Who failed Jacinda at the border? We all did!


I think I was the first one to publish a column pointing out that the only thing that could damage Jacinda was a perceived incompetence from public servants accidentally letting the plague back in.

The emotional connection voters feel in this election created by a unique universal experience is a double edged sword. If people feel their sacrifice is respected they are politically grateful, if they feel their sacrifice is squandered, they turn in fury.

We’ve seen that fury after National withheld public safety information to score political points in Parliament last week.

This current fiasco won’t damage Labour chances at the election for a number of reasons:

  • It hasn’t led to any community spread (at this stage).
  • This was a loophole issue as the system moved from different levels, it wasn’t a systemic issue.
  • Tens of thousands have been successfully processed, this is still a huge success.
  • This is all happening in the shadow of a mountain of American dead.

That shadow of American dead is very forgiving.

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Jacinda bringing the military in immediately doubled the numbers of staff to work the quarantine zones so it brings another level of protection.

However, if the incompetence goes beyond this and we actually see community spread, that is a situation that will erode Labour.

If we want to really blame anyone for these failures we need to look beyond Jacinda, Bloomfield and even the MoH – we need to look at us.

We’ve electorally championed this neoliberal state with agencies barely staffed to do anything more than meagre managership of community contracts to fulfil state obligations.

The 35 year neoliberal experiment has ploughed straight into the iceberg of a pandemic and its foundations have been revealed to be cracked to the core.

We didn’t have enough actual hands to all go on deck when an emergency struck.

Our free market response to everything has meant we have no capacity.

Based on 2017 figures, we have 295 800 State Sector employees, maybe that number needs to be 400 000?

Maybe in a job market that is collapsing and with the need for more state sector jobs, we should be talking about a vast ratcheting up of the State sector with their living wages and real worker rights.

But we aren’t hearing that debate, we aren’t hearing anything along the lines of, ‘we need a significant increase in public servants’. So entrenched is the neoliberal virus that when a real sickness strikes us, we are still too intellectually feverish to see the cause of our malaise.

Jacinda is working with the mess of a public service she inherited, if she doesn’t make fundamental change to it in her second term, she will be doomed, but damning her for its failures today is dishonest.


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  1. Perspective has been deliberately lost and misrepresented by vested interest.

    Who is the vested interest?

    1) The New Zealand National Party.
    2) The New Zealand Media.
    3) Blue trolls.

    The National Party know only too well that as long as Ardern has a 93% approval rating over her pandemic handling, they will remain irrelevant and powerless in opposition. They are desperate to turn that around. Not by coming up with sound inclusive policies for the greater good but by very deliberately undermining Ardern and convince NZ that the sky is falling etc. Muller repeatedly describes Government border control etc as a shambles or shambolic. It’s in his best interest to create a divided NZ so he keeps pushing the shambolic narrative. It’s National’s one and only election strategy.

    I would like to completely close the borders to ALL arrivals be they compassionate arrivals or NZ citizens returning from other lands but we can’t do that. Not only would it be illegal, it would also be bereft of compassion which is a vital component in any civilized society. So NZ now has it’s hand virtually forced after everything we’ve done to successfully expel Covid-19 from our shores. The more people that return to NZ, the more pressure is put on quarantine facilities and the greater the possibility there is that any “issues” within the system will be exposed. National made a shitload of diabolical blunders in their 9 years. They never owned one of them. The best they could come up with was “I can’t recall”. Denial and deflect was their status quo. This Government owns any errors they feel in any way responsible for. They then immediately put measures in place to address the situation and ensure there isn’t a repeat. No person or Government on the planet can do more or better than that but National and the media have a vested interest in dividing the country and undermining the Government. It’s fucking disgraceful. Multiple anti Government “opinion pieces” are showing up on “news websites” all day every day masquerading as news headline stories. To say this has become incessant would be the understatement of 2020. Ironically, the same people are on mass complaining that an artistic print of Ardern has been showing up around NZ with the word “Aroha” on it. They are bleating that the artwork is electioneering and as a result the picture has been torn down around NZ. Meanwhile these fuckers including News Readers are permitted to ask leading questions to totally bias reporters during the 6pm News Bulletin. “Is the shambles at the border expected to continue?”

    Meanwhile, Covid -19 is speeding up around the world at record pace. The WHO has confirmed that just yesterday, more than 183,000 new cases have been reported to the WHO. Easily a record number for one day. Should we blame Ardern for this also?

    My answer to how we better control what is unfolding.

    Every person who wishes to come into NZ must have a 14 day period of isolation PRIOR to boarding an aircraft bound for NZ. They must have had 2 negative tests to Covid during that 14 days. No Covid positive person should be allowed to head to NZ for any reason.

    Quarantine facilities must not be maxed out. Applicants should be in a standby queue in the country they are in until the previous load of arrivals have successfully completed their 14 day isolation here with 2 negative tests during that time. The more people that are let in, the more pressure it puts on facilities and the greater the possibility is of human error arriving on the scene.

    As things stand now, we are going to see more Covid positive cases every day which has fuck all to do with Ardern. Legally we must accept these people back into NZ regardless of them returning from a Covid hotspot. The only thing hopeless about Ardern is the position she’s in.

    1) Refuse re-entry back into NZ by thousands of NZ citizens who have been stuck in other countries away from their families for many months. Not only would that display no compassion, it would be totally illegal. We would see thousands of court cases lodged against the Government that would all be successful.

    2) Allow these NZ citizens to return to NZ and then have the National Party, NZ media and blue trolls attack Ardern all day every day in the lead up to the September election.

    She must wake up every morning with smoke coming out of her ears yet she can expect another day of being torn down, ridiculed and misrepresented as she does everything possible to keep us all safe.

    • Agree. The Natz and its allies now don’t call it ‘the government’ or even ‘the Labour government’ or ‘coaltiion government’. It’s always referred to by them as ‘the Jacinda Adern government’. How utterly pathetic and ignorant of them! These Woodhead Natz need to be kept as far away from power as possible.

    • Well said Jacindafan – on every point.

      The National Party under Muller defeats its own arguments, e.g. severely criticising Ardern for the increase in COVID-19 cases after a long time on zero cases saying that the government has been to lax but it was Muller who, after he was elected leader, banged on that his government would have lifted restrictions a long time ago to get the economy going again.

      But, even more scary than Muller running around like a timid mouse trying to find his cheese is the right wing media like the NZ Herald which has not challenged Muller on his absurd attempts to position himself and his tired old party at the front of the queue. They simply report what he says in such a way that it gives the appearance of making sense but they do not challenge him on the nonsense that he spits out.

    • Remember NZ people overseas can vote so if the repatriation was made too onerous it could back fire . A test 2 days before leaving would help stop those that are sick and libel to affect the crew.

  2. MARTYN; – We should have a 0800 number to call and dob in these “isolation centers” contracted by the Government to take all controls seriously, as our own family had an experience when our Son came home from Germany with his German Partner on 14th June and was in isolation since then; – and after the first two days had a in-house test of them both taken; – and afterwards they had no results given them as of yesterday, that shocked my wife and I so as a father I spend the whole morning on the phone ringing Ministry of Health “healthline” several times as they had 100’s of others wasting ahead of our call, but finally sat behind 186 others for over 1 hour until I got to talk to a young lady who was very sypathetic but offered no solution but to ask at the front desk of the hotel they were staying at.

    He did this and was verbally told; “all your group in this facility came back negative”

    His parents were relieved but we are still surprised that he and his partner never actually received a written result on paper or his cellphone to use should he need to prove he and his partner were both tested negative in 14th June 2020.

    So hope the Militarily make a better example of it than these ‘hotel managers’ did.

    • Andrew; do you refer to me saying “So hope the Militarily make a better example of it than these ‘hotel managers’ did.”???

      I was in the NZ Army as a National Serviceman during the Vietnam War and tell you that the military in NZ has extremely high standards and discipline; – sunshine if you was inferring they don’t?

  3. I agree with you as the public service are slack with Covid 19 policy here, as we have seen personally with our family dealings.

  4. Some are a little mystified by the blow back on quarantine details–I say along with Martyn, that 35 years of neo liberal psychology and practice has resulted in a splintered community with many individuals now firmly in “me me me” land.

    Nat dirty tricks are working overtime also to foster the attacks. On Newshub live comments yesterday during the PM’s post cabinet piece, there were 500 and rising, negative and crazy comments. If that was not co-ordinated by Nat IT people it would be surprising.

  5. Even before the level four lockdown went into place, wise heads were saying that the most dangerous time was not the lockdown itself, but how to move out of it – and rightly identified that the border would be the critical point.
    I think Chris Trotter summed it all up quite well when he said that there are a few people around who secretly would like the borders to fail and a second wave of COIVD-19 to strike, because they are jealous of Jacinda Adern’s popularity and want to see her fall at any cost.
    One question is how far the grumpy political right will go in their quest to make her fall?

  6. I have a serious question or two.
    Has Jacinda Adern ever used the term ‘neoliberalism’ publicly?
    Has she ever said, for example, something like ” Neoliberalism, like it’s kiwi architect roger douglas, is a sad little failure, unless one’s financially profited from it’s short, sharp, bitter life.”
    Or ” Lets bash neoliberalism to death then bury it in a shallow grave and go back to Labour’s original and righteous values? ”
    She said anything remotely like that? Anything at all?
    The problem with many others is that there are more people out there reading and watching that don’t just mindlessly hang onto a political ideology like, for example, the linear thinking right wing.
    We, of the Left are far too busy thinking spherically. We, of the left, are far too busy unpicking the good stuff out of the bullshit whereas the right wingers are so convinced that they and theirs are beyond reproach that if they saw muller eat a baby then complained it wasn’t cooked enough they’d be fine so long as the stock market held together and their property values increased. ( You used the kitten eating analogy for jonky once which is where I got the baby eating idea from, so ta. )
    The right must stick rigidly to their masters words while the left question everything.
    The right wing can’t bare to see a state well run by a government with good intentions. The simple minded little fuckers can’t see that it’s for the good of us all.
    The right need to burrow in to it and suck it’s guts out and if poverty and suffering is as a result, then they get a stiffy out of all the boot strap pullings and must work harder mantra’s they mindlessly chant like dumb Crows on a power pole.
    Jacinda Adern must come clean with AO/NZ’s past before Labour can move on.
    If not? labour and adern, like national, are just another common dis-ease that afflicts us all.
    P.S. Mandatory voting? Yes please.

  7. Dead right. Worse, the role of parliamentary opposition has devolved into negative noise – it generates no coherent critique and, since neoliberal norms are applied to everything else – We should not be paying for it.

  8. We all know that Ardern and her offsiders don’t have the least inclination to support the public service or kiwi citizens beyond the most basic ‘cover yer arse’ necessity so why delude yourself they will?
    In many ways it would have been better in the long run for Aotearoa if Simon Bridges had been in charge during the pandemic as he would have done his trump emulation thing & we would be experiencing a massive death rate from Covid – then maybe citizens would WTFU.
    Electing Ardern’s neolib tosspots does not stop the death by a thousand cuts our society is currently enduring, it merely slows it down, increasing the pain and time spent suffering.
    Even though I would most certainly cop the covid & kark it, had the natz had been in control, it would mean that the citizens who did survive it would be forced to rethink their current selfish take on the world.
    Labour’s current slippery fingers in the dyke policies are a recipe for a huge disaster because when the dam bursts as it inevitably will, all resilience will have been knocked out of the population.
    A natz government will cause a melt down much sooner, hopefully while there are still sufficient humans with generosity & common sense to fix the mess.

  9. When the Clark government came to power one of the things they did was increase the number of employees in the public service. They also put the top tax rate up to 39%. They were a pretty cautious government and were careful not to change the neoliberal settings but they seem positively radical next to this government

  10. Whilst I cycled to work at 7.15am this morning I marveled at the fact that whilst the right are hanging on every opportunity to bring the government down, the street was full of traffic, morning cafe dwellers , pedestrians and dog owners were all gleefully going about their daily business. It reaffirmed to me how highly successful the government has been in management of covid-19. So the right can dream on that a few hiccups have occurred along the way, yet we are still able to go about our daily lives relatively free of covid .
    As an aside, who was the informant to the NZ Herald regarding the US woman realised after one day of isolation on compassionate grounds? Surely it wasn’t her, why would she? Which leads to the question, was it another National Party minister politicizing the pandemic?

  11. The failure was a long time ago and wasn’t just at the border.

    At some stage we all became experts at everything. We also became ultra-judgemental and punitive. We became nit-pickers extraordinaire, seeking those not doing things how we think they should be done and heaping condemnation and scorn on them. We became beings who were perfect, not making mistakes. We had the empathy gene in us watered down or washed away.

    Along came technology which allowed us to instantly share our perfection our ignorance our intolerance love of punishment and retribution who did not met our standards. Embracing that so full-time and whole-heartedly unfortunately prevents us from getting out and doing the stuff perfectly that others have not been able to achieve to that level.

  12. ‘We’ve electorally championed this neoliberal state with agencies barely staffed to do anything more than meagre managership of community contracts to fulfil state obligations.’

    I don’t think that is true at all. Apart from the fact that tens of thousands have been fighting the neoliberal experiment from day one, what has actually happened was that a group of psychopaths and opportunists saw the opportunity to raid the commons and enrich themselves, and put inn place systems that fostered looting and exploitive opportunism. They eviscerated the scientific community and the media, and put in place systems that forced the state-owned media to chase the commercial dollar in order to survive. And that chasing the commercial dollar led to massive dumbing down of broadcasting and replacement with consumeristic propaganda.

    Along with the dumbing down of the media came the dumbing down of education, whereby academic standards were watered-down and ‘everyone became a winner’ whether they had learned anything or not.

    So, decades later we have a propagandised, dumbed-down populace, a large portion of which have little idea what’s going on and cannot think for themselves. And that’s how the corporations and opportunists and most politicians like it. They can tell you what to eat, what to wear, what to buy, how to be entertained, and who to vote for. Just as [deceased] George Carlin described America.


    • NZ did not do very well from the very beginning. As a politician, she should be humble, not to call all the successful countries “authoritarian” in March. Some of the countries are democratic. She owns NZ people an apology as NZ should have the chance to avoid a lockdown if she did things in time. The government has given misleading advice about masking, children’s infection, aerosol transmission, and asymptomatic infections.

  13. The government did not do this well in Feb/March and that was the reason NZ ended up with lockdown. There are countries in the world which reacted earlier, had less cases, and mitigated Covid19 without lockdown.
    NZ is so remote from other countries with less flights. Jacinda should have applogise for any death, not to be complacent with “having a little dance”. While US, Singapore, UK, WHO have all changed their advice of mass masking, and NZ asks people to wear on Trans Tasman flights, she never applogises for her wrong advice in March about “masking is not necessary”. If Masking is not useful, why NZ MOH now asks people to wear on the aeroplan? Because of her wrong advice, in March/April, even our nurses in the hospital were forbidden to wear, and all other staff facing customers in various organisations. NZ has 1000 local infections. Comparing to other remote island countries, this is not a great number. Lockdown does not take leadership but a surrender to the disease as it causes job loses and health problems. A good government should avoid it. Jacinda should take more responsibility, be humble, and correct the mistakes that her government has made so far. However, those things are not seen in the Labour party. I am not a supporter to any party but this is just the facts which can be found easily from the past documents/media.

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