Monday, 5 July 2021

Free Press, 5 July 2021


The Haps

ACT’s Honest Conversations tour kicks off in the South Island this week. If you’d like to meet ACT’s MPs, please check out the schedule for when they’ll be near you. The Prime Minister says she could have communicated her Hate Speech proposal better. Communication is everything, the policy couldn’t be wrong. Over 20,000 have said it is wrong, and signed up to ACT’s Campaign for Free Speech. Mark Cameron’s Member's Bill that would stop top-down regulation on farmers property was drawn.

Hipkins’ Heroics!

In the USSR, communist dogma demanded everyone be paid the same. Problem was, nobody wanted to work. The Government had to inspire people with propaganda and, failing that, a trip to the Gulags.

Like most things in communist countries, the propaganda started off well enough but quickly descended into farce. The crescendo for soviet worker propaganda was Alexei Stakhanov who, with the help of only three other people, mined 102 tonnes of coal in only six hours.

For some reason, we thought of Alexei this morning. According to radio reports, brave vaccine deliverers had worked through the night to carry 150,000 doses (a whole week’s supply) two days earlier than scheduled. The Minister for COVID-19 Response thought this so significant that the Government of New Zealand issued a press release about the delivery.

Out of this we can take three things. The Government has become so paranoid about its ‘year of the vaccine’ that a plane landing requires a press release. The Government’s vaccine roll out is so stagnant that, like the Soviet Economy, Ministers must almost hyperventilate to breathe any life into it. The scale of debate is too small to address the real issue of getting our lives back.

Let’s take them one at a time.

The Government has no other strategy but vaccination. That is its end game. Testing, tracing, and other capabilities for combating COVID have barely advanced in the past year.

For example, the Simpson Roche report recommended the Government make use of saliva testing in September 2020. A contract has been signed but something has gone wrong. It will be a year at best for the Government to adopt this simple and superior partial substitute technology for something it was already doing.

That’s why vaccination is everything. Not only that, but Pfizer’s vaccine, is everything. After announcing the Government would diversify its supply from four different sources in October, it went all in on Pfizer in March. Now we have a Labour Government wholly at the mercy of a commercial contract with a multi-national corporation. It would be quite funny if it wasn’t driving people broke and ruining their lives.

The stagnation of the roll out is difficult to overstate. It is sometimes true, depending on the day and the metric (e.g. number of people with one or two shots) that New Zealand is last in the OECD. There is no explanation for how we got back here from being ‘front of the queue’ last October, but what’s truly amazing is the Government has been planning this mediocrity since at least April.

New Zealand may be the slowest vaccinator in the developed world, but the Government can confidently and honestly say that it is still ahead of the schedule it released in April. The Government did not fail to plan, they actually planned to fail!

Against this backdrop of intentional mediocrity, Hipkins heroic press release makes sense, but it also places us in a lilliputian world where the big questions adults would ask are not being answered.

Nothing brings this into starker relief than the Australians publishing their plan to get back to normal. It sets out four phases. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot; Post vaccination; Consolidation; and Final. In the Final phase, Australia’s Government will “manage COVID-19 consistent with public health management of other infectious diseases.”

ScoMo has actually published the plan and said, ‘this is where we’re headed, cobbers.’ Australian businesses and households can see how this thing ends, and when various freedoms will return. Our Government either lacks such a plan, or thinks we citizens unworthy of reading it.

The best New Zealanders can hope for is that the Aussies’ plan is our plan by default. If we want to remain part of the Australasian labour market and free trade zone, then we can’t afford for our policy to be out of sync with theirs.

A conclusion that might lead you to ask, what the bloody hell’s the point of our Government?