Our government’s response to COVID-19 has been better than many nations’, but it is far from perfect, as Ian Powell points out in a well reasoned blog post, and in his article for Business Desk. It’s backed up by a piece by Marc Daalder for Newsroom. To me, Powell’s piece makes a great deal of sense, and for those who feel the new system feels, instinctively, politically driven, then they are right. He says, inter alia:
At the time I thought that the traffic lights system had been initiated by the Ministry of Health (experts outside the Ministry were not supportive). Subsequently, however, according to senior Health Ministry officials privately, it came from the Prime Minister’s department.
This helps explain the working it out as you go along approach that is causing confusion among many. Jacinda Ardern’s claim of the system being world leading is overcooked.
He cites Daalder, who writes:
While the outbreak was expected to have a long tail, the Government fully intended to return to zero cases and even to maintain an elimination status after reopening the borders in 2022.
Just two weeks later, Cabinet threw in the towel on elimination.
We know that the government is working on overdrive through this whole pandemic, but it seems there are areas where the experts are being overridden.
But what does our opposition do? Instead of firing at the targets that Powell and Daalder have helpfully revealed, new leader Christopher Luxon repeats the ad nauseam cries of his predecessors to open up, to put Auckland into the “green”. Any expectation that National had found pragmatism with its new leadership vanished in smoke mere days after Luxon took the helm.
This is the identical complaint I have over Sir Phony Blair over in the UK with not only missing the targets painted on the Tories by themselves, but turning 180 degrees and firing the other way.
We need an opposition that holds a government to account but it seems Luxon, who bafflingly refers to Simon Bridges as having ‘intellectual heft’, might be yet another ideologue, importing more of the same but in more hidden, calm language than his predecessor.
Are there any pragmatists left in politics, or is everyone following ideology these days?