Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has clashed with Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking over her Government's handling of the Covid response and other matters he sought to question her on this morning.
At one point an exasperated Ardern said the host's question about whether the Government intended to take over control of two city councils was "ridiculous".
In an interview with Newstalk ZB's Hosking, Ardern seemed shocked at the suggestion that it was on the cards.
Hosking asked the question after rising tensions at Invercargill City Council prompted the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) to send a letter to them asking for information so it could provide advice to the Minister of Local Government on what action she could take.
The Prime Minister has the power to assist or intervene in local authority matters if necessary.
Tension is also high at Tauranga City Council after members called for Mayor Tenby Powell to resign.
Hosking asked Ardern whether the Government intended to "takeover in someway shape or form the Tauranga City Council or the Invercargill City Council".
"Why on earth are you making such suggestions?" Ardern responded.
Hosking said the Department of Internal Affairs had written to both councils stating that they might involve the role of the Prime Minister in them.
"And you're suddenly making the assumption that we're going to take over two councils ... no, I think it's a ridiculous suggestion that we would take over a council."
When pressed again, Ardern replied "the idea that we are taking over a council, though, is incorrect".
Hosking, however, put it to her again, with the Prime Minister responding, "Mike, when has this Government ever taken over a council?
"No, we are not taking over a democratically elected council."
Hosking also asked whether the Government was looking at "buying a chunk" of Auckland port, but Ardern also denied that.
"I have lots of requests and that doesn't mean that the Government is actively considering it."
She also ruled out having an "apolitical" Covid advisory group, saying she wasn't sure how it would work.
Hosking said the likes of University of Auckland professor Des Gorman, former National Party finance spokesman Steven Joyce, Peter Gluckman and Bob Jones thought Covid had become way "too political", but Ardern disagreed.
"We make decisions based on health professionals advice, we've always had the director general available ... and he of course utilises the advice of chief science advisor Ian Town and he is in touch with epidemiologists."
Hosking pressed her again, Ardern said: "I don't quite see, a: how that would work, and, b: what Des Gorman is suggesting here."
"We have used experts' evidence all the way through in fact, I think you'd be hard pressed to find an example where we made a decision that wasn't informed by evidence and science.
"We then have the job of making sure that we're constantly weighing up the economic impact. It just so happens that our view is a strong science, evidence-based view as the best way to support our economy."
Ardern was asked whether she was embarrassed about the High Court's ruling that the country's lockdown earlier this year was illegal.
Instead, she labelled it "balanced".
"No, no, not at all. I don't think that's a fair summary."
When Hosking put to her that the High Court found the first nine days of the lockdown was unlawful, Ardern said "that is a completely incorrect summation of that case, Mike".
"What it found was that actually we had good grounds in terms of protecting people's health ... I found it quite a balanced judgment in the end."
When asked about Greymouth Gas Turangi Ltd suing the Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods over the way the Government gave effect to the offshore permit ban, as well as the refusal of the company's application for a permit in Taranaki in 2017, Ardern said she couldn't comment on it as it was before the court.