National leader Judith Collins supports COVID-19 vaccine certificates but also doesn't want 'two classes of people'

National leader Judith Collins says she supports COVID-19 vaccination certificates but also doesn't want "two classes of people" in New Zealand. 

In her opening remarks ahead of National's caucus meeting on Tuesday, Collins shared her concerns about a "two-class system and social disharmony", a reference to the vaccinated and unvaccinated. 

Her comments led to questions about National's position on vaccination certificates, which are expected to be available by next month. The certificates will allow vaccinated people to enjoy more liberties than those who choose not to be jabbed. 

On the one hand, Collins supports the idea of giving more freedoms to the vaccinated. In fact, she's been asking questions about it since February. 

"I've said all the way through that they need to have a system in place whereby being double-vaccinated brings you some of the normal rights and privileges that we experience, that we need to have that system in place properly," she said. 

"We're still waiting for this vaccine certificate and apparently it might be here in December."

But on the other hand, Collins doesn't want people separated into a "two-class system", which is essentially what vaccination certificates do - give vaccinated people more liberties than the unvaccinated. 

"That is not the sort of country that we want. We want people to be encouraged to get the right information and the Government is sitting back and saying that they didn't do anything wrong but those people down there who didn't get vaccinated, they're the bad people. That's what they're saying and that is simply not good enough," she said. 

"I don't want to see New Zealand full of people who feel that they're being pushed when they should be brought forward - and being pushed can sometimes get people to sit back on their heels and do the exact opposite.

"We need to have as many people double-vaccinated as possible. That is important. What we do not need to have are people feeling that they are going to stand on their rights and not do that when they feel that they're being pushed without anybody going through the information with them, which is why it's really important to have people like [National deputy leader] Shane Reti out there, doing exactly that job."

National leader Judith Collins.
National leader Judith Collins. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Collins' comments came after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made headlines across the globe after she agreed during an interview with the NZ Herald that the Government is creating two different classes of people.

"That is what it is," Ardern said. 

Collins, despite agreeing with the concept of vaccination certificates, was outraged by the Prime Minister's comments. 

"The Prime Minister was very clear - there are two classes of people now."

The Government announced on Friday its new COVID Protection Framework, or 'traffic light' system, to replace the alert levels, which will come into effect once 90 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated across all District Health Boards. 

Since Auckland has been in lockdown for months and is close to reaching the target, it could enter the traffic light framework sooner. 

Once the traffic light framework comes into force, vaccination certificates will play a major role in determining what freedoms people have. For example, when Auckland enters the Red light, hospitality venues will be able to open with up to 100 people who are fully vaccinated, but for businesses that choose not to use vaccine certificates, only contactless hospitality will be allowed.

ACT leader David Seymour raised similar concerns to Collins about people being separated into two groups, but he said it should be up to businesses to decide.

"The Prime Minister's rhetoric, 'If you want to... then get vaccinated', has actually triggered a whole lot of people, including those who are highly in favour of vaccination. We have enough division in this country as it is," he told reporters. 

"What the Government should have done is said businesses have the right to choose on their property. That way it's freedom of choice. Mandating, Joe Biden style, is just creating enormous division, and all it's done is actually create more sympathy for people who are unvaccinated from those who generally think vaccination is a good idea.

"It's the biggest own-goal in history."

But some businesses don't want the responsibility to then face the wrath of customers who choose not to be vaccinated. Footage of an anti-vaxxer ranting at a cafe worker in New South Wales showed how vulnerable businesses are to backlash.