No Minister

Die MSM, Die – A Public Service to National

with 8 comments

Readers will be well aware that I have very little time for the National party nowadays, having voted for them for about twenty years.

However, I have some sympathy for their struggles with a bought-and-paid-for MSM in New Zealand, which apparently extends to an endless character assassination campaign by cartoonists on the National leader, Judith Collins. I don’t have much time for her either but if those cartoonists had any sense of decency they’d hurl at least a few scathing caricatures at Jacinda Adern. God knows there’s enough material.

However the latest piece of news on this front is a new low, with National MP Chris Bishop:

Here is an opinion piece which I pitched to Stuff and the NZ Herald. Neither decided it was worth publishing. At a time when the PM commands the airwaves on a daily basis at 1pm, it’s important for the National Opposition voice to be heard and for constructive criticism of the government.

Ok. Fuck the MSM and their bullshit bias. If Social media, and especially blogs, are still to mean anything in this environment I think we owe it to readers to publish his piece, How Did We Get Here:

Lockdowns are incredibly expensive: it has been estimated a countrywide Level 4 lockdown costs the economy around $1.5 billion per week. That’s before you count the social cost: kids not at school, families split apart, the mental health impacts of being cooped up at home for days on end. I think almost everyone thinks we should be doing all we can to avoid them.

Sadly, it’s become clear in the government’s response to the recent delta outbreak that while Kiwis have done all they’ve been asked to do – the government hasn’t been playing its part. The “team of five million” has been let down.

Two things have become clear. First, we had no alternative but to lockdown because of our woefully low vaccination rates. Second, despite claims to the contrary, the government had done very little planning at all around how to respond to a further outbreak, particularly of delta, since the first COVID lockdown last year.

It gives me no pleasure as the Opposition spokesperson for COVID-19 to say that New Zealand’s vaccination rates, by world standards, are hopeless. For most of this year we had the world’s slowest vaccine roll-out. Chris Hipkins said at the end of 2020 we would be “at the front of the queue” but the reality is we are at the back of the pack. This is not the “year of the vaccine” we were promised by the Prime Minister.

The vaccines are safe, they work, and the data is very clear: the higher our vaccination rates, the less need there is of lockdowns. Every single person that goes and gets vaccinated brings us closer to freedom: freedom from lockdowns, and freedom to travel. That’s why the government’s ineptitude over vaccine supply matters. The government simply failed in its most important job: to get a supply of vaccines as early as possible and make sure as many people were vaccinated as possible as early as possible.

The government’s incompetence is astonishing. We were one of the last developed countries to sign contracts with vaccine manufacturers in 2020. We were then slow to approve the Pfizer vaccine. Hundreds of millions of jabs had been given by the time we approved it. We were then slow to actually order our doses, not doing it until January 29 this year. And we didn’t even bother to ask Pfizer if we could pay more to get earlier delivery of the vaccines, as other countries did. Compare the cost of paying a bit more to the cost of lockdowns, and do the maths. It’s a no brainer.

Incredibly, the government has claimed at various points it would be “unethical” or immoral to have a faster vaccine roll-out, because other countries need the vaccines more than we do. Leaving aside the internal inconsistency in this argument (other countries need them now too, but you don’t see the government giving ours up do you?), the New Zealand government’s first responsibility is to the people of New Zealand – and that means rolling out the vaccine as quick as they could. They failed.

The second failure by the government is their failure to plan for delta. The Prime Minister claimed on television this morning that delta only emerged in MIQ in June. That is completely incorrect. The first case of delta turned up in early April in MIQ and it has been raging across the world for most of this year. The government has sat ensconced behind the barriers of Fortress New Zealand and smugly looked at Australia, but they weren’t doing the work behind the scenes to prepare for when delta turned up here.

A smart government would have done an audit of all our MIQ facilities in light of delta to make sure infection control practices were up to scratch. Instead, a public walkway was allowed to share the same air as an exercise yard at the Crowne Plaza in Auckland and there was a vaccination centre right next to the Crowne Plaza. COVID positive people are still allowed to exercise in an underground car park in Wellington. Only now is the government reviewing MIQ facilities in light of delta.

A smart government would have had a plan in place for more quarantine facilities beyond the Jet Park. Instead the government had to scramble to get more quarantine facilities going like the Novotel Ellerslie – and then a COVID positive man escaped from it, putting us all at risk. It has taken over 24 hours to move many people from the community into quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, because the coordination plan between health officials and MIQ wasn’t in place.

Some of our current problems date back to the response to the first outbreak last year. Contract tracing has been an ever-present issue. There have been four expert reviews of contact tracing since April 2020. All have found it wanting but little has been done by the government. In this outbreak, it took six days for the government to second public servants from other departments to start contract tracing. By its own admission the government will fail to meet the contact tracing target metrics designed by Dr Ayesha Verrall, ironically enough now Associate Minister of Health. In this latest outbreak there are still 5000 contacts who have not even had a single phone call from a contact tracer!

A smart government would have had a plan in place around testing. Other countries use saliva tests and rapid antigen tests that return results in 15 minutes. Speed of testing with delta is critical, because the virus moves so far. But the government insists on using expensive and time consuming nasal PCR tests as our main testing technique. The result has been people who are told to get tested waiting 10-12 hours for a test or giving up and going home – or even worse, not even bothering. We should be using saliva testing much more widely – recommended to the government a year ago – as well as rapid antigen tests. Incredibly, these tests are banned in New Zealand.

There’s more I could mention. The failure to use Bluetooth tracing even though we’ve all been told for months to turn it on. The refusal to build purpose-built quarantine. The lack of preparation in our hospitals for a delta outbreak – no new ICU bed spaces have been provisioned over the five months.

The government borrowed $62 billion last year on the COVID Response Fund.  Did they spend this on contact tracing, testing capacity, and extra ICU capacity? That would have been sensible. Instead it was used as a slush fund. Instead the fund was spent on art therapy clinics, cameras on fishing boats, horse racing, public interest journalism, and school lunches. Yes, I’m serious.

Auckland is in lockdown – again – because the government failed to vaccinate quickly enough and the government failed to plan for delta.

I should add the usual blog disclaimer that simply because I have published this piece does not mean that I agree with all of it. In fact it’s the usual National angle of agreeing with what Labor does but with the promise to do it better. Hence the talk of superior control of people with Bluetooth tracing and purpose-built MIQ camps – but with no mention of getting after proven treatments like monoclonal antibodies for people who do catch the virus, presumably because just talking about such treatments might further damage an already slow vaccine rollout.

8 Responses

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  1. National will be in government in the future, perhaps quite soon. I hope they remember that what goes round comes round. Newspapers which exhibit bias should be shut out. Or shut down. And when someone bleats “freedom of the press” just remember who started this. Then shut down the various useless, bigoted commissions and get rid of the Red Pom running the HRC and the hypocrite Foon. For a start.

    Cassandra

    September 15, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    • Yes. You do have to wonder how many beatings National is willing to take from their MSM mistress of pain before they start to fight back.

      However, when you recognise how many Wayne Mapp’s there are in the party and how closely they align with the multiple Lefty objectives of the NZ MSM, you can see why they’re happy to go with the flow. Hell, if it helps them defeat their ideological enemies inside National then all this MSM stuff is grist to the mill.

      Tom Hunter

      September 15, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    • Agreed.
      First thing first – withdraw all the support funding and the ridiculous notion of funding an open and transparent approach to journalism. If they can’t survive without the Govt propping them up – well bad luck. That’s business.
      A few so-called “journalists” might need to #learntocode

      Andrew

      September 15, 2021 at 5:27 pm

  2. It is a very dreary read, very hard going to get through it and it adds nothing to the conversation

    A precis of it would be the author thinks National is better than Labour – well quelle surprise

    Maybe it was rejected because it is boring to the point of tedium

    Andrei

    September 15, 2021 at 1:52 pm

  3. I’d wager that the Nats, once back on the treasury benches would keep the Public Interest Journalism Fund intact. They’d see is their side of a tacit “peace deal” with the media.

    Porky Roebuck

    September 15, 2021 at 2:09 pm

  4. Given that Mr Mapp was originally a member of the Labour Party, it is not surprising that he holds similar views to that group.
    In 1981, he put himself forward for the Labour candidacy for the Roskill electorate…one of 14 candidates, he lost out to Phil Goff…

    gcmc49

    September 15, 2021 at 2:21 pm

  5. I read Bishops opinion piece last night and also saw that he was being denigrated by the usual LP syncphants (Clint Smith etc) as “lying” or “undermining the Govts response to COVID”.
    Forgive me but I can’t see anywhere in the opinion piece where Bishop has done either lie or undermine the response. In fact he correctly outlines how ironic it is that Ardern is now calling for vaccination to be ramped up as much as possible, when in March/April Hipkins and she were running the line it would be immoral and unethical for us to vaccinate while other countries needed it more (which as we know was a convenient talking point to take the attention away from our lack of procuring the vaccine in a timely manner).
    If they had done what they said (“we are at the front of the queue”) and protected our citizen first (isn’t that the job of any Government??) then we probably would not have needed such a lengthy lockdown at L4.
    It would seem the lefts pitch now is that anyone pointing out the slowness of the vaccine roll-out is a liar and an underminer. They are so blind to facts its ridiculous.

    Andrew

    September 15, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    • “we probably would not have needed such a lengthy lockdown at L4.” The only “need” for lockdown is to implement totalitarian rule.

      Harry

      September 16, 2021 at 11:37 am


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