Monday, 27 September 2021

Free Press, 27 September 2021


The Haps

ACT’s caucus had a good week. Karen Chhour appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A to make a very simple point. The safety and welfare of children should come before cultural considerations when they are placed in care. That nobody else is saying this shows why we need an ACT Party. Brooke van Velden’s Herald column was a touching tribute to what business faces, in contrast to the Government’s COVID fear factory. Labour voted down Mark Cameron’s Member’s Bill that would have freed farmers from central planning. The ballot compensated by bringing forth Nicole McKee’s bill to lower the thresholds for seizing gangs’ assets.

Here’s a better plan

The Government’s COVID response is running into natural limits. Isolation, debt, vaccination, and fear are all running out of runway. Together these limits paint the Government into a corner. New thinking altogether is needed.

Isolation is wonderful if your goal is to have no contact with the outside world. Sadly, for the public health folks, New Zealand is a trading nation. Not only that, but it’s also nation of immigrants who, not long after arriving, then set of on their OE. Isolation is reaching its natural limits with MIQ having become one of the worst constraints on New Zealanders’ wellbeing.

Debt is wonderful until you have to pay it back. At budget time, the Treasury forecast $140 billion of borrowing over four years. We’ve never worked out how to explain what $140 billion looks like. If there were a million families of five in New Zealand, then each one would have just agreed to borrow $140,000 to get through COVID.

Of course, Grant Robertson may think he can, to quote Fred Dagg, ‘always borrow a few billion more,’ but small business owners know they can’t borrow more. Their banks are telling them as much. That’s after mass money printing that has inflated home ownership even further out of reach of a generation who didn’t seriously think it could get any worse.

Vaccination is in trouble. There are around one million who have not had their first dose, but only 8,000 used yesterday, a Sunday, to get a jab. At that rate it will take six months before everyone is vaccinated, at Friday’s healthier rate of 18,000, it will still take four months (allowing for six weeks between jabs). Of course, not all those people will be vaccinated, but the slowing rates of first doses show that demand is now killing the vaccine drive rather than supply.

Fear only works so far. The Prime Minister has said the ‘killer virus’ could means ‘tens of thousands could die.’ No real-world evidence supports that, and now she’s rolling out the same modeller. The problem is that, if you lead by fear you cannot change course, and if people stop believing you, then you lose all control.

The Government’s problem is that it can’t lock down, lock out, borrow, print, and scare people forever. Its strategy is painting it into a corner, and New Zealanders’ livelihoods with it.

New Zealand now needs to reconnect, stop borrowing, finish vaccinating, and stop being scared. The problem is that the Government has little idea of how to do that. ACT believes we have played an honourable role in putting forward ideas for better combating COVID.

Our idea of private MIQ is now widely discussed with Sir Ian Taylor and Sir John Key supporting it and Amazon having left New Zealand because the Government did not support their similar initiative. Altogether, nine-out-of-fifteen of the ideas in our COVID 2.0 paper have been partly or wholly adopted by the Government.

Tomorrow we will promote five big movements from the Government’s current approach to a freer, more open, and inclusive approach to COVID. An approach that allows New Zealanders to provide for all their needs rather than sacrificing everything at the altar of COVID. One thing’s for sure, too many of us cannot afford to keep doing what we’re doing now.

We will distribute the paper to Free Press subscribers, we hope you find it a useful contribution to the debate on our country’s future.