Wheels falling off Government/MoH Covid spin

The Government and the Ministry of Health, largely through Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield, had a good run with their daily media conferences, earning majority public support for drastic action to limit the effects of Covid-19.

But this week the wheels started to wobble badly, and criticism if anything is growing as more of the quarantine shambles is revealed.

We were led to believe that our borders were being well protected from incoming travellers, but that trust has been shattered.

RNZ:  Flight with latest Covid-19 case ‘crammed’: ‘We had people right up against us’

A woman who was on the same flight as New Zealand’s latest confirmed case of Covid-19 says there was no social distancing on board and many people weren’t wearing masks.

The man, in his 60s, arrived from Melbourne on 13 June on Air NZ flight 124 and started showing signs of illness two days later while in quarantine. Yesterday, the Ministry of Health said he had tested positive.

Former RNZ reporter Alexa Cook is in quarantine at the Novotel Auckland Airport, having arrived from the UK.

She is concerned after learning she was on the same flight as the man.

“There was no social distancing. We were sat in the middle of a row of four people – we had people right up against us,” she said.

RNZ: Ministry of Health confirms masks to be compulsory on trans-Tasman flights

Today, the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed it was likely to require masks to be worn on all flights from Australia.

In a statement, the MOH said “medical grade masks should be offered to passengers on international flights and they should be strongly encouraged to use these masks as a precautionary measure while on board”.

And Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said masks will be compulsory for every passenger on board flights from Australia, for the duration of the flight.

“People are coming from a whole lot of international flights and transitting through [Australia] then coming on and just as an additional precaution the advice from our infection prevention control team was to make masks available, I thought it was important to require masks for the duration of the flight so we’re putting that in place as well,” he said.

At the moment it is not compulsory to wear masks on incoming flights.

The MOH seems to be reacting rather than being on top of things.

NZ Herald: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s focus is now to restore Kiwi’s confidence in the Government

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged that the public has lost confidence in the Government’s management of Covid-19 at the border.

Her major focus is to now “restore public confidence and, indeed, confidence in the Government and [its] ministers”.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said today he was pleased the army was now running the quarantine and isolation process – up until now it has been the Ministry of Health.

Newshub: Tumultuous day for Govt as quarantine botch-up causes major fallout

The country is fuming, and the Opposition wants a scalp – specifically Health Minister Dr David Clark’s.

Duncan Garner (Newshub):  David Clark leaves people with the impression he’s barely capable of ordering his own coffee – sack him

But Clark has been known as a problem for months. Sacking him won’t fix wider problems.

Stuff: Air NZ crew not the problem – it’s been NZ border control, says expert 

Rules for Air New Zealand international crew returning home have tightened up after two cases of Covid-19 were discovered, but they are not the problem, says aviation expert Irene King.

King said the Ministry of Health saw Air New Zealand crew as much less risky than anyone else crossing the border.

Overseas evidence indicated flight crews did pick up coronavirus, but much of the data was from the United States where the disease was still spreading so it was unclear whether the infection was related to work.

However, New Zealand had not taken the border risk seriously enough, King said.

“Everyone knew that it was a significant risk, and yet they didn’t use standard practice to mitigate that risk and I just put that down to the fact that there was no-one in control.”

Thomas Coughlan (Stuff): Heads have to roll over border catastrophe, but whose head should it be?

Thursday morning began with a typical Wellington breakfast: a whole lot of egg, served on a whole lot of faces.

From the all-but-canonised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director-general of health to the beleaguered health minister, no one’s reputation was spared from repeated stories of serious failures to effectively quarantine people at the border.

Someone will have to wear the blame for this week’s border catastrophe, but precisely who depends on their specific role within the government is and how well they’ve done it.

Someone needs to take responsibility for the crisis at the border, the most important line of defence against a further outbreak, but just who should hang and why depends both on what that person’s job was and how well they’ve done it.

The media and a lot of the public seem very pissed off. It will be difficult to repair the political damage at least.

 

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29 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  19th June 2020

    Dead right Pete.
    What pisses off the public most is the sheer incompetence and innumerable untruths coming out of the Beehive.
    Businesses, their owners and their employees have been destroyed while those sucking from the trough can’t even manage a promised salary reduction.
    When there
    is an increase they get it immediately.
    The public have begrudgingly accepted and unfortunately believed the daily pronouncements from Jacinda, but no more.
    She refuses to hold anyone accountable or give us the unpalatable facts.
    It’s all fluff and mirrors and the tax payers have had a gutsfull.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  19th June 2020

      What’s pissing the public off is the sheer incompetence & woolly waffle coming out of the Health Ministry & those overpaid mandarins charged with managing the whole of government response & the quarantine facilities.

      But Ardern is going to have to have an investigation & release details of exactly how this shambles has happened. She DOES have to wear the flack.

      Reply
      • Yes, she does. It’s appalling that she had no idea, and that while we were all in lockdown because her instinct told her to ignore science and evidence, all this was going on. Many of us believed that lockdown on that scale was insane; we were right.

        John; MPs put in incredible hours.One Minister we knew well routinely put in 17 hour days. Of all the ones I have known, only one would not have been earning more before she was an MP. How many people would specify that on what was supposed to be their holidays they wouldn’t accept any engagements after 4.30 pm so that they could have some time off ?
        It’s not the cushy job that many people imagine.Of course the odd one goes in under the illusion that it’s an easy ride; invariably one term wonders like Pam Corkery.

        This doesn’t excuse the total lunacy and egregious mishandling of the so-called ‘crisis’. Well, it’s been one, the COL have made it one. The economy’s been stuffed, we’re in recession, unemployment’s soaring, we are ??? billions in debt. Had the MOH’s advice about going to L2 been taken, none of this would have happened, or very little.

        Reply
  2. artcroft

     /  19th June 2020

    “Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said today he was pleased the army was now running the quarantine and isolation process – up until now it has been the Ministry of Health.”

    Is the army running it or just some guy from the airforce?

    Reply
    • Ummm…..it’s the same guy from the airforce who’s been running it all the time. The PM seemed not to know this.

      Meanwhile NZ is looking ridiculous with reports that we are using the army to fight covid.

      Reply
  3. FarmerPete

     /  19th June 2020

    Oh Dear, no Sir Ashley now!

    Reply
  4. David

     /  19th June 2020

    Apparently according to Newshub the military guy was appointed 4 weeks ago, if true that is bare faced lie of epic proportions and she has misled the country in an appalling fashion.
    If he is already in charge/consulting then surely he is a responsible not the saviour.

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/06/assistant-chief-of-defence-was-already-in-charge-when-covid-19-pair-left-quarantine.html

    Reply
    • The PM was backpedalling like mad on this and blanking out awkward questions.

      I think that all he’s doing is jacking up the places and that sort of thing, he’s not overseeing the actual process when they get there. He can’t be held responsible for things that are not his responsibility, that is nothing to do with him.

      Reply
  5. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  19th June 2020

    Gee, just relax folks…
    Ron has his man in charge now. …He’s super competent… that’s why the PM and Mike Bush have elevated him to be in charge of “The System”…..

    and hey,
    Ron will take responsibility.
    Hon RON MARK: I’ll take responsibility for the defence of anything that the Defence Force is engaged in that is my responsibility. Right now that senior officer, highly competent, very professional, who has been seconded into that role since 31 March, whose skill and expertise have been recognised by the Prime Minister, who has expressed such confidence in him in the Defence Force and he has been promoted—yeah, if I want to take responsibility for that, I’ll do so. But I would say to that member, I have confidence in the New Zealand Defence Force, and so too does this Government, as has been indicated by the record levels of expenditure on defence platforms, on defence capability. That officer in particular is the Assistant Chief of Defence capability—capability. He has been at the core of some very substantial projects that have been run in the last 2½ years. I have total confidence in him, and I’ll take responsibility for anything that comes out of that, including the credit.

    Reply
  6. Housing Minister Megan Woods taking on responsibility for border management

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked her Housing Minister Megan Woods to take over the control of housing and isolating returning Kiwis following a litany of failures with the process this week.

    Woods is not taking the role over from any single minister as it was handled as part of the All-of-Government response.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300038167/housing-minister-megan-woods-taking-on-responsibility-for-border-management

    Reply
    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  19th June 2020

      It’s musical chairs in Kindy Government.

      Reply
    • Seems an odd way of doing it – putting someone else in charge without seeming to be replacing others who have been terrible?

      Reply
      • Trevors_elbow

         /  19th June 2020

        No accountability for an incompetent set up….Ministers in a crisis of the proportions we were told it was…HAVE to overview all detail and the old saw of an ‘Operational matter’ no long washes.

        Border control is alpha and omega sandwiching the internal controls and health response. As such the processes and procedures required Ministerial oversight and review. Evidently that has not happened….

        When you are in a ‘war’ the commander is responsible and accountable…. but in Jacindas war on Covid only the successes are her domain… everything else, like colossal failures to manage the border correctly, sits with someone else even with the Oppodition who were locked out of decision making after they offered to be part of a unified political approach to the issue.

        Jacinda saw a massive political opportunity… and has blown it major, all the while destroying the economy….

        History will not judge her Goverment at all kindly..

        Reply
        • The idiocy of the accusation against Chris Bishop was beyond belief. It was meanly done with parliamentary privilege, was easily refuted, drew even more attention to the stuff-up around the two women and showed beyond any doubt that the Speaker is inexcusably biassed.

          The new ‘the virus’ ads look hastily cobbled together. I suppose that we will be hearing ‘dingdong, this is a covid 19 announcement. Wash your hands, kiddies. Dingdong.’

          Why call it ‘the virus’ ? There are a few others. A few million, probably.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  19th June 2020

            Bishop did intervene ‘personally’ for the family , which is unusual as electorate staff are there to handle that sort of stuff- connecting them to ‘decision makers’.
            Clearly it was [Deleted, provide evidence if making claims like that]
            The Bishop is one of the puppeteers in the ‘Amy Adams clique’ who installed Muller

            Reply
            • David

               /  19th June 2020

              Brilliant Duker, just brilliant. A National MP advocates for a constituent and the government completely hashes it and dozens of other times and its Bishop,s fault.
              The thing you may not notice is the exceptionally high standards that you hold people too is incredibly selective, you are amusing.

    • Gezza

       /  19th June 2020

      Ardern has been at pains to repeatedly point out that it’s an “all of government” responsibility.

      That makes HER the responsible Minister.

      Reply
      • Good luck getting her to admit that.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  19th June 2020

          She doesn’t have to. Everybody knows. It doesn’t mean she’s responsible for checking everything she’s told is happening is actually being done, but it does mean that she hasn’t ensured that all the relevant Ministers & Officials are properly co-ordinated, & hasn’t got a proper coordinated reporting structure to her.

          She’s trying to spread the responsibility thus insulate herself from criticism. It won’t work. The officials who have incompetently failed are rightly in the shit, but so is she.

          Reply
  7. NOEL

     /  19th June 2020

    All of Government body that’s been running everything for months with each head reporting to the appropriate Minister.

    Moh been responsible for health policy and instruction to those running the isolation facilities and other areas where health advice is needed. Hopefully the review will tell us how that part of the system went belly up.

    From memory the Lead was Police followed by the Defence guy. Maybe there wasn’t a particular appointment to oversee isolation? Just a number of departments with a finger in the pie which would explain the odd statement.

    Reply
  8. Reply
  9. Tests seem to cost less than $100.

    If every person coming in had been tested and kept in quarantine, the cost would have been a fraction of the cost of the lockdowns, even if they had been kept in the 5 star hotels that some deluded people imagine are the ones chosen.

    Even a cost of a billion would have been worth it.

    Reply
    • Who thinks that spending one billion (or even several) would not have been better than what has been spent (borrowed) so far ? Twenty billion on wage subsidies which only prolonged the inevitable…and that’s only one item. Even the ‘free’ bus transport has been paid for by someone.

      Even 5 billion on tests and hotels would have been a bargain by comparison.

      Reply
      • Trevors_elbow

         /  20th June 2020

        One hundred percent correct.

        Locking up the healthy was bonkers. Lockdown border with hard quarantine and implementing a social distancing policy w/ people working from home if possible and rotating half staff offices would have been more appropriate… outside jobs w/ distancing rules E.g construction could have carried on no problems.

        Why golf course geeenkeepers were stood down is beyond me!

        Reply
        • What about council mowing men ? Or the dogs’ playgrounds because they are closed in…by wire fences. I saw people and Fido running in the local ones, even in L4. They are so large that people have to go out of their way to make contact.

          The heartlessness of rules like making old people stay alone for almost two months is appalling. Having groceries dropped off is hardly a cure for social isolation. I bet that my late mother’s friend whose neighbours couldn’t let her be alone in her state of health (her home help is paid for by her, so wasn’t able to go there) was one of many who had people discreetly breaking this law. I couldn’t, she lives in another town.

          The house building thing happened during the Plague; it sounds very modern. Tradies were laid off then, too. The insanity of making builders down tools when they are not that close when a building is being constructed is beyond belief. As one said, you can’t just leave a house part built…well, you can, but leaving it to the elements is likely to mean that it will all have to be done again.

          It’s too late now, we can’t change what’s happened, but why the PM’s instinct (her word) was allowed to take precedence over ‘science and evidence’ (her words) will be a mystery forever.

          2 more cases today. And Siouxsie Wiles is backpedalling like mad; it’s not dangerous to let people out early as after 14 days they are not infectious; she says that the early releases, like the two women, are not as bad as they sound. As she was calling for L4 to go for months, this is very odd.

          Reply

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