What Just Didn’t Happen?

Jacinda Ardern, back in 2017, with her longest-standing and closest political allies, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED? Over the course of the past 72 hours something changed. Exactly what isn’t clear, not yet, but something has. New Zealanders feel it in their bones, in their hearts, and they’re scared.

When it’s impossible to know what has happened, the next best thing is to try and establish what hasn’t happened.

Accordingly, I would like the Director-General of Health’s, Ashley Bloomfield’s, reassurance that the ridiculous – not to say dangerous – Covid-19 Alert, which more-or-less ordered every person living in South and West Auckland to be tested for the virus, was NOT a deliberate attempt to destabilise the New Zealand Government’s management of the pandemic.

Because, what civil servant in their right mind would send out such a message without the formal, traceable, approval of those at the very summit of the civil service hierarchy? More to the point, what sort of senior public servant could fail to appreciate the sheer absurdity of the order and its potential for inducing something close to panic amongst the population of South and West Auckland?

Occam’s Razor allows of only two reasonable explanations. 1) That the action was deliberate and its consequences foreseen. 2) That the calibre of the staff responsible for its release was so abysmal that the notice’s glaring deficiencies passed unnoticed. Neither explanation offers us much comfort. The first admits to sabotage. The second to utter incompetence. The question to be decided, therefore, is whether we are looking at a conspiracy or a cock-up?

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What motive would the individuals responsible for that errant notice have for sabotaging the Government’s orderly transition from Level 3 to Level 2.5?

The most obvious answer lies in the all-too-evident trepidation among scientists, civil servants, and members of the general public, that the move out of Level 3 might be premature – dangerous even. Those holding this view have argued that the “perimeter” of the South Auckland Cluster had yet to be conclusively established. The alarming possibility therefore arises that the offending notice may have been issued as a form of institutional protest against what a faction within the All-of-Government Committee (AOGC)  responsible for managing the pandemic considered a reckless government decision? A decision driven not by the science, but by political and commercial interests no longer willing to be guided by expert opinion.

Please Dr Bloomfield (wherever you are!) please tell me this is NOT what happened. Because if I’m right, and the release of that notice wasn’t simply another demonstration of massive institutional incompetence (to set alongside the many others) then public trust and confidence in the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic, already visibly shaken, will crumble and collapse.

Moreover (as if the above speculation isn’t wild enough) there’s the additional concern that extreme events, like the publication of that Covid-19 Alert, seldom happen in isolation.

And that is why I would like the reassurance of the Prime Minister that she has NOT – at the insistence of the Finance Minister and the Health Minister – abandoned her hitherto rock-solid determination to put the welfare of the New Zealand people ahead of the profits of New Zealand businesses. Please, someone – anyone – tell me, tell the nation, that this is NOT what happened.

While they’re at it, they could also tell us why it was that Chris Hipkins, interviewed on Magic Talk Radio just a couple of hours ahead of Jacinda’s appearance in the Beehive Theatrette at 1:00pm on Sunday, 30 August, insisted that the government would be “ploughing-on” with the transition from Level 3 to Level 2.5?

The Health Minister confirmed at today’s (31/8/20) 1:00pm Covid Update that he was well aware of the situation relating to the “mistaken” Covid-19 Alert at the time of that Magic Talk interview. So, the question arises: Did Hipkins make the statement about “ploughing-on” to signal to our supposed AOGC rebels that their protest had been in vain?

More to the point, was it also a very public warning to Jacinda that there could be no stepping back from the plan already agreed upon with her longest-standing and closest political allies – Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins? Any deviation from the scheduled 11:59pm level-change could hardly fail to be interpreted by the news media as evidence of a serious split in the uppermost reaches of the Coalition Government. Not something a prime minister heading into a general election would be eager to acknowledge!

The problem with this sort of speculation is where to call a halt. Viewed through my admittedly dramatic political prism, Jacinda’s decision to keep her former health minister, David Clark, in Dunedin – and his job – for a great deal longer than he had any right to expect begins to look like a shrewd method of ensuring the state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic would be decided by the Prime Minister and her Director-General of Health. (Where is Ashley, BTW, he wasn’t at today’s update?)

Did the Director-General’s failure to properly implement the Cabinet’s directives relating to border security so weaken his position that Robertson and Hipkins were able to elbow him aside and transform the wildly popular, science-driven, duumvirate of Jacinda and Ashley into a new, much more business-friendly, triumvirate of Grant, Jacinda and Chris?

And if that is what happened, then what does it say about the government’s new direction of travel? Jacinda’s and Ashley’s decision to “go hard and go early” represented a revolutionary reversal of the usual neoliberal priorities. In effect, they opted to put people first and profits second. The immense and very obvious outpouring of public gratitude and affection that followed the extraordinary success of this strategy made Jacinda effectively invulnerable to attack. Until the saintly duumvirate could, somehow, be destabilised, the furious business community (ably assisted by their right-wing allies in the news media) could only whinge and moan. But then Ashley stumbled, and the business community seized its chance.

This morning, on RNZ’s Nine-to-Noon political panel, Labour’s pollster, Stephen Mills, wondered aloud why Jacinda – backed in the polls but upwards of 80 percent of her fellow New Zealanders, had apparently chosen to abandon her hugely successful go-hard, go-early “elimination” strategy, in favour of a new strategy of Covid-19 “containment”.

Please, someone – anyone – confirm for me, and the rest of the 80 percent, that the explanations offered in this post are nothing more than the fever-dreams of an ageing left-wing commentator. Please tell us that the sequences of events outlined above bear absolutely no relation to reality. That there has not been a coup against Jacinda’s “people first” Covid elimination strategy. That the 20 percent haven’t prevailed. Please, please, please, reassure Jacinda’s loyal team of four million that this is NOT what has happened!




  1. I can only guess that a plan to eliminate is now verging on bankrupting us, if a government can, and that the first time around was the one and only chance we had.

    This horrible quandary is one every government faces nowadays. I am also guessing that our government is praying that the now ended level 3 lockdown that did not get as much buy in as before plus tracing plus genuine quaratining plus a better understanding of the nature of this disease plus level 2.5 will be enough to eliminate AND stop us going broke.

    Make no mistake, no government wants to be in this position, ever. Trouble is they have no choice. And just peek out at the rest of the world if you think this is a cake walk!

    • The idea that we could be bankrupted by this is nonsense. The government has the sovereign right to create it’s own money and owns it’s own bank. Even Jim Bolger seems to be aware of this as recent utterances on RNZ would indicate.

      • A nation can create unlimited amounts of its own currency. But no-one in another nation can be forced to exchange their currency or goods for that currency.

        • Ada it is extreme to suggest even that the covid19 fiscal package will affect the $NZ. The RBNZ creation is modest and not all of it was allocated to govt coffers as some billions went to private bankers to play with on the financial sector markets. Did you notice the stock market rise.

          Grant can get the RBNZ to forgive the debt as he should but instead he has bowed to NACT and the private bankers who create new money daily for their own profit,

  2. She compromised, isn’t that what centrist Labour Gov’ts do when face with dirty politics from business and their media, competing with the social media, winding up the gentry with conspiracies about NZ being taken over by socialists or worse?

    The flouting, beating and slander storm is now so deafening, she is trying to quiet the storm while hoping that the testing, tracking and tracing will not be sabotaged by feral Fucklanders insisting on their freedom to have a good time while the rest of us are paying for it.

    We are a divided country and always have been, keeping the team of 5 million together was an impossible task when Trump is going viral and the backlog of US billionaire bunkers are piling up at the border.

    We deserve to be brought down by a petty bourgeois mob escaping the brown suburbs of Auckland and bleating for more hospo and travel.

  3. “…what civil servant in their right mind would send out such a message without the formal, traceable, approval of those at the very summit of the civil service hierarchy? Chris Trotter

    Hi Chris, maybe they weren’t in their ‘right mind’.

    “Occam’s Razor allows of only two reasonable explanations. 1) That the action was deliberate and its consequences foreseen. 2) That the calibre of the staff responsible for its release was so abysmal that the notice’s glaring deficiencies passed unnoticed.” Chris Trotter

    How about. 3)

    They are human beings worried and in shock. With an all too human response to this –

    “….the all-too-evident trepidation among scientists, civil servants, and members of the general public, that the move out of Level 3 might be premature – dangerous even.” Chris Trotter

    “….. the offending notice may have been issued as a form of institutional protest against what a faction within the All-of-Government Committee (AOGC)  responsible for managing the pandemic considered a reckless government decision? A decision driven not by the science, but by political and commercial interests no longer willing to be guided by expert opinion.” Chris Trotter

    Or possibly – 
    Chris, rather than being a deliberate institutional protest, it was a disorganised panicky reaction to the government U Turn from the policy of elimination to one of containment. ‘Oh my God – We better test everyone!’ written as a draft, which in the confusion caused by panic and worry went out over the airwaves. 

    “I would like the reassurance of the Prime Minister that she has NOT – at the insistence of the Finance Minister and the Health Minister – abandoned her hitherto rock-solid determination to put the welfare of the New Zealand people ahead of the profits of New Zealand businesses. Please, someone – anyone – tell me, tell the nation, that this is NOT what happened.” Chris Trotter

    This is exactly what happened.

    The country had been told that the Prime Minister would make an official announcement at 1pm Sunday on whether the country would go to level 2 (or not).

    At 11.30am (approx) the Prime Minister announcement at 1pm was pipped at the post by Chris Hipkins who announced to the country that we ‘would’ be going to level 2. In effect usurping the Prime Minister.

    When the Prime Minister did get to give her announcement, (which had already been done by Chris Hipkins). The Prime Minister announced that this would be a compromise level 2.5. This indicated to me, that the Prime Minister still favours her initial policy of elimination, but has been over ruled by her Ministers.

  4. I don’t even think that the business community is so universally against the cautious approach. I strongly suspect that the critical issue is with Grant Robertson’s escalating debt mountain. As it does seem from what he has said recently on the subject the money he is providing to keep jobs and businesses intact through the lockdowns is all being borrowed from overseas sources rather than issued by our reserve bank , it will soon become unpayable . I think that is why Auckland has gone out of level 3 while new cases are still popping up every day. It comes down to a question of monetary philosophy .
    D J S

    • Correct David. Quite simply Robertson has figured we can’t finance the wage subsidy any further, evidenced by his resusal to extend it for the 4 extra days of lockdown. In short his line of credit has tightened. They tried to eliminate convirus, they failed, now it is learn to live with it. Thats the change. Now do the team of 5 million know that yet? Some do, most don’t when they do the worm will turn on Jacinda.

      • Clifford J,

        Even blind Freddy can see you’re misrepresenting the true situation regarding the wage subsidy. Based on your other “input” it’s safe to assume you’ve done so deliberetly. I used the wage subsidy to help pay my staff during the recent level 3 restrictions and like most people totally understood why the extra 2 to 4 days wasn’t covered but clearly you get your “facts” from Judith Collins.

        When Auckland went to level 3, I felt it was not right that people in other paqrts of NZ not facing a lockdown would get the same level of subsidy Auckland would recieve but soon learned why it was the case. Our tax system dosen’t have the capability to seperate taxpayers from eachother via location. It would have taken an eternity to do it all manually so the most efficant method of getting the subsidy out to those who need it quickly was to have all businesses around NZ able to obtain the subsidy should they meet the criteria. They justified this further saying other people around NZ would be impacted by the Auckland lockdown. I disagreed with the reasoning. Yes, Queenstown for example would be negatively impacted but people in Masterton, Nelson, Westport and Gore for example would have continued on as normal. I disagree with what unfoloded but totally understand and respect why it did. There was no other option given the time restraints.

        As for the wage subsidy duration. Two of the extra 4 days were a weekend. My staff and the majority of other businesses don’t work weekends. I appreciate those in the hospitality industry invariably work weekends but please tell me how our tax system can on mass distingush who works weekends and who dosen’t ? How would it have been fair and reasonable to pay people who have to work weekends the exact same figure as the majority of people who don’t work weekends? The Government had limited options which ever way they chose to go. National and their trolls can’t be that fucking stupid….can they?

        Then you look at the instruction given to those in charge of approving and distributing wage subsidy payments. It was for a two week period and they were well into finalizing details when the 4 day level 3 extension was announced. To undo all the work that had already been completed would have been a logistical nightmare. It would have resulted in delays getting the payments to people who were clearly in need. Ardern, Robertson and Hipkins were all at pains to explain this so the utter crap you and others are presenting as factual is deliberate misinformation.

        They made one “potential” error in my opinion. That being the time and the day businesses could apply. The Government was aware food parcels in Auckland were in high demand yet despite annoucing the wage subsidy the previous week, we couldn’t actually apply for it until 1pm on Friday 21st August. That mean’t they would be inundated with applications on a Friday afternoon. The system would be overloaded and businesses wouldn’t receive the subsidy until the following week. This was entirely predictable and avoidable had they opened applications at 1pm on the Thursday instead of Friday. There will be inner workings involved that I’m not privy to so I allow for that when speaking of this timing situation and potential error.

        I’m 100% certain that should another wage subsidy be required which seems likely, there will be reserves to call on by the prudent money managers involved. Let’s face it. The bleaters will ALWAYS bleat. Lockdown = bleating. No lockdown = bleating. Shorter lockdown = bleating. Longer lockdown = bleating.

        Eliminating the virus while the border was closed was practical and achievable. Thousands of “kiwis” returning to NZ as they are legally entitled to do was always going to increase the risk, especially when so many of the “kiwis” returning are coming from Covid hotspots which is almost certaintly the very reason they wanted to get the hell out of there. There is no playbook for handling a pandemic here. Those involved are human beings who in most cases learn by errors. What I find extremely disappointing are the divisive and toxic judgments on “border control” from vested interest eggspurts who just happen to be National Party supporters and trolls in most cases. How ironic that the only pathway the diabolical and unwanted National Party have into Government is if the support and confidence Kiwis have in the Government is undermined. Anyone who thinks National could do any better has rocks in their head. We all know those fuckwits kept bleating on how NZ should follow Australia and opened up a bubble with China of all places. We can only imagine the carnage NZ would be facing now had the Government followed National’s eggspurt advice. Mass death like so many other countries. All they can do is stand on the sideline bleating trying to undermine everything our Government is doing to help keep kiwis safe and alive. National’s conduct is treasonous and they will pay a high price on election day. We’ve been hearing how Ardern will implode for almost 3 years now. The sky is falling the sky is falling. Every prediction the trolls have made was wrong. They will be 100% wrong again claiming voters will turn on Ardern.

        You musn’t have been paying attention. NZ did eliminate the virus. They did so for over 100 days. Businesses have not stopped whining about the lockdown and as they knew this cluster would have a long tail, switching to containment was the best all round practical option. I would have preferred Auckland stayed in lockdown for another week but respect the reasons behind the decision made.

        Will National and their trolls tire of bagging EVERYTHING the Government says and does? Being so negative all day every day must give them ulcers.

        I’m truly thankful National has the despicable Judith Collins as their leader. We’ve even had a window into what sort of PM’s husband her partner would make. We all noticed yet again how every nausating and vile action National takes is minmized yet everything Ardern does is the equivelent of being the person dropping Zyklon B into the gas chambers.

        All perspective has been intentially lost by the latrine rodents. We can certaintly see on here who has migrated from the toxic and divisive Trade Me message board.

        Have you noticed how all the latrine rodents are very quiet when polls come out or when their MP’s send personal details of Covid patients to the media or send pornography to multiple young ladies……yet when they feel they are getting traction on border control, they on mass slide out of their ratholes. Worthgy of contempt only. If the cap fits………

        National are on their way to the nearest landfill. It can’t happen fast enough. Happy days.

        • The way Jacinda is poling is a good indication that the vast majority are willing to do what is well explained and socially obvious. You as Jacindafan turning out to be an employer will not be an exception. Other employers will be of the same opinion in similar proportion to the rest of the community.
          It may be that they do feel that the tracing and the containment of the outbreak to identified contacts is sufficient to be safe at level 2 , but it would not have cost any votes to keep to level 3 in AK until there were no more cases popping up. So something else is putting the pressure on and I think it will be the debt.
          Either way There is no chance that labour (or perhaps I should say Jacinda) will lose the election. They will have a clear majority closer to 60% than 50% whatever happens. No one will think it’s Jacinda’s fault if we lose control of the virus.
          D J S

        • Jacindafan, interesting disertation, but Chris’s question was “what just didn’t happen?”
          My answer was that the silent decision to give up the fight to eliminate convirus and rather learn to live with it had been made but not communicated yet.

          • Clifford J: “…..give up the fight to eliminate convirus and rather learn to live with it had been made but not communicated yet.”

            David Stone has – quite reasonably – postulated the view that it’s debt pressure bringing that about. It may well be so.

            Or it could be pragmatic recognition of the characteristics of this virus. Elimination is both unachievable without massive economic damage and unsustainable for the same reason.

            The idea of putting the welfare of the New Zealand people ahead of the profits of New Zealand businesses (as it’s phrased in this article) is surely a false dichotomy. The two are inextricably linked, are they not? Businesses are run by those same people, not by automatons. People gotta eat, whether or not they run – or work in – businesses. Cold comfort, it seems to me, to be spared the virus, only to become very sick or to die untimely from some other cause deriving from that economic damage.

        • Don’t know what rock you live under Jacinderfan, but walk around town both saturday and sunday see’s more shops open than not. aren’t you so lucky your business doesn’t work weekends and so not worried about the subsidy covering those days. Aren’t you lucky your business is not in hospitality or a large department store trying to cover wages for dozens of staff over those days. Seems it’s all about how well you and your business have coped with the situation and less about other struggling businesses. You seem more worried about how the tax system can work out the fine details and make it fair, rather than how your fellow businesses might be struggling to survive.

  5. The thesis of massive institutional incompetence seems to ignore the speed with which the Covid response has had to be put together. This was not a massive institution a few months ago, and if this is the least of the problems its new teams create as they bed in, they’ll have done pretty well.

  6. What’s the saying, that you shouldn’t attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence?

    • Woolly Angus: “…you shouldn’t attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence?”

      I come down on the side of incompetence. I’m not a fan of the malice/conspiracy notion. For the most part, people have good intentions: pratfalls are occasioned by people cocking up. Shit happens: nobody’s perfect….

  7. Well you see Chris, you say: “rock-solid determination to put the welfare of the New Zealand people ahead of the profits of New Zealand businesses.”
    Maybe we (NZ) are nearing the limits our borrowings from world banks?….maybe we need to start paying for ourselves now as a country?…maybe that needs to be done by businesses that turn over money and bring in taxes and promote spending? Maybe this cannot be achieved by know-it-all keyboard warriors like us? Maybe Jacinda is starting to think like a country’s CEO, not a UN candidate?
    Maybe? Who knows.

  8. Cock-up before conspiracy.
    Probably some half-arsed social-media manager didn’t read the copy properly, didn’t comprehend the message correctly, and posted the statement, which resulted in the debacle. No editor there to sign-off on the message either. Not so much a reflection on overall government competence, but rather an indication of poor systems and controls, and language use by whoever they contract to do their comms.

    Let’s eat Grandpa!
    Let’s eat, Grandpa!
    Commas save lives, grammar is important.

  9. An interesting analysis, Chris.

    The fact is, Jacinda caved in to short-term business interests months ago, when she authorised pumping of rapidly-declining resources into commercial activities that have no future.

    Just how much longer she and ‘her team’ will be able to keep pouring precious resources into commercial activities that have no future is, up to a point, anyone’s guess.

    That said, with the global economic-social meltdown accelerating and the impending financial meltdown getting ever closer, my guess is that the shit will really begin to hot the fan about a month from now.

    That which is unsustainable cannot be sustained -the first rule of sustainability.

    In the meantime, the team at ‘Breakfast’ will keep the masses entertained, and give them false hope.

  10. Maybe was Occam’s butter knife. The government could have put out disingenuous ‘order’ to increase testing numbers. The number of ‘positive’ tests increases with the number tested so ergo, they can leverage and say look, ‘there is another positive, by the will of the sky wizard and James Shaw’s crystal navigation I will now lock you down’. Or maybe someone in the Ministry decided this was their time, that they weren’t so thick as to direct a million people to the pop-up flash-mob testers with a wayward sentence, but that causing chaos in the community (gaslighting people that they are sick) is now currency and their social media post was in fact intentional, for the cause. Or maybe, as the PM herself pointed out, social media isn’t the right place for a government ministry to be conducting their affairs, PR yes but official orders during a bloody medical emergency definitely not.

  11. Firstly, I wouldn’t trust chris hipkins as far as I could throw gerry brownlee’s arse cheeks.
    hipkins wants kids back at school for Christ’s sake.
    ‘Chris Hipkins: ‘No good reason not to send kids back to school’
    Anyone who’s had kids knows that kids are petrie dishes of diseases and c-19’s no sniffle and a day off at home.
    Of course it’s all about the money.
    The problem is we have none left and yet there should be billions and as I asked lianne dalziel once ; “Where’s our money?” , she said “I don’t know”. As opposition minister of finance at that time, she didn’t know where our money was.
    ( I can’t be bothered detailing the now institutionalised and unfettered burglary of our agrarian primary industry to create massive private wealth for our urban 1% who’re now 68 times more wealthy than the rest of us.
    The Guardian.
    New Zealand’s astounding wealth gap challenges our ‘fair go’ identity
    The only comfort I can take from the almost unimaginably tangled cluster fuck that’s evolving is in knowing the labour and national are one and the same.
    Sure, labour has a prettier face, arguably, and says kinder things but what’s actually changed?
    Nothing. Is my observation.
    Our primary industry are still fawning over their abusers, our working-people infrastructure is a weeks pay away from hunger and homelessness and we have people so wealthy that the concept of the difference between millionaires and billionaires, not to mention trillionaires is literally beyond the imagination of most and those super wealthy are breathing hotly down our ragged shirt collars as they eye up our beautiful AO/NZ.
    And you know, how I know that? It’s simple.
    We’re powerless to do anything about any of the above.
    We’re powerless and defenceless and we’re struggling to live with a dangerous pathogen and we’re being ‘managed’ by a hostile politic who’s most urgent concern is the economy. Their economy.
    @ CT.
    I sympathise with you. I get a sense of dread combined with a rage born of frustration in regard to our pathetic politics.
    I read a story about a famous author once ( Sorry. I don’t remember his name. ) where he was asked why he lived in Spain yet refused to learn to speak Spanish.
    He said “ I greatly enjoy being on a bus our otherwise out in public and I have no idea what they’re talking about.”
    To all you good, intelligent, generous, open hearted, open minded, brave, forthright, expressive, talented and gifted AO/NZ’rs, and there are not that many of you, I’d say get debt free as soon as you can and learn to apply yourselves in a practical manner. Learn how to feed yourselves, buy a boat and learn how to fish, learn how to build a funky shanty, learn how to fix your car, learn the basics of electricity, plumbing and swearing. Learn how to apply yourselves to those vital things.
    Then? Buy a digger and dig a big fucking moat and fill it up with sea water and these guys.

    • Hopefully @ CB, you intend voting. Decisions decisions I know, least worst options and all that kaka; Rome wasn’t built in a day (even though the newly-converted neo-liberals of the 80s seemed to be able to build their Rome in a short time); and good things take time – said the old bugger at the cheese factory.
      I often think that in some ways, things really need to get worse before they can (i.e. are able to) get better.

      Who will it be? For me, its going to have to be a toss up as far as the Party Vote goes, and at the moment its six of one, and half a dozen of the other.
      JA and half a dozen others (maybe a coupe more to be charitable) deserve acknowledgment of their achievements (in this space, going forward, rhubarb rhubarb), but then the Gweens still haven’t worked out that being wet and woke, AND being competent and policy-driven aren’t mutually exclusive – but so far the wet and woke bit seems more appealing to them.
      We’ll get what we deserve

    • Hi CB
      Last year about this time I joined up with the rest of my year (50 yrs ago) for a reunion of our Massey sheep diploma. Did you ever do that?
      Anyway those guys ( mostly farmer’s sons of course ), went home to carry on dad’s farm. They might not be the one percent, but owning their own piece of the world, or several large pieces in many cases, constitutes a kind of wealth and security, and sense of relevance that eclipses any portfolio of shares or bonds. Thousands of acres of productive land is real wealth. Everything else is artificial . it’s the earth that matters. The bankers might be crooked thieves , but they know they are not the salt of the earth .
      D J S
      D J S

      • I think you are getting sentimental David Stone about all those lovely farmers sons and their feeling for the land. I think they have always had at the back of their mind that owning productive land is real wealth. And from that point of view they have warped NZ to fit their requirements, until Labour cut out the subsidies.

        But there’s a problem for these land and wealth holders, if their children all wanted to stay on the farm, which they don’t as a rule, the farms would become split into small holdings, or there’s be a fraction too much friction between siblings. So there needs to be somewhere, and something else for most of the children to work at to earn their living. They go to the town then, to the population centres and the community they have built, and the higher education they provide and utilise which now are seen to be of value to the landholders.

        Town and country have not worked together well to get the most benefit that a small, connected country could have had. Farmers had to find markets for their produce; productive land doesn’t bring wealth unless someone who will pay fair money for the produce. The push went to export and get firm trade agreements with continuity
        and now with the free market, all advantage seems to have flown to farmers and exporters, and from them to overseas corporates. Now many farms aren’t owned by families any more, they have been aggregated and turned to industrial sites. Townies have lost their jobs, and those farmer’s sons are in finance or real estate. The land still provides their living okay – selling it to the world’s Mr Creosotes.

        • Labour did a much more effective thing to restore viability to farming Grey, They brought in Roger Douglas and neoliberalism.
          I was a sheep farmer’s son when those subsidies were introduced, by Norman Kirk’s government. They were not sought by farmers.who by and large regarded it as a ridiculous concept that the overwhelming revenue producing industry of the country could be subsidised .Where could the money come from? It was already being almost entirely earned from the industry that was to be subsidised.
          But of course there was a reason. Farming esp. sheep farming was becoming so marginal profit wise that production was about to collapse due to farmers not being able to afford to apply the phosphate that our soil lacks and the application of which had tripled the productivity of most of our hill country farms.
          But a very large proportion of the revenue earned by NZ farms was being taken out in the heavily unionised freezing works industry and especially on the wharves. A wharfie in a closed union at the time on average took home considerably more pay than the prime minister. And it cost more (about twice) to have a cattle beast killed in a south island freezing works to quarters than it cost me to have a beast killed in a local abattoir and butchered into labeled freezer packs, and cuttings minced by the local butcher.
          The reason for the subsidies was not to make farmers more wealthy but to keep farming viable without taking on the extortion being applied to the country’s overseas earnings at a time when we were exporting 90% of what we were producing and importing 90% of what we were consuming. Proportionately more than any country on earth.
          This put unionised workers in those vital industries in an unassailable negotiating position which they exploited to the max just as is human nature in any monopolistic position of power.
          The politically impossible position of either labour or national governments to confront this extortion is what allowed the public to accept the neoliberal globalist doctrine as it absolved government from the responsibility of making tough decisions on behalf of the country . The greatest losers in the end being the average worker.
          It has always been that farmers never had money for themselves until they sold their farm. The price of farm land is not a function of the profitability of farming, it si a function of government policy, especially under Hellen Clarke’s government, to allow unrestricted sale of farm land to immensely wealthy foreigners who just want a piece of the prettiest country on earth. Because it improves the balance of payments in that year and who cares what the economic effect might be in 30 years time when they are in retirement. Thjis does not make farming profitable and it makes it almost impossible now for a farmer to pass his farm on to his son if there are more children in the family to consider.
          Hence the twilight of the family farm concept. Not the choice or wish of any part of the farming family.
          D J S

  12. A large part of the problem lies with what Peter Davis, in an article in the Herald, calls “the Balkanisation of the health system”. See https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12360420
    The cock-up explanation has more credence than Trotter will allow. Civil servants who are working under pressure in a system that has been stuck together over a 6-month period will inevitably make mistakes. Compared with the past 10 years of Earthquake Commission dysfunction (which the current govt now at least acknowledges), 6 months to get an ill-prepared system to a state where it is reasonably functional seems not too bad. The pressures on the govt were of course far more severe for Covid-19. They could not be brushed aside, albeit govts in some allegedly advanced economies have had a good try at so doing.

    • True to an extent …. and compatible with H1’s idea that the public service no longer has “the capacity” it once had – and of course that’s down to the gNatz these days, although Prebs and the Fish and Chip Club began it all.
      But it doesn’t alter the fact that the senior ranks of the public service are riddled with neo-liberals (sometimes because they’ve never experienced anything else in their lifetimes, sometimes because career ambitions trump anything to do with ‘serving’ the public, sometimes because of political ideological belief.) It all adds up to a more lethal kind of a Yes Minister from days gone by. (And now I think about it, in some cases all 3)
      And unfortunately its possible that SFA will change until the natives get really really really restless in this space going forward. If history tells us anything, its that there’s nothing worse than a pissed off electorate.

    • btw @John, there’s a 4th option too but often whichever you want to choose, they can be as greasy and slippery as the best used car salesman. So good they’d never feature in a Dog and Lemon Guide – which doesn’t bode well for a politician that either still has their trainer wheels on, or politicians that have bullshit detectors that don’t function very well. And that’s even if they’re equipped with a degree in communications, or media, or polytiks

  13. Wait until it becomes mandatory to wear a Covid Tracer Card, then the rebellion will happen here also. not just in Berlin.

  14. Occams razor allows for only one response – the simplest.
    The simplest response is that it it may have been the correct response, given that, in level 2, many Aucklanders would be visiting other parts of the country and that, therefor, it was imperative that they don’t take the virus with them.

  15. Fact: Ardern has not announced a change of strategy.
    Opinion: If Adern had changed her strategy she would tell us.
    Speculation: The above post and comments.

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