National leader Judith Collins wants uncooperative Northland COVID-19 case's identity made public

National leader Judith Collins wants the identity of the uncooperative COVID-19 case who travelled to Northland with a fraudulent travel exemption made public.

Collins said on Monday it's only fair that the woman's identity is revealed, when last month the identity of an Auckland couple who broke COVID-19 rules by travelling to Wanaka faced the wrath of the public after being named. 

"Let's find out who this person is and see if they still want to be uncooperative," Collins told Magic Talk's Leah Panapa. 

"And why I say that Leah - it's a bit harsh - but you'll remember the couple who left Auckland to go to Wanaka. You'll remember what happened to them. They have been publicly named, shamed, charged; one of them being a lawyer may well have her legal career seriously damaged. 

"You've got all of these things going on and they tested negative apparently before they went to Wanaka. They obviously misused their travel exemptions. 

"It now appears that this woman, her exemption was forged, so you've got an entirely even worse situation. Well, let's name this person and things will become more clear." 

ACT leader David Seymour says the Government needs to explain what loophole the Northland case used to get through the border and how they plan to fix it. 

"If a personal exemption was obtained from the Ministry of Health, it is clearly too easy to do so, the person couldn't have had a legitimate reason for having such an exemption, so how did they get it? Either they're guilty of a crime, or there is a loophole in the system."

Seymour told reporters on Monday naming the Northland case would need to be done carefully. 

"We don't want to discourage people from coming forward to contact trace in the future by publicly naming and shaming somebody. I think we have to be incredibly clear that this person is being publicly identified because they didn't cooperate with contact tracing."

National leader Judith Collins.
National leader Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty Images

Northland was thrown back into alert level 3 lockdown from Saturday after a woman used fraudulent documents to travel there from Auckland, and she has not been cooperating with authorities, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. 

The case was under investigation after returning a weak positive result from a test in Whangārei last week and on Friday returning a positive test result in Auckland. 

The woman remains in an Auckland quarantine facility, and the other woman who she is thought to have travelled with has been contacted but not yet located. The other woman is one of 21 identified close contacts.

Hipkins said he was not ruling out dropping charges against the woman in a bid to cut a deal for her cooperation, saying he would consider options which might encourage her to be more open with health officials.

Collins said Hipkins does not have that authority. 

"This is not some US-style arrangement we have in our justice system. What we have is it's the police who decide on charges and Chris Hipkins is not involved at all, so the thought that he thinks he can as a minister shows just how desperate they are."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show on Monday it was "incredibly frustrating" the woman wasn't cooperating, and that police were involved. 

Ardern also said there was "no evidence to support some of the claims being made" about the woman travelling to Northland with a male gang member.

"This is an individual who travelled with a woman, we have CCTV footage that demonstrates that," Ardern said. "We also know that the place they were staying at, the hotel accommodation reported that it was simply too women travelling."

Gangs have been a talking point of the Delta outbreak since the virus started spreading through the underworld. The Government allowed exemptions for gang leaders to travel to Auckland to help convince their members to get jabbed.

"We've got cases in gangs and that makes this job really hard," Ardern told Radio Hauraki last week

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson told Q&A on Sunday he'd met with gang leaders over Zoom to discuss vaccination efforts, but he wouldn't say who.

Collins said it made her blood boil. 

"When I watched Willie Jackson... I have to say, my blood boiled, and I thought, this is supposed to be a Minister of the Crown. For a start, any meetings he has with anybody in an official capacity, are subject to the Official Information Act.

"The public has a right to know... We will be continuing to find out what's happened.

"In addition to that, offering them things? Offer them what? What about everybody else who's gone off and done the right thing and had their vaccination and is trying to do the best for everyone?"