Coronavirus: 'Podium of convenience' has replaced 'podium of truth' - Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges says the daily 1pm press conferences on the COVID-19 outbreak are increasingly taking place at the "podium of convenience" rather than the "podium of truth". 

National and ACT are angry Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn't mention the fact a man carrying the infectious Delta variant of the virus was on the loose in Auckland, when she and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield spoke to media on Wednesday afternoon. 

He escaped a managed isolation and quarantine facility in the early hours of the morning, and wasn't arrested until later that afternoon. Ardern was informed shortly before going live to the nation at 1pm, but didn't bring it up. 

"There are still so many questions that we still don't have answers to," National's Bridges told The AM Show on Friday morning. 

"I would have thought there were actually readily available answers, straight answers, quite quickly. More fundamentally, if you think about this politically, it's starting to look like that podium of truth, as it's so-called, is more a podium of convenience. We get told what the Prime Minister and Ashley Bloomfield want to tell us, rather than what we need to know."

ACT leader David Seymour also used the phrase "podium of truth" on Friday morning.

"Why did she not delay her arrival and get the facts, as she has so often has? She had no intention of telling the public in any event."

Newshub was unable to find any examples of Ardern calling the 1pm press conferences the "podium of truth". The earliest example of that phrase in relation to the daily updates appears to be a column by right-leaning NZ Herald columnist Kate Hawkesby in August last year. 

Ardern did say in mid-March 2020 that Government sources - including her, the daily updates with Dr Bloomfield and the Unite Against COVID-19 website - would be the "single source of truth". At the time, she was specifically responding to rumours and "misinformation" spreading on social media about the Government's plans to combat the pandemic.

Labour MP David Parker, appearing with Bridges on The AM Show, said "generalities" about the live police operation on Wednesday afternoon wouldn't have helped. 

"There have been 180,000 people through MIQ. It's not a prison. There have been very few things that have gone wrong. This is incredibly irresponsible behaviour. I think the police have handled it appropriately and no doubt the details you want will come out as soon as they're known."

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson earlier told The AM Show it would have been "irresponsible" to make details of the manhunt public while it was still going on, and Ardern only had "sketchy details" when she went live.

Despite being infected with Delta, officials say the threat to the public is low - he apparently drove home in his car without appearing to have had any interaction with anyone else.