“One year on from New Zealand plunging into level four lockdown, we need some honesty about the Government’s COVID Response – it must get smarter or we’ll go broke,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“If anyone thinks the COVID show is over, I have one word, variants.

“We hope the vaccine is a COVID killer, and we could just vaccinate and get on with life. We cannot rely on that though, we need our Government to have a backup plan.

“But after one year, the Government’s response hasn’t gotten any smarter.

“If there is an outbreak, we are locked down until it’s contained. If someone arrives in New Zealand, they must be locked up for a fortnight.

“This strategy won’t last. People need to consume real stuff. If we cannot go to work and produce, we cannot consume. Cancelling export education and international tourism until further notice will hurt jobs and incomes.

“Governments can’t print and borrow money forever. Everyone has to pay their bills. Money printing and borrowing can cover up problems in the real economy for a while, but not forever.

“Genomic Sequencing is one bright spot in the Government’s response. It shows the way forward; that with better technology, we can maximise safety and the freedom to get on with our lives.

“The Government’s response needs to make much greater use of technology. The next phase of the epidemic will depend on better testing, better tracing, and smarter rules, but we are not hearing anything about doing that.

“The next phase of the COVID response should follow the five principles laid out in ACT’s COVID Response Plan 2.0:

  1. Transparency: the Government must be transparent, bringing the country into its confidence when it has a clear plan, and when it needs to formulate one.
  2. Fast tech uptake: rather than waiting until a technology has been so thoroughly road tested around the world as to have lost all traction, it should seek to be a leading adopter of new technology.
  3. Risk management: it should aim to be a world leader on risk management, with responses being proportionate to the risks faced.
  4. It should adopt a culture of inviting criticism: creating a culture of constructive criticism would allow the Government to maintain confidence and improve.
  5. Continuous improvement: the Government’s response should always be seeking improvement.

“It should then implement the plan’s immediate, short and medium term policies to safely reconnect with the world.”