New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters swiftly shut down a man asking him whether COVID-19 was a real threat during a campaign event in Tauranga on Tuesday.
The questioner began making a lengthy speech related to COVID-19 during a New Zealand First rally organized by Peters, who is the head of the political party and acts as deputy prime minister via a coalition government with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party.
“Where’s your evidence that there is a virus that causes the disease?” the man asked after Peters told him to get to the point.
“We’ve got someone who obviously got an education in America,” Peters said. “220,000 people have died in the United States. There are 8 million cases today. We’ve got 79,000 cases probably today in India, and here is somebody who gets up and says, ‘The Earth is flat.’ Sorry, sunshine, wrong place.”
When the man attempted to respond, Peters told him to be silent.
“Quiet, we have manners at our meetings as well,” the deputy prime minister said.
Aside from the questioner’s North American accent, there is no indication that they received their education in America. According to local media, the man had been questioning New Zealand First’s vote for the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act, which was legislation passed in May outlining a framework for local politicians and law enforcement to combat the coronavirus over the next two years.
The act has received criticism for restricting civil liberties, including enabling police to potentially enter premises without a warrant in order to ensure that lockdown restrictions are being followed.
As of Tuesday, New Zealand has faced a total of 1,872 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases. The United States, in contrast, has had over 7.7 million cases.
Watch the entire interaction, beginning at the 52:24 mark, in the livestream below.
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