Politics

Mike Hosking: Why do we accept this Covid farce?

OPINION:

It takes a special kind of gall, and/or arrogance, for a government to turn up last week having been literally invisible for a month during a pandemic and announce without even the slightest hint of embarrassment, that one, you haven’t been off skiving, and two, you actually have a Covid plan for the year. When, as it inevitably turns out, no such plan exists.

Having spent the summer following the news, the Government made three appearances. One, Chris Hipkins from his mum’s place on the possibilities around Omicron escaping into the community.

Two and three to Stuart Nash. Firstly on the report suggesting ice cream could be a big export earner, and secondly admitting that he failed to fully grasp the issues around foreigners buying up productive farmland and converting it into forest parks for carbon credits.

Clarke Gayford was as active as anyone in the Government with his endlessly helpful advice to the nation’s pharmaceutical community, but I don’t think that’s supposed to count.

The Prime Minister was nowhere to be seen.

Contrast that with Scott Morrison, who has been front and centre literally daily.

When our PM did reappear, it was to remind us that forward planning is not their strong suit as they invented yet another layer of ideas, rules and advice that very few will understand, far less follow.

As we enter the third year of Covid, we have had various forms of lockdowns, then levels (various forms), then lights (various colours), and now we have phases or stages.

Stage 1 for Omicron is the “stamp it out” stage … surely the most farcical of all the ideas so far.

I remember Grant Robertson, once again with a straight face, telling me last year that level 3 was an elimination level, despite the fact level 4 had failed.

At every step along this torturous journey, as well as being hopelessly ill-prepared, the Government has insisted things that can never happen will somehow magically happen here.

And with Omicron we are now starting our journey to allegedly stamp it out. No one’s buying that.

Of course, the reason they’re running this charade in the first place is that we don’t have everyone boosted.

And we don’t have everyone boosted because we didn’t roll out the original vaccine when we should have, because when Pfizer wrote to the Government, David Clark, then Health Minister, was on his mountain bike and didn’t open the letter, and six weeks went by before we even met with them.

They also spent a good part of last year arguing the rapid antigen testing kits we now need but don’t have enough of, weren’t needed at all.

The PM tells us millions are on order, but as anyone who orders anything via courier these days knows, an order isn’t a delivery, and that is the greatest weakness of this government’s lack of planning.

They spend their lives telling us what will happen … not what is happening.

We are constantly late, constantly behind everyone else.

I want my booster, but I can’t have it because of the original delay in the rollout.

I am also waiting four months between shots. Or will it be three? And when it is three, is that because it’s medically the best thing for me or because it’s politically advantageous?

We start the year yet again with the doctors and nurses freaking out about capacity.

Meantime, it is clear Omicron is short and nowhere near as dangerous as Delta or Alpha.

There is real reason to believe that by the end of the year, if not the middle, this will turn out to be a flu-type virus we may or may not have to learn to live with, and as such this will be the last year of this shambolic “make it up as you go along” circus.

But, the hangover is coming. Part of the pain of this approach will be felt this year economically.

$8 billion is what last year’s last lockdown in Auckland cost. $8b we never had.

Supply chains are buckling, we can’t find workers, the border is closed. Inflation is rampant, debt is mountainous, the Government’s approach has been to lock us up, borrow like mad, pretend we have answers no one else does, pretend also this is all part of a plan which of course it never was, and hope for the best.

This is the year we pay the price for it all. So good luck, it’s groundhog day.

But the part that infuriates me most is not the incompetence of the Government, that’s now well established. No, the inexplicable part is the rationale of those who still believe all of this is somehow acceptable.

To expect and accept so little is an indictment on a country that once aspired to so much better.


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