Media Proclaiming ‘Elimination Of Elimination’ Are Attempting To Ignore / Rewrite Reality

08092021 PHOTO: ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF Covid response minister Chris Hipkins with Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield hold a Covid update press conference in the Beehive theatrette 08 September 2021 POOL Picture

Mid-way through the week, Chris Hipkins [i.e. the Covid-19 Response Minister] said this:

“We are still doing this … we are still pursuing elimination, it is still the right thing for New Zealand.

We are of course looking forward to the future – it won’t always be this way. So, my request of people is just hold your nerve, hold on.”

Hold your nerve. Still pursuing Elimination. Still the right thing for New Zealand.

All pretty straight-forward stuff. And stated quite directly, some days aforehand. So why do I find this comment-worthy?

- Sponsor Promotion -

Because even after Hipkins had directly said we were still engaged in Elimination – we had voices in the media proclaiming the exact opposite. In the case of Mike Hosking, actively attempting to celebrate an alleged ‘end’ to Elimination and seemingly suggesting that there’d been some manner of official Government ‘admittance’ of ‘defeat’.

So what’s happening here? Evidently, the same thing that has repeatedly manifested in certain other democracies over the past few years – a moment wherein the media (or at least, certain portions of same) are in their own little ‘bubble’ and have effectively wound up talking right past both the facts and much of their own actual audience.

Some of these guys out there in the commentariat have decided that Elimination’s got to go – and that, in fact, Elimination has somehow already gone. Even despite vocal and repeated statements to the contrary from the Government, and widespread (indeed, I’d suggest actively overwhelming) support for Elimination in the vast majority of the New Zealand public.

So instead of reporting on reality, they’ve chosen to endeavour to quite literally ‘rewrite’ it – proclaiming an Elimination of Elimination as an effort at brow-beating all the rest of us into seeing the premature end to the policy as something of an already-decided-upon fait accompli.

Now I mentioned occurrences in other democracies earlier, because that’s somewhat what this reminds me of. Snooty journalists or self-anointed ‘opinion-shapers’ declaring that there was no way Brexit could win or Hillary Clinton lose – because it didn’t fit into their own personal preferences and as it turned out (mis)perceptions as to reality. They were so used to their incipient words being reality that it came as quite a shock to find out that neither the facts nor the people they proclaimed they spoke for actually shared their view.

To be fair and sure, I have little doubt that it’s not simply a matter of journalists or ‘commentators’ interviewing their own keyboards. There’s a definite enthusiasm out there in certain portions of the business community in particular for Elimination to be itself Suppressed – and a general weakening of our Covid-19 response overall.

There’s also a small but shouty sector of political and talkback opinion (and looking at the current leadership of the National Party, it’s increasingly difficult to meaningfully distinguish the two in practice) which seemingly demands likewise. And never mind what the science (or, for that matter – indeed, especially for that matter – what the Government) says.

Yet I am struggling to think, offhand, of a previous occurrence in our politics and media wherein there’s so much abject and outright ‘denialism’ of clearly visible and easily checkable reality – namely, the insistence that, against all appearances and substances to the contrary, the Government is to have ‘abandoned’ Elimination.

Then again, and with perhaps deference to a compulsion associated with a seeming personality trait of a few of these voices … even a mirror shall not show you your own face if you are determined not to see it.


  1. The western world is back to normal and accept covid is here to stay. They are going to festivals, large sporting events, living life again whilst our pathetic attempt at a leader has us locked down to cover her total dereliction of duty in getting us all vaccinated. Where has our smugness gone? We are now the laughing stock of the world. Jacindas last chance at succeeding at something has failed so miserably. Has there ever been a bigger failure in NZ politics?

    • jonesy you swampie – “festivals and large sporting events” Wow just wow. “Going to “ must be so self edifying. Doing stuff is what makes the world go around. Even reading a book would help. Get a life.

      • Hillarious, remember kiwis feeling so superior during the Americas cup, during rugby games, look at us now….but that was diffrunt!

    • No there hasn’t. It’s disgusts me how we give her a pass on her failings because she is apparently “of the left”, she isnt. Ardern is arguably the worst PM in my lifetime and is leading the worst government in my lifetime. How anyone can look away from the social housing waiting list, poverty, hardship, inequality, inflation, housing affordability and the debt we are now leaving our kids astounds me. And they do it all in the name of Covid-19. If this was happening under National, we would be up in arms. But as per usual the rank hypocrisy of many on the left trumps their critical thinking. We reap what we sow. Let’s hope we can hang on to Covid as long as possible. It’s the only thing that we are getting half right.

  2. John Key’s fear-mongering courtesy of Stuff – regardless of who actually wrote his absurdly pretentious twaddle – looks like a chilling example of the self-seeking people haters with a seeming disconnect with reality. I don’t know if Key ever did anything in the interests of New Zealand.

    • Key did nothing except create a massive housing crisis by letting any old ‘Jack Harry’ from overseas with a fistful of dollars use our housing stock as a casino chip with a view to making fast money…. and then, with no mandate, and as a huge ego trip, wasted a lot of peoples’ time , money and energy by spending 30 million dollars of taxpayer money trying to change the New Zealand flag. Not to mention all his dodgy dealings swept under the rug by a compliant unsophisticated media.
      New Zealand’s worst Prime Minister ever, equalled only by the hapless Jenny Shipley.

    • The tide is turning. One thing Key is brilliant at is working out which way the wind is blowing and slowly but surely fatigue is seeping in, turning to anger as our ruling class has no plan to move back to normality. The brutality of the piece is the most outward criticism from a former PM to a current government I have seen in my 40-odd years of existence.

      As for the subject piece. Most supporters of this government (like the author) haven’t worked out that more and more people are seeing through the spin. There was no logical reason, if elimination was the aim to move Auckland to L3. This remains the case. The most laughable example of this is the sudden changing of definitions such as elimination and hard and fast when actions don’t fit the rhetoric.

      One-trick ponies don’t fare well when their trick begins to fail. Just ask Kevin Rudd.

      • Ah yes, Winston Smith will re-classifying the definition of elimination as we speak.

        “Elimination never meant zero cases or no Covid in New Zealand, never has and never will. Elimination is what we tell you elimination is”

    • But poor John Key might have run out of ponytails to pull – his usual Sunday past-time. Auckland is a small town, and the girls at unlocked KFC are barriered against creatures like the Key.

      • Yes the social housing waiting list has increased by 20000 people in four years, but Key pulled some ponytails…can you be anymore pathetic?

        • Mickey. “ Can you be any more pathetic “? Can you ? False equivalence.

          A so-called PM living in a mansion, and targeting the hair of a poor waitress, week after week, just for fun, is pretty pathetic. Women deserve better than you and Key. He wouldn’t have got away with it if he’d been a poor man, let alone homeless, and if you don’t know that then you should.

          • Sorry Bert you’re correct. Who cares about all Labours incompetence. They haven’t pulled any ponytails so they’re in fact amazeballs…

            • Do your own research Mickey two blue eyes, you may be enlightened, in fact you may even be amazeballs,( must be a J.K. word) whatever that means.

        • You do know that key more than halved the waiting list by making the criteria so rigid people that needed it were kicked off it and others couldn’t even get on it which was hiding the fact that Keys method was just about looking good and justifying selling state houses not about housing desperate people. The resent increases is just reverting back to the more compassionate list criteria. This has exposed keys neo-liberal agenda and the blame for the high list numbers lays squarely at the tuggers tiny feet

          • So he halved the list by bullshit measures, fine. I’ll double what it was under National to 12000. Labour have still doubled it again in under four years. But Jacinda doesn’t pull ponytails so all hail her. Pathetic.

            • Oh, so Labour should just fudge the numbers(National were experts on this) and that makes everything look fine, how pathetic.

            • You might want to add the result of 8 years of housing crisis (or denied crisis if you prefer) on those numbers that were denied a place on the list or did’mt apply because they had no chance at nationals settings.

    • I think you’re being a bit unfair to good old “Sir” John. The experience of being stuck here in NZ for the winter with the rest of us plebs, rather than enjoying his annual Hawaiian sojourn, must have been extremely traumatic.

  3. Curren
    You are intelligent. Do you really really, deep down, believe that ‘elimination’ is really really possible with a virus like this? I mean elimination as I and every other dumb illiterate idiot know it – gone, dead, disappeared, no longer there. There seem to be daily new definitions of eliminations coming from this govt, most of which we don’t understand. Because we are just the dumbfucks expected to swallow the koolaid. You certainly are taking big gulps! As for Hipkins, he has been instructed to hold the party line. Labour know full well that it will not achieve the promised elimination and they have no cohesive strategy in place beyond fear mongering. It will only work for long and then no more. As for me, I am sick of the smug fuck with his coffee mug grin. Must be great to have all that power so you can play with millions of people like puppets.

  4. I couldn’t be bothered reading it, but saw the headlines

    Sir John Key: ‘A national embarrassment’ – here’s 5 ideas to transform our Covid approach

    Well I guess from a neoliberal perspective NZ’s very low death rate from Covid would be ‘A national embarrassment’ (unlike the rest of the world) and the neoliberals are frothing at mouth when Meth smugglers are thwarted from entering Fortress Aotearoa and wages went up a tiny percent instead of dropping. Catastrophe!!!!!!

  5. I also know a few people now that seem to have gone in and out of NZ with MIQ and they seemed to manage fine, not sure if the so called 22,000 clamouring to get into NZ are legitimate Kiwi citizens or there are other reasons they can’t get in.

    Hopefully they make it compulsory to pay the MIQ fees at the time of travel, so maybe stop those who are randomly booking multiple places and take another headache away on why some using the system refuse to pay or are complaining MIQ doesn’t bill them for months and it is hard to pay it, or investigate why some who fly and book MIQ in NZ apparently leave almost immediately afterwards. Seems very suspicious!

    As usual instead of investigating rule breakers, the neoliberals want to throw out a system and let anybody do whatever they like coming here with bums on seats.

  6. I guess as long as we have a portion of our population who won’t get the jab come hell or high water the elimination strategy is all but a fairytale.
    In the meantime it’s costing you and I a billion bucks a week to pay for lockdowns!

  7. I think there’s a truth in Curwen’s thinking. The media will do what it does to question any lack of conviction from the utterances of any politician. Journalists will interpret what is said to suit their argument. To my thinking while Auckland is locked down we are pursuing elimination. If Auckland goes to level 3 and we are still getting new cases in double figures, the word eliminate becomes just a meaningless word even if new infections are contained to a small area. The potential for a leak is always there. As the days are ticked off towards the level review and the infection numbers pop back into double figures, even optimistic Chippy must wonder if he’s beating a dead horse.

  8. The message we’ve been getting has definitely signaled a change in policy direction & the move to level 3 for Auckland while still getting random Covid cases seemed to indicate that those interests pressuring the government were gaining some traction.

    A move to suppression means the country will remain at level 2 restrictions or higher until the pandemic fizzles out. Being stuck at level 2 with community spread isn’t going to do the economy any favours, especially given it’s likely protracted nature. The border is unlikely to open without restrictions & people will tend to modify their behaviours to avoid getting sick, so events, eating out, movies etc are not going to be a high priority for the risk adverse. Once elimination is lost, it’s difficult to get it back without pain.

    Not sure what the goal of those pushing the suppression plan is but I’m pretty sure it isn’t your health & wellbeing that is their main concern.

    In the meantime, get vaccinated now because if they fail to eliminate this outbreak, vaccination status will become increasingly important.

  9. The more cynical and manipulative sections of the conservative press believe that: Public opinion is a manufactured product. And they are busilly working on shaping this product.

    They believe that they can reshape the reality of our success against covid into a failure. Their motive for reshaping that reality, is to make another reality, one that more suits their selfish Right Wing narratives. bugger the old and the sick, and the poor.

    Over the last few days ther have been lots of media coverage of the hardships that poorer people and small business owners have suffered and are suffering because of lockdown. (like these right wingers have ever worried about these people before).
    The hidden message they are trying to convey, is that there must be no more lockdowns, even if the death toll rises.

    There is a way to make the hardship of lockdown more bearable, on small businesses and households and save lives we need to share the burden with the Aussie banks. You will never hear the Right Wing shock jocks and media outlets advocate such a fair distribution of sacrifice and burdern of the lockdown.
    That has never been their policy in normal times. They are not going to change now, no matter how much death or illness there is in the community.

  10. Actually the NZ Herald was, for once, spot on with a headline;
    There was a time when knighthoods were given for service to the nation, rather than bullying vulnerable young women and self enrichment.

  11. He never did a thing which did not serve his own purposes. He was the wrong choice for PM therefore National must take the blame. There are concerned Kiwis who wonder what drove him to quit. That fact he did so simply confirms his contempt for New Zealanders.

  12. Kia ora Curwen
    The New Zealand government denies that there has been a change from the elimination strategy and you take the denial at face value, but the evidence showing that it has given up on the Elimination strateggy is so strong as to be almost conclusive.
    Firstly, if the tough measures (Level 4) have failed to achieve the object (elimination of community cases) logically you do not turn to less rigid measures (Level 3) to achieve the same object. You would either continue with the rigorous controls as long as necessary, or introduce even more rigorous measures. The abandonment of Level 4 before the object of Level 4 had been achieved was tantamount to both an admission of failure and a change of strategy.
    Secondly, the Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has stated that zero community cases is no longer the goal. Since zero community cases is the definition of elimination, that also is tantamount to a change of strategy from “elimination” to “suppression” or “containment”.
    Thirdly, the New Zealand government has been quietly renaming its alert levels. Alert Level 4 was originally named “Elimination”. It is now “Lockdown”. The word “elimination” is being slowly phased out of public discourse.
    Fourthly the shift of emphasis to “vaccination” is an implicit admission that the elimination strategy has been shelved. Vaccination was the backstop to elimination. It is now the alternative to elimination.
    Elimination of Covid is still possible, but it can only happen through good luck since it will not now happen by design.

    • Kia ora ano Curwen.
      You seem to assume that if 70% of New Zealanders are asking for the elimination strategy, the Labour government would not hand them the vaccination strategy instead. Wrong.
      I would venture that no more than 30% of New Zealanders would have voted for Rogernomics (there is some evidence to support that view) yet that is what the Labour Party delivered. Why? Because through the bureaucrats in Treasury and the right wing think tanks Labour heard the voice of global capital drowning out the voice of the people.
      Now the neoliberals are pushing for vaccination in place of elimination, and employing classic neoliberal arguments to that end. Covid has become a bone of political contention rather than a public health issue, and in political matters Labour will almost invariably take the side of global capital. They will not admit to it, but that is exactly what they are doing.

  13. Isolation against the virus is going to work as well as:

    > Isolation worked for our country’s endangered wildlife
    > The economic isolation preferred by NZ prior to 1983

    In both these cases and in fact ALL cases of isolationism result in the isolated species becoming weak and uncompetitive. One metaphorical rat jumps off a ship and we’re all screwed.

    I recommend you get vaccinated , then expose yourself to the virus. Because it’s coming here eventually, like it or not.

  14. Elimination is history.

    They could not commit to it and the cost of two months at Level 4 given they were to begin home isolation for business travel (which would risk community spread) as a trial for entry of the vaccinated into home isolation next year. The inconsistency was too great.

    It now looks like Level 3 through October and November instead – cases at around 25-50 per day (increasing vaccination numbers to prevent it going up and up).

    If they moved to Level 2 at any point before the end of November, there would be the risk of community spread levels there moving out into the rest of Enzed (while vaccination rates were lower). The most consequential decision now is in the “when” the government allows community spread outside of Auckland, and in what way (as to accountability for this occurring).

    One way would be to allow vaccinated Aucklanders to return for home isolation in October-November while Auckland was at Level 3 (some would cheat in via Auckland and sneak out to other areas).

Comments are closed.