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Everyone is over Covid

Written By: - Date published: 8:46 am, February 22nd, 2022 - 134 comments
Categories: act, capitalism, climate change, covid-19, jacinda ardern, national - Tags:

I am going to avoid the temptation to blog about the Wellington protesters today and instead concentrate on the bigger picture.  Although I will say that a rich businessman who is helping to fund the protest being completely indifferent to the fact he may be supporting Nazis in his quest to improve business conditions says a lot about current business practices.

Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that everyone is over Covid.  She is right.  We all want this to end.  We want a return to earlier days where the most contentious issue was the construction of a cycleway on a local road.

The attacks on the Government’s performance have intensified.  Challenges that 18 months ago could be dismissed with disdain now carry more weight because not only are we not Covid free but we are going backwards rather quickly.

To National and others it is of no relevance that the rest of the world’s performance is worse.

For instance China, the nation that through infrastructure muscle and the ability to control a very compliant population previously tamed the virus is now struggling.  Hong Kong, a city with 7.8 million people, has a large Omicron wave hitting it.

From the Guardian:

Hong Kong reported 15 coronavirus deaths and more than 6,000 confirmed cases for a second day in a surge the Chinese territory’s leader says is overwhelming hospitals.

The government announced plans to have construction crews from mainland China build isolation units with 10,000 beds after crowding at hospitals forced patients to wait outdoors in winter cold.

There were 6,063 confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours, raising the territory’s total to 46,763. That was down slightly from Thursday’s 6,116 but one of Hong Kong’s highest daily totals.

Hong Kong has tightened travel and business controls as it tries to contain the surge. On Friday, the chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced the election for her post would be postponed by six weeks to 8 May due to “public health risks”.

Taiwan is hanging in there and has like New Zealand beaten back previous incursions.  Boosted by tight immigration restrictions some Pacific nations remain Covid free although Tonga is the latest Island nation to succumb.

Locally we are well placed to get through this.  Our adult fully vaccinated rate is 94% and two thirds are boosted.   In Auckland and Canterbury an impressive 99% plus have been vaccinated.  Half of our children between the ages of 5 and 11 are vaccinated.  These are world beating vaccination rates.

And despite claims of calamity by the opposition we have a huge stockpile of Rapid Antigen Tests.  Ardern is not going to make the same mistake as Australia and allow the market to determine their supply, no matter how upsetting to those seeking to profit.

But everyone is very nervous and very tense.  At one level I understand what motivates some of the Wellington protestors.  It is deep rooted fear and their refusal to accept the science is their means of dealing with something that is too difficult for them to handle.

The event is a super spreader event.  Five police officers tested positive for Covid recently.  The virus must be rife in the village where sanitation and mask wearing are not prioritised.

National and Act are busily politicising every aspect of our performance with rhetoric that is deeply dishonest.  If ever there was an issue that required cool headed debate it is this one.

Stay safe everyone and look after each other.  Once this wave is finished we can work on our new normal, one that will hopefully include the eradication of poverty and preparation for climate change.

134 comments on “Everyone is over Covid ”

  1. Ad 1

    It will be Budget Day 20th of May before this government can right itself. That is a very, very long time in politics.

    Meantime, all the Auckland Labour Party should be tuning in to Efeso Collins' Zoom meeting tonight. This is where the red blooded renewal is coming from.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Covid will never be "over" – that horse bolted a long time ago thanks to the lucky (for the virus) happenstance of emerging when mainly major and powerful nations (Brazil, the UK, the USA) were in the grip of dangerous clowns.

    It's with us now most likely forever. Red/Orange/Green type restrictions, masl weatring, working from home are here for the medium term. Mass hyper-tourism is dead because vaccination restrictions will remain in force for the foreseable future. The bitter tears of Queenstown's sharp operators at the end of the good times is, for them, effectively forever.

    The "end" of covid is 3-5 years away when a generic, long lasting (five – ten years) covid vaccine arrives. Until then, get used to the new normal and stop pretending we can go back to yesterday tomorrow.

    • PsyclingLeft.Always 2.1

      Mass hyper-tourism is dead because vaccination restrictions will remain in force for the foreseable future. The bitter tears of Queenstown's sharp operators at the end of the good times is, for them, effectively forever.

      There will still be Major pushback from them…and Orchardists,Vineyard owners,Farmers,Hospo…to a return to BAU and the Cheap Labour Imports. Short answer : NO !

    • Hunter Thompson II 2.2

      I suspect you may be correct. We may be over Covid, but it hasn't finished with us.

      Mind you, history tells us that the Spanish flu disappeared after 2 – 3 years. Lotta deaths though.

      Wait and see I guess.

    • Belladonna 2.3

      Meanwhile, those countries already through the Omicron peak (ironically, those who did lockdowns least effectively), are already back to something approaching pre-Covid 'normal'.

      Mask-wearing (while higher than pre-Covid) is anything but universal – and quickly dropping away. Mandates (where applied) are quickly being rolled back. Lockdowns have gone the way of the dodo. And mass-tourism is definitely on the horizon (witness all the tourists whinging when extreme weather forced the semi-closure of Heathrow, yesterday)

      All of the virologists have been saying that the trend of coronavirus mutations is towards both widely infectious and mild symptoms (effectively, what the common cold has turned into).

      What the virus 'wants' is people to be mildly ill – sick enough to spread the virus widely through coughing, sneezing, etc – but not sick enough to isolate – it's 'just' a cold.

      Just as pre-Covid there would be the one person in the office, who would 'force themselves' to come into work – spreading their cold throughout the entire staff.

      Yes, people will catch Covid again. But just as with the flu, previous immune response is a fairly effective protection, and there will be tailored vaccinations for those with poor immune response, or otherwise at high risk.

      • weka 2.3.1

        And Long Covid?

        What countries have gone back to something approaching normal?

        • Belladonna 2.3.1.1

          Denmark, France, Norway, etc – most European countries. Britain making moves to drop restrictions further. US (in some areas – some individual cities are still staunch – but mask mandates, in particular, are dropping)

          Increased infection numbers – but the vast majority are asymptomatic or mild symptoms. Hospitalization numbers continue to fall.

          Talking to friends on the ground in Europe and the UK. Life is getting back to normal – so far as socializing and travel goes. Some still working from home (but see this as more a benefit than a Covid restriction).

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexledsom/2022/02/07/the-eu-countries-dropping-travel-and-other-restrictions/?sh=47751dbf23f5

          With Omicron so infectious – pretty much everyone is going to catch Covid. No one knows what 'causes' Long Covid (i.e. why some people get it and not others) – so no point in trying to hide from it. You're either going to get it or you won't – unless you live like a hermit for the foreseeable future – and most people aren't willing to do that.

          Consensus is, also, that Omicron is way less likely to result in Long Covid – given just how infectious it is, and the estimated number of un-counted cases (asymptomatic) – if we were going to see the same proportion of Long Covid cases – we'd already be seeing them, and we're not.

          • McFlock 2.3.1.1.1

            What are their daily death numbers?

            • Belladonna 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Dropping. If you want to see individual countries – check out the Who Covid data – e.g. Norway, here

              https://covid19.who.int/region/euro/country/no

              Another comparison from Britain
              https://covid19.who.int/region/euro/country/gb

              — especially comparing the infection rate/death rate under Omicron (December/Jan) with it under Alpha-Delta – you can see that the death rate is way, way lower.

              Bear in mind that deaths lag infections by several weeks.

              It seems to me that most of Europe has decided that restrictions only make sense if they are actually going to prevent, or at least noticeably restrict, the spread of Omicron.

              Also hearing from the US – that the vast majority of the deaths are unvaccinated people. Nothing you can do to help some people….

              • McFlock

                Didn't they all free up last year, too?

                I suppose this time it'll be ok. Maybe.

                Not sure we should be copying many places overseas when it comes to keeping our people alive.

                • Belladonna

                  Our own internal experience shows that people (in general) stop following recommended or even mandated 'safety' precautions, when they no longer feel they are necessary. Some, of course, never follow them.

                  We've seen examples of this with scanning the Covid app and mask wearing. The numbers following these instructions drop off rapidly – despite government advice, and even pleading – once people no longer perceive it's necessary.

                  An example of a group not following the 'rules' at all – is the spread of Delta across, and eventually outside of Auckland, purely through inter-household contact (utterly forbidden under the Red rules at the time)

                  Mandates are simply not sustainable long term. And, I don't think that we have a fundamental social shift of behaviour across NZ society which would keep these changes in place.
                  I think that much sooner, than later, we'll be back to life pretty much as 'normal'.

                  Who do you think we should learn from? Countries with severe mandates (even more draconian than ours) now have widespread Omicron.

                  • weka

                    Mandates are simply not sustainable long term.

                    If we had a pandemic with a 50% death rate, would you still think that?

                    We're going to have to learn how to live with different constraints due to climate crisis. Either by choice because we transition, or in the end we will be forced to. Just like we have been during large wars. It's not without precedent, even in living memory. The problem we have is lack of imagination and how to do it in a wellbeing context. It was a mistake for Ardern to toss people aside with the mandates, and there are other examples of how we could be looking after people better.

                    • Belladonna

                      But we don't.

                      A pandemic with a 50% death rate would substantially change social behaviour. There's some nice (in the sense of interesting, rather than pleasant) SF written around this.

                      In those situations, government mandates aren't really needed, as society (individual people) make the call to restrict inter-personal relationships.

                      Of course, there are always people with different appetite for risk (some highly conservative and cautious, others more risk-taking). And there can be some very nasty outcomes for both ends of the spectrum, in situations of social flux (lynchings for hoarding as well as lynchings for looting)

                      Absent a massive socio-political change, I think that the climate crisis constraints and therefore restrictions are going to be implemented through cost. Travel may once again be the preserve of the wealthy, as may individual transportation (going that way already, looking at the petrol prices)

                      Those of us who remember 'carless days' know that wealthy people simply purchased another car….

                      Restrictions always fall most heavily on the poorest classes of society.

                    • Tricledrown []

                      Deaths and hospitalisations also fall on the poorest.

                      Deadly night shade see if you change the name to a more acceptable name belladonna your message doesn't seem so deadly.

                      This govt has done a very good job of protecting us and our health system.

                      While there has been continuous calls by the right to drop MIQ,Open our borders,let it rip.

                      Yet this govt stood firm and our country has had the safest response.

                      Belladonna yet you are advocating ending the govts response.without the health expertise the govt has access to.

                      You throw a deadly shade on the night belladonna.

                      Anti vaxxers are behaving like primadonnas for their 15 minutes of fame.

                    • weka

                      so restrictions are sustainable depending on the circumstances. This is my point about imagination. We can leave it to chance and neoliberalism, and then we get a shit show. If people believe something good isn't possible by doing the right thing, double that.

                  • McFlock

                    Not so sure on that. Sure there are peaks and troughs in people following guidelines. Even with people who should know better – e.g. doctors and handwashing technique is always good fodder.

                    But even if a rule is more honoured in the breach than the observance, it's still there to remind us when we need it. So scanning and masking pick up when people feel in personal danger.

                    And as for the vaccination "mandates", many of these are employer policy and are most definitely here to stay. Not just with covid, is my bet – it's become viewed as an OSH issue just like wearing gloves when dealing with food or bodily fluids. Maybe a lot of current employees will be "grandfathered" in, but new hires could well be expected to be up with their jabs.

                    Who do you think we should learn from?

                    Oh, we should learn from overseas countries – from their mistakes, not by copying them.

                    • weka

                      it's also that perfect is the enemy of good. That druggies passed delta around upper NI doesn't mean restrictions were wrong, it means we could have looked after poor people better. And even with the reality that existed, restrictions are about the whole game, we were never dependent upon everyone doing everything all the time.

                      So the issue now is whether Labour are loosening up too soon. I think they are given we don't know about LC yet, and we don't know about the next variant. My nervousness is around the lack of communication from the govt about what will happen if things go badly.

                    • McFlock

                      Good point in para1.

                      Worst-case-scenario messaging would just increase the comments about fear-mongering, I think. But if the worst happens, I don't think govt will shrink from bringing back L4.

                      I'm always filled with trepidation whenever they ease off controls, but they seem to have not gone astray too badly. The schools and uni being open worries me.

                      But shit, the last couple of years have been a hell of a ride.

                    • Belladonna

                      And as for the vaccination "mandates", many of these are employer policy and are most definitely here to stay.

                      You're more sanguine than I am. Once this crisis is over, I'm expecting to see employer mandates challenged in court. The employer will have to prove 'actual' risk, or compliance with H&S legislation.
                      Courts have historically been very strong against people being denied employment on medical grounds.

                      Annual flu vaccinations have been a case in point. Many employers provide them (not out of the kindness of their hearts, they just don't want staff away sick) – but they've never legally been allowed to be mandated.

                      Employees can be mandated to have health procedures – but the mandate has to meet a 'real' need (e.g. on the ground DOC workers – have to have up-to-date tetanus jabs – because of the very real risk to them in their daily work). Even midwives aren't required to have 'flu jabs.

                      I think the courts are likely to come down on the side of the employees – except in especially vulnerable communities. Even OAP homes have so many other potential vectors for Covid (family and friends as well as staff – who may be fully vaccinated, but still carry Covid) – that it would be difficult to prove that unvaccinated staff substantially increased the risk.

                      Those looking for a lead on where the Courts are likely to go, may be interested in this recent case, where a pro-vax mother wasn't allowed to have her 12-year-old child vaccinated against the wish of the anti-vax father, and the expressed wish of the child.

                      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/parental-dispute-over-whether-to-vaccinate-12yo-ends-in-court/3EDJHOPPJ3MXR7EIFE5VUOXOG4/

                      In this case, the judge was taking into account the very low risk to the teen (other cases of medical treatment with life-threatening outcomes have been decided differently). But, specifically, not taking into account the disinformation provided to the child by the anti-vax parent; or the 'societal' benefit.

                      Courts are very strong in NZ on medical choice.

                    • McFlock

                      You're more sanguine than I am. Once this crisis is over, I'm expecting to see employer mandates challenged in court. The employer will have to prove 'actual' risk, or compliance with H&S legislation.
                      Courts have historically been very strong against people being denied employment on medical grounds.

                      I believe it's still a reasonableness test – is X a reasonable safety precaution? "Reasonable" changes over time.

                      If a reasonable justification can be shown, it would be like saying a blind person can't be a taxi driver.

              • Hanswurst

                Norway's mortality rate actually appears to be increasing, which is interesting, as they removed restrictions on the likes of bars' opening hours on 2 February. In France, absolute mortality rates with CoVid appear to be either flat or rising, although that may be residual, if one assumes that it's largely people who have been battling it for a while, and the clear reduction in infections may herald a similar drop in the mortality rate. Denmark is skyrocketing. Yes, Great Britain is going down, but I don't think you can extrapolate a trend across countries as you seem to be suggesting. There have been differing trends between countries – even neighbouring countries – since the beginning of the pandemic.

                • Belladonna

                  I don't think that the mortality rate is increasing in either country. If you're defining rate as the deaths per numbers of people with Omicron.

                  All of Europe (or as far as I can tell) – across the political spectrum – is reducing or eliminating mandates. They have to be seeing something to make them do that.

                  But the case numbers look on a downward trend, and there's nothing to make you think that mortality rates won't follow.

                  • hanswurst

                    No, while I concede that I did drop the distinction between absolute and per-case mortality rates during my earlier conment, after being (mildly) precise initially, I was referring to the absolute mortality rates. The per-case rate is a largely misleading statistical for most purposes, since a mildly higher mortality rate accompanied by skyrocketing case numbers, would indisputably cause more strain on the health system and society in general, but would be grounds for jubilation of one were to fetishise the mortality rates with respect to the rates of infection.

                    • Belladonna

                      Just looked at the Norway data again. The difference between weeks is fairly small – but I can't see any sustained upwards trend (last week, for example was 35, week before 47). But, the numbers are fairly small, so perhaps indicative, rather than exact.

                      But, comparing to the infection rates – you can see a distinct percentage drop (Omicron is just less deadly). So, with case numbers, dropping the death numbers will also drop.

                      Interestingly, this is at a very similar rate to their annual flu deaths (figures from 2018 – so pre pandemic)

                      https://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/norway-influenza-pneumonia

                    • Hanswurst []

                      … if they are dropping, of course. The graph doesn't really bear that out. I'm not saying those trends won't establish themselves, but at this stage, it's far from clear that the lifting of restrictions has had no effect. It wasn't an enormous lifting, of course, just from bars' having to shut at 11 to their being able to stay open all hours. Still, I know people who promptly went out partying until all hours and got Covid. Okay, so I know some people; we all do, and it's not indicative of anything; however, if a non-negligible number of people have been behaving in exactly the same way as my not particularly devil-may-care colleagues, with similar results…

                    • Tricledrown []

                      Belladrum. I see why you chose Norway looking at your figures Norway has a much higher death rate from influenza and pneumonia than NZ nearly double so it makes the omricon look less deadly than it really is.

                      Throwing a deadly shade on our covid response.

                    • Belladonna

                      Tricledrown. If you don't like Norway – feel free to provide a counterfactual example.

                      I was asked for which countries – and gave 2. Balls in your court.

                      Also how about you just quit being rude about my handle. It simply puts you into the LCD category of people not worth responding to.

      • Koff 2.3.2

        Not sure about the hypothesis that viruses always evolve in the direction of less virulence, Belladonna. They may or may not. To take the SARS-Cov-2 example, for instance, the Alpha variant wasn't less severe than the original (Wuhan) variant, Delta wasn't less severe than Alpha. For a start, these variants didn’t actually evolve directly from each other but evolved independently from earlier variants. What does seem to be more certain is that an increase ease of transmissability is definitely a selective advantage – and, unfortunately, an ability to evade immune response. The "evolving to become less severe" idea seems to have been debunked a long time ago, but there's always wishful thinking I guess! More happily, you are right about many countries returning to some semblance of normality as they progress past the Omicron peak. I am in Queensland. 5,500 cases today, 6 more deaths, but a definite downward trend. indoor mask mandates have been cancelled today in most situations although I noticed about 95% of people in a large, busy mall in North Brisbane this arvo were wearing them still!

        Here is just one link to this concept of evolving virulence. Plenty more if a Google search is done.

        https://abcnews.go.com/Health/debunking-idea-viruses-evolve-virulent/story?id=82052581

        • Belladonna 2.3.2.1

          Yeah, I've read this, too. The problem seems to be, that no one can give any actual examples of viruses (especially corona or influenza viruses) which have evolved to be significantly more deadly.

          I think, what the virologists are talking about are things like the yearly 'flu viruses – some of which have worse health impacts than others (periodically you get health advice that this year's flu is particularly bad, so get the vaccine). But these natural variations aren't hugely greater – i.e. we're not talking about a 0.001 death rate this year, and a 15% death rate next year.

          We do have the example of the Spanish flu – which absolutely evolved to be significantly less deadly. And, no, it's not just that everyone was either recovered (and therefore had immunity) or dead. Huge numbers of people never caught the 'flu at all. And, if it hadn't evolved, they would have been caught up in the next outbreak and had the same death rate.

          • Belladonna 2.3.2.1.1

            The example often given of increasing virulence is Rabbit calicivirus which is – (forgive the ick factor) – spread by blowflies feeding on the carcases – so killing off the host early is a positive not a negative, for the virus.
            There are other possible cases where virulence may have increased: Ebola & HIV – but other factors may explain the very slight statistical differences. Neither are air-borne transmission (viruses transmitted through bodily fluids maximise the overproduction of fluids – with very nasty side effects on the host – contributing greatly to the lethality.

          • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.3.2.1.2

            "Yeah, I've read this, too. The problem seems to be, that no one can give any actual examples of viruses (especially corona or influenza viruses) which have evolved to be significantly more deadly."

            The spanish flu did exactly that I believe, possibly due to unfavourable selection pressures that encouraged spread of more virulent variants.

            For another example, a disease that gets little mention these days – Covid19. Delta was more virulent than the original Wuhan strain.

            But having said that, there is no general or inevitable tendency towards increased (or decreased) virulence, evolution doesn’t care, whichever gets the job done (spread to new hosts). There can be selection pressures in both directions.

            • Belladonna 2.3.2.1.2.1

              It's difficult to tell (since they didn't have the genomic sequencing tools that we now have) – but the consensus is that the Spanish flu was a zoonotic transmission from birds – i.e. the virus jumped from birds (probably chickens) to humans.
              This kind of cross-species jump re-sets all the parameters (i.e. something which may be mild in birds, turns out, purely by happenstance, to be particularly deadly to humans) – it's not something that natural selection has operated on.

              What demonstrably did happen with the Spanish flu, is that it evolved away from the highly deadly form – killing many people within hours – to the 'standard' H1N1 flu that we all know comes around each winter – infecting some, causing a mild to severe illness, and killing a few who are particularly susceptible.

              Yes, some variants can evolve to be more deadly, but they will be out-competed by variants which are equally as transmissible, but less deadly. Simply because the host has a significantly longer time period in which to pass the infection on to new hosts.

              • UncookedSelachimorpha

                "Simply because the host has a significantly longer time period in which to pass the infection on to new hosts."

                This is one of the selection pressures, that favours less virulence. There are others pushing in the other direction (e.g. more rapid viral replication can increase both spread (favouring the virus) and virulence).

                The thing that does consistently push towards milder disease, is the response of the host on a population level. Most hosts develop an immune response following exposure (at least in vertebrates), and also the most susceptible in the population die, leaving more resistant individuals behind.

    • swordfish 2.4

      I really don't think "masl weatring" will be with us forever … in fact, I'm not entirely convinced it's even a real thing.

      If it is, I suspect it's an archaic form of Medieval ploughing employed mainly in the Northumbrian peat country bordering Scotland, no doubt abandoned with the widespread adoption of three-field crop rotation in 1364. But that's just a wild stab in the dark.

      Actually, now that I’ve delved into it a little bit, I feel increasingly inspired to resurrect the lost art of Masl Weatring. Maybe in a Medieval Farm Museum in some rustic part of the South Island ?

    • McFlock 2.5

      Oh, I reckon the traffic lights will get put back into the filing cabinet sometime, to be dusted off and revised with the next pandemic.

      I'm actually quite optimistic about the medium to long term. This unpleasantness has kicked forward some advances in medicine that will come through to treatment of cancer as well as other infectious diseases. It has also streamlined the production and development cycles for new tech.

      Covid, too, shall pass.

      • Belladonna 2.5.1

        I certainly agree that the advances in the mRNA vaccines give great hope for future treatment in a wide range of illnesses. Fingers crossed.

  3. Joe90 3

    Fuck you Jack, I'm okay.

    "What we’re seeing now is a combination of what we saw with influenza and with HIV. First, it’s capitulation based on misguided or at least premature hope, frustration, and anger that this has gone on for so long, disrupting our lives. It doesn’t help that America’s political leaders have never really stepped up to address the pandemic with the seriousness of other nations, nor provided the necessary social and economic support to help people survive these past few years. Instead, they have largely left us alone against a virus. While pundits try to spin this as a debate about risk management at an individual level—claiming that some of us are being too cautious as we enter the golden age of endemicity—it’s far more like what happened with HIV: Once people feel like they’re safe enough, the safety of others doesn’t really matter that much."

    https://www.thenation.com/article/society/covid-surrender-endemic/

  4. dv 4

    The US has 21000 yesterday, and 41000 day before

    Down from 200,000 to 400,000

    Interesting.

    Vaccination?

    Under reporting ?

    Immunity??

    • James Simpson 4.1

      I think just testing.

      Despite thousands of people still dying they have essentially moved on. My sense is people get tested if they think they have it. Not if they may have been exposed to it.

  5. gsays 6

    Gotta say, 'Covid' is less of a concern than the relentless scraping of the bottom of twitter barrell.

    Finding the most extreme examples to other away.

    They are us.

  6. ianmac 7

    Mr Luxon is not my favourite person and his speech yesterday did nothing to impress me. Imagine my surprise to read the column by National's cheer leader who was also unimpressed. (Column hidden in the paper?)

    Audrey Young:

    Christopher Luxon's latest contribution to the occupation of Parliament grounds and surrounding streets reeks of opportunism….

    "This is a situation entirely of the Government's own making," he said in a statement on Sunday. Nobody believes that.

    "It is our job to find a way through that brings everyone back together," he wrote in a Pollyanna piece in the Herald.

    "We must chart a path back to that middle ground that unites us, and not allow ourselves to be divided into warring factions, inextricably and increasingly opposed," he said in a speech today.

    Luxon is seeking to elevate the demands of the protesters to end vaccine mandates to some kind of groundswell in the broader population.

    "These are not the concerns of just a small group of protesters; they are the concerns of a growing and an increasingly alienated group of law-abiding New Zealanders who have fully complied with and followed the rules," he said.

    But in his bid to extend a contrived sense of alienation to the wider law-abiding population, and empathising with protesters, he risks alienating his own growing support.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/audrey-young-covid-mandate-parliament-protests-luxon-coster-misread-desire-for-unity/B5L3VBFBDZEFNEIY5GJZNKKQO4/

  7. James Simpson 8

    Once this wave is finished we can work on our new normal, one that will hopefully include the eradication of poverty and preparation for climate change.

    There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be working on this now. The whole of government shouldn't be stopping for omicron. But on the face of it, it has.

  8. Everyone is over Covid and yet the protestors are in Wellington spinning it out. What irony.

  9. Patricia Bremner 10

    Mandates were and still are a necessary tool, which when the danger is over will go.

    I was watching a period drama, where people showed they had met someone they knew by nodding bowing etc, but seldom touching. I think this was a learned behaviour in many societies, a natural barrier.

    Many drank brewed drinks as water was a vector of disease. Pickles were popular as vinegar both preserved and stopped rot, as did hot smoking and salting of foods.

    Many customs were learned protective behaviours, covers for milk jugs, meat safes and daily purchase of foods.

    We have ease of travel being a vector of disease, and some will travel to reconnect, but many will not as we become more risk adverse. This will pass in time and humans' natural curiosity and sense of adventure will appear again.

    The sense of "Lockdown" persists, and for some develops a state close to agoraphobia, especially in my age group 80 to 90 year olds. So those who are getting sick are in the socially mobile 18 to 40 year olds , who if they survive build immunity.

    Change will come as we find ways to combat this. Permanent changes will be working from home, online shopping and a tighter social bubble for many.

    We do need to keep our empathy, especially for those frightened misled people who feel their world has totally spun out of control and their markets socialising and gatherings previously gave them a sense of belonging and without those props their lives have spun into dark web corners of anger which will find better outlets when they are able to gather for productive reasons again imo.

    • JanM 10.1

      Beautifully said, Patricia

    • Shanreagh 10.2

      We do need to keep our empathy, especially for those frightened misled people who feel their world has totally spun out of control and their markets socialising and gatherings previously gave them a sense of belonging and without those props their lives have spun into dark web corners of anger which will find better outlets when they are able to gather for productive reasons again imo.

      These are wise words Patricia. I agree with them though I am pessimistic about being able to be able to fix or help 'frightened misled' people. We can see a cult like following. Dealing with cults is always difficult as difficult as dealing with addictions.

      I do sense that a large number of them have been congregating at markets as sellers or socialisers. If the restrictions are lifted and we go back to markets….

      The world has moved though and others who frequent markets are likely now to be paying close attention to hygiene practices etc at these markets. At the fresh fruit & veg and food markets I go to the sellers have always worn gloves and many of the Chinese market growers have worn masks. There are markets where this does not happen.

      My Dr next door neighbour who works at Wgtn hospital says the Covid anti vaxxers are just the latest in a relatively large procession of people who present at hospitals with preventable illnesses because they are not vaccinated. They provide an ever present drain on the ability of the health sector to treat other illnesses and have timely elective and cancer treatments.

      The anti vaxxers will most likely spread their sentiments to their children who may become part of the those hospitalised for preventable illnesses and the next reservoir of those influenced by bad actors from other countries.

      We need to look at civics, health, how govts work, how to analyse, how to pick scams….. and make sure these are included in school curricula as their parents may not teach these concepts their children.

      • Belladonna 10.2.1

        At the fresh fruit & veg and food markets I go to the sellers have always worn gloves and many of the Chinese market growers have worn masks. There are markets where this does not happen.

        Given that the primary pathway for Covid infection is airborne droplets – wearing gloves, etc. is pretty irrelevant.

        You are much more likely to be infected by some random person passing by or sitting next to you in a cafe, than the poor stall-holder you're singling out. And, actually, the number one transmission pathway for Covid remains, as it has always been, inter- and intra-household transmission.

        How about all of the people who present at hospital with preventable diseases which are nothing to do with vaccination (smoking, obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc) – do we vilify them as well?

        People make … non-optimal … choices in their lives — for a whole variety of reasons.

        • Shanreagh 10.2.1.1

          I am not poor anything people…I admire the ones who wear gloves and have always admired the Chinese sellers with the masks. I am talking over a period of 10 years. They help keep me safe and have always done so. I don't think they are making non optimal choices. I am making an optimal choice by going to markets where the sellers engage in standard hygiene practices.

          I am not talking just Covid as the markets I go to the people there have been gloved and masked for over 10 ten years. There are other diseases that can be passed by hands or mouths than Covid.

          I have always avoided markets where the sellers did not appear to observe std hygiene practices and this will continue.

      • Patricia Bremner 10.2.2

        Shanreagh, you have huge empathy and a clear goodhearted belief in people.
        I worry this disease will scar human relations, yet I was heartened by a lady at the protest who said while packing up her folding chair "I think I will reassess".

        That was part of what I meant. People "Go with the crowd", then re think any violence or misdirection later. Not all but many. Some will forever think they helped end mandates.
        Most people are kind/caring/empathetic/would not do actual harm.
        Still I think the Government needs to do things to connect some to their communities again after this by empowering them to do so.

      • Anne 10.2.3

        My Dr next door neighbour who works at Wgtn hospital says the Covid anti vaxxers are just the latest in a relatively large procession of people who present at hospitals with preventable illnesses because they are not vaccinated. They provide an ever present drain on the ability of the health sector to treat other illnesses and have timely elective and cancer treatments.

        So true Shanreagh. I emerged yesterday from North Shore Hospital having had a knee replacement operation. After three Covid related cancellations last year I finally made it. But only just in time. All elective surgery and some other medical facilitations are expected to be closed by the end of this week. There are now 500 people needing knee and hip replacements on the Shore waiting list alone.

        If my experiences is any indication few of them will see their operations this year. The stress and worry – not to mention the ongoing pain – are going to be with them for a long time yet.

        I know what Patricia Bremner is saying and they are admirable sentiments, but I cannot but feel anger at these misguided individuals whose selfishness and stupidity is affecting the ability of so many people to have timely operative interventions. Most of them – including me – are older citizens who have a right to live out the remainder of our lives in a satisfying and pain free way.

        • Patricia Bremner 10.2.3.1

          Oh Anne I am delighted for you. Will you get physio? It makes such a difference.

          All the very best for your recovery. May you be pain free soon.

          Yes the waits are a sad thing. They are world wide. I waited 2 yrs the waiting list at Lakes, then a year for covid. So I do understand.

          • Anne 10.2.3.1.1

            Thank-you Patricia. Yes, it was a two and a half year wait for me. My first Op. date was in Nov. 2020 after some nine months of Covid obeyance. The others straddled last year – all cancelled because of Covid. My luck had to change sooner or later.

            Looks like physio in my case might not be available at the hospital or maybe outsourced given the Omicron emergency. I won't know for a couple of weeks.

            • Patricia Bremner 10.2.3.1.1.1

              Go online for the physio books from your DHB. They are great, explain the dos and don'ts and exercises to help. All the very best.

        • Rosemary McDonald 10.2.3.2

          …but I cannot but feel anger at these misguided individuals whose selfishness and stupidity is affecting the ability of so many people to have timely operative interventions.

          Do you have any evidence that it is the protestors/un vaccinated and their ilk causing the delays?

      • Tricledrown 10.2.4

        Most schools don't want unvaccinated children in their schools so home education and rabbit holes

        Survivors of Cults get vaccinated soon as they escape.

        Antivaxxers are a cult riding on the false profit of individual power against the state.

        Easily lead into rabbit holes from which it's virtually impossible to return to society.

  10. DukeEll 11

    Well, end it then. the rest of the world is living with it, just not little old world leader super cool NZ. this just sounds like another mouthed platitude from a leader with no detail to make the plan work, a la kiwibuild, bicycle bridges over the harbour, ending child poverty and tackling mental illness.

    Low case numbers are an excellent tool in evaulating the covid policies effectiveness. They are a low value tool for evaluating the countries health in all other areas though

    • observer 11.1

      this just sounds like another mouthed platitude from a leader with no detail to make the plan work

      Watch the post-Cab press conference where she said it, plenty of answers there.

    • Shanreagh 11.2

      I suggest you read Sanctuary's post 2. I am sure there is nothing that the Govt would like better than to tackle housing. poverty, climate change……

      The "end" of covid is 3-5 years away when a generic, long lasting (five – ten years) covid vaccine arrives. Until then, get used to the new normal and stop pretending we can go back to yesterday tomorrow.

    • Muttonbird 11.3

      Let it rip. Bugger the vulnerable. Spoken like a true right wing nut job.

      • Poission 11.3.1

        Well that is government policy.

        • Muttonbird 11.3.1.1

          Clearly not. I've had two workplaces shut down and am now sweating on one child being considered a close contact at school, which is so means we as a family will have to isolate for 10 days.

          That is not letting it rip.

          • Poission 11.3.1.1.1

            Having a piece of paper that says you are fully vaccinated with 2shots,when the science says you need 3,and go into a bar or restaurant,remove mask and be some how immune to both spreading , or receiving covid,would be the biggest miracle since the immaculate conception.

            • Muttonbird 11.3.1.1.1.1

              You claimed government policy was to let it rip.

              The existence of vaccine passes alone proves that is not true, never mind all the other health measures NZ continues to use.

              Your lay reckons don't come into it.

              • weka

                letting it half rip. We could be containing omicron more than we are.

              • James Simpson

                As Weka said…

                We are certainly letting it rip. There is clearly some containment and restrictions but we have consciously allowed the disease to infect every part of New Zealand.

                We could have locked down, but we haven't, and now it is ripping.

                • Muttonbird

                  I get that, but to lock down again we'd have to throw out the Covid Protection Framework, or traffic light system, and return to Level 4.

                  Might still happen this coming winter, I suppose.

          • Westykev 11.3.1.1.2

            Only the close contact in your family has to isolate unless other members are not vaccinated. This was the MOH guidance (see below) we were given when a child tested positive in my son's class

            "Please find attached a letter from the Ministry of Health outlining the next steps for your child. Please read it carefully.

            if a household member of a year 5 and 6 student is fully vaccinated they do not have to isolate and can go to school or work

            – Ensure that unvaccinated household members, including children/tamariki, stay at home until the Close Contact receives a negative day 5 test."

          • Patricia Bremner 11.3.1.1.3

            Good wishes Muttonbird, please keep fluid intake high and get rest areas and recovery areas set up in case. Do a stock take, tissues paper towels bleach masks and easy foods painkillers. Establish routines to keep devices charged and helpers outside family to pick up food. All this beforehand helped my son and his partner. This is a hard waiting game.

            • Muttonbird 11.3.1.1.3.1

              Thanks Patricia. Not a disaster yet, apart from losing work. But in the end, that is only money.

              • James Simpson

                Hopefully you only get it to the degree my parents had last week. In Dad's words, it felt like the day after a good night on the piss.

                All the best and good luck

      • Anne 11.3.2

        Muttonbird @ 11.3.1.1.3.1

        yes

    • Hanswurst 11.4

      What an utter load of arse-pasties. I live in Germany, and we definitely still have restrictions.

    • Incognito 11.5

      Well, end it then. the rest of the world is living with it, just not little old world leader super cool NZ.

      Stop smoking your own dope angry

      https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-stringency-index

  11. SPC 12

    We were sort of well placed to get through the BA1 wave peak through pre winter.

    The problem is the new BA2 variant – which results in more hospitalisations.

    The viral RNA load in the lung periphery and histopathological disorders of BA.2 were more severe than those of BA.1 and even B.1.1.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/covid-19-omicron-outbreak-new-variant-ba2-could-be-worse-than-predecessors-for-public-health-study-warns/CKFOZ7CPJ4ITW4VQUSLQJ3CVKM/

    We need a lot of natural immunity via infection of the B1 type (of the young and public front workers) as soon as to reduce the impact of the BA2.

    Unfortunately BA2 soon becomes dominant when it turns up.

    Which means we need some sort of watch for BA2 at the borders and some strategy to slow its spread.

    • Muttonbird 12.1

      But the process of getting, "a lot of natural immunity via infection" results in a massive run on our pathetic health system.

      Loads will die.

      • SPC 12.1.1

        Not a massive run risk via BA1 (not if the infected are the young and boosted front line workers).

        • McFlock 12.1.1.1

          Sucks to be everyone else, though.

          "Natural immunity" means catching it, whatever variant. That means if we want a million people to have natural immunity, we have to infect a million people. Let's say they're all boosted, too.

          Even at BA1 rates of "adverse events" following this master plan, how many hospitalisations and dead is that? Got any numbers?

          • Poission 12.1.1.1.1

            The law of large numbers is useful here.The Australian example should translate to NZ,as we have similar vaccination rates and NPI during the peak phase.

            More than 2,200 people have died with COVID-19 in the seven weeks since the country’s first Omicron-linked death on December 27, 2021. This compares with at least 1,230 deaths in the five-and-a-half months between the first confirmed Delta death on July 11 and December 26.

            This potentially makes Omicron Australia’s deadliest wave, although the proportion of deaths caused by Omicron versus Delta over this period is unclear.

            However, adjusting for the number of infections shows Delta has the higher death rate. Australia has confirmed more than 2.2 million new infections since the first Omicron case was detected in Australia, compared with at least 175,000 positive cases during the Delta wave.

            https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-17/coronavirus-cases-data-reveals-how-covid-19-spreads-in-australia/12060704

            So an optimistic scenario here would for around 400000 infections and around 450 deaths.

    • weka 12.2

      what evidence is there for natural immunity at this stage?

      • SPC 12.2.1

        The same as there has always been for earlier strains – with the Omicron strain it's too early for there to be evidence.

        We do know that Omicron infects the vaccinated, so natural immunity of the young and front line workers is the best defence for those isolating till this wave goes through.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 12.2.2

        Temporary immunity, for sure (otherwise Omicron wouldn't peak and go down…it would just peak and stay there!).

        There is also the so-called 'super immunity' that results from vaccine+omicron (in whatever order), but this also slowly wanes it seems.

        I would still prefer not to catch omicron – even boosted people are having unpleasant illnesses and require hospitalisation sometimes. This omicron account from a double-vaccinated (but not boosted) doctor is interesting – was no walk in the park.

        I'd much rather take my chances with the next vaccine / booster if necessary, much less likely to be as nasty as a bout of the 'cron.

    • DukeEll 12.3

      Ah, so no end to the mandates then. could it quietly be that greater exposure will ensure we move to natural immunity faster?

      • McFlock 12.3.1

        Well, yeah, with the concomitant deaths, of course.

      • Shanreagh 12.3.2

        So you have natural immunity to Influenza and the common cold based on getting one or rather of them? if so you must be the only person in the world to have this…..do tell.

        So we all go out sans vaccines or a run down version and catch a Covid strain or two and that will give us natural immunity. Of course in catching Covid in this way we don't know if we are also going to be left with the symptoms of Long Covid as well.

        I'd be happy to immunised for the the current Covid strain along with the Influenza strain each year. Seems logical to me.

  12. mosa 13

    " Once this wave is finished we can work on our new normal, one that will hopefully include the eradication of poverty and preparation for climate change "

    Can't see LINO doing anything except adhering to neo liberalism and fiddling around the edges Mickey.

    Eradication of poverty would mean a number of structural changes that Adern and her colleagues are not going to touch with a ten foot pole even when they have a majority to do it.

    Hopefully means Mickey that you know darn well it aint going to happen.

  13. SPC 14

    Got a Covid Booster? You Probably Won’t Need Another for a Long Time

    A flurry of new studies suggest that several parts of the immune system can mount a sustained, potent response to any coronavirus variant.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/health/covid-vaccine-antibodies-t-cells.html

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/covid-19-omicron-outbreak-got-a-vaccine-booster-you-probably-wont-need-another-for-a-long-time/4IUNJ5GOEVWUIRLAGNOGMT3VAM/

    The gist of the article is that there is a long lasting response from B and T cells and only those over 65 (or younger with health issues) would need a 4th dose. One booster being enough for some time (which may be bad news for Pfizer trying to develop a vaccine for the new strain later this year and the idea of annual reboot as with flu in 2023/2024 etc).

  14. Gypsy 15

    Yes we're all 'over' covid. We're over the government using covid as a shield to hide behind for not addressing the many other issues that we face as a country. The record levels of housing unaffordability. The severely worsening mental health crisis. The thirty year high inflation rate, amongst the highest in the OECD. How we're going to pay off our ballooning national debt. The erosion of public service neutrality. Walking back the 3 Waters proposals. There is a long list.

    • Hetzer 15.1

      You forgot child poviddy!!!

      • Gypsy 15.1.1

        To be fair, that's a tough one to assess. The data measures are decidedly ropey. For example the "Salvation Army identifies the children most likely to live in poverty as being in households relying on welfare benefits." That seems like a nonsense to me when welfare is surely a way to alleviate poverty.

        • lprent 15.1.1.1

          …welfare is surely a way to alleviate poverty.

          Probably would be if it was paid at a sufficient level. But of course there is always the National party as an impediment. They who always drop the real value of all benefits except to those they deem to be worthy. Which seems to be those who are already very affluent and could do with a taxcut.

          • Chris T 15.1.1.1.1

            Labour can make welfare what level they want.

            They have the majority

            Not sure how the Nats are stopping them doing this.

            Or is there some magic power the Nats have in opposition?

            • Gypsy 15.1.1.1.1.1

              There's also the matter of tax creep, and it's impact on lower income earners. Reducing the tax rates on the two lowest income bands would be a good start.

              • Craig H

                For tax creep, rather than lowering the rates, the brackets should be adjusted with minimum wage and IETC in mind.

                • Gypsy

                  Yes, that is an option, however wouldn't that mean a lift across all brackets, effectively delivering a disproportionately larger tax break to the higher income earners?

                  • Craig H

                    Not all brackets have to be adjusted – if the $70,000 was left as is, that would restrict the changes to two or three of the bottom three brackets.

                    That said, bracket changes and changing bottom tax rates have the same problem – everyone who pays income tax benefits because they all pay the bottom rate on some of their income.

            • lprent 15.1.1.1.1.2

              Or is there some magic power the Nats have in opposition?

              Yes. You'll see this over and over again.

              Neither of the two main parties tend to push against legislation or welfare systems or tax cuts or policy decisions that the other has passed unless they really have to. It is destructive to good government.

              So Labour will raise welfare payments incrementally and National will just stop not increase them by enough to maintain spending power.

              National will do tax cuts and Labour won't remove them immediately or at the same level. They’ll just diminish their effect by not shifting bounds or put in taxes at higher bounds.

              3 strikes legislation which is about the arse-end of irresponsible punitive legislation won't get dumped, but Labour will allow more judicial review of it to alleviate its more extreme sentencing stupidity – like jailing a person with mental health issues for stealing a kiss for 7 years which is both a stupid sentence mandated by Act and unbelievably punitive.

              National won't try to remove the vote from prisoners again because Labour had to remove it as it conflicted with BORA according to the judiciary and will again in the future.

              etc…

              There isn't a lot of point in trying to pass legislation or make policy decisions that don't at least get a grudging acceptance by the other major governing party and the judiciary.

              That is because both major parties are committed to governing the country not only in the interests of their more rabid supporters, but also in the interests of picking up centrist votes that are required to win the treasury seats. To be too partisan and obnoxious for a centre governing party is to live in the political wilderness.

              The political parties usually follow public opinion. They usually don't create it unless there is a long-term policy reason to do so (like the generally piss-poor mostly incompetent performance of councils with water management over decades).

              So changing that opinion happens in places like this. Hammering out how defective doing tax-cuts is as a policy decision because within a moderate range it simply doesn't help the economy over the long-term. All it does is to increase economic inequality, and make it harder for people with actual talent (rather than having their parents pay for going to Kings college or its equivalent) to help benefit our economy.

            • Craig H 15.1.1.1.1.3

              Officially, none, but the Opposition always has the power to beat the drums about the out-of-touch government taking ever-increasing taxes from working battlers to pay deadbeats to sit on the couch.

              I'm fine with my taxes paying higher benefits personally, but that's the likely political narrative to be countered.

          • Gypsy 15.1.1.1.2

            My point was about tagging people as 'in poverty' simply because they draw a benefit. The problem with tax as policy is that increases or new taxes can be political poison. For example, it is the current PM who tool the idea of a Capital Gains Tax off the table, which was a smart political move.

            • lprent 15.1.1.1.2.1

              Yeah sure. See my comment above.

              Similarly National lost the 2017 election as much because of their active policy of increasing the homeless begging on the streets to fund tax cuts, and refusing to pay for the housing effects of their obscene immigration policies.

              You should probably think through both sides of how this works politically.

              • Gypsy

                You're criticism of national is valid, and yet Labour have added virtually no state rentals, while the waiting list has increased almost 5x, and house prices and rentals have rocketed. A case of dumb and dumber?

                • Craig H

                  The increase in waiting list numbers is not just an increase in need, although I'm sure that has played a part. It also reflects a change in policy from National to Labour, that anyone who seeks assistance from MSD (e.g. Accommodation Supplement – not just beneficiaries) should be included on the waiting list if they meet the criteria for legal entitlement. National's dictum was to only put people on the list if they had some likelihood of getting a house, which meant people who met the criteria weren't necessarily put on the list.

                  National's policy was obviously more practical, Labour's policy leads to a list which is a more accurate reflection of total entitlement, but may not be achievable in the short-medium term.

                  • Gypsy

                    Thanks Craig – although I doubt that would explain a 5 fold increase?

                    • Craig H

                      Not sure about post-Covid, it explained basically all of the increase between 2018-2020 other than what could be attributed to population growth (not much).

                      Anecdotally, I know Labour MPs received a number of requests of varying politeness for state houses in the days and weeks following Winston Peters announcing he would form a coalition with Labour in 2017, so maybe some of it was just belief/hope that Labour might listen when National hadn't.

                  • Gypsy

                    Interesting – thanks Craig.

                • lprent

                  As Craig H neatly pointed out, waiting lists aren't an accurate way of measuring demand.

                  However John Minto appears to be acting like Mike Hosking or David Farrar and lying with statistics. I mistrust the phrase "the number of state house rentals available" – but his numbers are essentially crap.

                  State housing is essentially run these days by Kāinga Ora. Even a fast peruse of their website gets this.

                  The number of bedrooms available (the only useful measure) increased from 63,315 in December 2017 (I have no idea why Minto chose 2016?) to 68,323 in September 2021. In other words, about a 10% increase in bedrooms.

                  This is the accommodation directly run by the 'state'.

                  I haven't bothered to look at the MSD reports because that included temporary accommodation. Or to look at the council properties as that is a separate and falling question. Or the community housing because that is outside the control of the state.

                  By contrast, if you look back to September 2015 you'll see that National dropped available bedrooms from 67,198 before they got turfed out (about 8%).

                  However also contrast policy (from wikipedia as an easy source to hand.)

                  In January 2015, in his state of the nation speech, John Key announced plans to reduce the government's involvement in providing social housing, with some of the responsibility for providing housing to be passed to community housing providers. As part of the plan, 2,000 state houses would be sold by January 2016, and up to 8,000 properties would be sold by 2017. Under the plan, community housing groups would have access to government funding for income-related rents. Policy officials' advice to the government was that the policy had a number of risks, particularly around the capability of community housing providers to have the capacity to ramp up their services, and whether tenants could be protected from unfair treatment.

                  Contrast

                  The Sixth Labour Government, elected in 2017, formally moved to stop the sell-off of state houses by issuing an instruction to Housing New Zealand to cancel the sale of the homes in December 2017.

                  and

                  As of 2020, Kāinga Ora was producing 1,000 new houses per year for rent, accounting for 7% of the country's housing builds.

                  FFS: How about just looking this stuff up sometime from raw sources. Relying on people pushing a viewpoint is like listening to Act. It is usually so far down the rabbit hole, you can guarantee that they just cherry pick figures.

                  The key point is the lack of linked sources in Minto's piece – which is why it gets published at the Daily Blog and not here.

                  • Gypsy

                    So, even by your numbers, there's been an increase of 10%. Ooopie doo. And how many of those were actually new to the market, as opposed to a private sector transfer? The reality is a good portion of the ‘additions’ are not additions, they are KO outbidding first home buyers. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/kainga-ora-spends-1b-buying-state-homes-in-five-years/2AOGBWVRXTBFA4KP6VYX45Z65Q/

                    • lprent

                      Perhaps you should read the article beyond the headline and the first few paragraphs.

                      //—

                      Sigh…. First you have to get the housing to be able to be project-managed by WO to even be involved in the building of house – or even to be able to pre-purchase (something that is the more common usage). That requires expertise.

                      National ran a policy for HC about 9 years to not purchase anything at all. Instead they knocked housing down like Glenfield, let private developers to build private dwellings, and then HC brought less than half of the housing that was originally there as state housing.

                      HC had little to no input into the project management of any build project for about 9 years. That is why they ran down even buying state housing, offloaded the unmaintained state housing to community boards who often didn’t do much with them. And that was why they had a nett drop in bedrooms of about 8% of bedrooms in their last term (and more in their previous two terms).

                      That means that WO had no infrastructure of existing project management experience in-house. It would have taken them about 3 years to hire staff to actually be involved in the projects they are meant to fund. And that is assuming that they could afford to pay for them – while there was a burgeoning house building market.

                      I doubt that they are doing anything more even now than buying housing off the plans. Because WO, like HC before it has never built anything. They pay for housing that is going to be built or they buy existing housing.

                      //—

                      Second, Housing Corp always brought housing – that has been for at least decades old policy at least as far back as when my grand parents got theirs back in the late 1950s. A pile of housing was built. Some of which had deposits to the developer by the precursor to HC.

                      Go forward 40 years in my block of apartments HC brought 3 out of 60 one bedroom apartments back in 1998. They weren't involved in the design or doing anything other than laying down a deposit.

                      Virtually every housing development in NZ has had pepper-potting of purchased housing for a very long time from pre-build buys.

                      It sounds to me like you're just inventing your 'history' – in other words – bullshitting. The last time that housing areas were 'built' by the state was probably back in the 1960s – and those were built for them by the state buying them off companies like Fletchers actively selling them to the state.

                      //—-

                      Thirdly, to buy housing you have to have housing to buy, there were in 2017 virtually no housing being built at all. There were very few housing development that had any HC presence in them – and those were invariably only where teh government had forced HC to sell off the land to private developers, knock down the houses, and then reluctantly buy a few of the houses with teh profit made from the sales of land.

                      Basically because the National government had had a pretty active policy up until 2015/6 of being essentially inactive and not 'interfering in the market place'. Which mostly seemed to come from their wish to fund HC from land sales so that the National party could hand out tax-cuts.

                      Needless to say the lack of involvement of the government investment in state housing had an effect on the housing building market. It'd essentially collapsed between 2008 and 2012, and the government hadn't tried to retain a building industry except in ChCh (and that only by a series of earthquakes).

                      In YTD September 2017, the number of consents was less than 20k over the whole of NZ. Even that was up from the less than 10k in 2012.

                      Now it is about 49k consents YTD to the last december quarter. This is in the middle of freaking pandemic. That is in part because WO is again involved in buying pre-build housing.

                      //—–

                      And finally – because I know that you are crap at basic research try reading the article you linked to. All of this was pointed out in a suitably simple form to the journo.

                      Just for your edification. When they are referring to buy-ins here, they'r referring to actually buying extant houses. When they're talking about building, it invariably means putting down a deposit on new housing or paying a building company to build a property on government owned land.

                      "We have turned around the practice of the previous National Government of not building and instead relying on buy-ins," she said.

                      Woods said buying houses was not the Government's first choice, but they would do so when there was a pressing need or it made strategic sense. An example was buying 142 from Nelson City Council last year.

                      Kāinga Ora typically pays no more than 5 per cent above market valuation for properties, she added.

                      "it is just not credible for Ms Willis to suggest this is creating some kind of competitive distortion in the market."

                      BTW: Nicola Wills is apparently a bit of idiot when it comes to this.

                      A pretty typical National MP – one who has no sense of actual NZ history, no idea about how do do anything practical within government, and who apparently values some really stupid point-scoring over looking to find out how things work.

                      You don’t appear to be much better. How about doing a little research so I don’t have to keep doing it for your laziness?

                  • Gypsy

                    You seem to be excusing the poor performance of Labour by pointing to the poor performance of National. Labour campaigned on housing. They promised to build 100,000 kiwibuild homes. They promised to end homelessness, and solve the housing crisis. Instead we have house prices rising faster than ever before, a handful of kiwibuild homes, and the main supplier of social housing driving prices up by competing with private buyers for houses built by the private sector. You're trying to defend the indefensible.

                    “When they are referring to buy-ins here, they’r referring to actually buying extant houses.”
                    Ah yep, that was my point. They are buying houses the private sector built, not houses built for social housing.

                    “Kāinga Ora typically pays no more than 5 per cent above market valuation for properties, she added.”
                    Well that’s disingenuous. How do you determine ‘market price’ at an auction? The highest bid. Duh.

                    “The last time that housing areas were ‘built’ by the state was probably back in the 1960s ”
                    Yes but KO build FOR the state via the private sector. But they are inflating the numbers by buying existing homes, outbidding first home buyers in the process. It’s bs policy and typical when a government is trying to hide failure.

                    And no, I’m not crap at research. I know this market better than you’ll ever know, and as a property investor, this government has been the best thing at increasing my wealth in decades. They’re just shit at helping out anyone actually struggling.

                    • lprent

                      Nope. What I am doing is pointing out that National were completely appalling on housing because they were more interested in tax-cuts than running the economy efficiently over the long -term.

                      That the problem of how to reverse the housing consequences takes time.

                      That the housing issues have started to be corrected with new builds and a more effective role by government.

                      Only an idiot would think that a process that was caused building consents to be as low at 10k per year the end of 2012 (second term end of fist year – roughly the same part of the electoral cycle) is even remotely the same situation as now.

                      Where there are nearly 5x as many consents and steadily rising number of state housing being available.

                      I guess you are that idiot. So perhaps you could explain how Labour could do better, and I will explain exactly why your ideas are not doable and idiotic and idiotic in the short-term.

                      As far as I can see you make a great wishful critic, and show absolutely no obvious signs of knowing anything about how to achieve anything.

                      BTW: Your links are more rubbish. Neither states if KO builds any houses themselves. Neither do they state at what stage the houses were brought – pre-build, sales of public housing from councils, or whatever. They appear to be puff-pieces written over Nicola Wills press-releases who clearly doesn’t understand how WO and HC operate.

                      I’m starting to downgrade your contributions to this debate from idiot to unthinking parrot.

                  • Gypsy

                    “What I am doing is pointing out that National were completely appalling on housing”

                    A point I’ve never disputed, and so your defence of Labour's failures amounts to 'National was shit, Labour's mildly better than shit'.

                    “I guess you are that idiot.”

                    Nope, that would be you misunderstanding my point, which is 1> Labour have failed to match its own promises in a key policy area, and 2> they have implemented policies that have made the housing crisis actually worse.

                    On 1> The problems with the housing market were well known by Labour, yet they promised to build 100,000 homes over 10 years. That promise has been one of the greatest political f’ups in history. Labour promised to reduce homelessness, boost state housing stock and build thousands of homes during its first term. And yet that same article (from Sep 2020) states this "record high waitlist for social housing and the creation of just under 600 of its promised 100,000 KiwiBuild houses"

                    On 2> (and BTW you have totally misread my comments about KO), having the main provider of social housing enter the market for existing homes, competing with first home buyers and driving the prices up in the process (notwithstanding Megan Woods deception), is really dumb policy. And it is just one of the reasons housing affordability is the worst on record.

                    Families don't live in building consents. People are cueing for social housing like never before, and you rate a 10% increase, a significant number of which are simply a transfer from the private market, as some kind of success. I don't, not based on Labour's own promises.

                    "So perhaps you could explain how Labour could do better"

                    Happy to.

                    1> Cut a swathe through one of the largest impediments to small scale developers in Auckland – compliance costs. Auckland Council's consenting process has become little more than an money spinner for Council's overspending. Give Council 3 months to halve the compliance costs, or face a commissioner.

                    2> Stop emptying houses years before the subsequent development. There are hundreds of houses around the Mt Roskill and Owairaka areas alone that have been empty for 2 years or more. I have a KO development next to one of my rentals from which the houses were removed mid 2019 – the development is just now commencing. The private sector doesn't do this, why does KO?

                    3> Stop punishing investors. Across the world home ownership is declining; we should be incentivising (especially new builds) for landlords. Make the healthy homes standards equivalent to manufacturers guidelines, get rid of quarantining of tax losses.

                    4> Remove the LVR rules for first home buyers (yes I know they did this, but too late).

                    I could go on, but I'll finish with this … Labour are the party of unintended consequences. Their lack of experience is getting them into trouble across a range of policy areas. Housing is just one of them.

            • Tricledrown 15.1.1.1.2.2

              Gypsy it's hard to find a home for your argument .

              The Brightline test 2yrs under National.

              Then 5yrs under labour

              Then 10 yrs under labour.

              Time to move on gypsy .

              • Gypsy

                The brightline test is only 5 years on new builds, and after those periods any capital gain is tax free. But based on your comment, do you think Jacinda was lying when she promised no capital gains tax on her watch?

                • Belladonna

                  It's also zero on the family home.

                  One of the biggest drivers of capital gain has been the 'buy to do up', sell, take the profit and buy the next house. Rinse and repeat. Completely untouched by the bright line test as it's the 'family home'.

                • Craig H

                  Extension of the bright line test was an explicit campaign promise, but it's also not a new capital gains tax, it was an existing one.

                  • Gypsy

                    I agree. Tricledown seems to suggest the Brightline is a CGT, but I doubt he'd be comfortable calling the PM a liar.

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