Today’s Checkpoint descended into shroud-waving in the case of a New South Wales family not able to visit their dying father in Queensland because of the strict border closure. As our health officials note, “bereavement issues” are where most care is needed to prevent the virus spread.
In the Checkpoint clip, Ros Bates, the Queensland Liberal shadow health spokesperson, was given free rein to slag off Queensland Labor Premier Anastacia Palasczcuk at length in an interview with Checkpoint producer Bridget Burke.
Queensland goes to the polls at the end of next month. The strict. border lock-down is very popular in Queensland. Palasczcuk’s popularity is rising because of the lock-down, as Queenslanders see what has happened in Victoria. Palasczcuk is obviously a target for the Liberals, and she has come under heavy pressure from Scott Morrison, the Federal Liberal Prime Minister, to the point of reporting extreme bullying to the Queensland parliament over similar cases.
Checkpoint giving the Liberal MP a free shot will probably not make much difference to the Queensland election, which raises the question of what did producer and presenter see as its relevance to us in New Zealand, other than another opportunity for one of their favourite heartstrings’ stories?
In my opinion, Checkpoint in particular does tend to focus overly on these stories of personal pleas for exception, at a time when our general, communal and national health depends on wholehearted observance of the rules that are made to protect us all.
And it should be noted that the most recent Covid cases in New Zealand are described as being related to bereavement issues:
The Ministry of Health’s Director-General, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said four of the new cases were linked to “bereavement activities”, connected to visits to a household and a funeral.
One can understand why health authorities are careful about that environment. It is likely to be highly emotional, and people want to touch and hold. But there is no universal right to such contact. Many thousands of us cannot hold our loved ones and do not know when if ever we will do so again. But in this age we can still talk to each other and laugh and love – and grieve – at long range.
In my opinion Checkpoint needs to be careful it doesn’t turn into Radio Whinge. It’s already Radio Gotcha. And the Covid issues are much too serious to be taken over by self-interested virtue-signalling politics.