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The continuing heated rhetoric enveloping pandemic border security obscures the real issues.
A desperate National Party, acting always through hindsight and desperate for any electoral edge, has not helped; meanwhile corporate mass media has amplified its wolf-howls in a deafening crescendo.
Inheriting hospitals in a parlous state (not just in Dunedin but in Auckland and elsewhere) the Government already had its work cut out to address a woefully deficient Health Service and despite the lead given by Helen Clark’s Labour Government (2002) it also inherited poor pandemic preparation.
Placing lives before profit and science before the business lobby the NZ Government and its people together gave the World a lesson in effective pandemic response.
Side-lining the powerful business lobby was critical to its success; the UK Government, torn between the business interests of its supporters and the poor optics of opinion polls followed a broken path of politically filtered pseudo-science with catastrophe a guaranteed outcome. A New Zealand National Government whose prime concerns are satisfying business demands and the self-interest of the wealthy would have fared no better.
Michael Woodhouse (National MP) recently said the border security issue involving the two women sadly released from quarantine without adequate testing “would not have happened on his watch”.
Under National, ever deferring to business interests, New Zealand would be in a similar state to the UK, facing thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths and would never have been in the COVID19 free state as of a few days ago; thus Michael Woodhouse is correct because the state to which he is referring would not exist “on his watch”.
Neither PM Ardern, Dr David Clark nor Dr Bloomfield could check every border agent to ensure protocol standards were met; what is important is that protocols were in place. A general does not throw up a white flag when a soldier deserts. That protocols were not followed is, however, serious.
No complex system works first time – a situation familiar to systems engineers. Problems occur and must be solved and that is what Government did whilst aware that democracies do not inject their military into civil affairs especially when personal freedoms will be curtailed unless there are clear, morally justifiable reasons.
Given such a reason, PM Ardern’s response was timely and effective.
Yet it needs one further step; business just cannot be trusted. Any pandemic related business, especially airlines, must be given enforceable directions for safe operation. They will not all do it themselves; to them, profit is more important than lives, no matter the nature of their public pronouncements.
The forces of greed and self-interest have no moral compass but they tweak visceral feelings within all of us; that is their route to power and the direction of national wealth into private pockets.
For my part, I thank and congratulate the Government’s embrace of science, for its rational and effective policies and for protecting New Zealanders whose pandemic experience is in stark contrast to the escalating infections and deaths in the UK, US and elsewhere.
- Terry Morris