David Seymour calls Jacinda Ardern a 'superb leader' in rare public praise

He also praised parts of the Government's response to COVID-19.
He also praised parts of the Government's response to COVID-19. Photo credit: Getty

David Seymour has offered rare praise for the Prime Minister, saying she is a "supreme front of house leader".

Seymour is notoriously critical of Jacinda Ardern and her Government but on Monday he admitted he had some credit to give her.

"She's very good at reading public mood and putting out unifying messages," he told Magic Talk.

"She's done that three times now - she did it after Christchurch, after White Island and through the COVID-19 period."

He admitted "in that sense" Ardern is "a superb front of house leader".

He added the contact tracing efforts by the Government were "world class" especially Aotearoa's genomic testing to identify different strains of the virus.

"They deserve a lot of credit for that".

But it wasn't all positives - Seymour also said he was less than impressed with the risk management of managed isolation facilities.

"We're currently quarantining people from countries with no COVID right next to people from countries which are riddled with it, so how can we manage risk proportionally?"

On the whole, the Government response lacked "nimbleness" said Seymour.

"There's a couple of areas where yep, they've done okay, but there are areas where it's far too blunt - it should have been more nimble."

New Zealand is currently one of the least restricted countries in the world, with no COVID-19 in the community. The Government response to the virus has received global praise, and despite a strict lockdown which Seymour and other critics said would result in economic devastation, New Zealand recorded it's largest ever quarterly rise of GDP of 14 percent in December. 

Recent research published in notable medical journal The Lancet has credited New Zealand's COVID-19 response as "remarkable" for its "stringency and brevity". 

"The experience of New Zealand highlights that successful non-pharmaceutical interventions rely on early decisive reactions from health authorities, performant surveillance systems, and targeted testing strategies as much as stringency."