Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Free Press, 27 October 2020


Thank You in a Town Near You

David Seymour and ACT's new MPs will be touring New Zealand to say thank you, and to prepare for the next three years, starting in the Wairarapa on 2 November. More details will be published shortly. Watch your email for details in your region. We hope to see you to say thanks for your support and talk about how you can keep ACT growing over the years to come.

The Itinerary

Wairarapa - 2 November
Wellington - 3 November
Blenheim - 4 November
Nelson - 5 November
Christchurch - 6 November
Dunedin - 7 November
Invercargill - 8 November
Queenstown - 9 November
Manawatu - 11 November
Taranaki - 12 November
Waikato - 13 November
Bay of Plenty - 14 November
Auckland - 15 November
Northland - 16 November
Hawke’s Bay - 23 November.

Getting the Basics Right

After the Prime Minister ‘did a little dance’ for the eradication of COVID from New Zealand shores, there was one obvious danger. Constitutionally, citizens could still enter the country and they might have the virus. People would have to interact with them. Why not test those people? Surely that first line of defence would be the major priority of the Government?

Phone Off the Hook?

As Newsroom’s Marc Daalder has reported (paywalled) this morning, the Cabinet was negligent at this basic job. Through July, until the positive test on 10 August, the Ministry of Health was telling Cabinet they weren’t doing the job. Cabinet were ignoring them, perhaps wilfully.

What Was Cabinet Told?

On 20 July, three weeks before an outbreak, Daalder summarises: “Of the 2,000 MIQ staff, just 290 had been tested in the previous week. Of 5,000 Auckland Airport staff, 211 had received a test. At the ports, where 2,100 people were estimated to be eligible for testing, just 12 had been tested in the past seven days.” The Prime Minister went on to say she had no recollection of being told they weren’t be tested at the border.

Cover Defence

Line breaks are inevitable, even with the best defenders, and it pays to have a good loose forward trio coming across in cover. As in rugby, so in virus fighting. What has happened with the Government’s contact tracing? As the near miss from the Auckland pub last week showed, the Government’s COVID Tracer app was being used by almost nobody. That’s not to discount improvements in manual contact tracing, but we need to use technology to beat COVID. Technology is our species' biggest advantage over a virus.

No Cover

There are five million people and about a million scans a day (Free Press is always generous). If the average person who is using the app scans in at two locations per day, that’s half a million people, or ten percent using it. If ten percent of people use it, then there’s a 1-in-10 chance that a person who tests positive was using the app. If another person was in the same place, there’s a 1-in-10 chance they were using it too. Altogether there’s a 1-in-100 chance they were both using it and a contact can be identified from this technology.

The Take Out

The Government has not been exceptional at managing COVID. They have had the easiest wicket imaginable. Remote islands with a young and spread out population prepared to accept the most draconian restrictions. They have used the bluntest measures executed badly. The flip side is we can and must do better. One of ACT’s roles is to advocate better solutions for fighting COVID.

Honest Conversations

Our country, founded by pioneers, signed an agreement based on property rights “unqualified exercise of their chieftainship over their lands, villages and all their treasures,” and every citizen having “the same rights and duties.” Our genesis is unique and exceptional, but are we really reaching our potential? Over the coming weeks, Free Press will be asking why would we think the Labour Party is better at productivity, regulation, spending quality, housing supply or poverty?