Former Act leader Rodney Hide has penned an open letter to the current leader David Seymour expressing support for the anti-mandate protest outside Parliament.
The letter said the answer to the Government’s vaccine mandates was to “fight” and expressed a wish that the “protest be more intense given the damage Parliament has inflicted on the people I love and the community of which I am a part”.
Hide expressed his disappointment with Seymour, who distanced himself from the marches while stressing his belief in the right to protest.
Seymour has responded to the letter, arguing that he has addressed many of the issues Hide criticised.
“I don’t agree with you that my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are extinguished by a government declaring a pandemic. To me those rights are absolute,” Hide said.
Hide criticised Act’s support for some Covid measures like lockdowns.
“With the Act party in support we have been locked up and are now excluded from society. We have been shut out of our local swimming pool because literally we don’t take the Government’s recommended medicine and refuse to present the Government’s ID,”
Hide did not wish to comment for this story, and did not respond to questions about his own vaccination status.
Seymour supported lockdowns, but pushed for earlier exits from lockdown than the Government. He supported the vaccination rollout, but is opposed to the Government’s mandate system.
Hide said he was neither “anti-science” nor “anti-vax.”
But he said he opposed lockdowns and mandates because he believed in “human freedom above all else”.
“I do not want the human spirit squashed and it has been, and it continues to be,” Hide said.
He said the protest was “a little spark of human spirit”.
“We might be wrong about the madness of staying locked up or whether this or that medicine is ill-advised or not but in a free society we all are allowed to be wrong,” Hide said.
He asked Seymour to consider what people were expected to do when “their rights are trampled and their lives destroyed while politicians not only refuse to meet with them but belittle them when they protest?”
Hide said his “answer is to fight”.
Seymour responded saying Hide’s criticism of him came from a news article in which Seymour also addressed many of the issues Hide criticised.
“I’d point out to Rodney that after the bit he quoted, the same article addresses a lot of the concerns he raised in his letter,” Seymour said.
“When it comes to this question of hope and an exit strategy from Covid, I think it’s worth asking the prime minister – is she constantly reviewing the evidence, what does Omicron mean for transmission, and if Omicron means that vaccination is less effective against transmission then does the rationale for her mandate policy stand?
“Act has always said testing should be an alternative to mandates and actually we should have a choice – of our own businesses choosing what their particular vaccination policy is,” he said.
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