With the Government on the back foot over its testing procedures, National has outlined what it would do to keep Covid-19 stuck outside our borders

The National Party has proposed establishing a new Crown agency to oversee the management of Covid-19 and other public health threats at the border.

International travellers would also be required to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country, under the party’s proposals.

The rigour of New Zealand’s border testing and management procedures have come under scrutiny following the re-emergence of the deadly virus in the community, with Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield admitting to a “dissonance” between the Government and officials over what was taking place.

Unveiling National’s border security policy, party leader Judith Collins said the current, ad-hoc system of border management “has led to a disorderly and confused response, putting the health and livelihoods of five million New Zealanders at risk”.

“More than 1.6 million Aucklanders are locked down right now because the Government dropped the ball on testing, tracing and managing people in isolation. It’s not good enough.”

The party would establish a NZ Border Protection Agency, or Te Korowai Whakamaru, as a dedicated Crown agency within the first 100 days of government to defend the country against the virus.

“This agency will be resourced to act as a centre of expertise. It will have the personnel, technology and capability to provide a world-class defence against Covid-19,” National’s Covid-19 border response spokesman Gerry Brownlee said

“The expensive and ineffective systems we have now aren’t up to scratch. National will manage the border effectively to keep New Zealanders safe.”

In the longer term, technological advancements would help to test and track the virus, with the party proposing immediate investment and rapid deployment of Bluetooth technologies such as the Covid Card.

National would also require people coming into New Zealand to test themselves for Covid-19 three days before departure, providing results before boarding their plane, on top of quarantine once they were in the country.

Sam Sachdeva is Newsroom's national affairs editor, covering foreign affairs and trade, housing, and other issues of national significance.

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