“Today’s Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index shows that New Zealand is heading towards a recession, with consumer confidence at its lowest level since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The ANZ Consumer Confidence survey earlier this month showed the same nadir of confidence and suggested that inflation could reach 8 per cent. While the latest Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll showed more New Zealanders think the country is heading in the wrong direction.

“All leading economic indicators are falling through the floor, inflation and interest rates are skyrocketing, and Jacinda’s unworkable regulations are pushing us towards recession.

“ACT predicts we’ll see negative growth in Q1 and Q2, meaning we’ll be in recession.

“Sadly, the only thing that might save us economically at this point is a world food shortage brought on by the war in Ukraine.

“While people are desperate to take back control of their lives Jacinda is waiting an Ardernity to give us the answers her Cabinet decided yesterday.

“She is dragging it out for political purposes. She wants us all to wait patiently for her to announce our destinies from the podium of truth, meanwhile her unworkable rules are needlessly crippling businesses and marching us towards what is in essence a de facto depression.

“New Zealanders deserve better than poll-driven platitudes from the podium of truth, it’s time to move on.

ACT’s Move On plan proposes:

  • Scanning and contact tracing: Contact tracing creates relatively minor costs, but also delivers negligible benefits because it does not reach enough potential contacts or reach them fast enough in light of Omicron’s higher transmissibility. It results in some people isolating because they are “pinged” but often not in time to prevent them from transmitting the virus. The resulting isolation that comes from being pinged is a growing disaster for business and supply chains. The requirement for businesses to display codes and have people scan in should be dropped, along with the requirement to contact trace cases, because it’s just not working. Dropping these requirements would be an important symbol that we are moving on and getting our way of life back. It should be done immediately.
  • Mask requirements: Well-worn and high-quality masks can help prevent spread. Mask wearing likely has significant benefits for reducing the spread of Omicron, although this is sensitive to mask quality. While extremely irritating, it is one of the few current policies where it is reasonable to believe that the benefits outweigh the costs.
  • Boosters: Relative to a two-shot regimen, booster shots significantly reduce the likelihood of death and serious illness due to COVID-19. There is a limited cost. Boosters are an important way to reduce the costs of the inevitable spread of Omicron through the community. Nonetheless, given most of the benefits of booster doses go to those who get boosted, there is little case for mandating them.
  • Vaccine requirements: It is difficult to justify a vaccination mandate purely on the grounds that it reduces hospitalisation risk for unvaccinated people themselves and thus pressure on the health system. This effect has already reached saturation. Unless a new requirement for boosters is introduced, mandating is having negligible effect on vaccine uptake and should be dropped immediately.
  • Traffic Light Framework: The Government has dashed large events and hospitality businesses at enormous cost with little consideration for what the benefits might be. If they have cost-benefit analysis for Omicron, they have not presented it. We have been asked to accept these restrictions with no idea whether they will leave us better off or by how much. Unless the Government can show the benefits of restricting large events in an Omicron environment, in terms of reducing the peak demand on hospital capacity, the Traffic Light System should be dumped immediately so we can all move on.

“It’s time to move on from fear and control. It’s time to get our lives back.”

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