Open mike 01/04/2020

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, April 1st, 2020 - 226 comments
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Open mike is your post.

For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

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Step up to the mike …

226 comments on “Open mike 01/04/2020 ”

  1. Reading an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on NZ releasing the modelling on covid-19 cases and Morrison refusing to do so – a question and a comment made me smile:

    Marcus Schnell


    Why can NZ share these models and we can't ??



    Because they treat their citizens like adults. And a woman is in charge and she knows what it is like to be locked out of the decision making process by old white men and have your concerns dismissed with a pat on the head.

  2. Andre 2

    Good read on the nuts and bolts of trying to model disease spreading.

  3. Andre 3

    There was a flurry of all sorts of allegations from all stripes of factional extremists when allegations of historic sexual assault were made against Biden. But the story never got traction outside the fringes of the intertoobz. Amanda Marcotte takes a look at why. Her final paragraph is a good summary, but the whole thing is worth the read.

    What can be said is that Reade's story is credible and compelling in some important ways, and also comes with a number of troubling red flags. For a variety of reasons it has not been taken seriously on a national level, but those reasons do not include a mainstream media conspiracy to protect Joe Biden. Rather than becoming the subject of serious investigation, this has instead become an occasion for die-hard supporters on both the Sanders and Biden sides to score points on one another online. Actual facts have been supplanted by reckless conspiracy theories spun by enthusiasts of both candidates. Whatever the facts of this case may be, the #MeToo movement deserves better than to be dragged into the sleaze like this.

    • weka 3.1

      I'm not following that, but for many women, how Biden relates with women physically is a red flag. Not of specific sexual assault history (again, haven't been following), but that he is has boundary issues. It makes lots of women uncomfortable.

      • Andre 3.1.1

        Indeed. When it comes to behaviour towards women, it's really aggravating that the November choice has come down to a multiply-alleged self-confessed genital-grabber with numerous other seriously creepy and abusive behaviours documented on camera, versus a singly-alleged genital-grabber with numerous other moderately creepy behaviours documented on camera.

        It's not like that's an unfortunate-but-necessary side effect of the personality characteristics needed for the job, there have been a few (disappointingly few) previous presidents that were respectful and treated women as equals.

        Maybe someday we'll make the issue moot, for a while at least, by electing one of the many capable and qualified women to the job. Sadly, it’s not going to be this year.

      • Peter 3.1.2

        How important were such issues for Trump?

        • Andre

          Biden's potential turnout includes a lot of voters that might be turned off by that kind of thing.

          The grab'em'fuhrer's voters include a lot that are specifically turned on by that kind of thing, and most of the rest just don't care.

  4. Ad 4

    Since New Zealand appears to have scored a rather large supply of ventilators against pretty stiff global competition, it would be great to hear Joe Biden say that perhaps a national medical procurement system – or even one in which states are required to do it – would be a very good idea in future.

    He doesn't have to go all Medicare For All to get some health policy shifts in a future government. Hat Tip: Bernie Sanders.

    • AB 4.1

      As the "not Trump" it seems that Joe doesn't need to say anything meaningful. Ever. He needs to not get C-19 and stay alive until November. He's not so much a real candidate as a repository of nostalgia – a bit like the Queen. He is so well cocooned and protected now that even the latest MeToo allegations bounce off him. Invincible Joe.

      At some point he has to come out and face Trump. And there's the dilemma – if Trump stuffs up the C-19 response then he loses the election whatever. But if the health professionals Trump clearly despises actually prevent a total stuff-up, then Trump can beat Biden. Which does one choose – lots of deaths or a return of Trump? This is a genuine ‘lesser of two evils’ choice.

  5. A 5

    Grateful to be in this wonderful country at this time. We are so incredibly lucky.

  6. Nic the NZer 6

    Regarding govt spending and the argument for a country balancing its budget eventually which comes up in the context of other discussions regularly. Yesterday in OpenMike there was a size-able thread discussing the eventual need for a further 2 year public sector pay freeze.

    This is a public discussion which is occurring in Australia at present.

    • pat 6.1

      It is a very good interview……but sadly dosnt address my fears around NZD value (we are not Japan who make highly sought after goods) …and MMT in practice relies on (IMO) a very high level of electoral responsibility and understanding which I suspect is unrealistic…..far too many people live for today and crave (perceived) 'free stuff'

      • Nic the NZer 6.1.1

        As Bill Mitchell highlights MMT is a description of the workings of the monetary system (not a monetary or fiscal regime), so what ever you think will happen (due to New Zealands limitations in goods production) should have happened to New Zealand decades ago.

        As for putting your distrust of politicians and the perpetuation of economics mythology in the way of sensible economic, political and social policy, well I guess some people do have such values.

        • pat

          MMT may be a description but if you wish to apply its principles then it moves into the realm of policy and the practicalities that involves, otherwise it remains theory.

          How the NZD is valued currently is through the current paradigms 'lens', if we change that 'lens ' then we potentially change its value.

          As to perpetuation of mythology if the greater public had the capability to understand and responsibly operate such a policy it would have been adopted by popular vote years ago…and theres ample evidence that 'education' dosnt necessarily modify behaviour.

          The less said about politicians the better

          • Nic the NZer

            Much as I would love to discuss your understanding of scientific ontology with you in detail I have just spotted some flying pigs out the window and they clearly need an education in Newtons theory of gravity which will bring them down to earth.

    • KJT 6.2

      Who do they think will spend the money to keep the private sector going?

      The private sector workers they just, sacked?

  7. Siobhan 7

    "Public and private hospitals have about 750 ventilators between them.

    It is a relatively low number per capita – with only 4.7 intensive care beds per 100,000 people compared to 35 per 100,000 in the United States and 29 in Germany…..China…3.5 per 100,000 people.." RNZ this morning.


    I'm still confused as to how we could ever have claimed to have a budget surplus. And this is but one teeny tiny lapse in spending.

    • Carolyn_Nth 7.1

      That's austerity for you.

      Also now nurses are over-stretched and stressed.

      It was not so obvious to many when our health service had shifted to prioritising the most acute cases, and when the ratio of nurses to patients was wound back. The health services could probably get by on the low number of ventilators in recent times, but it is exposed by the lack of the amount needed in a pandemic crisis.

      Plus, complicit media.

    • weka 7.2

      please provide a link for that.

    • tc 7.3

      Price is easy to calculate but the values always subjective. Wonder how much it'd cost to bring our system up to a level we could cope with a serious outbreak ?

      I think many countries will look at their health systems more as assets than cost centres now which's long overdue.

    • Incognito 7.4

      Do you want to take a stab as to what the optimal number is or should be? Then, put a price tag on this and we can discuss that too.

      Similar arguments have been made in the context of PHARMAC and funding of potentially life-saving but hugely expensive treatments, e.g. for cancer patients.

      • Adrian 7.4.1

        Exactly Incognito. We probably have 50-100% spare capacity in normal times of physical ventilators. How many should we have? There have been God knows how many cycles of ventilator technology since we even had the first ventilator , so how many ventilators do we scrap every upgrade, ( the early ones were shit, BTW ). This is the first time we have had a pandemic should we have been spending millions every technological update, instead of spending the money on immediate health needs?

        The number of ventilators is also not the issue, each ventilator in normal times needs up to 5 trained nurses to operate it to cover shifts, toilet and meal breaks and days off as it is not an automatic fit and forget machine.

        200 more ventilators is good news ,the bad is , where are the trained nurses coming from? It is a highly trained and technical process to use properly and safely. More like driving a Formula 1 car than a shopping cart.

    • bill 7.5

      I'd read a while back that NZ had the lowest ratio in the OECD.

      Ventilators aside, are the universities and their labs being roped into expanding NZs testing regime? Why is it that testing is so low? And can it be ramped up? Or are we stuck with only testing those considered to be "high risk" because of known contacts or whatever?

      Because if the answer to that last question is "yes", then "Shelter in Place" might as well be abandoned sooner rather than later, and the fall back strategy of "social distancing" adopted.

      For anyone wondering about what the difference between the two is –
      "Shelter in Place" is an elimination strategy. "Social Distancing" a curve flattening strategy only designed to stop hospital capacity being over run.

      • joe90 7.5.1

        are the universities and their labs being roped into expanding NZs

        Don't know about universities but a friend who chucked in his lab tech job years ago has been roped in by our DHB.

      • Carolyn_Nth 7.5.2

        I don't know how, but the government has continually increased NZ's testing capacity. It's now up to 3700 a day, and will increase by another 500 a day in the coming week.

        It took a while to get up to 1000, and 1,500 a day.

        I think social distancing is the most important measure. There will never be 100% compliance with shelter in place unless there were strong authoritarian policing with military support.

        I also wonder if total elimination is wise. Social/physical distancing aims to slow down the virus so the hospital system isn't overwhelmed. I wonder if it is valuable to have a gradual increase in community immunity due to gradual increase in numbers of people who have been infected with mild or no obvious symptoms.

        Elimination means the country remains strongly at risk from infection from outside the country until a vaccine is found. That means on-going, rigorous border closure and checks eg of people bringing freight into NZ.

        • weka

          If we give up on containment/elimination we are basically saying we are willing to let more people die. But yes, it is dependent upon a vaccine, and I don't think that is certain yet. It seems reasonable to start with full shut down, contain the spread, and then look at how we want to manage from that point.

          Social distancing and shelter in place are both necessary strategies either way.

          • Carolyn_Nth

            Shelter in place helps to enforce physical distancing. I think it's a very good idea for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions to totally stay home and practice physical distancing.

            It is impossible to get 100% compliance without a total police state.

            However, if I get one more person bulldozing their way into my physical space, expecting this old woman to help them with their problem, when going to the post office, or GP I will report them to the police (so far scruffy middle aged thick set males with old cars – or was it the same guy both times?)

            There seem to be a minority of people who don't think they need to follow the rules.

            People will die either way. The aim is to try to stop that, and social/physical distancing, good hygiene practices, etc would do it if everyone complied… but humans…?

            I do think building up community immunity in those with mild infections would be helpful, rather than trying to keep the whole population free of infection, which is impossible.

            • weka

              Shelter in place literally stops the spread in ways that social distancing can't.

              We don't need 100% compliance, we need to reduce the spread as much as we can by getting optimal numbers of people on board.

              Do you really need to clear your mail this week or even next?

              "People will die either way."

              Not sure what you mean there. If we don't contain the spread, more people will die.

              "I do think building up community immunity in those with mild infections would be helpful, rather than trying to keep the whole population free of infection, which is impossible."

              If we shift from containment to herd immunity this month it will mean two things:

              1. more people will die

              2. the lives of disabled and at risk people will become segregated from the rest of the population, with all the consequences attached to that.

              I don't think we need to be considering that yet. We're still not sure yet what is happening with community transmission, because we're still so close in time to infected people returning from overseas. I don't have a sense yet of the timeframe but the 4 weeks shut down seems entirely doable and reasonable.

              If we manage to get containment, then I think there will be a big national conversation about what we do next. That conversation will be dependent on the public becoming educated about what the various issues are. Some of that information won't be available yet.

              • Carolyn_Nth

                I'm not saying we should adopt a policy of working to herd immunity before we get a vaccine. I am asking questions about the potential un-intended consequences of aiming for elimination. I don't know the answers yet. Still thinking about it.

                Total containment is not possible. And total elimination is not possible. That horse has already bolted. There is now no data on how widespread community transmission has been – there are now currently attempts to get data on this.

                And, I agree with Skegg, the testing policy has allowed community transmission to spread – ie, by until this week only testing those with clear overseas contacts.

                The more the transmission is contained and fewer people getting mild doses, the more vulnerable people will be to being infected – and potentially more people dying.

                This guy on Checkpoint last night was saying that elimination is not possible, because there will always be some people who don't comply.

                His team has been doing anti-body research. As well as knowing how much community transmission we have had, it would also be good to check how many people already have Covid-19 anti-bodies.

                My concern is that putting all the hopes on shelter-in-place and elimination, will give people a false sense of security. And it possibly leaves the population, especially the most vulnerable, open to infection – hence more deaths.

                • weka

                  I don't think we are putting all our hopes on containment. We're focused on that right now because we only get one chance to try that.

                  "The more the transmission is contained and fewer people getting mild doses, the more vulnerable people will be to being infected – and potentially more people dying."

                  Do you have some references for that idea, esp including what would happen with partial containment/spread?

                  • Carolyn_Nth

                    No. We need more data. We haven't seen it play out for long enough in different countries with different policies. No country is going hard out for herd immunity because of the concern that more people will die.

                    My concern is what happens after the virus seems to have been contained?

                  • Carolyn_Nth

                    No.We need more information and data.

                    Do you have any data that shows shelter-in-place would stop transmission?

                    • weka

                      Shelter in place is one aspect of a broad strategy. I'm not sure why people are thinking it's *the thing.

                      This from Newsroom a few weeks ago talks about the shift from flattening the curve (i.e. with community transmission) to trying to what I think of as containment (which is not the same as elimination from what I can tell, but maybe we are still trying for that too).


                      tbh I haven't kept up with all the information, there's probably been more written since then. But it does mark both the time when the UK govt got called on its herd immunity policy, and where NZ govt took stock and made changes.

                    • weka

                      btw afaik NZ isn't using the term 'shelter in place' officially, but is using 'self-isolation' instead. I'm going to stop using shelter in place because it probably has specific meanings in other countries that aren't applicable here.

      • weka 7.5.3

        "Why is it that testing is so low?"

        because we only have so many labs and trained people to do the testing. And there are a finite number of tests, so the health system has to make decisions about when to use them. (test materials are sourced overseas).

        "And can it be ramped up?"

        yes, and it has been. We are testing more people now than a few weeks ago.

        Explanation here

        • Carolyn_Nth

          The 1pm report on Covid-19 says the number of labs doing testing is being increased this week.

        • bill

          Thanks for that.

          So there's a shortage of equipment, and the test she alludes to is presumably the one developed in Germany that had a sensitivity issue, meaning that 'positive' test results were reliable, but 'negative' ones not so reliable.

          I really don't think the training is such a big issue (but could be wrong).

          I know that some people have elevated Siouxie to some kind of infallible goddess status, but she's dead wrong to argue that…

          At this stage it doesn’t make sense to do the kind of testing South Korea is doing. It will waste a valuable resource. South Korea ramped up their testing when they had multiple cases of people in the community transmitting the virus and it was important to find all those people. We could do the same if we needed to.

          Shelter in Place absolutely requires contact tracing and we are past the point where we need to be doing that. Thankfully (though seemingly flying in the face of much else she wrote in that piece), Siouxie states we can do that. So why aren't we?

          • weka

            training is an issue because it's a skilled job and if it's not done right then there is more change of a false result. Also, sticking a swab into the back of someone's nasal cavity, or doing a lung lavage really isn't something you want an untrained person doing.

            What makes you think we aren't doing contact tracing? As far as I can tell this is a major part of the response at the moment.

            The date of her post matters in this context.

            Afaik we don't have enough tests to do all the testing that would help if we want to also have tests for a spike that leads to hospital overload. I wouldn't want to be the person making those policy decisions right now.

            • bill

              I didn't say training wasn't an issue, I said I had doubts it was such a big issue – ie, I'm sure the appropriate people could be trained up in a timely fashion.

              What makes you think we aren't doing contact tracing?

              We aren't. That's why I think we aren't. As Prof Skegg pointed out before whatever that response committee is called, there has been no contact tracing (as of two days ago?) done with regards the West Coast fatality.

              There was some contact tracing going on with regards people coming back or in from overseas who turned out to be infected. But that was it.

              If we don't have enough testing gear and what not, then what was the basis for Siouxie saying on the 18th of March that we could do effective contact tracing even as she argued a shortage of resources and skills?

              You suggest we "keep our powder dry" for a possible spike in hospital admissions when the whole point of a Shelter in Place strategy is to contact trace from every patient and thus ensure there is no widespread infection rate and spike in hospital admissions.

              Can't have it both ways. Either we contact trace to eliminate as per Shelter in Place, or we fall back on a Social Distancing strategy that accepts the virus will run its natural course in terms of its total infection rate.

              • McFlock

                I know for a fact that Southern DHB is indeed contact-tracing, so maybe the basis upon which you are suggesting abandoning our entire current management strategy itself rests upon a resource or management issue in one of our smaller DHBs.

              • weka

                Yes, NZ is training up people in a timely fashion. And getting more labs and test kits in a timely fashion. In the meantime, we don't have enough trained staff and kits to test more broadly.

                have you talked to people in a cluster? No idea about what is happening with the West Coast case, but in Otago and Southland cases, they've been tracking. The whole Logan Park school thing relied on tracking.


                • bill

                  You're not aware that Logan Park kids who were meant to be self isolating were reportedly spotted roaming George St?

                  I don't know how many were tested, or if they were assumed to be clear after 14 days of isolation without 'falling over'. I would have hoped they were all tested…

                  Actually, I can maybe find an answer to that later today and will post if I can find out whether the person I know of who self isolated off the back of Logan Park contact was tested or not.

                  • weka

                    We were talking about contact tracking (not testing) because you were saying they weren't tracking.

                    Yes, some people break self-isolation. Short of locking people up how do you propose to change that? I've heard 3 social gatherings in my neighbourhood since we went to Level 4.

              • weka

                If we don't have enough testing gear and what not, then what was the basis for Siouxie saying on the 18th of March that we could do effective contact tracing even as she argued a shortage of resources and skills?

                You suggest we "keep our powder dry" for a possible spike in hospital admissions when the whole point of a Shelter in Place strategy is to contact trace from every patient and thus ensure there is no widespread infection rate and spike in hospital admissions.

                Can't have it both ways. Either we contact trace to eliminate as per Shelter in Place, or we fall back on a Social Distancing strategy that accepts the virus will run its natural course in terms of its total infection rate.

                I'm going to break this down because I'm not sure if we are talking about the same things. This is how I understand it.

                Level 4 requires *both shelter in place and social distancing.

                Contact tracing doesn't inherently need a positive test to happen. Nor does treatment. Nor self-isolation. The absence of a test doesn't mean inaction. We know there will be false negatives, and we know that there will be asymptomatic people (hence the need to stay home and/or socially distance).

                Stuff ran an article yesterday from a journo who had nearly been refused a test and then tested positive. He was arguing there was a flaw in the system. But on the basis of his reported symptoms he should have been self-isolating regardless of whether he got a test or not.

                Talking to people in community based health systems, they're talking about who is in contact with who, so it's happening at that level too, where people are taking it seriously.

                I didn't suggest that we keep our powder dry, I pointed out that the MoH and people trained in pandemic response will be having to make decisions about testing protocols based on a number of complex, intersecting issues, including limits on testing availability and the need to have tests for hospitals on an ongoing basis. That's not black and white.

                I disagree about your assessment of the current strategy. It's never going to be perfect. They're aiming for the optimal coverage under the circumstances and relying not only on testing, but on self-isolating. We are using both social distancing and shelter in place, it's not either/or. And given we don't have enough tests to just test everyone, or anyone that *might be contagious, they are using a strategy based on best practice as they gear up for increasing testing.

                I'm seeing adaptation all the time in the govt and health system response. This is what I would expect as the situation evolves.

                • bill

                  Shelter in Place implies Social Distancing. Social Distancing does not entail sheltering in place though. So we're not talking either /or, but about levels of intensity.

                  And again. If (as you say) we don't have enough tests to just test everyone, or anyone that *might be contagious – then Shelter in Place will not achieve the goal of elimination and (as said previously) we'd be as well to abandon Shelter in Place sooner rather than later in favour of the much less intense strategy of Social Distancing because, without widespread testing, Shelter in Place will not achieve anything that can't be achieved through Social Distancing.

              • McFlock

                Oh FFS.

                From 5.00 minutes in this clip, Skegg is talking about rapid contact tracing and the lack of reporting about contact tracing in general. Skegg did NOT say anything like "there has been no contact tracing [..] done with regards the West Coast fatality", he said it hadn't been reported on so he didn't know if it had been done or not.

                • bill

                  You think it's unreasonable to equate "not reported" with "hasn't happened". Got it…

                  That Skeggs had to ask what info there might be around the tracing and testing of all that women's contacts, and finding it necessary to ask whether it has even happened, say's a lot. An immediate answer in the affirmative from that committee was conspicuous by its absence. But that's just to my way of thinking McFlock.

                  • McFlock

                    Yeah, I think it's unreasonable to equate "not reported" with "hasn't happened".

                    I also think that "rapid contact tracing with an app" not happening does not imply that conventional contact tracing is not occurring.

                    Oh look, here's southern dhb mentioning contact tracing occurring. I guess it does happen in NZ after all. What a relief. Let us all be grateful that at least someone in NZ is performing one of the oldest and most basic functions known to epidemiology, contrary to Bill's best reckons. Probably an exception /sarc

                    And another thought that comes to mind is that people should maybe report what experts actually say and base their reckons off that, rather than random collections of words that they, for whatever reason, think act as broadly approximate substitutes for what was said. Especially if their own expertise in the area consists of a few weeks of google.

                    • Incognito

                      Especially if their own expertise in the area consists of a few weeks of google.


                    • bill

                      As you pointed out, the question is about rapid response trace and contact.

                      Now, if it's all so cut and dried and A-OK, then why the fuck is it the case that Skegg had to point out that it seemed no-one knew what the fuck was going on, ask the question, and not receive an immediate reassuring response?

                      You'll also have noticed that Skegg wasn't contradicted when he pointed out that no-one seemed to know what the fuck was going on.

                      But sure. Carry on Captain Mainwaring…

                      edit. And just to be clear for the sake of twats like you and Incognito – I have no expertise in the area. But I can fucking well read in a critical fashion and extrapolate intelligently while not parking my ability to think in favour of the latest and often groundless “comforting narrative”

                    • Incognito []

                      Hi Bill,

                      I wasn’t referring to you, actually, but rather to some other obnoxious commenters here, who are showing off their ignorance.

                      I can understand that you drew the wrong conclusion, as it occurred in this thread, and I apologise for causing this misunderstanding. Next time, however, could we leave the insults at the door, please?

                    • McFlock

                      That would be more of your handy word substitution, there. Feel free to refresh your memory from the link I supplied upthread, and you can choose substitutions that accurately relate to what was actually said.

                      The one with the least idea of "what the fuck was going on" seems to be you.

                      Rest assured that contact tracing is happening, testing is happening, and people who know what they're talking about are doing their jobs.

                    • This country seems to have a massive surplus of newly-minted epidemiologists who are convinced the people who do this for a living are incompetent based on shit they read somewhere. I'd just like to take this opportunity to point out that some of us do actually credit those of you in the country's health system with having a clue how to do your jobs and are grateful to you for bearing the brunt of this shit while being second-guessed at every step.

                    • weka

                      Interesting SDHB link, they seem good with their comms.

                      Do you know if there's an official list of people diagnosed by location. The MoH page has changed to listing by DHB, which is kind of useless for Southern.

                    • McFlock

                      I don't know of a public list to that level, no.

                      If you're particularly interested in a specific question about the Southern region, then hit up the Southern DHB I mean "Southern Health" Public Health South office. But they're a bit busy at moment.

                      [Removed 14 non-breaking spaces creating half an A4 in white space 😉 ]

                    • weka

                      This one breaks down Otago/Southland into city/district councils, which is a bit better.


                  • weka

                    "That Skeggs had to ask what info there might be around the tracing and testing of all that women's contacts, and finding it necessary to ask whether it has even happened, say's a lot."

                    What it says to me is that Skegg isn't in the loop of the local authorities on the West Coast, and that the same authorities haven't done a media release on the issue. I can't think of a number of explanations for both of those that aren't that tracking didn't occur.

                    "An immediate answer in the affirmative from that committee was conspicuous by its absence."

                    I doubt that they had that information to hand either.

                    • bill

                      And the West Coast local authorities are then presumably (necessarily!) in the same loop as the North Island local authorities where attendees of the funeral attended by the dead woman reside. Which would, by necessity, be a tightly organised and highly communicative loop given what they are dealing with.

                      Now. Given that NZ isn't exactly renowned for promoted autonomy, I think it's reasonable to assume that any such nation wide web of coordination would be managed from above and that ministers would be well aware of their efforts, and yet when asked, the committee comprised of MPs had nothing to say about the existence of such coordination let alone the actions of any supposedly coordinated response.

                      btw – I'm still waiting for an answer back as to whether the person who was isolated because "Logan Park" was tested or just simply isolated, and will post when I know.

      • McFlock 7.5.4

        Lab tests aren't essential for a reasonable assessment of effectiveness of responses. That's why the ministry also reports "probable" cases.

        • weka

          There seems to be a lot of anxiety in the public about not getting tested, but given most people will have a mild version of covid, testing isn't needed for most individuals, it's for managing spread. What needs to happen is that if someone has symptoms they stay away from others, and if they've been around someone with symptoms they stay away from others. Let the medical people make the decisions about who gets tested.

          Reports early on of people with symptoms waiting days or longer until they starting thinking it might be covid is probably part of why we are in the situation we are in now.

          • Incognito

            People are meant to stay home and self-isolate as if they have the virus and thus are infectious.

            Whether you have been tested or not should not matter all that much if you stick to the basic rules under Alert Level 4. If you feel unwell, stay at home; this was the message at the lower alert levels too.

            Testing is good for intelligence that informs collective strategies and decisions by the authorities.

            • weka

              I'm wondering if this messaging has gotten lost in the lock down and associated wider issues. I see MSM stuff about people demanding tests, but not much about the need to stay away from people if you have any symptoms. I'm not reading most of the articles though, just watching what is crossing my space on twitter.

      • Incognito 7.5.5

        Ventilators aside, are the universities and their labs being roped into expanding NZs testing regime?


  8. joe90 8

    Spouting racist claptrap has consequences.

  9. RedBaronCV 10

    I'd put this one in the creeping unnecessary data collection overreach bucket and data privacy infringement. Employee privacy – crap.

    Why are MSD and IRD demanding that employers break the law by collecting employee birthdates when the IRD at least already has them, before they will pay the wage subsidy.

    To get a subsidy they want first name, last name ,IRD number and date of birth. If you have the IRD number then IRD has the birthdate. These people have also been satisfactorily paid and tax collected prior to he subsidy so why the overreach?

    As I understand it employers can only request a birthdate from an employee if they have a "valid reason for requesting it" e,g, are they old enough to sell liquor. And there are a good number of reasons why employees should not provide them unless necessary starting with

    -is this vital piece of data going to be stored securely to limit theft? These data caches in well known payroll programmes can be hacker targets

    and ending with – will this enable age discrimination by the employer?

    Prior to this the IRD has had legislation passed that is frankly all over the place. In one breath they tell the employer to provide it and in another section they insinuate that employer doesn't have to if the employee has not supplied it to the employer.

    So why are they demanding that employers breach employment law and invade employee privacy? Maybe the IRD needs to remember they are there to collect tax not demand citizens behave in particular ways towards others. Over reach has been a real feature of their recent culture .

    • bill 10.1

      If employers don't have birth dates, and a birth date is required, then employers who might otherwise be tempted to work a scam … Maybe?

      Government should have had IRD send out recurring emergency universal payments and been done with it ffs.

  10. aj 11

    This is what I have for New Zealand, and the world.

  11. weka 12

    Not sure why there's been an increase in quoting without linking recently, but please always provide a link when you quote. If you don't know how, please ask. Most quotes need to be understood in context. It also means less work for moderators if a link is provided. Thanks.

    • Ed1 12.1

      Does it need to be more prominent <a href=””>here?</a>

      • weka 12.1.1

        It's regulars who know full well what the expectation is. But yes, the FAQ or Policy needs tweaking. I've been meaning to do a post on it for ages.

        • Ed1

          I normally just include the whole url – it is clear I am incompetent with fancy code . . .

          It can be helpful if urls are also included in initial posts – I had to google Kiwiblog to find the stupid April Fool post – but perhaps that is deliberate . . .

          • weka

            I suspect it's the bold tags causing the issue there. The link still works though 🙂

  12. Janet 13

    "closing borders is one of the ways that individual governments can control the situation".

    An expert epidemiologist is calling on the Government to quarantine all people arriving in New Zealand from overseas and for a much wider testing and contact-tracing regime to prevent needless deaths from Covid-19.

    • Treetop 13.1

      I agree with this that everyone entering the country is quarantined. The numbers entering the country is not that many to manage when you consider how many tourists entered pre the lock down.

      The situation is now a crisis in parts of the US. I actually have some empathy for Trump due to the seriousness and destruction of Covid-19.

      The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has a 100 cases on board and 5000 naval personnel.

      What to do with the naval personnel on the aircraft carrier is unprecedented and a challenge for humanity.

  13. joe90 14

    Meanwhile in 'Murica, RWNJ's are turning up at hospitals asking why the bodies aren’t being publicly displayed in the car parks.

  14. Stephen D 15

    Thinking ahead to September.

    Labour 47, Greens 7, NZ1 6

    James Shaw Deputy PM. Bring Winston and Tracey into the tent, cut Shane loose.

    • weka 15.1

      how would it work to bring Peters and Martin in and exclude Jones? Not that I don't like the idea, but can't see how that would work. It's up to NZF what role Jones has.

    • To complete the picture: Nats 36 Act 2 Wasted vote 2

      Hope you are right Stephen D. My guess is NZF 4 Nats 38 but otherwise the same and with an even better government: Labour/Green only.

    • bwaghorn 15.3

      Na itll be tight . Richardson was already practicing their attack lines this am . About labour being anti foreign investment, anti innovation.

    • observer 15.4

      By September we will either be tearing ourselves apart or celebrating victory through unity.

      I have no idea which, and sticking a poll number on it is more pointless than ever now.

    • alwyn 15.5

      I don't care to guess yet about the Labour seat count.

      However I think it is now a certainty that NZF and the Green Party will be extinct. Who? is probably the first thing that comes to mind when their names are brought up. The Labour Party have completely removed their air supply.

      The National/Labour split will depend on whether the current lock-down works and whether it can be lifted in a reasonable time. If it comes off reasonably quickly, and the election is called early, I think there will be a Labour landslide. If the lockdown drags on and on that can only cause a swing back to National.

      • millsy 15.5.1

        National returning to power will mean Richardson style austerity measures.

        The financial sector has been braying for 30 years for National Super to be replaced with private savings and a means tested WINZ benefit. COVID will give the National party the excuse to finally slay that sacred cow.

        • alwyn

          Ruth Richardson left Parliament in July 994. That is almost 26 years ago.

          Time to get over it surely? How do you come by your claim that "The financial sector has been braying for 30 years for National Super to be replaced with private savings". There might be some people saying that but it certainly it wasn't a large group. The people who most wanted to replace National Super were Michael Cullen and his acolytes. What do you think he came up with Kiwisave for? Those who wanted to means test it are pretty well represented on this blob by the occasional person who complains that Bob Jones shouldn't get it and so on. Lucky they are much rarer now as people start to understand how efficient is the system we have in New Zealand

          • Bearded Git

            I know Ruth richardson is getting on a bit but saying she left parliament in 994, 1026 years ago (before the Crusades) is a little unkind.

            Personally I haven't got over Thatcher, and she lost the leadership in 990.

            • alwyn

              Whoops. I remember it so well. Are you sure it wasn't 994? It certainly feels that long ago.

          • Peter

            Ruth Richardson left Parliament almost 26 years ago so it's time to get over it?

            Muldoon left Parliament 35 years ago and here, right on this page is evidence NZ will never get over it. We're still talking about the Super scheme that he used to the reds under the bed to fuck up. Yep, the National Party sure has the good oil on Super and how it can best be designed.

            • millsy

              If it wasnt for the Muldoon scheme, there would be a lot more elderly in poverty at the moment.

              Douglas, Rowling and Tizard's scheme left out huge swathes of the population, ie women, Maori, disabled, etc, whe wouldnt have paid into the scheme and have, thanks to the upheavals of the past 40 years, spent most of their lives in low paid insecure work and on benefits get a big fat zero.

              The scheme would have been sold off and closed down during the 1980's anyway.

              Unlike some people on here, Muldoon grew up seeing retirees in poverty, during the Great Depression, etc. He may have despised socialism, but leaving it up to the market left him cold as well.

        • Paddington

          "National returning to power will mean Richardson style austerity measures. "

          Millsy the 1990's has called looking for you. National havn't done austerity for 30 years. Look at their repsonse to the GFC. They pumped the economy via tax cuts, maintained social spending, and borrowed truckloads to keep the economy running. That's not austerity by any definition.

          • In Vino

            It felt like austerity to hospitals and schools, but that's just standard National policy…

          • millsy

            National made a lot of cuts to social services, but they were very subtle.

            They also tightened access to benefits, and state housing, which is why we got a lot of homeless from about 2016-17.

            They also stripped out a lot of technical expertise from the public sector, especially DoC and the NZDF, which are among the last of the public sector orgs with that sort of knowledge.

            Health was cut, so was education and student support. The prescription co-pay hike from $3-$5 was pretty bad as well. Fortunately the likes of Countdown and Chemist Warehouse have stepped in and scrapped the co-pay at their pharmacies.

            And lets not forget the cuts to the Training Incentive Allowance and Adult Community Education.

            • Paddington

              Well they must have been VERY subtle.

              1. From 2009 through 2017, the government increased spending on welfare health and education by a total of 40%. Based on, the inflation rate between Q1 2009 and Q4 2017 was 14.7%.

              2. In 2008, on those same items we spent 20.8% of GDP. By 2017 that was 20.1%. (All from

              As I said, the 1990's is calling, Millsy.

              • In Vino

                Cherry-picking. Try the OECD figures on spending per secondary school student (the number increased, you realise?) as percentage of GDP. You will find no such dazzling, bounteous generosity.

                • Paddington

                  The discussion is whether or not the national government have practised austerity in recent times (ie since the 1990's). When a government outspends the inflation rate by a factor of 2.7, and when spedning on core social services is virtually unchanged as a % of GDP, no sensible person could argue those were times of austerity.

                  As for education spending rose by 39% from end 2008 to end 2017. That's the same period in which inflation was 14.7%.

                • Paddington

                  “(the number increased, you realise?)”

                  Actually, the number of secondary school students declined between 2010 and 2017, from 284,451 to 284,327.

                  But to be fair to you, let’s look across the entire education system.

                  The total number of students in NZ in 2010 was 764,398. In 2017 that figure was 800,334.

                  On a per student basis, spending increased by 8%.


                  Still consider that austerity?

                  • In Vino

                    Yes, because if you look at the OECD stats that compare NZ to other countries, you discover that NZ's overall spending on Education is indeed as high as you say – but, unfortunately, NZ spends over-much on shonky Tertiary stuff (not the quality universities, you will note), leaving our Primary and Secondary schools far less generously-funded than you or the Govt pretend..

                    Both Universities and many secondary schools have been pretty-well forced by all Govts since Rogernomics to supplement the insufficient Govt funding by seeking foreign students, and ripping them off by charging then far more for their education than what it costs the school. An honest country would fund its own system properly so that such malarkey was unnecessary.

                    You are, I insist, cherry-picking your stats from the Govt and Ministry, and presenting their rosy-spectacled views because they are the ones that you find convenient.

                    • Paddington

                      3 Paragraphs and not a single reference to actual data. You’re arguments seem to entirely consist of anecdote and unsubstantiated claims.

                      "Yes, because if you look at the OECD stats that compare NZ to other countries,"

                      We're not talking about the OECD. We're talking about NZ. You're trying to say NZ had an austerity government when social spending was rising higher than inflation, and was virtually unchanged as a % of GDP. It’s an indefensible claim, no matter how much you spin.

                      "Both Universities and many secondary schools have been pretty-well forced by all Govts since Rogernomics…"

                      No, you're not getting away with that. You specifically mentioned national governments, and you specifically mentioned spending per student. Which has gone up!

                    • In Vino

                      Wrong. You are even misusing your own cherry-picked stats. You at first quoted 2008, but then tried to tell me that the number of students has dropped after 2010. By a paltry 134 students. Why did you not be honest and use the 2008 figures? I think we can all guess that the 2008 figure would have revealed an increase – not the decrease you deceitfully claimed.

                      Try OECD Education at a Glance. Website easy to find, and it will make valid comparisons with NZ, rating spending per student over more different areas than your NZ -sourced ones do.

                      You quoted spending on all NZ students. Pointless, because as I pointed out already, that includes excessive spending on shonky tertiary areas. If you want to argue honestly with me, use figures related only to Primary and Secondary students, and get those figures from OECD Education at a Glance, and bear in mind that I believe our Governments have at times fudged the figures they give the OECD to avoid embarrassment.

                    • Paddington

                      "You at first quoted 2008, but then tried to tell me that the number of students has dropped after 2010."

                      You seem to have a problem reading sources. 2010 is the year that data series began. You would have seen that if you actually took the time to look it up.

                      "Try OECD Education at a Glance. "

                      Why? I've used official NZ government sources.

                      "You quoted spending on all NZ students. Pointless…"

                      A reminder about what this discussion is about. Austerity. " difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce public expenditure.". There was no reduction in public expenditure. There was an increase significantly above the rate of inflation. Trying to make an argument about the quality of spend is just bs deflection.

  15. dv 16

    AND THE US has over 20k new case already today.

    • bill 17.1

      Those masks tight fitting are they? Because…

      …a face mask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures. Surgical masks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the face mask and your face.


      The 'N95' designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles

      But yes, if you are already infected, it looks like those "cactus" masks might catch up some potentially contaminated spray ejected by coughs and splutters…

      Oops. Link –

      • weka 17.1.1

        There's a world wide shortage of appropriate masks for all the various needs. I see the Cactus initiative as being helpful in two ways. One is for people who have covid and want to protect others. The other is to reduce the demand for higher tech masks from those with less need by making other kinds more available.

        The Cactus design isn't good for medical staff also because of the elastic (ties are better). But I'm seeing staff in the US who are having to make do with whatever they can find.

        I hope Cactus consider making their pattern and instructions available.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          The YouTube is congested with how to videos for facemasks.

          It is time invested to sort out the wheat from the obvious chaff.

          Sewn fabric types must use very close weave materials and there's a couple utilising vacuum cleaner Hepa filter bags that look promising…if one can buy the bags now.

          Paper type masks abound…but I'd give ones that need glue or sticky tape a swerve…too complicated and time consuming for a disposable bit of kit.

          The one we settled on is an 8ply paper towel and dried baby wipe job held together and over the face by elastic.

          The concertina design conforms snugly around the mouth and nose…and any gap can be closed with glasses.

          I'd argue these are better than the proper masks friends bought for an exorbitant price on line.

        • bill

          My understanding is that the manufacturing source for appropriate masks is….yep, you've probably guessed it…China. Those long and vulnerable supply chains working their magic again.

          I see the Cactus initiative as being helpful in two ways.

          I don’t.

          If I had covid and went anywhere near anyone while wearing one of those masks, it would be height of irresponsibility.

          On the other side of the equation (protection) – I'm sure way 'back in day' there was a family member made a killing selling posies for 45 groats a hit as protection against plague. It was amazing (if family lore is to be believed) how many people put themselves in harms way because they thought the posies offered protection.

          • weka

            some people with covid don't have a choice about being in close proximity with others. If you can keep away from all humans, great. The masks are for those that can't.

          • mac1

            Ring a ring a rosies, a pocketful of posies, atishoo atishoo, we all fall down.

            We kids knew a thing ot two. Watch out for posers selling posies.

            • Anne

              We had no idea what it meant of course.

              • mac1

                No, but we learned, didn't we, to avoid panacea cures from Brian Tamaki 's cure for corona virus, vitamin C, deer velvet, rhino horn and copper bands, colour therapy and colonic irrigation. The ways that some prey upon the fears of others.

  16. Jimmy 18

    Pretty silly of Labour to put the minimum wage increase through today (I'm assuming its still going ahead). Businesses already concerned about surviving the lock down and coming out the other side and this really will not help by increasing the businesses costs. I do think it will cost some jobs. Labour should have reduced the PAYE tax rate on income under $14k instead to give people more money in their hand instead.

    • Muttonbird 18.1

      Labour should have reduced the PAYE tax rate on income under $14k instead to give people more money in their hand instead.

      While it would give people more money in their hand, it is poorly targeted.

      • Jimmy 18.1.1

        Which would be a far better thing so they could spend it in the economy once the lock down comes off. And it doesn't increase costs to the business employing them.

    • arkie 18.2

      ¿Por qué no los dos?

    • weka 18.3

      The government is going to need all the tax it can get over the coming year.

      Minimum wage increase means people struggling to have enough income to live on will have a bit more.

      We can make more jobs and will have to anyway this year.

      • Jimmy 18.3.1

        A few will have a little bit more income in their hand. Unfortunately, I think many will have less in their hand as they will become unemployed.

      • Nic the NZer 18.3.2

        Please consider reviewing the link at 6 up thread and then revising this statement appropriately "The government is going to need all the tax it can get over the coming year.".

        I think the podcast at the link describes things quite well for lay-persons though it does run for almost an hour.

        • weka

          No way am I going to watch an hour video going in blind. You are welcome to explain your argument against my statement though 🙂

          • pat

            is a 45 min audio file

          • Nic the NZer

            Your statement is completely false. To quote from the text (discussing govt spending in Australia which is similar enough to New Zealand),

            "In his article, Alan wrote that we do not want the RBA purchasing Treasury debt directly.


            we don’t want to do that ­because we don’t trust politicians. They need to be handcuffed by the idea that all spending must be funded by taxes or debt. Otherwise where would we be? In the land of the Magic Pudding, that’s where.

            But that is a fabrication ­designed to prevent politicians using unlimited cash to buy votes and entrench themselves in power.

            The interesting question now is whether that fabrication will survive the virus or become one of its casualties."

            The obvious thing at the present is that the govt is resource constrained, but its not at all financially constrained and we don't need to project that ideological construct (and miss-direction) into the debate. The fact of this and how this maps to various economic and political institutions is expounded further in the conversation.

            • weka

              Not sure how that relates to what I said. Someone made the argument for reducing taxes instead of raising the minimum wage. I said that the govt will need those taxes. What is wrong with that?

              • Nic the NZer

                Its a false statement. The govt does not need those taxes.

                • weka

                  You've been here long enough to understand that what you just said doesn't mean much because it's an assertion of opinion without any explanation.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    You have also been here long enough to realise the veracity of what I said is demonstrated in the earlier linked post and pod-cast.

                    • weka

                      Nope. You disagreed with something I said, but failed to say how I was wrong. No-one is going to go and watch a long vid in lieu of a simple explanation. You may well be right, I just haven't seen the argument yet.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    As politely as possible then.

                    The NZ govt spends by distributing funds via the inter-bank settlement system which is operated by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. This is still operating during the lock-down and primarily this allows the government to make all its payment needs at the present time.

                    All that is needed for the government to make such a payment is for it to instruct the RBNZ to transfer funds in the inter-bank system to the payees bank (that bank then credits the payees account). Since the RBNZ issues all the funds and runs the inter-bank system the government does not need to collect (or borrow) these before it makes payments. So the statement that the government must raise revenue to increase its spending abilities is simply false. This is true both now (when it is most starkly clear) and in the future.

                    There are some accounting relations where the RBNZ (a part of the government) shifts funds to its other pocket (the treasury) and then the government repays itself with interest back to the RBNZ pocket. There has also been a recent move to implement QE by the RBNZ which amounts to the same thing (of the govt bonds being owned by itself inside the RBNZ), but this does not in any way impact the underlying reality that the entire payments system is designed to facilitate government spending as it sees fit at its center.

                    This is all also explained in the linked post and discussion in comment #6.

    • Adrian 18.4

      Uh fuck off, any company having to pay out wages at the moment is probably making shitloads more than before Lockdown. Heard of lack of competition?

      • Jimmy 18.4.1

        What the fuck are you on? The only companies making shitloads more at the moment are supermarkets and some other essential businesses. Most businesses are struggling and trying to plan on how they will make it through a lock down period with many fixed costs (such as rent and wages) and zero income as they cannot trade. Most of their competition as you say are in the same boat so fuck off yourself.

    • Rubbish Jimmy. This isn't even a living wage.

      I could have throttled the self-serving business leader they interviewed on RNZ yesterday (sorry name and title and lost in the mists) arguing against the rise.

      • gsays 18.5.1

        Yep, the same tired lines the right, or at least the ones who have been at the neo-liberal raro, have trotted out for the best part of half a century.

        Akin to trickle down and the tooth fairy, just ribs they are fond of repeating.

        This guy says it better and a lot of other stuff as well.

      • Jimmy 18.5.2

        But it could be a living wage if you were allowed to keep more in the hand and pay less in PAYE. And there is more chance you would keep your job as would not cost your employer more. And also if you were a barista for example, the price of coffee would not need to increase and cause inflation due to the increased costs to the business.

        • In Vino

          Utter crap, Jimmy. The minimum wage and the Living wage are both so low that any arrangement of yours will be insignificant. Supermarkets sounded generous giving their workers a whole 10% – but nobody notices that 10% of fuck-all is peanuts anyway.

          The whole percentage system only serves to increase the gap between Rich and Poor. (The difference grows like compound interest.) We need to dump % increases and return to flat rate increases across the board for a decade or so, until the lower-paid have caught up to where things were in, say, 1970.

          So if CEO gets an increase of $300 a week from a 10% increase, don't disguise the ugly truth by saying it is only a 10% increase. Call it a $300 per week increase, and give the same to everyone else across the board. Including the lowest-paid and the beneficiaries.

          I know you won't like that idea of improved social justice, but it is what our society needs.

          • Jimmy

            You seem to have totally misunderstood. Obviously if a CEO on $300k gets a 10% pay rise, and the cleaner on $50k also gets a 10% pay rise the gap widens. Nobody's arguing that.

            I'm talking if the Govt for example said the first $18k of income was tax free, both the CEO and the cleaner would get an extra $42 in the hand each week. Ironically, a person on the minimum wage doing $40 hours a week will get an extra $39.60 in the hand but are more likely to end up unemployed especially in this Covid-19 climate.

          • greywarshark

            In Vino I agree percentages are shifty buggers for comparing like with like. We need a Christmas bonus each year of a set amount per hour that is meaningful to we liddle people.

    • Gabby 18.6

      And raised it on the over 70k at the same time of course.

      • Jimmy 18.6.1

        No I reckon they should raise all the brackets. 33% should only come in over $100k. Those tax brackets were set back in 2008? when $70k was a very high income. But they should have say, a 39% rate on income over $150k.

    • pat 18.7

      what good is a tax cut when your income is nil

    • millsy 18.8

      Why dont you just admit you want to hold down wages for the poorest workers.

      Im getting sick of people who constantly begrudge pay rises.

      Do you think the minimum wage should rise *at all*??

      Workers are having the deal with rising costs like everything else, rent, power, water, food, etc and so on, but people like you want them on the same wages for years in and years out.

      National closed scores and scores of hospitals in the 1990's and slashed the wages of people in the health sector to pay for huge tax cuts. To cut taxes now when a huge pandemic is threaten thousands of lives, is morally indefensible.

      Look at Kristine Bartlett. She spend 20 years on the same rate of pay, because people like you wanted to hold wages down.

      • Jimmy 18.8.1

        As you say, "workers are having to deal with rising costs". Guess what happens to the price of your flat white when the minimum wage goes up to $18.90?

        Whereas if the tax rate was reduced on lower income, the worker would get the $40 extra in their hand, without costing the employer more therefore you still only pay $5 for a large flat white.

        I would rather stay on my same pay rate but keep more in my hand.

        • millsy

          So you dont think pay rates should increase at all?

          We should all just work on the same rate of pay throughout our working lives, and watch as our schools and hospitals fall apart because you want taxes slashed.

          • Jimmy

            Maybe you should read some of my replies above. Taxes should be reduced at the lower end. I also suggested in a comment a 39% tax rate. That is an increase.

            I don't think now is time for a wage increase when many jobs are disappearing.

            I would be happy for my pay rate not to increase at all if I received more in the hand by paying less PAYE.

            • millsy

              Do you think that wages should be held down for our low paid workers? YES OR NO.

              Do you agree with the rent freeze, or do you think we should let landlords hike rents to dizzying levels like they did after the earthquakes?

              Would you take their sick leave?

              Do you think the health system should be starved of much needed funds?

              • Jimmy

                Yes, I think all wages should be frozen at the moment in this economic climate, but that is NOT saying that they should never increase over your working life as you've said in your comment…….that's just a stupid comment and will obviously never happen).

                Yes, I agree there should be a rent freeze at the moment.

                Sick leave? not sure where this comes in to it? Are you meaning pay employees out their sick leave while in lock down?

                No the health system should not be starved of funds and wont be. The sewerage running down hospital walls was all a blown out of proportion political point exercise as we all know now. Tax take by govt. has been higher that budgeted over last 2 years so no shortage of funds, and I have not suggested anywhere that adjusting tax rates will give the govt. less funds. Only reduce the lower rate and increase higher income tax rates to balance out.

                But my main point is that I would rather be on $17.70 an hour and have take home pay of $642, than be on $18.90 and hour and have take home pay of $642 but my cup of coffee and many other prices have all increased so I'm worse off.

  17. UncookedSelachimorpha 19

    This would almost be comical if it wasn't so harmful and unnecessary. This is just business as usual for WINZ, but newcomers are surprised at how bad it is.

    People say they're struggling to get financial support from Work and Income during Covid-19 lockdown

    Interminable delays, personal humiliation and unnecessary bureaucratic barriers are all part of the deliberate system WINZ routinely uses to reduce claims by whatever means. No one cared when the "undeserving" couldn't access it, but causing issues now that everyone is in the struggle boat.

    From the RNZ story – this will be completely familiar to anyone exposed to WINZ prior to Covid-19:

    …They are first-time applicants for a benefit and don't have existing client numbers.

    They struggled to get through to Work and Income, so James tried on their behalf.

    "First of all, I went on the website, which is quite confusing and found that if you want to apply you need a number," he said.

    "So I tried ringing the 0800 number myself, and basically I was told that it was an 87-minute wait and then a message said, 'sorry, we're really busy, use the website' and it cut me off."

    He said he did this about six times to no avail, so he went back to the website.

    • weka 19.1

      Yep. This is why existing beneficiaries should have been given a lump sum payment. Or even two.

      It would help if the people for whom assistance isn't urgent held off to allow the back log to get cleared. But I'm guessing the application process is going to be shown up in all its faults.

  18. A 21

    CDC has finally gotten around to considering advising the public to wear masks. (14:25)

    Feel free to act before the advice becomes official in NZ 😀 Reasons:

    – lower inoculum means if you do get it, the symptoms are slightly less brutal.

    – if everyone assumes they are infected, then the masks will reduce spread

  19. Andre 22

    If you've bought into the idea that a vaccine is 12 to 18 months away, here's your cold shower.

    • weka 22.1

      Yep. I'm more thinking that NZ contains community transmission, takes a breath, then reassesses where we are at and what we want to do next.

    • RedLogix 22.2

      Yes. Vaccines are never certain. For instance after 30 years we still don't have one for HIV.

  20. joe90 23

    There goes every garden in the town.

    A herd of goats has taken over the deserted streets of Llandudno, north Wales, where the residents are in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic The Kashmiri goats that came down from the Great Orme and into the town were originally a gift to Lord Mostyn from Queen Victoria

  21. Incognito 24

    @ weka

    The new case definition for health professionals to test possible Covid-19 cases will be released this afternoon, McElnay said.

    • alwyn 24.1

      Wouldn't it be nice if the Government was to take the advice of the medical experts seriously?

      Pfofessor Skegg says

      "Yesterday expert epidemiologist Sir David Skegg urged the Government to quarantine all arrivals into New Zealand from overseas, saying that the global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic meant there was a progressively higher risk of an arrival carrying the deadly virus. People carrying the disease may not show symptoms for days and several countries were taking precautionary measures by quarantining all overseas arrivals" and "" He noted that Australia was putting all people arriving from overseas into quarantine, and he thought New Zealand should do the same. But that quarantine had to be enforced and checked, as it is in Singapore by requiring those in quarantine to send text messages multiple times a day."

      The Prime Minister, on the other hand says

      "Ardern said self-isolation has been working "successfully" since the beginning of February. "We had over 10,000 people come back and self-isolate. The vast majority of New Zealanders are doing what they're asked to do." She dismissed self-isolation being called a "high trust" model, a phrase used yesterday by Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. "It's a high-trust environment."

      Well we all saw stories of people who went off immediately sightseeing and said they weren't going to self-isolate. And stories of no checking being done at the Airport. When are we ever going to learn?

      Singapore, and South Korea brought in mass testing and quarantine early on. They seem to have been effective in controlling the virus, don't they?

      For no quarantine

      For people ignoring isolation

      And for no checking being done we had

      • Andre 24.1.1

        Gee alwyn, that’s a concern. How many tourists have we still got coming in now who are risks of flouting the country-wide lockdown?

        • alwyn

          Andre, Andre. I despair.

          You can surely do better than that. Now please tell me how many people who returned to New Zealand in the last two weeks did not strictly follow the rules of "self isolation"? You have no idea do you? You can't possibly know because no genuine attempt to check it was attempted.

          • McFlock

            Really? I'm sure I read reports of cops checking up on people.

            No matter. Any effort would have been insufficient in your eyes until its effectiveness was completely indisputable. At which point you would have been criticising the draconian measures as unnecessarily excessive as compliance was sufficient without armed guards at the gates of isolation ghettoes.

          • Andre

            The borders were closed to everyone except returning citizens and permanent residents on the 19th March. Returning residents and citizens have significantly more incentive to abide by self-isolation than tourists.

            As for those who recently returned and were infected and broke self-isolation and spread the disease, no I don't know how many there were. But I'm confident that if the expert epidemiologists at work on this think it's important, they will have information on it. If they don't have info, then it's most likely because the experts felt there were more valuable uses for their resources than finding that very specific info. You seem to think it's critically important data, how about you put your energies to finding out? I'm sure there's a name for the logical fallacy involved in finding an unanswered question and pretending that makes you smarter and more capable than actual experts, but I can't be arsed finding out what it is.

            In any case, those that were sufficiently anti-social to have abused the goodwill shown them and flouted the expectations put on them will have to live with the outcome. Which may still include official consequences.

            In the context of the fast developing situation where the opposition were more on the side of keeping borders open and maximising ongoing economic activity rather than closing things faster, I really don't think using hindsight to nitpick at details of the government response and claim they should have closed things harder and faster is a useful thing to do. And it's especially not an argument to swap out the current government for the other lot, whose response would have clearly been less effective.

          • Psycho Milt

            You can't possibly know because no genuine attempt to check it was attempted.

            My God, you mean the government didn't call on the massive resources of the Tourist Self-Isolation Monitoring Department to ensure that every tourist did what was asked of them? It must be incompetence! Why else would we have hired and trained all those personnel, if not for this one essential task?

          • Incognito

            Alwyn, this is starting to look like trolling. Just saying.

  22. Poission 25

    Nassim Taleb on why CV is NOT a black swan.

    Nice Statement on penny wise (to save airlines etc) is pound foolish.

  23. Morrissey 26

    "Victims' advocate Ruth Money"?!!!?? Wallace Chapman's having us on, surely.

    Wednesday 1 April 2020

    Assuming this is not a black joke on April Fools' Day, then it's grievously clear that RNZ National's The Panel is continuing to outrage common decency and insult the intelligence of listeners.

    I note that one Ruth Money is, yet again, a guest on today's show. She was, as usual, introduced by Wallace Chapman as "victims' advocate Ruth Money." In fact, Ruth Money first came to prominence as a highly placed official in Garth The Knife McVicar's notorious S.S. Trust. She has never uttered a word of apology, let alone regret, for that organization's ceaseless outpouring of filth on, and denigration of, the victim of a knife-killing in South Auckland in 2008.

    What's next, we wonder: "women's rights advocate Harvey Weinstein"? "Peace advocate Elliott Abrams"? "Truth-teller Boris Johnson"? "Hard working journalist Martin Devlin"?

  24. Chris 27

    Harvey Norman tries to get out of paying rent. It doesn't surprise me. They must have a policy of playing hard ball. A friend of mine had a scrap with them a while ago over a piece of furniture that kept breaking. Harvey Norman fixed it a few times but when my friend told them they wanted the thing collected and their money back Harvey Norman sent the whole matter to not only one of the largest law firms in the country, but to one of their partners! It was unbelievable. Will be interesting to see how some of the landlords respond.

    • millsy 27.1

      Harvey Norman are glorified loan sharks, loading people up with horrendous debts to buy their overpriced goods.

      No deposit, 18 months interest free for deferred payments = a life time of paying a big bill for stuff that will probably last a couple of years at most.

  25. Bazza64 28

    Harvey Norman must be meat heads. You can’t just say if the landlord doesn’t respond in 24 hours then the matter is settled, not legally enforceable to set such a short time frame.

    Most landlords & commercial tenants are coming to an arrangement for a reduced rental, but not a non-payment.

    If HN don’t pay the rent the landlord can say remove your stock in 24 hours or we will sell it on your behalf & the matter will be settled.

    • Muttonbird 28.1

      Absolutely. Everyone else is being made to pay rent with no income, or at least negotiate.

      Lock the doors, seize all their stock, and evict out of the country.

  26. Ad 29

    This Trump guy is going down and dammit he's taking hundreds of thousands with him:

    "The White House coronavirus task force still won’t call for a national stay-at-home order, despite calls from medical professionals and researchers to do so to curb the spread of the virus in places.

    As Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx explained during Tuesday night’s task force update that the total number of deaths in the U.S. could rise to 100,000 to 240,000, President Donald Trump avoided explaining why the administration hasn’t imposed a stay-at-home order yet.

    Instead, Trump talked about how the death toll would have reached up to 2 million people if he had done nothing at all.

    “What would’ve happened if we did nothing? Because there was a group that said, ‘Let’s just ride it out,’” the president said. “What would’ve happened? That number comes in at 1.5 to 1.6 million, up to 2.2 … 2.2 million people would have died.”

    “You would have seen people dying on airplanes,” he added. “You would’ve seen people dying in hotel lobbies. You’d be seeing death all over.”

    Earlier in the pandemic, Trump dismissed the severity of the virus and compared it to the flu. On March 9, Trump compared numbers of people who died of the flu in 2019 to the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths at that time."

    • In Vino 29.1

      Coherency is no longer one of Trump's attributes. I expect no improvement.

    • Gabby 29.2

      He knows dead folk don't vote.

      • Andre 29.2.1

        Yeah, but that just further illustrates the malfunction inside the cranial cavity of the rotting halloween pumpkin.

        Old people are more likely to vote Repug than Dem. Old people are more likely to die from the virus. Therefore more of the people likely to die from the virus are likely Repug voters than Dem voters.

        • McFlock

          Seriously, where do you get these names for him? Is there a bumper list somewhere, or do you have a whiskey and churn out a few dozen once a week?

          • Andre

            There's lists out there that are easy to find. Mostly I steal from them. "Rotting halloween pumpkin" came from Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico.

            But now and then I come up with an original. Pretty sure “mandarin manutang” is all mine. “Terracotta Turdface” might be too.

            • McFlock


              Sure, it's petty and trivial, but the fucker's in charge for the full term. Take the power back where we can.

      • joe90 29.2.2

        He and the repugs don't want anyone to vote.

    • weka 29.3

      Can the individual states not act independently?

      • Andre 29.3.1

        Yes, most of the work is in fact being done by the states, rather than the federal government.

        Where the federal government has the ability to step in mostly involves cross-state issues, and has some emergency powers of compulsion that individual states don't have. The federal government also controls resources such as the armed forces,CDC etc.

        Consider ventilators. There's no way that New York can apply any pressure on a company in Arizona to produce more ventilators, so price gouging is the natural outcome. But the federal government has the Defense Production Act where they can order that company to make them and set the selling price at cost plus a reasonable margin.

        • weka

          thanks. Can individual states do deals with each other? eg NY and Arizona work out an arrangement so that companies in Arizona produce more ventilators and those in NY produce more masks? Not ideal, but curious if it's possible to just bypass the fuckwit in the WH.

          • Andre

            Trying to do something like that would get into legal messes very quickly, even where there's theoretical possibilities to make it work. There's a lot of sensitivities around states rights and how they can have different regulatory structures and shit like that.

            One of the explicit purposes of the federal government right from the beginning was to manage interstate issues. Nobody is going to react well to trying to bypass that aspect of what the federal government is supposed to do, no matter how damaging the fuckwits in the White House are to the effort to deal with the problem.

            Sometimes direct state-to-state efforts happen in response to fast moving localised disasters, but not for a nationwide chain-reaction repeated slow-motion trainwreck like is going on now.

  27. pat 31

    There may many complaints about testing but this interview demonstrates a good level of competence amongst officials…

    ….especially with the new directives

  28. RedBaronCV 33

    What is it with these big companies. Executives taking a 15% cut – everyone else a massive up to 70% one . Shareholder dividends cancelled so nothing goes to any pension funds etc. Time the wage subsidy comes with some high end remuneration clauses.

    As far as I can make out Fletcher's wage bill is about $1.6 billion a year so around $140 mill a month. – so to allow 6 weeks that's $210 mill. Salaries over $250k in the 2019 report around $160 mill total and the top executives are about $20 mill of that. Take a hatchet to the top end wages for the year and there is the 80% to pass down. Stopping the share buyback adds about another $150 mill plus no dividend another chunk. Yes they will have other bills but those big wages need to be repurposed. Or they could all be fired and rehired when things pick up.

    Of course they will want to be first in line for the infrastructure spending planned by the government.

    • Ad 33.1

      My chief is taking a 50% cut for at least remainder of year, all management taking 30% cut, and the rest a 20% cut.

      Fully supported by our shareholders, who will not be getting a dividend and won't be getting any idea of any profit or loss forecast for a good while either.

      • RedBaronCV 33.1.1

        That sounds a lot fairer without seeing the absolute $ numbers. I have real difficulty with people who are living from week to week and with no cushion being asked to take cuts when there are still really substantial salaries in $ being paid at the top.

        As a taxpayer I'm happy to support those at the bottom but those at the top nah – they should have the resilience to ride this out while earning a minimum wage. As to shareholders – likely to be at least some kiwisaver – so again should huge management salaries take priority over overall resilience to try to stem capital losses and closures.

  29. millsy 34

    Standard commentor "Jimmy" wants wages held down for our cleaners and checkout operators.

    He thinks that the business owners should profit from the COVID epidemic and not give their workers anything.

    He would have low paid workers on the same rate of pay throughout their lives, and poor all the time.

    He would also Americanise the country's health system.

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