Tuesday, 27 February 2024
02 July 2020 English

National MP Hamish Walker under fire for "racist' statement for Kiwis returning from India, Pakistan and Korea

National MP Hamish Walker under fire for "racist' statement for Kiwis returning from India, Pakistan and Korea - NZ Punjabi News

AUCKLAND (Sachin Sharma): National Party MP for Clutha-Southland Hamish Walker has come under fire for an alleged "racist" statement singling out quarantining Kiwis returning from India, Pakistan and Korea.

The Government Thursday afternoon said it was investigating whether hotels in Queenstown and Dunedin were feasible as managed isolation and quarantine facilities for New Zealanders arriving from oversease. Currently, only New Zealand citizens or permanent residents are allowed to enter the country and go into quarantine.

Walker issued a press release saying it was "absolutely disgraceful" that communities in these towns hadn't been consulted for such a move.

"These people are possibly heading for Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown from India, Pakistan and Korea.

"I've already had many calls, texts and emails from residents who do not want people in quarantine in Queenstown." He claimed up to 11,000 people could be destined for quarantine in the south.

Minister in charge of border facilities Megan Woods said it was racist to single out India, Pakistan and Korea, especially because highest number of returning New Zealanders is from Australia.

"It's disgraceful and it's reprehensible. I think he's trying to stir up a sentiment that I don't think has any place in New Zealand," she said.

Woods said she would travel to the south next week with head of operations, Air Commodore Darryn Webb, to visit hotels.

The team managing the border facilities had received calls from hotels in Queenstown asking to be considered because if selected, they get a 100 percent occupancy rate, she said.

She said if National MP was singling out countries with high COVID-19 rates, he should have also included the United Kingdom and United States.

Walker, however, defended his statement saying he had information Kiwis coming from India, Pakistan and Korea had higher COVID - 19 infection results.

He declined to say where he got this information. "I'm not going to reveal my source," he said.

Woods said Walker's claim of 11,000 people arriving in the south was "ridiculous" as only 6000 people were in managed facilities. Woods said she'd like to know where he got those details from.

Walker said, "I know for a fact" there wasn't enough personal protective equipment (PPE) in Queenstown to many a quarantine and the Government needed to reassure the community there were proper safety protocols in safe.

Woods said the Government provided PPE and she could guarantee that no quarantine facility has been set up until they were certain all protocol and practices were in place.

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