MEDIA RELEASE – “Don’t Divide Us” Petition – 87,269 Signatures Presented to Parliament

The petition “Don’t Divide” which has 87,269 signatures has been presented ‘virtually’ to ACT Leader David Seymour this morning.

The petition says “We oppose the ‘no jab no job’ policy, which will create a divided New Zealand. We call on the Government to allow the use of COVID rapid antigen testing as an alternative for unvaccinated kiwis to access workplaces, schools, marae, large gatherings, and places of worship.

While both sponsors of the petition are double-jabbed and support the vaccination programme, they are justifiably concerned that New Zealanders are being excluded from their teaching or nursing job, sporting career, going to their marae, going to church or the mosque or the gym or hair salon, university to study, weddings, visiting family members in prison, attending events – and there are many other examples – because they have chosen out of good conscience not to be vaccinated.

“We are looking for a reasonable and workable middle ground that doesn’t divide the country and set family members against each other.”

A recent nationwide poll found significant support from New Zealanders for regular testing to be allowed as an option so that kiwis can keep their jobs. While half (50%) of respondents supported an employer being able to sack unvaccinated staff members, 58% of respondents supported unvaccinated employees being able to keep their jobs if they agreed to have regular tests. Just 27% were opposed (including 30% of those who are already double jabbed).

“We’ve received hundreds of messages from distraught kiwis losing their jobs. Some of the careers being lost include truck drivers, drainlayers, arborists, tennis coaches, scrap yard workers, university students, courier drivers, apprentices, bus drivers, construction workers, volunteer firefighters, office administrators, after-hours cleaners, fruit pickers, grounds maintenance workers, gardeners, volunteer driving instructors, road maintenance workers, after-hours security guards, student farm-workers, fitness instructors, and many more.”

“Family members are being excluded, children are being locked out from sports participation, and people are unable to attend their place of worship.”

The Government-appointed independent review group headed by Sir Brian Roche told the Government: “It is critical that we actively promote and achieve widespread testing across the community irrespective of the known presence of the virus in the community. The availability of rapid antigen testing is critical to that.”

It appears that the Government is slowly understanding the benefits of rapid antigen testing with its use being now approved for travellers leaving Auckland, and used for businesses. Air New Zealand will require customers travelling domestically to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative before flying.

Why is its use not extended to workers, families and worshippers?

Both ACT and National have called for the option of rapid testing, and Te Pāti Māori says it would abolish Government vaccine mandates.

“We’re calling on the Government to allow the use of COVID rapid antigen testing as an alternative for unvaccinated kiwis. In fact, with our new understanding of the waning immunity of the vaccine, we believe testing and isolation is an important component for all New Zealanders moving forward. It’s much fairer – and doesn’t divide us.”

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