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Chris Penk has been thinking

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, June 12th, 2020 - 59 comments
Categories: Economy, health, national, same old national, uncategorized - Tags: , , ,

This may mean that Chris Penk is thinking about a tilt at National’s leadership.

He has been thinking.  And writing.  And publishing his thoughts on the Government’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Thoughts like these:

But he then destroys the thesis of his book with this paragraph.

He says our response was muddling by an analysis of a single piece of data, deaths per capita.  Not infection rates.  Not hospitalisations, not speed in squashing the curve.  Nothing else seems to be relevant, not even the fact we have at this stage apparently eradicated the disease.

He looks elsewhere and suggests that other nations have handled the pandemic better.  He includes Taiwan and Vietnam, who have performed very well, but also mentions Australia.

The statistics would suggest Australia has done pretty well.  But not as well as New Zealand.

Note New Zealand’s performance can be favourably compared to Vietnam’s and Taiwan’s.

And the claims that Australia’s more relaxed approach was better than New Zealand’s more stringent approach really needs to be contested.  Because Australia’s current restrictions are much tougher than New Zealand’s.  Our go early and go hard approach has allowed the Government to ease off rather quickly.

He criticises the Government for allowing the virus to be imported into New Zealand.  Yep.  All those returning kiwis should have been stopped at the border and told they were no longer welcome.  As if.

Time and pressing real work prevent me from performing a full review of the book but my initial response is that the book reads like a compilation of Hamish Price tweets.

What really astounds me is that National’s leadership has permitted this to be released.  It contradicts so much of what National has been saying.

For better or worse I was heavily involved when another westie MP talked in general terms about what he was thinking.  I still bear the scars from how he was treated.  He was disciplined, demoted and attacked for the temerity of going public and talking about issues nominally outside of his areas of responsibility.  It is weird that Chris should be allowed to do the same without consequence.

As a strategy I can very confidently predict these attacks will not work.  The country is too grateful to Jacinda for her leadership and getting us to where we are.  We do not expect absolute perfection in the handling of a global pandemic that has hit the world like an avalanche.  Quibbling about if this policy or that policy was perfectly calibrated seems far too petty and totally tone deaf to the relief that the overwhelming majority are feeling.

59 comments on “Chris Penk has been thinking ”

  1. Adrian 1

    Taiwan only "beat "us because they have had plenty of practice at containing these real and potential shit-fights over the years.

    A comment halfway through from some a departmental staffer in Wellington who commented that his unnamed group had been working long hours from early January on preparation.

    Can't remember where I read or heard it, it may well have been on this site.

    So that gives the lie to Penk et al.

    • observer 1.1

      One of the many staggeringly stupid takes by Penk and the Ardern-haters is to complain that countries like Vietnam and Singapore did a better job while also complaining that the NZ lockdown was the action of an authoritarian government … (like, say, Vietnam or Singapore).

      • woodart 1.1.1

        good point observer. nearly as stupid as the stuff column by libertarian damien grant moaning about the failing of america, because they didnt have good leadership, and didnt want to follow health rules. yet another version of the …privatize profits, socialise loses..

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    Peewee Herman, here, in NZ???

  3. mpledger 3

    The Australian state governments had much stricter restrictions than their national government but that gets overlooked. So, it looks like Australia was less strict than they actually were.

    • tc 3.1

      Which is why Victoria kept turning up new cases, don't think they've had any for a couple of days now.

      SFA social distancing went on across most of our lockdown period over there. Like us they're not a major international airline crossroads being downunder which helped.

    • Hooch 3.2

      Absolutely, some states restrictions were on par with NZ and were lifted after NZ despite longer runs of no active cases. Australia’s tail is carrying on now as well, jeopardising trans Tasman travel. A protester at the Melbourne BLM rally tested positive which could result in a massive cluster. Some states are looking at a collective bubble excluding the eastern seaboard. NZ should be looking at joining that bubble rather than the BAU everything must go through Auckland/Sydney/Melbourne.

  4. Well I guess we can see what Penk has been up to during the lockdown, nursing grudges and collecting tweets from all the usual RWNJs, and assembling this pile of garbage.

    Looking through the first few pages (issuu is a horrible way to read things), it reads a lot like a Whaleoil rant. Penk says the lockdown crushed the economy but was also "shockingly slack". He moans that "migrant misery is multiplying" but also the govt "refused to contemplate basic border protections"… Penk's "book" is an extended blog post, and a pile of self serving half truths and hypocrisy.

    Sure there were things about the lockdown that were too harsh (tangi & hospital visits) but that's the sort of thing that happens in a state of emergency when thousands of lives are at stake. NZ is now in a position for recovery ahead of the rest of the world. Our remoteness is our economic curse (tyranny of distance) but also a blessing. Australia's economy has always had natural advantages over NZ so comparisons are just a typical Nat election campaign tactic.

    Just yesterday, a few professors and doctors from Otago Uni published "Five Key Reasons why NZ Should have an Official Inquiry into the Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic". Something intelligent, balanced and constructive — but I guess that's beyond the current Gnat rabble.

    • roblogic 4.1

      P.S. Penk fails to capture the mood of NZ when we all went voluntarily into lockdown – there was real fear and we were all taking personal measures for safety. Most Kiwis *wanted* to go into lockdown when COVID was in the community and the country was at risk of uncontrolled spread. That would have been an economic and health crisis far worse than what we actually experienced. Thanks to a timely and evidence based government response we avoided the nightmares seen in Italy and elsewhere.

      Portraying it as a harsh authoritarian government vs plucky business owners is a disservice to the sacrifices we all made, and the billions the government is spending to keep the economy alive.

      Feels like Penk is shitting on NZers with his petty and lopsided rewriting of history.

    • Sanctuary 4.2

      Wasn't Penk endorsed by Slater and promoted via Luck and co? I seem to recall reading that somewhere. Talk about National's stinking legacy from dirty politics…

  5. Infused 5

    regardless, we haven't won anything. Wait till after the election and closer to end of year.

    This is going to be a bad chirstmas for thousands. Possibly millions of people

    • observer 5.1

      Especially the dead ones.

      For many more of those, see Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Simon Thornley … Penk's people.

      • infused 5.1.2

        And if the suicide/mental health issues are higher? Which I expect they will be despite what the government has said so far. We are not going to have these stats for a long time.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 5.1.2.1

          "Which I expect they will be despite what the government has said so far."

          Why do you expect they will be? What has the government said (about that) so far?

        • Craig GlenEden 5.1.2.2

          Oh the old just wait its not over things are going to get bad you just wait and see mental health issues, unemployment, declining economy, domestic violence, suicides and increasing homicide lines. Followed by yeah yeah we will see how Cindy deals with that, aye?

          My response yeah yeah you forgot grief though, the grief of loved ones left behind who's lives have been devastated through losing a loved one from covid19. The grief of losing a loved one is never easy to get over. These other issues they might be very real issues for the living to contend with, but they always were which ever part of the world they were living in before or post the covid19 world wide pandemic. Thankfully they are problems the living get to battle and resolve. The dead don't have a choice do they? Thankfully here in NZ they are problems we can all be a part of solving.

        • observer 5.1.2.3

          So far all we know about suicide stats is that a National staffer lied about it, spread the lies in social media and had to be corrected by the, um, facts:

          Details here. This is what they are resorting to now.

    • left_forward 5.2

      what utter twaddle!

      Everyone always has a choice about whether life is good or bad, no matter what happens to them – don't play the victim, 'woe is me', BS.

  6. Why is it, that all these little men seem to have over sized mouths and over blown opinions of themselves ?

    The likes of Hosking, Lynch, Penk and the ACT leader as well as others.

    I am sure their mouths are so large that they eat their meals with a garden fork.

  7. observer 7

    Quick quiz.

    1) Who said … "I'm the first to admit and acknowledge that the Government's handling of COVID-19 was overall impressive… and I think most New Zealanders would feel the same".

    2) And who said he'd back the party's current leadership team "in pretty clear terms" and didn't think the time was right for a leadership challenge.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    Conservative christian possibly? Anyone know where he owes his allegiance? Mainstream or some unusual church? Also does anybody know how many of these conservative christians are in nationals ranks with a chance of taking an electorate seat next election?

  9. We had to go into full lock down, covid-19 total elimination mode..because our Hospital services have been run into the ground by successive Governments…now, rather than a controlled movement towards herd immunity..with tracked and monitored spread of infection…we are trapped..for all intents and purposes cut off from the world indefinitely.

    We have a hospital system that is wholly inadequate to deal with the winter flu and your bog standard knee replacement surgery..let alone a new winer Virus…and there is no chance of this being remedied in our life times. "If not now..when?". is a question that Labour should be made to answer in regards to not just Health spending, but also Housing and future proof infrastructure.

    Meantime, quite strangely, we are chomping at the bit to have a bubble with Australia..a place with the virus, and a country that didn't feel the need to go full lock down.

    And ofcourse this proposed bubble means we are unable to establish a bubble with our Cook Island etc neighbours who are entirely Virus free, and hugely reliant on both our tourist dollar and failing that, foreign aid.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icIfbmqvt0g&t=616s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl-sZdfLcEk

    • barry 9.1

      Levitt is wrong, but not completely wrong. He used bad assumptions and data in the Diamond princess. 20% of the ship's complement caught the virus and he assumed that nobody else would have, and he says that 7 people died. Actually the number of infections was climbing continuously and the best estimate is that they would all have caught it eventually. Also the number of deaths among those 20% is now 13. So his population fatality rate is out by a factor of up to 10. that also assume the best possible care from an unextended health system.

      He also discovered the distinction between the rates in China in and out of Hubei. Hubei's fatality rate was 4-5 times that of the rest of China. That is due to the difficulty of getting treatment in the worst few weeks in January/February.

      His thesis has never been tested, because nobody has let the epidemic run without lockdown. Sweden & Germany have locked down enough to keep the reproduction rate near 1 which has avoided exponential growth which means that their hospital systems have not been overwhelmed. He has stated that this will top out at around 500 deaths per million. However Sweden is already 477 and there is no sign of its growth stopping. I am guessing it will reach 1000 per million before the end of the year unless they change their approach. They are getting better at isolating the most vulnerable.

      Some of what he says about the deaths being amongst the oldest victims is true. Influenza also kills the elderly. We cant keep people alive for ever. Still the toll of the disease is more than we can accept in a place like NZ. As elimination was possible then it becomes irresponsible not to do it. Now we can reap the benefits.

      • Incognito 9.1.1

        His thesis has never been tested, because nobody has let the epidemic run without lockdown.

        It is impossible to look at the effects of imposed lockdown rules upon a population because you really need to look at the actual behaviour. For example, Australia experienced an effective lockdown because people stayed home and away from shops. Different rules, but more or less the same behaviour and thus more or less the same result.

        As analogy, take a road that has become an obvious risk for whatever reason (e.g. rock fall, fallen trees). To lower the risk and avoid accidents you could lower the speed limit from 100 to 70 km/h while in actual fact drivers will adjust their speed even further down to 30 km/h or avoid the road altogether. The imposed speed limit is meaningless and what matters is actual speed and driver behaviour.

  10. Cinny 10

    My tory boss was praising the PM for her handling and leadership during Covid again today.

    penk's thesis won't be winning back his vote, that's for real.

  11. mac1 11

    Went to a Chamber of Commerce meeting with Grant Robertson, and all speakers/questioners were basically happy with how they had been dealt with during Covid-19. The women especially were enthusiastic.

    Contrast that now with the reception on FaceBook to the invitation from Todd Muller to have a conversation with him.

    Not the same audience, obviously, but oh dear, what a shellacking from the public who got the unsolicited invitation paid for by Parliamentary Services.

    • Cinny 11.1

      Bring on the regulated period, six days to go and national can pay for it instead of us.

      • mac1 11.1.1

        Thanks, Cinny. Does that also apply to the name recognition style adverting, à la " Fred Blah MP Let's Talk I'm Listening"

        • Cinny 11.1.1.1

          Yes, I'm pretty certain that an ad saying 'let's talk I'm listening' would not be paid for by PS during the regulated period.

          As far as I know, during the regulated period, an advert that only contains contact details can be paid for by parliamentary services.

          An advert that contains other words such as words talking up an MP etc needs to be paid for by the party.

          During the regulated period it’s advised that all advertisements seek the approval of the electoral commission to ensure there is no politicking or electioneering before parliamentary services will pay for it.

          If an ad contains the parliamentary crest, parliamentary services has paid for it.

          If it doesn't contain the crest, the party has paid for it.

          During the regulated period, I'd encourage people to keep an eye out for any adverts that talk up an MP with the parliamentary crest attached. It's my understanding that such ads would be seen as politiking, and the electoral commission should be made aware of such.

          Least that's my understanding of how it works.

          Crikey went on the electoral commissions website to double check and when one clicks on the relevant page it was a ‘page not found’. DANG!

  12. tc 12

    Promote that mp ! the national party rule at all costs ethos coming through in another white male eade/lusk protege.

  13. Shanreagh 13

    Oh dear. I used to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of NZ MPs, of great use when I worked there but I must admit this one passed me by. I had to Google search to find out who he was. I had thought he was some sort of US commentator.

    20:20 hindsight is wonderful. Truly wonderful.

    We learn from our mistakes and most responsible organisations will be sitting down to a no holds barred review of the response. So we can learn from them. All the way through the active management of Covid-19 MOH/Govt were initiating reviews.

    Firing lots of could haves, should haves, might haves, did haves into the ether is not likely to have much of an effect.

    But then that is not what he wants. He wants to retain his seat and doesn't seem to matter who he tramples on to do it…own party, fellow MPs, NZ govt …pffft out of my way before I kick your feet and fingers off the ladder.

  14. Sanctuary 14

    From what I hear the main point of the book is to write an alternative history where Bridges was the real hero. Penk, Bridges, Bidois, King, O'Connor – all in safe electorate seats and all God botherers. What chance they'll split from National after the election?

  15. ianmac 15

    What a kind write up for Mr Penk in the Herald.

    "National deputy Nikki Kaye told reporters she was "very relaxed" about Penk's publication.

    "We live in a world where we have freedom of speech, and there are National MPs that feel very strongly around what has happened," she said.

    "Chris is entitled as a local MP … to take a view around the government's response in terms of Covid."

    Nice to know that the whips have no need to control.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12339461

    • observer 15.1

      It's an RNZ story originally, but never mind, the point remains. There is no discipline in National now. MPs are deliberately undermining their party leader.

      I'd cut Muller some slack because he's currently recovering from an operation. But his deputy and whips have no such excuse.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 15.1.1

        This might not be an accident.

        If you are running a dirty politics style campaign, you could assign someone to do the rabid attack (appealing to one target audience) while the rest are safely distanced but "relaxed" about it all. This way you get to say your crazy or nasty stuff that appeals to some, while dodging the blow back from everyone else.

        • observer 15.1.1.1

          Yes, we all know how it works – or is supposed to. But as I pointed out on another thread, it doesn't apply in this case.

          Look at who is supporting Penk on social media (the far right fringe). Then look at every (valid) survey of public opinion overall, There is no rationale for appealing to the 5-10% who hate Ardern when a party has just installed a leader to win back the swing voters they have lost. A majority of National voters approve of both the PM, and the lockdown.

          I know it's always tempting to attribute some dark and devious skills to National, as if they were One Borg – but sometimes the simplest explanation really is the most likely. They are deeply divided now.

          Penk's hymn of praise is only to Bridges, not Muller. He hated the change of leadership. He is not doing their bidding, at all.

  16. NZJester 16

    There is a major problem with your title so I came up with some alternatives.

    “Chris Penk has been thinking Feckless”

    “Chris Penk has been thinking Vacuous”

  17. dv 17

    AND he says no taxpayer funds were used to write the book.

    WHO the HELL does he think pays him.

    • Barfly 17.1

      LOL crying

        • Mista Smokey 17.1.1.1

          Agent Cutty Sark reports:

          * Lifestyle? Chris Penk earns handy funds from busking. See photo up top.

          * His thrifty colleagues are generous to a fault. He gets by.

          * Sadly, Chris' band, The Termites, were taken out by a still-lethal borer-bomb.

          * Chris remains one mean solo-tunneller. He bravely gnaws on. A truly dedicated white-anting environmentalist, he'll consume his book last.

  18. Peter 18

    I don't know Penk's age, he doesn't look that old.

    That's good. It means he's more than likely going to be alive for many years to share his wisdom with us and choose which experts to consult and believe. And tell us and make sure we're on the right track.

    Seldom could someone in a search for relevance prove so definitely their total irrelevance.

  19. Leighton 19

    Even using his one cherry-picked piece of data of "deaths per million" I dont know how he arrives at the conclusion that NZ's performance was mediocre. The current worldwide average is almost 55 deaths per million, NZ's is 4.4 deaths per million. The pandemic is currently accelerating worldwide and currently eliminated in NZ. So…..

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

    • dv 19.1

      Leighton That reference has a VERY complicated table for Penk to read and interpret.

  20. SPC 20

    The politics of opposition from Penk, but note the coincidence of the article published by the Herald from Barry Colman.

    Throughout the pandemic National took a duplitious approach, attacking the governent
    – either too tough, or not tough enough.

    Then the politicians polemic and the writers approach the send up, the great …

  21. Wensleydale 21

    So Chris Penk's book could be roughly summarised as "Labour saved us from a global pandemic… but they did it in a way I didn't really like because it made everyone who wasn't Labour look like carping shit-wizards with nothing remotely resembling a workable alternative plan."

    Bargain bins in a week.

  22. Billfish 22

    I think, due to the time frame of publishing a book, that this is a remnant of Simon Bridges leadership. Penk is one of his and would likely, at the time, have seen this as a key role in Simon's response , backing up the "I Reckons" with "must be true, it's in a book". Sadly, for Penk, the change of leadership has left him flapping in the wind. The choice would have been ditch the book (and that would have been found out) or "publish and be damned"

    It's just a thought.

  23. Ken 23

    Penk is nothing more than a hangover from the Si-moan years

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