Judith Collins reveals plan for first live debate against Jacinda Ardern

Judith Collins says her tactic for the first live debate with Jacinda Ardern is to just be herself and remind the Prime Minister of "what she hasn't done".

In an interview with Magic Talk's Ryan Bridge ahead of the Tuesday night debate, Collins said Ardern "had it easy" at the last election because she "had no track record".

"She made some big promises and most of them she hasn't kept so I'll be reminding her of what she hasn't done," she told Bridge on Monday.

When questioned on how she would defend against the inevitable criticism following the discovery of a $4 billion hole in her party's economic plan, Collins brushed it off, saying "there's lots of things people make mistakes about".

She denied her party called for the borders to be opened despite the threat of COVID-19, saying Ardern would use this as "total spin and misinformation".

" [It's] a total lie of course, we've always said you need to be very careful about it but you do need to have a plan around the border."

Collins said in August that Kiwis would need to get over the "culture of fear" around letting people in.

"It isn't good New Zealanders have been so whipped up into a fear about bringing people into the country, safely," she told NewstalkZB.

She said that by keeping borders closed the country is missing out on "billions" in high-end tourism, international students and skilled migrant workers. 

It's a position she has held steady on, telling Bridge on Tuesday it's impossible to keep the country closed forever - "but at the same time we don't want COVID in".

On Tuesday Labour announced it will establish exemptions for the borders so that a limited number of skilled workers can enter to protect the country's economy. 

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced the policy in a statement, saying tight border controls are the "backbone" of controlling COVID-19.

"The Government understands the challenges the tight border restrictions create," Faafoi continued.

"We continue to review possible exceptions that would help address critical workforce gaps that cannot be filled by New Zealanders and help support the COVID-19 economic recovery, while ensuring our managed isolation and quarantine system can cope."

The latest exceptions are for up to 30 veterinarians, 570 deep sea fishing crew, and 210 agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators.

Faafoi said the Government would continue to review border settings as appropriate and consider exceptions where they are needed to meet New Zealand's needs as it recovers from COVID-19.