Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Free Press, 23 June 2020


Powering On

ACT’s annual conference and election launch is set for 12 July in Auckland. We have already sold more tickets than to any ACT event in a decade. Twice as many, in fact. If you haven’t registered for Dare to be Different, please do, and don’t be shy to bring a friend.

Find An Island

Free Press has long said that our good fortune with Covid-19 is just that. On 8 June, the Herald reported eight other countries had beaten Covid-19, mostly small island nations. Free Press has seen analysis showing 18 countries reported cases before 26 May, but none since. Of those, 12 are island nations and two (PNG and Timor) are partial island nations. The number one factor for beating viral disease appears to be having a moat.

Lucky All Along

What’s the point in debating whether the Government should be credited with beating Covid-19? We say it matters for two reasons. We need to be better prepared for this ongoing pandemic, fresh strains of the current virus, or even a totally new virus. ACT has called for a Royal Commission because if the Government is going to borrow $140 billion, it’s worth checking if we got value for money. There is also a danger that giving credit where it is not due risks empowering the Government to make even more zany and damaging economic policy.

Omnishambles

What we find interesting is how cavalier the Government’s approach to managed isolation and quarantine has been. It feels like they were just happy going through the motions all along. It’s been quarantine theatre. Were people tested at day 3 and day 12 as the Government thought? No. Who was responsible? Nobody knows. Surely people would at least be tested before being released for compassionate reasons? No, they were not. Did people who’d completed isolation for nearly two weeks mix with people fresh of the plane, undermining the whole point? Apparently they did.

The Real Cost

The public are furious that, having made great sacrifices, they are now at risk of reinfection and returning to higher alert levels due to the Government’s incompetence at the border. That’s understandable, but here’s the real cost: We should be moving on to a much wider border entry program. The world’s smartest borders should be allowing, for instance, a school with international students to be carrying out its own isolation program to get its students and revenue back. The firestorm around the Government’s failure has effectively put that off the political agenda.

The Cost Goes On

The horticulture industry is totally dependent upon seasonal workers. They mostly come from Covid-free Pacific Island nations. Even in a recession, Kiwis will not pick strawberries. These folks already have to provide MBIE-inspected accommodation. They could do their own isolation programs adhering to strict rules if they were allowed, but they will not be allowed to. Ditto foreign university students, of whom Australia is now piloting the reintroduction for the Spring semester. Then there’s fishing crews. It goes on.

Negative 85 Houses

This Government was elected on, more than anything, a promise to fix the housing market where the previous government failed. Free Press heard it on the doorsteps of Epsom: ‘I’m thrilled with my home’s value, but where will my children live?’ As we’ve documented at length, KiwiBuild was a fiasco. By the end of May it had built only 395 houses. However, Ihumātao was planned to have 480 houses. The Government now says there will be no houses at Ihumātao. Without this Government, New Zealand would have 85 more houses.

Property Rights

The real issue at Ihumātao is property rights. Without secure property rights, people do not plan for the future. They do not save and invest, and tomorrow is just like today with a different date. There is no progress and it’s soul destroying. The best thing the Prime Minister can do for future generations is uphold a culture of private property rights. Instead, she has empowered the squatters, put the property owner in an impossible position, and looks set to spend $30 million of taxpayer money buying the land.

Picture A Country

A group of radical protestors squat on your land and the Government that is sympathetic comes along to encourage them. In the end, you lose your land, and the taxpayer buys it with the help of the central bank that is printing $90 billion dollars. Does this sound like (a) New Zealand or (b) somewhere in Central America?

It’s Still The Economy, Stupid

Public health aside, this election will still be run on the economy. In a poll of the Epsom electorate this month, we found 84 per cent think the Government had done a good job on public health, but only 39 per cent think the Government had done a good job on the economy. In those two numbers is how the right can win this election, and why we must win. ACT’s 5-point plan shows the alternative to borrowing and hoping for a vaccine.