Monday, 24 August 2020

Free Press, 24 August 2020


D-Day

Today is decision day again. The Government set itself a three-day challenge on 11 August to test, trace and isolate the latest outbreak. Now we are nearing the end of a two-week lockdown and it appears the Government hasn’t managed to test, trace and isolate the outbreak. The cost of extending the lockdown will be immeasurable when you consider the overall wellbeing of New Zealanders.

A Widely-Praised Speech

David Seymour’s speech to Parliament in the wake of the latest outbreak has been widely praised on radio and social media. It’s been watched over 60,000 times online. In case you missed it, and would like to watch, the speech is here.

What Did He Say?

Seymour outlines ACT’s Wellbeing Approach to fighting COVID-19. The Labour Government has talked a big game on wellbeing, but failed at the first real test. The response to COVID-19 has been entirely focused on the epidemic. It has not accounted for the effect of lockdowns on student learning, the mental health of small business owners, or people waiting for non-COVID healthcare.

Making Elimination Affordable

Seymour’s argument is not to let ‘er rip and be like Sweden, but to make elimination affordable. On a wellbeing basis, Taiwan is the clear winner. 12 times fewer deaths per capita than New Zealand, with no lockdowns, and the economy still growing. The question is how they did it.

Aren’t They Docile Asians?

It’s bad manners to stereotype people. Much better to take each person as you find them. In any case, the Taiwanese are people who’ve fought their way from dictatorship to democracy. In 2014, students occupied the Parliament. (So much for anxious millennials glued to their phones.) They hold free and fair elections and recently legalised same-sex marriage.

So How Did They Do It?

ACT’s Wellbeing Approach sets out how we could learn from Taiwan in five steps. (1) Have a single and accountable Epidemic Command Centre. (2) Recognise that the role of government is a referee, not a player. (3) Respond to dangers in a way that’s proportional to risk. (4) Integrate technology into the response. (5) Compare ourselves to the best and seek to continuously improve.

Read the Full Policy

If you’d like to read ACT’s full Wellbeing Approach to COVID-19 it is here. ACT is being praised for playing a consistent and constructive role in getting New Zealand through COVID-19 and actually prospering on the other side. A new government will have to rely on this kind of thinking to get New Zealand ready to contain further outbreaks without lockdowns.

The Alternative?

Making it up as we go. Using the Ministry of Health’s contact tracing centre to make a political ad for the Labour Party is extraordinary. They have lost the plot and forgotten what they inherited: a robust democracy with a politically-neutral civil service. We must preserve this inheritance from being corrupted by political expediency.

Campaign Reset

ACT’s campaign team has been busy resetting for the new election date. Our bus tour is almost completely rescheduled, and will actually be bigger and better with more meetings up and down the country. David Seymour will announce new street corner meetings in the Epsom electorate as soon as the restrictions become clearer.

Campaign Budget Reset

ACT’s campaign has great momentum. We have been thrilled with fundraising to date. If you have made a contribution, thank you for your generosity. The election extension means we can win as the background music to the election is now Government failure. However, the last four weeks are the most expensive in any campaign. The late change makes it difficult to reduce fixed costs (although we are). The upshot is that our fundraising target has increased considerably, so if you can give again, or for the first time, ACT will be very grateful.