National have been so disconnected to relevant political debate for the last 4 years, they’ve had to have Sir John Key, who was Leader 4 leaders ago, come out and articulate the frustration business owners are feeling with the lockdown.
This matters because Covid hurts Maori, Pacific, old and the poor hardest.
It’s easy to be frustrated because these are frustrating times! We haven’t seen a pandemic for 100 years, the necessity to self isolate and throw all our plans into the air has made us all angry but we mustn’t be blinded by anger to ignore our collective wins here.
We have a tiny mortality rate, have minimized hospitalizations and avoided the worst elements of restrictions. That has required political leadership and a public health system that has stood up to the challenge of a novel pandemic.
That we collectively agreed to act voluntarily to protect one another and listen to the best medical science is a testimony to us as a people and that should be celebrated, but Sir John represents another class of people who are legitimately hurting and whose interests deserve to be respected and helped so let’s look at Sir John’s 5 suggestions.
His first is to incentivize Maori & Pacific health providers with cash payments to lift vaccination rates. It is odd that Sir John doesn’t think these health providers are already moving heaven and earth to get their communities vaccinated, it’s like he seems to think if he throws some cash incentives their way suddenly they’ll start to care? Our Maori & Pacific health providers deserve more respect than a cash bonus. Rather than a 6 week incentive plan, we should recognize their importance, especially when it’s likely we will require annual jabs, and permanently increasing their funding.
Sir John’s second suggestion is a gift card bribe to young people paid out once they get vaccinated. I think rich people allow money to become all they understand and so Sir John’s belief that we can just bribe young people to get vaccinated feels like a crass simplification that reflects on his values rather than valid public health policy.
Sir John’s third suggestion of implementing harsh vaccine passports might cause more social friction than public good and having the vaccine buses operating at night with drunk teenagers seems like a recipe for disaster.
Sir John’s fourth suggestion is the setting of a hard open border date because that might frighten the vaccine hesitant to vaccinate. Threatening people and carrying through with that threat regardless of immunization rates is something a psychopath would do, not a well reasoned health response to a national emergency.
Sir John ends by demanding we stop using fear, yet his suggestion number 3 and 4 require fear to work.
Look, this is New Zealand, we all have the right to speak and this awful pandemic has impacted us all, so let’s have debate on what happens next, but these 5 mediocre suggestions are so shallow it’s embarrassing.
This pandemic has exposed the bleeding gums of our inequality, you want to tackle Covid, you fight poverty.
That was something Sir John spent 8 years avoiding.
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