Well the last week has been a real roller coaster.
Aotearoa New Zealand has gone from the ecstasy of we have no Covid to the agony that we, at the time of writing, have eight cases of Covid and the first two went on a road trip from Auckland to Wellington, hugged someone who went to a gym and who the f*ck knows where we are now. So far there is no evidence of community transmission. Long may it stay that way.
As I previously noted National went to town on the issue. Michael Woodhouse chose to hold back releasing information about the road trip until the time that it would be of the most political damage. Sure elements of the Ministry of Health may have also known it but letting the Minister know it immediately would have meant that Wellington could have put its foot down, insisted that the quarantine regime improves its performance, and hopefully reduced the risk of the virus spreading. Delaying meant he had a great Gotcha moment but the risk of the spread of the virus has now been increased.
But Labour would have done the same I hear you wail. They also seek to maximise political advantage over contributing to the public good.
I doubt it.
There is this example from 2015 when Andrew Little chose to go to John Key’s office to tell him that there was something remiss with National MP Mike Sabin. No publicity, no point scoring, just a suggestion he sorts things out. From my post at the time:
If you ever needed to see the difference between Labour and National then Labour’s handling of the issues surrounding Mike Sabin provides a perfect example.
One of the issues of significance is when did John Key learn about Mike Sabin’s difficulties. If he knew before the election the question will be why was Sabin reselected and why he was offered the chair of the Law and Order select committee. After all the media knew about an allegation of assault before the election and had asked questions of Key’s office.
Initially Key declined to say when he first knew of Sabin’s difficulties. When asked on Friday January 30 he declined to answer this question. Then on Monday he said that he knew Sabin was “facing personal and family issues” in mid December. Then he said it was “early December“. Then on February 3 he said he found out about the “issues” on December 1.
Andrew Little said yesterday morning that he had heard about the issues in late November, shortly after he became leader. He was confirmed leader on November 18. When interviewed he was at a Labour Caucus retreat and did not have the details with him. He said that he was received from two sources information that a National MP was under Police investigation and made the decision to alert the Prime Minister’s office. Little was confident that it was at the end of November, within 10 days of his taking up the role as leader. By contrast Key had maintained that his office had been informed on December 3, and he made aware of the issue on December 1. He also maintained that his office already knew about the issue before the time Labour had informed it.
This all turned to shyte for National after Labour supplied a phone log showing that a conversation between McCarten and Eagleson happened on November 26, 8 days after Little became leader and well before the dates Key initially maintained National knew about the issue.
Little also said that Labour did not intend to take the matter further, and they would not be telling anyone else.
Last week Labour chose to go on the counter offensive and said in Parliament that Chris Bishop had advocated for the two women to be released early.
Can I respectfully suggest this was a mistake. Electorate MPs should be free to advocate on behalf of constituents or their families. Political links should not be drawn. I have spent a career advocating for drunk drivers, robbers, burglars, wife beaters and drug addicts. This does not mean that I approve of their behaviour.
It does however add in a further time point. It appears that these two women were on National’s radar for quite a few days. I almost get the impression National wants the quarantine system to fail.
Woodhouse’s source of information appears to be from within the Ministry of Health. It is a shame they have not put as much effort into doing their job as they have into the leaking of information.
Is Bloomfield to blame? He feels like part of my extended family. He has been at the centre of a public service attempt to do what no other nation in the Western World has done and that is give us an insulated but normal life. In the near future it appears there will be no foreign travel except possibly to the Pacific but at least our communities will be normal and our hospitals and morgues not overrun by people dying from the virus.
Did Bloomfield personally stuff up last week? Well no. Auckland’s Health management of the detention areas has been appalling. But unlike Superman Bloomfield cannot be expected to be everywhere at all times.
Further infections have appeared over the past few days. But they are all infections from overseas and, apart from the two road trippers, detected while in quarantine. Last week there were 3,567 people in quarantine or managed isolation so new cases are almost inevitable.
The usual cheerleaders in the media are complaining that things are too strict AND not strict enough. Please make up your mind.
And hotel guests have expressed frustration. With the greatest of respect, the world is facing a pandemic and we want to as far as possible keep it out. Your personal discomfort is the price of maintaining this as best as we can.
Meanwhile we continue to have no detected cases of community spread. Long may it last.
And to be frank the chances of New Zealand staying disease free are very low. The virus is a bastard, easily spread and hard to detect.
When you compare what is happening in New Zealand to overseas you still have to marvel at what we have achieved. The number of cases in the world continues to increase. (graph from Johns Hopkins).
And the US, China, Germany and Australia, the country National was previously cheer leading, have all had increases in their daily infection rates.
Paul Goldsmith’s claim this morning that it is the Government’s fault that because of problems at the border trade cannot resume is a joke. Just look at the rates for China and India in particular. Do we really want to resume trade with those countries. And even Germany, who up to now have handled the outbreak with typical determination is facing a second wave of infections.
There is a legitimate expectation that New Zealand is as close to perfection in terms of its response to the Covid pandemic. So far we are going pretty well. Ashley Bloomfield deserves much of the praise. And yes we as a country need to do even better. There are a lot of kiwis returning home and some of them have the virus.
Can we do better? Certainly. Road trips by Covid infected recent arrivals should not happen. But so far we can still be very grateful that we are doing as well as we are.
I for one continue to be very grateful of the efforts of Ashley Bloomfield.