Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Oddly timed speech feeds fear, not solutions


“The Prime Minister’s speech today invoked the fear of a COVID-19 outbreak without providing any new information about how New Zealand should handle it,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Prime Minister’s speech was oddly timed and wasn’t delivered in response any public health event. Its net effect was to invoke fear of outbreaks but provided little information about how the Government would respond.

“New Zealanders can work out for themselves that if there was another outbreak we would go back into lockdown. In effect, the Government just told us that, in response to a small, medium or large outbreak, there would be a small, medium or large lockdown.

“What’s missing is an update on how the Government is building resilience for being an island nation on a pandemic planet.

“For example, how many contacts can we trace in a day? What is the Government’s capacity to do testing? What new technology does the Government intend to introduce at the border? Right now, New Zealanders aren’t using the Government’s Covid-19 app and testing numbers are falling.

“What we need is for the Government to set out a plan to get smarter, build resilience, and begin reconnecting with Covid-free parts of the world. The questions raised by Helen Clark, Rob Fyfe, and Sir Peter Gluckman are the kinds of questions that the Prime Minister should be leading on.

“The Government lacks a plan. It’s simply relying on fear, in this case by pointing to the situation in other countries, as a control device.

“ACT, by contrast, has laid out the principles required to become a world leader on public health:

• Move beyond a state of fear, and ask what we can do safely, instead of assuming everything is dangerous
• Cultivate a state of open debate where more perspectives are considered in official decision-making
• Take a country-by-country approach, opening up to selected COVID-free countries immediately
• Make better use of technology in the public health response
• Bridge the chasm between the public and private sectors.

“Those are the principles of a country looking to capitalise on its fortunate status as an island nation at this time. Sadly, the Government is trying to capitalise on a state of fear.”