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National’s plan – open and be damned

Written By: - Date published: 9:43 am, October 21st, 2021 - 71 comments
Categories: covid-19, grant robertson, health, Judith Collins, national, same old national, tax - Tags:

Yesterday National released what feels like take 16 of its Covid response plan, this one focussing on business interests and setting a hard timeline for reopening.

The fiscal details were attacked mercilessly by Grant Robertson in the house.

Four bucks a week to workers is a joke and tax cuts for small businesses will only benefit the profitable.  And missing out on the female unemployment figure and getting the Maori unemployment figure is inexcusable.  Robertson’s final comment “bring back Paul Goldsmith” must have hurt.

Sympathetic voices have been amplified in the media to make the announcement sound like a very good thing.  For me it is a desperate recycling of tried and failed right wing dogma.

As an example National’s dine and discover voucher proposal for restaurants is but a desperate rehash of a UK conservative policy that was panned for being instrumental in increasing the spread of Covid by 8% to 17%.

National has also set a line in the sand, December 1 for our own particular version of freedom day, again borrowing from a well used UK Conservative concept.

Back in July 2021 Boris Johnson announced that they would celebrate freedom day.  The Covid death rate has increased ever since.

There are some pretty ugly moral underpinnings to National’s deadline.  It suggests that those who are not vaccinated have only themselves to blame.

This has been repeated by Mike Hosking who shows his complete indifference to his fellow human being in his statement that “[t]here is no good reason for the vast majority of us to be held back by a) the thick; b) the lazy; or c) overarching governments who trade in fear”.

He also praises England’s and New South Wales’s responses to Covid.  Words fail me …

For a more reasoned, careful and more humane analysis can I invite you to read this article by Keith Lynch at Stuff.  His main points:

  • Much as some of us were proud of it long term elimination was not a realistic policy goal.
  • “The end of elimination didn’t necessarily mean failure. Keeping the virus out for so long was a huge win, giving us time to prepare.”
  • “By delaying the arrival of Covid, we’ve been able to watch how things play out overseas, getting a glimpse of our future and enabling us to prepare accordingly.  We can learn how quickly immunity wanes after vaccinations, which will help inform our approach to boosters.”
  • Our death rate is still remarkably low.

National’s plan if implemented would undermine the vaccination effort.  It seems very likely we will hit a 90% vaccination rate.  Declaring victory after that would remove a large amount of the impetus for the final part of our community to be vaccinated.

And as I said earlier Covid does not give a fuck about our plans.  It attacks our weaknesses and an incomplete vaccination programme would be a significant weakness.

I get the need for certainty and predictability.  I hate to say this but Covid is not going to cooperate with our plans, no matter how superficially attractive they are.

71 comments on “National’s plan – open and be damned ”

  1. tc 1

    Certainty over extra suffering. Typical approach from national.

    Yes let's copy the UK and NSW as it's working sooo well for them.

    • lprent 1.1

      The article I read this morning in the Guardian subtitled..

      Health secretary rejects calls for ‘plan B’ measures despite predicting infections could hit 100,000 a day

      Politicians have a responsibility to set an example in the battle against Covid, including wearing masks in crowded spaces, Sajid Javid has suggested as he predicted new infections could hit a record 100,000 a day.

      With the government under mounting pressure to impose measures to control the virus, Javid warned “this pandemic is not over” and insisted he would do “what it takes” to protect the health service. But he said: “We don’t believe that the pressures currently faced by the NHS are unsustainable.”

      Javid urged millions of eligible people to come forward for booster jabs, saying this was key for people being able to “keep their freedoms”, but declined to say how high infection or hospitalisation rates would need to reach before measures are reimposed.

      He was pressed on the risks of mixed messages, with most Conservative MPs declining to wear masks in the House of Commons or in packed cabinet meetings, and the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, encouraging the public to book Christmas parties.

      Yesterday's number of new cases in the UK was 49,139 – up 6,363 since last week. The previous peak was at ~60,000 cases per day.

      Yesterday's vaccinations were 75,669

      The current vaccinations in the UK are at 67.7% for full doses and 73.8% for at least one does – of the whole population.

      The equivalent vaccination rates here are 57% for full dose and 72% for at least one dose.

      We have nowhere near the medical capacity of the NHS – I'd rate us at being under half of their capacity per head of population (probably closer to a third). We simply don't have the capacity to open.

      Especially with the kind of dimwitted MPs like National and Act specialise in going out and helping to supporting Mike Hosking in his two year drive to kill as many people as possible through simple stupidity. It wouldn’t surprise me if those kinds of ignorant fuckwits would try to discourage wearing of masks

      At the least we need to have started vaccinating the under 12s to keep the spread rates down. Hanging out for that approval from Medsafe.

  2. aj 2

    The Keith Lynch article was very refreshing to read. One gets very tired of media catastrophising every aspect of our response to the pandemic.

  3. Stephen D 3

    What I found telling was that it didn’t feature on 1News till 6.35. Hardly a major news item.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    A reasonable summation. However, what's the bet that Friday will give us the PM announcing a similar plan?!

    This thing about Labour & National copying each other has been going on for more than a generation so it's unreasonable to expect either to break that mold.

    No shame to admit failure: Delta is too clever for humans to defeat. Now that the evidence is out, expect tolerance of restrictions to ebb noticeably. Will the South Island declare independence from Aotearoa? If the PM fails to yield to their demands on Friday, they ought to go for it.

  5. Grumpy 5

    I agree that vaccination rates are far too low to reopen the economy completely.

    The media uncritically parrots the "eligible" vaccination rate, the actual rate is much lower.

    https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations

    A quick look shows many countries with close to 90% real vaccination rates showing a surge in infection.

    Real rates from above link are;

    Singapore 79.46%, UK 66.56%, NZ 58.38%, Australia 57.21% and USA 55.96%

    • dv 5.1

      And yesterday cases per mill

      Singapore 677

      UK 637

      NZ 20

      Aus 78

      USA 232

      Nos rounded.
      https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

      • Grumpy 5.1.1

        Shows what it can easily jump to, even with higher vaccination rates than our's.

        We should be better, a small sparsely populated isolated island, we have had every opportunity to ride this out until a better vaccine was developed.

    • Ed1 5.2

      Adding the partially vaccinated give 74%, which is an indication of the likely full vaccination level in a few weeks time. I agree with using the fully vaccinated percentage for targets, but even if we get the two numbers closer I suspect we will get the best balance of economic and death results by waiting for opening up at about 0% to 95%,

  6. I like the Natz plan – give covid-19 an ultimatum! You behave when we get to 85-90% vaccination, or we'll open the country by December 1st and you'd better go away – or else!

    I can see this working really well. /s

  7. Alan 7

    This plan will not be a lot different from the labour plan, give or take a few weeks, Mickey will be spewing at that thought but reality has set in now.

    • Patricia Bremner 7.1

      Micky (no e) “will be spewing” We all are!! ..God Gnats are pathetic, and you pretend to know better lol.

      That "few weeks' will be critical for 20% of our population. The PM said "We will move with slowly with care" from my recollection. They have never!! named an opening date, as they have always said it would depend on high vaccination.

      We are not there yet.

      Those proposing idiotic actions based on faulty figures know they will never have to be accountable, … as the current Government is every day.

      • Grumpy 7.1.1

        "slowly with care" has been abbreviated to just "slowly". The hiatus in vaccination after we thought Covid had been stopped in it's tracks and the jump from "first in the queue for vaccines" to almost last will prove deadly and hard for Labour to shake off.

        We can't wait for the last few percent of recalcitrants to be vaccinated. Everyone has the opportunity and if they prefer not to be vaccinated then that should be looked at as their decision.

        • Tricledrown 7.1.1.1

          Grumpy So your happy for our already over worked Doctor's and nurse's our best and brightest having to put their health at risk because you want a panicked opening.

          We pay $100's of millions in fact $billions for our health system and training,for a few people who are vaccine hesitant or don't have the resources to get to a vaccination location.punishing those who are a last line of defence.

          • Grumpy 7.1.1.1.1

            No, that is not what I want but it will happen sooner or later. There has been plenty of time to increase ICU facilities. The virus will escape and become uncontrolled. The vaccine, as in other countries, will not stop it’s spread. The vaccine take up, despite the spin is low. The results will be severe with the biggest contributors being government incompetence and the unwillingness of a small sector of society’s unwillingness to get vaccinated.

    • Tricledrown 7.2

      Allan 90%+ is going to be a lot safer if a few weeks makes a difference that is a sensible plan.Panicking people by offering a far more dangerous shortcut is not a plan.It is foolhardy and irresponsible idea to try and get a few points in the polls.

  8. Tricledrown 8

    Easy to make up policy when you can't implement or take a hit for the consequences .

    Own goal National not well researched where is the money show us the money .$100's of millions without costings great money management.1,000 hospitalizations a day in the UK.NZ equivalent 85 a day 600 a week 1200 a fortnight our hospital system can not cope.Not to mention the horrific toll Maori would face.

    Collins still flailing around trying to be relevant.

    Panicking is playing into Deltas evasive spread.

    STFU unless you have a viable plan Collins.

    • tc 8.1

      A bi-partisan approach to aid the vax program and neuter the tamakis and tin foil hat brigade is beyond national. They've had plenty of chances.

      Imo she's lost the next election for them already regardless of who leads them into it.

      Long covid etc the reminders will be everywhere.

  9. Ad 9

    102 today in Auckland just makes Collins an idiot.

    And rising.

    • tc 9.1

      Imagine a proper media using that pesky fact drilling into her, bishop, reti etc in a similar manner that cunliffe got drilled over the DP smear.

      Make them wear it which ain't happening with the owned media.

    • Enough is Enough 9.2

      8 of those were in TA which is a bit south of Auckland.

      But your point stands nonetheless

  10. georgecom 10

    interesting to see National actually have a 'plan' or even a policy on something. They have been thin on the ground. Still, I guess it's a step up from previous attempts which amounted to 'open the borders/close the borders/open the borders', homeless men sneaking into MIQ facilities, leaking covid information to the media, squawks about slow vaccination rates with no idea themselves of what to do about it, and stating the obvious.

    daily vaccination rates are interesting post super Saturday. Sort of reminds me of the day after a big do, a big booze saturday night and a very quiet time on sunday getting over a hangover and lack of sleep. Daily first jabs since Saturday have been about 1/3 down from what they were last week, second jabs about the same, down 1/3.

    from a rate of about roughly 100,000 first jabs a week, down to around 66,000 on trends

    from a rate of roughly 350,000 second jabs, down to around 220,000 on trends

    still reasonable, but markedly slower

  11. Lukas 11

    What prep was done?

    From what I can tell- no new ICU capacity has come online and we are scrambling to come up with a plan on how to educate our children? Rules, alert-levels with different steps and pathways been announced with little to no detail.

    What specific prep was done?

    • Enough is Enough 11.1

      From what I can tell the strategy was keep it out until we are vaccinated. Then slowly reopen.

      There was no preparation for what we have now, and what we will experience over the next 12 months. If they did prepare for that scenrio they kept it very quiet.

      In March 2020 there was a call to arms from the government to retired nurses and doctors. They appreciated at that time this could get ugly and we need as much help as possible. Then we eliminated and went back to BAU.

      The fact nurses and doctors are still struggling to get into the country just baffles me.

    • tc 11.2

      No new ICU capacity has come online because this isn't Hogwarts and DHB's aren't run by wizards.

      Much like I didn't see a new harbour bridge pop up either.

      Reality bites in a system run down by key, ryall, English and Coleman over 3 terms that's now in recovery under 1.5 terms of labour.

      Covids been with us now for all of this govts second term. Get real.

      • Enough is Enough 11.2.1

        Tony Ryall is responsble for the government not increasing our ICU capabilities over the past 18 months during a global pandemic where they have borrowed $60B and spent it on other stuff?

        I am not sure where to even start with that.

        If we were in October 2017 I'd be clapping you on, but really.

        • Tricledrown 11.2.1.1

          Enough is Enough it takes years to build capacity .Most hospitals are old and run down the newer hospitals suffering leaky building syndrome may need a complete rebuild.

          Hospitals have been suffering staff shortages for many years.

          National cut health funding by 20% over 9 years. Increasing the amount of money to DHB's by less than 1% per year.Inflation averaged 2% over those 9 years.Then the rapidly aging population increased by 20% over that 9 yr period effectively a 29% cut .not allowing for more expensive materials in hospitals as inflation in the health sector runs at 7% plus per year.

          You got miserly tax cuts at the expense of a run down health system.Tax cuts whom only the well off benefitted ,they can afford private healthcare.

      • Leighton 11.2.2

        Absolutely tc. I'm so sick of the right wing trope that the government should have sonehow rustled up extra permanently staffed ICU beds in the last year and a bit. Anyone can buy a bed and medical equipment but it is no use if there's nobody available to provide the 24/7 care that a patient occupying such a bed would need. ICU medicine and nursing is a specialist discipline, and training a new one takes years. The best that can be done in a crisis is to give people from other areas of the health sector a bit of basic training and redeploy them as backup for surge capacity. Not ideal or anything like a permanent solution, but I'm sure that's what will happen if it comes down to it. The time to actually prep our health system to handle this pandemic was 5-10 years ago. Ship has long since sailed.

        • georgecom 11.2.2.1

          yes, second best time to boost ICU staff capacity is now, that's up to Little. Best time was 5-10 years ago, that was Ryall's responsibility.

    • georgecom 11.3

      I would suspect very very little Lukas. Here is an example to illustrate my skepticism, it may not be reflective of the entire 'plan' but shows the level of thinking in recent times. Collins and Bishop regularly in the media saying how the govt vaccination roll out was slow. So you of course look for what Nationals 'plan' was. A few vague statements about prioritising essential workers and such like. Reasonable point yes. But that was essentially related to distributing the existing vaccines. NO mention of how the National Party would expand the availability of vaccines if they were doing it. No mention of which vaccines, from where, at what cost or how we would gain priority access. So I suspect little prep.

  12. Adrian 12

    Interesting to listen to someone who knows a few days ago on RNZ, about Rapid Antigen spit testing, apparently it is somewhere between 72% and 89% accurateBUT only if done by someone who is trained, if not it drops to 54% +. The balance can have a a huge number of false positives which are very dangerous because someone who takes the test can be led to believe that they are clear when in fact infected and go on to behave as if clear. What pisses me off is that not one journalist I have heard has challenged Bishop and Collins et al about this.

  13. Poission 13

    Singapore with all the bells and whistles,since lessening restrictions has gone into reversal,with cases close to 4k a day.

    Reintroduction of regulatory controls has now extended to late november.

    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/stabilisation-phase-restrictions-extended-nov-21-dining-social-gatherings-2256766

  14. Ad 14

    My brother in Taranaki finally got his first jab. He's pretty Taranaki hard core.

    Peer pressure at work, rather than employer mandate, is what did the trick.

  15. Andre 15

    National at least has a plan, however inept and misguided and heartless it may be.

    Our government's plan so far appears to be to just cruise along murmuring sweet nothings while keeping Auckland in lockdown until all the vaccine refusers that have zero incentive to actually get vaccinated (because they don't think it will ever affect their lifestyle) somehow see the light.

    Tomorrow's announcement had better be a fucking good one, the need has been obvious for a long long time, and it's not as if the government is short of resources or powers.

    • rod 15.1

      Hi Andre, 'National at least has a plan', yes and they all sound about the same sort of plans that Baldrick used to have. smiley

    • Gypsy 15.2

      So far the governments plan has been to announce on Monday that there will be an announcement on Wednesday about an announcement on Friday. They appear to be as useless as each other.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 15.2.1

        They appear to be as useless as each other.

        yes Such a useless job of containing Delta. Ardern is the worst of all – chilling. The lack of certainty thoughout this pandemic has been appalling – for the first 6 months of the pandemic our govt had no clue when effective vaccines would be available – so useless. Chilling.

        Pressure on PM to set out Auckland's future
        National leader Judith Collins yesterday unveiled her party's proposed plan, including an end to lockdowns and starting to reopen the borders either on December 1 or when the vaccination rate hits 85–90 per cent, whichever was earliest.

        That is the same date Act believes the borders should reopen more, although some have panned it as too risky.

        Collins also criticised the PM for the delay in releasing the Government's plan, saying people needed certainty as soon as possible.

        The solutions are all too obvious – put National and ACT in charge; National really should have been in charge from 2017 on. /sarc

        • Gypsy 15.2.1.1

          "Such a useless job of containing Delta."

          You could have saved yourself another dive into the lowest form of wit if only you'd read my comment in context.

          This thread is about a plan FOR THE FUTURE.

          The comment I was replying to was about a plan FOR THE FUTURE.

          I wasn't making any comment about the job the government has done in containing Delta.

    • Except, their sums don't add up for purpose built MIQ. Short by NZ$150 million, at least.

  16. Leighton 16

    It suggests that those who are not vaccinated have only themselves to blame.

    Come on mate, really? Who else do they still have to blame? I understand that the original rollout was targeted at the "average" (read white middle-class) New Zealander and circumstances/privilege make it easier in practice for some to get vaccinated than others, but for the past six weeks at least the Government and the private sector has been doing everything short of rolling out the red carpet to get people vaccinated. Free taxis to the vaccination clinic, free food when you get there, a wide array of other commercial gimmicks, targeted programs for Maori and Pasifika whose vaccine uptake tends to be below average, community leaders from those groups actively advocating for vaccination, clear messaging and information on why vaccination is important, widespread availability of the vaccine from GPs and pharmacies as well as bespoke vaccination clinics open seven days a week (which from my experience are run with military precision while maintaining human kindness and a professional service mentality).

    I'm sure there are pockets of poverty in isolated rural regions where access remains a genuine issue and that needs to be addressed urgently, but that is nowhere near 15% of the national population. What possible systemic excuse do 11% of Aucklanders, 7% of Wellingtonians and 13% of Hamiltonians and Cantabrians have for not having had a single dose yet? The sad fact is that most (albeit not all) of these people either a) can't be bothered because they think Covid can't/won't get them or their loved ones despite all evidence to the contrary or b) have made an active choice to reject vaccination for reasons which are entirely selfish and/or based on hocus pocus bullshit or conspiracy theories and are impervious to any reasoning to the contrary.

    National's plan is bollocks for many reasons, as it always has been, but it is also time for citizens to start owning their own choices. The focus needs to be on what has to happen to protect those who are vulnerable and DON'T have a choice in the matter (children under 12, the immune compromised who remain vulnerable despite being vaccinated and the very small number who medically cannot receive the Pfizer vaccine). This is what should guide the reopening plan, not indefinitely pandering to those who are giving those vulnerable people two middle fingers.

  17. Nic the NZer 17

    Looks like NSW is going to be running a live experiment in opening up with low-ish vaccination rates. They have apparently reached 70% if eligible population double vaxed, which was a target, so are now in "this is happening" mode. Of course they were already much worse off than NZ and Auckland but something should be inferable from the expected outbreak growth (hope to be completely wrong about this).

    Also of interest are some graphs of vaccine studies of effectiveness, though there is a consensus that one of the later charts is a miss-interpretation of the statistic of a potential 50-50 rate.

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=48546

  18. The coronovirus pandemic is the the equivalent of a world wide war against an invisible airborne invasion.

    I am sick of hearing from whining business moaners about how hard done by they are.

    Since when has a healthy bank balance been more important than a healthy population?

    When did an overwhelmed hospital system become acceptable for "business spokespeople"?

    A pandemic is war. Get used to it. We have had at least two world wars to my knowledge. One of those wars was associated with an influenza pandemic incorrectly related to Spain.

    Immigration and generational shifts in attitudes have left Collins and her adherents rudderless.

    Collins time scale is ludicrous, and it is not even an election year.

  19. Tricledrown 19

    National tax cuts plus saying they are pay down debt faster as well. Does that mean more cuts in health like in the Key era.

    $350 million a week for the tax cuts $billions on other initiatives .

    Collins leadership is a joke changing one finance spokesperson for another incompetent.

    At a time when we need an effective opposition

    Give Reti a go he sounds reasonable .

    • Nic the NZer 19.1

      Actually National can deliver on that. They just get the RBNZ to write off the govt debt they hold. If debt is still above target then just get the RBNZ to buy more and do it again.

  20. Hunter Thompson II 20

    I expect all our nurses and other healthcare staff will be marching in the streets calling for Jacinda to adopt the Natz' plan. It's a real winner – for about 2 days.

    • Leighton 21.1

      100% Frank. If we want to trace back to the point at which our tremendously successful Covid response went down the wrong track for the first time, it was the Government's capitulation to the incessant whining of National and the hospitality/tourism sector to prematurely open an international travel bubble with the proper vaccine rollout only months away. It's hard to imagine a more arrogant middle finger to the virus, and unsurprisingly the virus quickly proved itself to be more than up to the challenge.

  21. Leighton 22

    100% Frank. If we want to trace back to the point at which our tremendously successful Covid response went down the wrong track for the first time, it was the Government's capitulation to the incessant whining of National and the hospitality/tourism sector to prematurely open an international travel bubble with the proper vaccine rollout only months away. It's hard to imagine a more arrogant middle finger to the virus, and unsurprisingly the virus quickly proved itself to be more than up to the challenge. The rest, as they say, is the history we are living through right now.

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