Greens co-leader James Shaw criticises Fox News over COVID-19 'quarantine camp' speculation

Greens co-leader James Shaw has criticised US TV network Fox News over speculation that COVID-19 patients in New Zealand are thrown into so-called "quarantine camps". 

Fox News ran a segment in which the conservative-leaning public policy think-tank Hoover Institution condemned New Zealand's "institution of coronavirus camps", alluding to the state-run managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities. 

Host Laura Ingraham told viewers New Zealand has had a "terrifying new response" to "rising COVID case numbers", despite no new community cases being identified for days, and that the Government is "throwing people into quarantine camps". 

A four-month-old clip of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is played of her discussing how returning New Zealanders who refuse a test in MIQ have to stay an extra 14 days to avoid the virus potentially getting back into the community.  

"No leaving the camp until you're negative," Ingraham says into the camera, speaking in an attempted Kiwi accent to make fun of Ardern. 

Shaw described the "quarantine camp" speculation on Thursday as "complete nonsense", adding that the narrative has been "fanned up by Fox News which doesn't really warrant the phrase news outlet". 

Natasha Walker, a Kiwi in MIQ, also questioned Fox News' "quarantine camps" description.

"It's definitely not a camp as such. It's a nice 4-star hotel and it's worth it to keep New Zealand safe and keep COVID out," she told Newshub. 

Shaw also criticised Donald Trump back in August when the US President claimed New Zealand was seeing a "surge" in COVID-19 cases. 

"Even New Zealand, you see what is going on in New Zealand. They beat it, they beat it. It was like front page," Trump told a rally. "The problem is [there's a] big surge in New Zealand. It's terrible. We don't want that."

Shaw described Trump's remarks at the time as "absurd", given just nine new cases had been announced the day before in New Zealand compared to 42,000 new cases reported in the US.

New Yorkers Newshub spoke to this week also had a slightly different take than Fox News on New Zealand's response to COVID-19. 

"Congratulations for having the most awesome Government on the planet with like zero COVID cases. Hats off to New Zealand," one New Yorker said. 

Some wished the Trump administration would pick up a tip or two.

"The current administration hasn't taken the response yours has to keeping everyone safe."

Shaw made his latest remarks off the back of post-election negotiations with Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. The talks are expected to wrap up on Friday and the outcome would be announced on Sunday. 

Labour picked up 64 seats after the election meaning it can govern alone, but Ardern - a self-described "consensus builder" - has been meeting with the Greens anyway to see how they could work together. 

Shaw and co-leader Marama Davidson will go to the Green Party's roughly 150 delegates on Saturday with the deal Labour gives them. If they reject it, the Green Party will go back into Opposition in Parliament. 

"We've put every effort into getting a deal that we hope is worthwhile putting to members," Davidson told reporters. 

"It's hard to tell exactly how long it will take but I think the main point is we allow for the delegates to have a good look at what is put before them. It's a big decision."

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said discussions on a final text are nearing conclusion.

Newshub can reveal Green members were expecting to learn about the discussions either on Thursday or Friday. In an email seen by Newshub, they were asked to be on standby both nights for the meeting via Zoom call.

Newshub understands Labour has offered Shaw the climate change portfolio - which he's held for the last three years - outside of Cabinet.  

"We can't speculate on speculation," he said after emerging from the talks on Wednesday.

Newshub also learned this week that Green MP Eugenie Sage - currently Conservation Minister - hasn't been offered anything yet. But it's unclear whether that's because her ministerial roles will be whisked away or if the Green co-leaders aren't communicating their progress back to their caucus.