Ardern and Government deserve praise for handling of Covid-19

We, New Zealand and the World, are facing unprecedented health and financial crises. There will be valid criticisms of the way things are handled in a rapidly changing situation, with over 10,000 deaths so far but potentially millions of fatalities from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Leaders and Governments are having to do their best in a very challenging environment.

People are uncertain and uneasy, understandably. There are valid fears for lives, for livelihoods, for life savings and for ways of life. Some New Zealanders will die, many will lose jobs lose earnings, lose part or all of their life savings. All of us will have to change the way we live, for months at least and probably for years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can be a very good communicator when she is well informed and not doing politics, and as she did dealing with last year’s mosque massacre and the Whakaari/White Island eruption, she has again risen to the occasion and I think is doing a very good job keeping us informed in an assuring manner. She excels at fronting crises.

It is hugely challenging getting the balance right between timely and appropriate actions, and over-reactions. I think the Government is largely getting things about right with it’s response to the virus, with the initial financial package, and with it’s messaging.

There were one or two communication missteps early on but they seem to have been resolved.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has done ok in a support role.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has managed finances prudently to date and seems well advised and is acting appropriately in the evolving crisis.

Minister of Health David Clark is not as good a communicator, seems to lack confidence (in a very difficult role) and can seem out of his depth a bit, but he is being covered by others.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is doing an extraordinary job with daily media conferences, calmly keeping us well informed. He is a huge asset.

I think if National were in Government they would be doing much the same things as our Labour-led Government are.  New Zealand is taking very similar measures to the right wing Australian Government. Times like this need expert advice and common sense, not political idealism.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has tried to get holding to account balanced with support of the Government in a crisis, but his communication skills and manner aren’t great (unfortunately grate would be closer to the mark). He has been overshadowed by finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, who yesterday backed the Ait New Zealand support package announced by the Government, and also to an extent health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

Greens are doing their thing but are more working with their own constituencies and from the sidelines, publicly at least.

There are some in media and social media who haven’t been able to put politics and prejudices aside, and there are some who seem to think they have better information than the Government and are giving advice and demanding different actions. I trust our Government to be largely on top of things, and have confidence we are being well enough informed. I am resisting criticising and naming the petty and the pissy.

The Government won’t get everything exactly right (in retrospect at least), but I have confidence we have our Government and MPs are doing everything they can to deal with the huge challenges currently facing us. There is scope for valid and reasonable criticisms, but petty politics should be set aside.

We should trust our Prime Minister and our Government and our Opposition to inform us and do what they can for us. I think we have to.

I’m doing quite a bit of research and am following things closely, and I am confident we are being well informed and reasonably warned about what is likely to happen. There are many unknowns, but we have to trust our leaders and Government on this, while doing things for ourselves as well.

We have to work together in families and communities to support each other through this. More on that in the next post.

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29 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st March 2020

    AFAICS the Govt is doing what it has to do from day to day driven by the daily news and events.

    I don’t see much if anything of longer term thinking and planning. And currently the (not much) longer term looks extremely dire.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st March 2020

      whats your solution?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st March 2020

        Should be coopting as many smart people as possible to think ahead and plan solutions. Give opportunities and incentives for businesses to contribute.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  21st March 2020

          ‘smart’ people!!…how do define them?Do you qualify?

          Heres one very ‘smart’ person….never mind C19.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  21st March 2020

            Top professional, academic and business brains would be a good start. This is equivalent to a war situation so treat is as seriously.

            Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st March 2020

      what are your solutions then…Al?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st March 2020

        First need to identify the problems clearly. Could easily make a list. Then work on solutions. Trump and Johnson seem to have that sort of vision but our Govt doesn’t or isn’t sharing it if it has.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  21st March 2020

          ‘First need to identify the problems clearly. Could easily make a list. ‘

          you’ve got a really good grasp of the situation Al….if only you were running things NZ would be……

          Reply
  2. lurcher1948

     /  21st March 2020

    Alan why don’t your say what you really want to say, “Jacinda Ardern is just a dumb socialist,fish and chip worker,with no life skills” and Sir Key*,and National would be handling the pandemic better,if he hadn’t resigned, and ran.
    *yes I know he’s long since gone but it was Nations so called golden age

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st March 2020

      I don’t make personal attacks on politicians, Lurch. I know they mostly do their best and I don’t envy their job. I just raise issues I think are important.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  21st March 2020

        what issue are you raising today?

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st March 2020

          If you can’t read we can’t help you, B. If you can then the first comment on this blog answers your question.

          Reply
  3. David

     /  21st March 2020

    I dont watch the news so I get to observe results not how well she performs, and she is a great performer.
    She was great in shutting the border to China early, brave move. She was too slow in shutting the border, didnt have anything decent in place to monitor arrivals and the voluntary self isolation is a joke (2 guys in my local pub last night had snuck out of isolation for a drink). She basically killed the tourism industry which had to be done but didnt shut the border completely which has allowed the virus to arrive here in more numbers.
    Her economic package was ill thought through in a number of ways but has worked in others. Her increase to benefits has annoyed a lot of people, that is an election bribe done under the guise of the package and undermined what she was trying to do. The cutoff at 20 employees for assistance is cruel and there seems no logical reason why.
    There appears to be absolutely no planning for the health system to have put in huge capacity just in case, if we dont need it then great.
    Like Alan I find her reactive to opinion writers rather than having a plan, her plans then seem to be a little political. 128 million to forestry workers, tell me Winston isnt behind this even though he has a billion trees to plant and depreciation on commercial buildings will turn out to be something else he has asked for.
    And finally 51 million on Pike re entry is bloody stupid when the economy is taking a massive financial hit, that money is now deficit spending.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st March 2020

      she will be damned by the right whatever she does.

      Too soon,too late…all speculation.

      Inherited an inefficient health system ,compliments of Coleman and co.

      Reply
      • Health care is very expensive and competes with other demands. I think most health systems around the world have been running at capacity or not keeping up with demand. A major addition to workload is putting them under severe strain, especially in countries like Italy.

        Reply
        • David

           /  21st March 2020

          WE are lucky as we have a glimpse into the future and the lack of ventilators and beds is the difference between coping and not.
          We need to test more people rather than Healthline continually telling people they dont meet the criteria, the criteria is clearly too tight and as we have seen from South Korea it is a very effective solution.
          We should be asking people who can to work from home, we should shut libraries, we should be more forcibly telling older people to start reducing their social schedules, we should be advertising to anyone on blood pressure pills to use this time to change their lifestyles right now same with type 2 diabetics who have a horrendous mortality rate.
          Just a start but the usual she,ll be right approach is not ok.
          Lets start inconveniencing people in a small way now to avoid locking the country down.

          Reply
          • Many companies are already preparing to work from home where possible. I helped a number of clients last week to set up from home. And yesterday afternoon the next door office (we share a floor with an insurance company) let us know their office would be closed two days next week to trial working from home.

            I could already work from home, most of my work is by phone or remote connection, so no problem for me.

            But people are already reporting big downturns in business. with the uncertainty companies are holding any non-essential spending.

            Reply
          • One possible bright spot – a client in the US that largely sources product from China said yesterday that Chinese manufacturing is cranking up again.

            Reply
            • David

               /  21st March 2020

              Wife works in shipping and they have been picking up for the last 2 weeks and getting back to normal volumes. Makes the 128 million to forestry an extraordinary move.
              The government needs to be telling those who can to work from home, if you lower contacts you lower the risk of transmission, we did it after the quakes and its not that bad.
              We have 28 odd cases so if nothing else happens it could be very temporary here…also assuming no more inbound flights.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st March 2020

              I finally got three little items delivered from China today. Only one outstanding now. Ordered mid Feb. Seemed to be transport not manufacturing holdups.

    • duperez

       /  21st March 2020

      Two guys in your local pub last night snuck out of isolation for a drink and that proves that voluntary self isolation is a joke? And in that particular respect Ardern didn’t do the right thing?
      Maybe it proves that everyone needing to go into isolation should have armed guards outside their houses keeping them in.

      If their being there meant they passed the virus onto someone who subsequently died from it would you be condemning them, Ardern’s dumb plan, especially those in the bar sneering at it or the clientele who thought it was a bit hardcase?

      As for there appearing to be absolutely no planning for the health system to have put in huge capacity just in case, maybe there is but you say you’re not an ardent follower of news so you don’t know. Or maybe you’re suggesting we all get daily personal updates on every single thing, the minutiae about every single aspect of what goes on. No more ‘there doesn’t appear…’

      Reply
  4. artcroft

     /  21st March 2020

    I’m on he record as not opposing the govt’s actions. I don’t think they can flatten the curve enough to prevent chaos in the health system. How many ventilators are there in the country? Have they registered all medical professionals (retired and employed to see who is available to fight the pandemic? Which are the reserve occupations that must be filled in event of a lock down? Who works in these occupations? What schools will remain open? What about those who flout the lock down and don’t really give a s**t about fines and penalties they already owe? Lots of questions that lead me to ask how effective these extreme measures will be. Instead they will simply prolong the economic fallout and usher in a depression.

    I remain unconvinced by overseas reports of success in fighting CV19. Most of these countries have political reasons to under report incidences of the disease. Friends in Japan state they don’t test much and hide the true numbers of sick to try and keep the Olympics on track.

    Taiwan is locked in a battle with China over admission to the World Health Organisation, so its no surprise they are “winning” the war against CV19. But I’d need to see more than just news stories from the Taiwanese govt to trust their figures.

    I agree National wouldn’t be doing anything different if they were in office. But Jacinda is holding the ball and I just don’t think Labour will be thanked at the end of all this for their efforts. Instead I expect the electorate will be looking for someone to blame. Cos this is gonna hurt. For a long time.

    Reply
    • “How many ventilators are there in the country? ”

      Likely not enough for demand. Some have recently been replaced and the old ones may still be usable so will be brought back into service.

      But there is also an issue over training needed to get health staff able to use ventilators, it’s a high skill job and it will take time to get more operators up to speed. At a time where health services are very busy preparing for what is coming for them.

      Reply
      • David

         /  21st March 2020

        Train the very skilled staff from AirNZ their technical people are very skilled to operate them then when the crisis is over send them back to the planes.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st March 2020

          Lots of paramedics would have a basis that could be quickly developed surely?

          Reply
          • David

             /  21st March 2020

            We need those ventilators, once people are on them they are on them for an average of 2 weeks in ICU, thats a long time to tie up a bed. Apparently we have one of the lowest number of ICU beds per capita in the developed world so if she wants to get re elected she should get cracking at putting some more assets in place.

            Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st March 2020

      Wonder if the Greens are going off public transport yet? Don’t rush to finish your toy trainset, Auckland Transport.

      Reply

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