins said the Government's decision to put Auckland back into lockdown was "unfair" as the outbreak was not a human failure but a systemic one -  and one which wouldn't happen under National. 

When asked how she would avoid putting the country into lockdown, Collins was vague on details, saying National's border policy was due to be announced "very shortly".

She did say there would be "systems in place" to ensure COVID-19 didn't come through the border - but if it did get through because of a human failure, National would "find it very quickly".

She says if National is "fortunate enough" to be elected the party will ensure safer borders so New Zealand wouldn't have to go back into lockdown.

"Let's put it this way - we actually would test. If we say we're going to do it, we actually will do it," she said.

The National Party has advocated for loosening border rules, with Collins telling Newstalk ZB in early August it was a "culture of fear" that meant two thirds of New Zealanders want the borders to remain closed.  

She said the Government should focus on finding a way to open the borders safely, without letting COVID-19 in.

"The country is missing out high-end tourism, highly skilled migrants, and international students worth billions of dollars a year."