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Richard Prebble: My attempt at praising Labour

OPINION:

In the spirit of Christmas can we congratulate Labour?

What about a bouquet for achieving 90 per cent vaccinations? Actually, 74 per cent of the population is vaccinated. Our children are not protected. The Pfizer vaccine needs a booster for Omicron. At Christmas, just 4 per cent are triple vaccinated.

Other countries are rushing to vaccinate children and give everyone a booster. Our vaccination task force is going door to door trying in vain to vaccinate the reluctant.

Last week in Rotorua I went in for my booster. The vaccination centre was closed. There was no other customer at the pharmacy. I was turned away. The six-month wait is from the second jab.

Labour fears it will be attacked by the Māori Party if it shifts focus to protecting us from Omicron.

Omicron is 400 per cent more infectious. Omicron is coming. Why wait until sometime in January before reducing the interval between the second dose and the booster to four months? Why not let everyone get a booster now?

Pfizer says double jabbed is a 25th of the protection of triple. Omicron will spread like wild fire. It will be too late then to administer the booster.

Ministers’ procrastination is again putting the country at risk. For vaccination, Labour deserves a brick bat.

Can we give ministers a bouquet for trying? Jacinda Ardern says “this has been an incredibly hard year”. Chris Hipkins admits to being tired.

Of course he is tired. In addition to being the minister in charge of the worst pandemic since Spanish flu, he is Minister of Education.

Education is one of the toughest portfolios. No one could do both jobs.

Long term the crisis in education will cause far more damage than the pandemic. New Zealand pupils are now leaving high school with the lowest levels of numeracy and literacy in the English-speaking world.

In a caucus full of ex-teachers, there is no one able to replace Hipkins in education.

The NCEA results are truly shocking. Some state schools have no pupils reaching university entrance level. The public/private educational achievement gap is a chasm.

My nephew was Dux of his well-known state school. He was shocked to discover how far behind he is compared to the students from private schools. It cost him a place in med school.

Labour is creating a class division based on whether you went to a private school.

Ardern and Hipkins promised when they closed Charter Schools that the performance of state schools would improve. It has gone backwards. No brick bat is big enough.

Can we give a bouquet for the Treasury’s rosy economic predictions? If you believe Treasury predictions no doubt you also believe in the tooth fairy.

Houses are at prices the Treasury said six months ago would not be reached until 2025.

The Minister of Finance defended the Treasury predictions, saying the Reserve Bank forecasts were also wrong. Why is that supposed to reassure?

Last year this column could predict inflation would exceed the Reserve Bank guideline.

The Prime Minister insists inflation is all “around the world”. Our inflation is 4.9 per cent. If it is a worldwide issue then all our trading partners would also have 4.9 per cent inflation.

Inflation in our main export markets is; China 2.3 per cent, Australia 3 per cent, United States 6.8 per cent, Japan 0.1 per cent and Korea 3.7 per cent.

Last year, in the OECD, only the US Federal Reserve printed more money relative to GDP than New Zealand. While supply chains have impacted prices, most of our inflation is home grown.

According to the ANZ survey, in the next three months 89 per cent of companies expect to face higher costs. 65 per cent are intending to increase their prices. On top of that inflation fire the Government is going to spray the kerosene of an extra $6 billion of spending.

Interest rate rises will cause mortgage holders significant hardship.

Countless times the Treasury has predicted a house price correction. Eventually, the Treasury’s predicted correction will happen. Then there will be real strife. We cannot give a bouquet for the economy.

The world looks very different from the Beehive. In Parliament’s final debate, Ardern produced a list of government “achievements”.

The Auckland lockdown: Only Ardern could claim the world’s second-longest lockdown that failed to eliminate Delta as a success.

Achieving 90 per cent vaccination: We are 4 per cent vaccinated against Omicron.

The milk price: Words fail me.

Spending more on climate change: Emissions have gone up.

Reducing child poverty: Rent and price rises will hit the poor the hardest.

Low unemployment: Remember economist von Mises warning. “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion.”

Ardern did not explain why prohibition of tobacco will work when it has not against any other drug. The PM was smart enough not to mention the proposed new labour laws.

As she drives New Zealand Inc over the cliff, the PM asks us to admire how smooth the ride is to the bottom.

For Christmas, we can give Labour a bouquet for chutzpah.

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