“The Productivity Commission’s cost-benefit analysis of the Government’s decision to keep New Zealand at Level 4 for five extra days shows we need open debate and critical thinking,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

The Productivity Commission concluded that keeping the country at Level 4 for an extra five days cost had a massive economic and health impact.

“Moving straight to Level 3 outperformed spending an extra five days at Level 4 on all of the criteria the Productivity Commission considered. The net cost of spending an extra five days at Level 4 was $741 million. That’s the equivalent of losing 22,453 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).

QALY is a measure of health outcomes, including the number and quality of lives.

“From the start of the Covid crisis, ACT has called for an open debate, better analysis and critical thinking.

“We called for the Government to release its advice so it could be scrutinised and better decisions made. The Government could have called for submissions and hosted an open forum where all views, not just those of its preferred public health advisors, were heard.

“The Government relied instead on a small coterie of advisors, who have often turned out to be wrong in hindsight. Worse, rather than informing debate, those experts have been used as enforcers for the party line.

“Perhaps the biggest problem we face as a country is that we are losing the ability to debate and disagree civilly. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we faced groupthink on steroids. We need an open debate about our options as a country:

• Is our strategy to maintain a state of eradication at all costs? If so, what costs can we expect?
• How many people will be able to come in and out of the country?
• How long are we prepared to wait for a vaccine, and when will we change tack if it becomes clear one is not coming?
• If staying isolated from the world is not an option, what risks are we prepared to take?
• How good is our contact tracing? The PM once said it could be as effective as a vaccine, so how effective is ours?
• Are we simply waiting for crucial information about how the pandemic evolves? If so, what is it?

“None of these questions are being answered because the Government refuses to entertain an open debate about New Zealand’s future.

“A Party Vote for ACT is a vote to tackle this once-in-a century crisis as an open democracy that welcomes an open debate on our future.”