$3 billion small and medium business relief package announced

The Government has just announced a “tax loss carry-back scheme” package for small and medium sized businesses amounting to over three billion dollars.


Government backs business through COVID-19

The Government has announced a suite of new measures to provide relief for small and medium-sized businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says while the Government has already acted swiftly in response to the crisis, with about $20 billion in support already announced, it recognises that more is needed.

The new measures include:

  • $3.1 billion tax loss carry-back scheme (estimated cost over the next two years)
  • $60 million estimated annual savings to business each year from changes to the tax loss continuity rules
  • $25 million in the next 12 months for further business consultancy support
  • Greater flexibility for affected businesses affected to meet their tax obligations
  • Measures to support commercial tenants and landlords

“We have taken decisive action throughout this pandemic to cushion the blow for our businesses and workers – today’s announcement continues that focus. We need our businesses to stay solvent to help with the economic recovery as we emerge from this health crisis.

“Our focus on cashflow and confidence continues through these measures. We have approved a tax loss carry-back scheme that will allow a large number of businesses to access their previous tax payments as cash refunds. Essentially this means a forecast loss in the current financial year can be offset against the tax paid on a profit from last year.”

We are also changing the tax loss continuity rules to make it easier for firms to raise new capital without losing the benefit of their existing tax losses” Grant Robertson said

Minister for Small Business Hon Stuart Nash says some businesses are struggling to meet their non-wage fixed costs, like interest, rent and insurance, but are not currently in a position to take on additional debt.

“In the absence of further support from the Government, these otherwise viable SMEs may be forced to close down permanently.

“We don’t want that to happen, so as well as the tax measures which should provide some cashflow relief, we are going to provide tailored support services to help businesses weather the storm, at no charge to the business.

“Using established services including the Regional Business Partner Network and the helplines run by the Employers and Manufacturers Association and Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, we can get specialist, tailored advice where it is needed, fast. This could range from human resources advice to business continuity planning to financial management – because every one of these small businesses will have a different need,” Stuart Nash said.

New measures are also being announced to support stability in commercial property transactions, extending the timeframes required before landlords can cancel leases and mortgagees can exercise their rights to sale or repossession.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says many businesses may be finding it difficult or impossible to pay rent if they are no longer able to access their property, and if landlords are not receiving rent, they may not be able to meet their mortgage obligations.

“As a result, the Government will extend the current 10 working day timeframe that commercial landlords may cancel the lease to 30 working days. This will be for both the period the tenant is in arrears before the notice is given, and for the period to remedy the breach.

“The Government will also extend the timeframes for lenders from 20 to 40 working days for mortgaged land, and from 10 to 20 working days for mortgaged goods. This will apply to commercial mortgages and home loans. However, the already announced mortgage deferrals are likely to be the first port of call for residential borrowers.

“These measures will ensure an orderly process to deal with commercial lease disputes caused by COVID-19,” Andrew Little said.

Legislation enacting the changes announced today will be introduced on April 27 and will apply effectively retrospectively once the bill is passed.

Work is also underway on further support for businesses and households as the impacts of COVID 19 become clearer.

Questions on “safe economic activity” at lowered Covid-19 alert levels

Questions were asked at today’s Epidemic Response Committee about what different alert levels will mean to businesses wanting to restart. There seems to be a focus on “what constitutes safe economic activity”.

From Stuff Live:

Simon Bridges probing the “levels” in relation to the economy. Treasury’s modeling shows the lower the level, the better the economy. He said businesses are telling him they want to go to level 2. “Level 3 is a bit of a no man’s land”.

Grant Robertson is saying the detail of the lockdown coming this week will give business some clear guidance of what’s permitted. He’s saying it will show us “what constitutes safe economic activity”.

“I don’t share your view around level 3,” Robertson says level 3 will allow us to increase economic activity.

He says he’s been working with the construction sector to work out what safe economic activity looks like.

Robertson is saying the enthusiasm for coming out of lockdown early can actually mean yo-yo-ing between levels, which isn’t good for economic activity either.

Paul Goldsmith asking about “what sort of pragmatism” will be brought to the health regulations that will determine how businesses work under levels 2 and 3.

Robertson said work is underway on those issues, so there would be real clarity.

Contact tracing will be important too. “Knowing who is in your workplace, knowing where they are and what they’re doing”. This will help us manage flare ups as they come.

Responding to Marama Davidson, “the best economic response is a strong public health response”.

Sounds like a patsy.

University of Otago epidemiologist, Professor David Skegg, said countries that had not succeeded in controlling this disease, their economies were not going to flourish.

“I’m not an economist, but I would be very surprised if we’re going to do worse economically because of the measures we’re taking in the medium term.”

He stressed that the country should get to level 2.

“We need some careful planning this week on what level 3 or level 3.5 would look like.

“It’s not just a health issue and it’s not just an economic issue,” Skegg said.

From RNZ Live:

Simon Bridges said level 3 was akin to no man’s land with the downsides of level 4.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said when deciding on moving to level 2 and 3, his focus was on “what constitutes safe economic activity?”

“Level 4 is doing exactly what we wanted it to do for New Zealand and New Zealanders. The last thing we want is to come out level 4 and create a situation where we have to yo-yo between levels.”

Meanwhile, Paul Goldsmith said businesses needed clarity on returning to work and how social distancing would look like in the working environment.

“There’s a shared desire among industry workers, government to get people back to work as soon as possible. Health and safety is a very important part of the workplace,” Robertson said.

“The best economic response is a strong public health response and that has to be underpinned by an investment in our health system.”

Stuff:

Michael Woodhouse asking whether the “principles approach” is sector based or risk based.

The question is really whether or not the businesses that open will be determined by the kind of business they are (for example cafes) or the kind of measures that are put in place by any business, so cafes that follow those guidelines could reopen, whereas the one’s that don’t implement the guidelines don’t reopen.

Robertson said it will be mainly the latter (so not sector-based) BUT you can’t completely detach sectors from the guidelines.

Bridges asking whether level 3 is therefore significantly more permissive than level 4.

No response given.

Robertson saying that in the case of the media, “the patient had pre-existing conditions”.

Media just about had comorbidity.

 

 

 

Ardern opted for ‘go hard go early’ after listening to friends overseas

New Zealand was lucky that Covid-19 had already made an impact in some countries before spreading here, and some lessons could be learned from what happened elsewhere.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she took advice from friends overseas before deciding to ‘go hard, go early’. So far this appears to have been a relatively successful strategy.

Stuff: Inside Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus bubble: What’s on the PM’s mind during Covid-19 crisis

When friends overseas painted a bleak picture of the advancing pall of coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern listened.

“[They were] saying, ‘Go, just shut down, because here I am in lockdown with thousands of people dying. Just shut down’,” she tells Stuff‘s Coronavirus NZ podcast.

It helped make the decision to “go hard and go early”, to close New Zealand’s borders and enforce a lockdown.

By day (and into the night, too), Ardern is receiving counsel from scientists, senior officials and Cabinet colleagues.

But she’s also revealed how personal connections with people overseas have played a part in helping make up her mind about how to act against Covid-19.

One friend in Britain, a Kiwi, has been “really unwell” with the virus, and another has had to take over as caregiver for the floor of their apartment because they’re the only ones who aren’t sick.

“So it really does give you that sense of its very close proximity to everyone over there.”

A personal perspective can change the way you view things. That’s a good thing – people in power are at risk from getting too remote from ordinary lives.

This was also reported in Australia’s Daily Mail – New Zealand PM reveals how she switches off in her downtime – and why she imposed some of the world’s harshest coronavirus restrictions – which included this comparison:

a close up of a map

That’s a couple of days old and is cases, but our low death rate suggests that for now at least the quick and comprehensive lockdown has been relatively effective.

Newsroom have daily charts that show COvid-19 progress here – Covid-19 in NZ – Saturday’s numbers charted

That’s at the same time as the number of tests have increased.

So for now New Zealand is doing fairly well, but a lot now depends on how well we keep limiting the number of infections, and that will depend on how we ease out of our Level 4 lockdown, and if we virtually eliminate Covid-19 from New Zealand, how we manage people travelling here from overseas. Quarantines for all people arriving in the country were announced by Ardern on Thursday:

That’s why from midnight tonight every New Zealander boarding a flight to return home will be required to undergo quarantine or what we have called managed isolation in an approved facility for a minimum of 14 days.

I am also signalling that the requirement for 14 days of quarantine or managed self-isolation in a government-approved facility, will be a prerequisite for anyone entering the country in order to keep the virus out.

As an island nation we have a distinct advantage in our ability to eliminate the virus, but our borders are also our biggest risk.

The Government has gone harder earlier with border measures compared to other countries, but even one person slipping through the cracks and bringing the virus in can see an explosion in cases as we have observed with some of our bigger clusters.

The quarantining of returning New Zealanders will be a significant undertaking.

A network of up to 18 hotels will be used to implement this approach, of which one to two will be specifically set aside for those under strict quarantine conditions.

This could be required for some time – months at least – if it is going to stop Covid-19 from coming back into the country.

The other big task is getting business and jobs back up and running as soon and as safely as possible.

Level 4 has come with some heavy restrictions. That has required difficult decisions around services and businesses that can and cannot operate.

We need to give similar more detailed guidance on what life at Level 3 looks like, and we will do that next week. That will give us a window to iron out questions and issues, and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be when it comes time to move.

It is then my intention that on the 20th of April, two days before the lockdown is due to finish, Cabinet will make a decision on our next steps. That’s because we need to use the most up to date data that we have to make that decision.

I think that Ardern will more likely be talking to friends and people involved in business in New Zealand to get advice on this.

A month in lockdown will have had a big effect on many businesses, but most should survive and be able to get up and running as much as is possible in the current circumstances.

The travel and tourism sectors have been badly affected and there’s no quick fix for them no matter what we do here in New Zealand. Air travel, cruise ships and international tourism everywhere have been virtually stopped, and it could be a long time to build them back up.

Internal tourism may mitigate this to some extent if we quickly eliminate Covid-19 from New Zealand if Kiwis have holidays closer to home rather than traveling the world.

It’s hard to know how quickly other business sectors will get back into gear, and whether they can get back to previous levels of sales, services and trade.

Because of what is happening and may happen in other countries there may limits to the business recovery here that we can’t do anything about. We will just have to deal with that the best we can.

 

Ardern urges businesses to think ‘what next’ – but doesn’t say what or when

The Prime Minister is urging businesses to think about ‘what next’ for their business but at this stage many businesses don’t even have any idea when they might be able to start operating yet.

Except for some businesses who have already chosen no ‘what next’ in New Zealand, like the Bauer Media Group and Virgin Airline.

PM: Too early to tell if four weeks of lockdown is enough

Ardern said “intensive planning” was being done for whenever New Zealand moved out of lockdown, but the exact exit criteria was still being worked on.

When it was worked out she expected to publish it so businesses and Kiwis would know whether or not the country was likely to extend its four-week lockdown or end it.

“I do expect to be quite transparent around that, because people need to know what it is we’re looking for, and as we have been transparent with the alert levels as they stand,” Ardern said.

So the Government hasn’t worked out (or at least told us) what’s next yet.

But at the same PM urges businesses to think ‘what next’

Businesses should plan how they will operate in an environment where intensive contact tracing would be needed post-lockdown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today.

The Government was working on additional guidance for the move to Level 3 to aid that, she said.

“What I would ask though is that it’s not Government alone that has a role to play in that.

“I ask all businesses to look at the alert level framework, think about how your business could successfully operate within each,” she said.

“We will need to, for many months to come, contact trace all New Zealanders who come into contact with one another and workplaces have a role to play in that.”

The Government has decided which businesses are essential enough to continue operating, but there is no obvious plan for phasing other businesses back into action, which businesses will be able to start up again under level 3, which may have to wait until level 2.

And there is not information on when restrictions may scale back apart from ‘wait and see’.

This is a very difficult time for businesses, and the self employed, and employees, with a huge amount of uncertainty.

All we know for sure is that some businesses are already closing up, some more won’t survive, some will choose to cease operations, and those that try to continue will be working in a very different business environment to what existed just two weeks ago.

Trying to keep a business afloat for a month with little or no business happening will be difficult enough for some. Trying to last 3 months or 6 months will obviously be a lot more difficult.

And there will be a vicious debt circle – as some businesses are unable to pay their bills this will impact on others who will have difficulty paying all their bills, let alone staff.

Without any idea of timeframes or how businesses will be allowed to operate some businesses will just say ‘too hard’, cut their losses and bail out for good.

Some will have no choice, especially those involved in travel and tourism who have bleak futures probably for a year or two.

If businesses are to seriously think about ‘what next’ the Government has to give them much clearer indications of what is going to be allowed and when, at least approximately.

 

Constructive Simon Bridges interview on NZ Q+A

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges cam across surprisingly well in an interview on NZ Q+A this morning. He was supportive of many Government actions in dealing with Covid-19, and his criticisms were reasonable and constructive on quarantining people arriving in New Zealand and Covid testing.

He also pushed for more businesses to be able to open.

1 News: Bridges calls for more businesses to safely operate during lockdown

A “constructive conversation” is needed on whether contactless businesses should be able to run safely during lockdown, National leader Simon Bridges says.

“When you think about our economy, the longer we see the devastation, the job losses, the businesses going under, it’s heart attacks, it’s mental health issues, it’s fatalities in its own way,” Mr Bridges told TVNZ1’s Q+A with Jack Tame.

“Let’s try and deal with some of the randomness where one is an essential service and one isn’t, let’s be agile and potentially we can move to a more risk-based system.”

Mr Bridges said the country needed to be “quite agile about those questions now and certainly if lockdown goes longer”.

“The Government needs to do everything it can to have the most effective lockdown so we can get out of this as soon as we can.

“We’re devastating our economy, we’re curtailing freedoms, so the sooner we can get out the better.”

Mr Bridges also called for an increase to testing, pushing the daily tests into the “tens of thousands”.

As of yesterday, a total of 33,116 Covid-19 tests had been done, with the country at a capacity to do over 6000 tests per day.

“If you dealt with everyone who had symptoms, close contact, overseas, you would be testing more,” Mr Bridges said.

Full interview via https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/bridges-calls-more-businesses-safely-operate-during-lockdown

Ardern interview – lockdown, eradication, data, duration, business on hold

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was interviewed by Hillary Barry for Seven Sharp yesterday.

 

On what the lockdown means – we must stay in our homes, it “really relies on all of us” because “because this is what’s going to determine…actually whether we get out of alert level four as quickly as possible”.

On David Clark’s bike ride, avoided with “I was just going to give you the charity of my silence”, and then a lecture on what we the ordinary people must do to comply with Ardern’s requests not to do exactly what Clark did. Poorly handled by Ardern.

Contain or eradicate the virus? “Every time a case comes up we all pile in, we stamp it out, we contact trace, we self-isolate. We keep going through that process for as long as we need to.”

On testing and data: “My goal is that we’re in a position where we have enough testing we feel real confident about the decisions across New Zealand

On allowing online business: “We need to stop people congregating or being in shared spaces as much as possible, and that includes people being in warehouses and facilities where they’re packing orders. And so it’s about both sides.” A one-sided no.

Extending the 4 week lockdown? “…my hope is as we get closer to that four weeks we’ll have a really good idea of what’s going to happen next, and it might be that some regions come out, might be that some regions need to stay in a little bit longer”

“All the data we’re sharing with you I’m getting as well, so you’ll see what’s happening with the numbers and what’s happening in our regions, how we’re looking in order to come out of Level 4. So we’ll keep sharing that and you’ll see us in real time starting to process that data, tell you what it’s looking like and what it will mean for us being in level 4.”

Note she says “All the data we’re sharing with you I’m getting as well”, not ‘all the data I’m getting I’m sharing with you’.

So we are left to guess by the number of cases per region, I suppose whether they stop increasing, on the likelihood our regions will have the restrictions relaxed or not after 4 weeks.

It seems like a well prepared interview, I would guess with questions provided in advance.

It doesn’t really tell us anything much we didn’t already know or could deduce.

 

 

Hillary Barry: This week we’ve been reporting that some people are still confused about what the lockdown means. Others are clearly ignoring the messages. What do you want to say to New Zealanders as we head into our second weekend?

Jacinda Ardern: Just how important it is that we all stay at home. And I just can’t make that clear or express it more firmly because this is what’s going to determine whether a) whether we are successful in breaking the train of transmission, b)  whether we save lives, and c) actually whether we get out of alert level four as quickly as possible. So it really relies on all of us.

Hillary Barry: I mean, your own Health Minister went out mountain biking, Your thoughts on that?

Jacinda Ardern: Oh I’ve shared my thoughts quite directly as you can imagine Hillary.

Hillary Barry: (hard to hear) to share with us what you said to him?

Jacinda Ardern: I was, as I said this morning, I was just going to give you the charity of my silence, but you can be assured I did not give him the charity of my silence.

What we need people to do is stay local and also stay away from risk. And that’s really important because ultimately we don’t want our emergency services or other people having to come to your rescue., and that’s why that’s so important right now.

But I do accept people will want to go for walks around their home, or around their street just to get a little fresh air.

We do need to make this as bearable as possible, but we also need to limit your contact and you risks.

Hillary Barry: It is a bit of a confusing time for people, and we’ve heard a lot in the early stages of this crisis about flattening the curve. Just to be clear, is New Zealand trying to contain this virus, or trying to eradicate it?

Jacinda Ardern: Yes so right now we’re in a period where we’re trying to get back control. You know at the early stages there we ran the risk of that number of cases really starting to grow quite rapidly, and that’s why we went through those stages or alert levels really quickly.

Now that we’re at alert level 4 what we’re trying to do is get that control back, manage the transmission, but essentially get rid of it.

Now that doesn’t mean that we’ll have a situation that because Covid will be with us for a number of months, where if we have  a case in the future that’s failure,  it just means as soon as that happens we again have to stamp it out.

Every time a case comes up we all pile in, we stamp it out, we contact trace, we self-isolate. We keep going through that process for as long as we need to.

That doesn’t mean being in alert level 4 for months and months, but it means getting control back, and getting into a position  where we can start working very hard on eradicating it every time it comes up.

Hillary Barry: Leading scientists say we need more testing and more data. What do you say to that, particularly about the data?

Jacinda Ardern: I agree with that. We need as much information as we can. It means we can make the best decisions we can about coming out of alert level 4 and doing it with confidence.

And so we had today the most tests that we’ve had in any one single day, roughly three and a half thousand tests, but we’re building up our capacity to have even more. My goal is that we’re in a position where we have enough testing we feel real confident about the decisions across New Zealand, but right now actually compared to others our testing is very good.

Hillary Barry: And are you happy with that data that you’re getting out of that?

Jacinda Ardern: Again, I want to keep growing  it. Today was a good day in terms of those numbers, but the longer we have that, then the better data we have, then the better decisions we make.

Hillary Barry: Now there’s growing concern about the impact on out economy of course. Business people appealing to be allowed to trade online. Now given that you can still get goods offshore, could you change the rules around that to help business out?

Jacinda Ardern: I utterly understand why people will be raising that issue, but the thing we need to think about is not just the person making the purchase, but the businesses that are having to  then come together in  order to process those orders. We need to stop people congregating or being in shared spaces as much as possible, and that includes people being in warehouses and facilities where they’re packing orders. And so it’s about both sides.

The best thing that we can do for our economy is try and make sure that the public health impacts of Covid are as small as possible, by helping or focusing on public health. That means that we can get ourselves in a position where we’re supporting our economy by not being in a prolonged lockdown.

So if you look at countries around the world who have probably put economy first, they’re now in these prolonged lockdowns, which is not only bad for our health because people die, but also in the long run bad for jobs.

Hillary Barry: Speaking of a prolonged lockdown, what are the chances, not that we’re this far into it,  that you will need to extend the lockdown?

Jacinda Ardern: Of course we were very open from the outset that four weeks was what we felt was needed to (?) the chains of transmission in order to make a really good judgement about what next for New Zealand.

At the moment it’s actually a bit too early to say because we haven’t gone through the full two week period yet, we haven’t seen the full benefits of the lockdown yet.

But my hope is as we get closer to that four weeks we’ll have a really good idea of what’s going to happen next, and it might be that some regions come out, might be that some regions need to stay in a little bit longer, but my goal is to have New Zealand in Level 4 for as little time as possible.

Hillary Barry: So are you saying that you will probably wait until that four week period is over before making a decision whether to extend it or not?

Jacinda Ardern: New Zealanders will really get a sense at the same time I do, because all the data we’re sharing with you I’m getting as well, so you’ll see what’s happening with the numbers and what’s happening in our regions, how we’re looking in order to come out of Level 4. So we’ll keep sharing that and you’ll see us in real time starting to process that data, tell you what it’s looking like and what it will mean for us being in level 4.

The interview finished with family stuff that isn’t important to the country.

Extricating and transitioning businesses and workers from Covid lockdown

Most of the Government focus over the last month has been on health aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also making emergency business and employment funds available.

Director-General Of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield obviously has a health leaning when talking about (and making decisions about)  the likely extension of the lockdown, maintaining at least Level 3 restrictions for months if not the rest of the year and potentially more.

But business and employment is also critical – the longer most business and many jobs are shut down the harder and slower it will be to crank things up again, and also the more businesses and jobs will be lost permanently.

Former National MPs Bill English and Steven Joyce are starting to nudge for more consideration of business.

Newsroom: Awkward questions from the last crisis managers

While the Government has provided a range of financial support packages to help businesses get through the current lockdown, the uncertainty of how long they will be forced to remain closed is creating a growing level of angst, particularly among small to medium businesses, as owners begin to question their future livelihood and whether their businesses remain as going concerns.

The Government’s stance on certain non-essential businesses being unable to trade is being called into question by Joyce.

While he supports the lockdown in principle and the need to maintain public health, he questions why the Government hasn’t done more to establish a “middle ground” that would allow certain businesses to continue to trade.

“The Government has broader responsibilities beyond public health. I believe they need to start talking about how businesses can begin to transition out of the lockdown, even now, where certain businesses would be able to operate creating no greater risk to public health than currently exists,” Joyce told Newsroom in an interview.

He cites examples of online businesses with contactless delivery systems or even butcher shops adopting the one-in-one-out system that has been successfully used by diaries and pharmacies as ways this transition could begin to be managed without compromising the principles of the lockdown.

It makes sense that a part of the Government effort is towards urgently looking at how to safely get more businesses and workers back in action.

Joyce’s call follows similar remarks by former Prime Minister Sir Bill English in a private briefing to Jarden investors last week.

In a transcript of his remarks that has been widely circulated, English said the Government must start looking beyond the lockdown.

“What does this look like, and when might it be enacted? I understand medical experts would like to see the lockdown remain in place for 12-13 weeks. A lockdown of that duration has clear economic implications, meaning an exit strategy needs to be formulated,” English said.

English said one of the most important requirements for a Government in times like this was to listen.

“It is very important that the government develops a feedback loop to understand how policies land and adjust quickly, which means listening hard.”

If the Government is working on this (and they should be treating it with urgency) then they do more to communicate a viable plan to transition businesses and workers back to as close to normal as is reasonably safe.

As long as they leave options open to those people who are more vulnerable and more concerned about their household safety then there should be a clear plan to get as many people safely back to normal as quickly as possible.

Business and the economy versus the ill, elderly and others

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 will have a very large impact on businesses and employment and livelihoods in New Zealand, and our economy will take a big hit. This will have happened regardless of the actions taken by the Government. It’s debatable what would be worse, doing more or doing less to limit the spread and infection rates.

It is also likely there will be deaths here. There are currently 368 confirmed and probably cases. Many of those will be mild to moderate and are being treated at home. Some are more serious and require hospitalisation.

Even with the relatively stringent lockdown cases are expected to rise for the next 7-10 days (or more if people flout the restrictions on movement away from home).

There is no doubt that without the level 4 lock down there would be a lot more spread, many more people catching the virus, and a real risk of quite a few deaths.  This shows how easily it can spread even with restrictions:

Marist College, Auckland – 18 confirmed cases, 1 probable
Private wedding, Wellington – 10 confirmed cases, 2 probable
Rest home, Hamilton – 11 confirmed cases

Older people and people with existing medical conditions (especially lung or heart) are particularly susceptible to Covid-19, but this is hardly surprising, they are also more susceptible to other viruses and illnesses. Younger people seem to generally have milder symptoms – but they can still spread the virus.

There have been suggestions that the virus should be left to take it’s course, to build ‘herd immunity’. This must accept an inevitable casualty rate – people would die, possible quite a few people.

It has been suggested elsewhere and also here that it isn’t a big deal that old people and people with illnesses might die of Covid-19. They die of other things anyway, Covid will just knock them off a bit sooner.

From Australia Victoria’s first two coronavirus deaths were cancer patients caught in Alfred hospital outbreak

Victoria’s first two coronavirus deaths were cancer patients at The Alfred hospital, and a further five cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among patients and staff.

Duker commented on this:

Bingo! It seems like northern Italy all over again, the sick people get sicker and the elderly have less chance to recover.
It’s a fact of life and one day it will be my turn.

I’m quite disturbed by this attitude.

It’s a fundamental fact of life that we will all die, eventually.

But it is also a fundamental facet of a decent society that we don’t just do nothing to prevent old and ill people dying of any new virus or disease, treating them as expendable.

We put huge budgets and resources into health care to try to keep everyone alive as long as reasonably possible.

People who get old often live to get quite a bit older after having illnesses.

My father had most of his stomach removed in the 1980s, had a bowel cancer operation in the early 1990s, his lungs were fag fucked with emphysema, but he still had a fairly good life up until 2000.

In the mid-90s he was given a choice of having chemotherapy which would give him a 60% chance of not dying of cancer, or doing nothing and lowering his chances to 40%. He chose not to have chemo because he didn’t want to suffer through the treatment with a close to 50/50 chance it wouldn’t save him anyway. But this was his choice, and I think a sensible one.

If a Covid-like virus had hot the country then and I was given a choice of saving my business (I was a sole trader than) or saving his life I would have chosen his life. I had already changed jobs and moved so I could support him as his health problems increased (just after he had a mild stroke).

I’m sure there are many people who would put people before money in this way.

I think it would be terrible to let Covid-19 spread freely in New Zealand to try to reduce the impact on business and the economy.

I also think it would be misguided. If we didn’t have a lockdown and Covid-19 ran rampant here, as it almost certainly would, there would likely be hundreds if not thousands of deaths and many more hospitalisations. That in itself would be expensive.

If our hospitals were swamped with Covid cases – I presume no one things they should be left to suffer and die untreated – it would increase deaths by other causes because of lack of resources and treatment.

And if New Zealand was ravaged by Covid-19 there is no chance of tourism  recovering, no one would want to come here. New Zealanders would be banned from travelling to many countries. It’s likely exports would also be affected, air and sea transport would be badly compromised, and New Zealand would be an unpopular source of goods.

Internally if the virus was uncontrolled it would also have a major impact on travel and business. Many people would willingly keep away from places and businesses that were a risk to their health and life.

The main difference would not be economic impact, it would be whether the economic and employment was in a well controlled situation or chaotic and uncontrolled.

It’s debatable (and impossible to know) which would be economically worse, doing a lot to limit Covid-19 as we are, or doing much less or nothing.

Regardless of the economic factors and effects, we can’t just treat the elderly and the ill as expendable to try to save a few jobs and possibly (but probably not) keep the economy healthy.

“But the flu’ is trotted out by Trump and some here – but we have a choice of vaccinating against the flu and minimising our risks. We can’t do that with Covid. And because we could potentially die of something else, the flu (more often of complications), of cancer, of heart disease, is a very poor reason to not protect against a new threat.

If I was in a decision making position I certainly would put the health of citizens – especially the old and the ill – ahead of the economy. I back and applaud our Government and unanimous Parliament doing this.

No matter what the financial impact of Covid-19 measures, businesses will survive, new businesses will fill gaps, the economy will recover.

No one recovers from death.

 

The biggest and most serious threat to journalism?

What is the most serious threat to journalism? Big company ownership? The blurring of journalist lines? Woke journalism?

Or us, the consumers?

There have been criticisms and arguments about the ‘right wing’ ownership of media, and also left leaning journalists. Here is a new slant to it.

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is getting attention fresh new force in US politics, or as a naive left leaning numpty.

If you want to read more on the issue of monopolies, anti-trust, corruption, and ways to address it, I recommend checking out . She literally wrote the book on it.

Another opinion on it in response:

But Assange/Wikileaks have a lot to answer for their interference in democracy with leaks targeting one presidential candidate. They have denied being deliberate or at lest effectgively agents of Russian in their attempts to disrupt  democracies. And they also got involved in Kim Dotcom’s fizzer of a ‘big reveal’, in an attempt to change the political landscape in New Zealand.

Wikileaks seemed to morph from whistleblowers into revolutionary activists.

There is also an issue with the blurring and crossing of lines between journalism and selective promotion of politicians and parties. Sometimes this may be a deliberate lack of balance, but in other cases it may closer to emotion and celebrity type infatuation – Jacinda Ardern has been ‘absolutely phenomenal’ in Europe, generating ‘huge’ media interest see from1 News (not just the effort of Joy Reid, her over the top praise was allowed and prmnoted by her editors).

What is also effectively activism via media is a problem.

There are real risks when journalism comes of second best to the unbalanced and emotive promotion of politicians or causes.

What can be done about it? We have a lot of choice now with media.

All of those media have serious flaws, but they also still do some serious journalism, without which democracies would suffer badly.

I think that one of the biggest problems is when people select which media suits their leaning and opinions, and they shun media that differs, or that challenges their beliefs.

I try to remain sceptical, especially of single sources, and I deliberately look for news and opinions from across the spectrum (generally avoiding the extremes). This is why I have delved into New Zealand political blogs across the spectrum – you can learn more from those who challenge your way of thinking.

But I think it is far more common for people to gravitate to towards what they want to hear.

There are problems with large media ownership, and activist journalism (including woke journalists), and the trivialising of news, the infatuation with ‘celebrity’, and the wolf crying (yesterday I saw weather predictions promoted as ‘breaking news’).

But consumers of news and opinion are a big part of this, especially with the growing use of click bait headlines and selection of trivia that displaces or overwhelms serious news.

Perhaps we the people are the problem here. We have far more news choices than ever, but we dictate more than we understand with the immediate counting of clicks, and our influence on algorithms.

The direction of journalism and news media may be a force of natural selection by the masses.

There is little we can do it but make our own selections, whether that moves with or against the tide of change or not.

‘Green’ carbon-neutral transition investment fund launched

A $100 million fund has been launched to promote growth in low-carbon business to help “transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral New Zealand”.  It is called New Zealand Green Investment Finance Ltd so the Greens get to promote their name along with the business orientated fund.

This has come from the Labour-Green Confidence & Supply Agreement, which included:

4. Stimulate up to $1 billion of new investment in low carbon industries by 2020, kick-started by a Government-backed Green Investment Fund of $100 million.

It is a one-off sum that is intended to “operate independently from Government and work in a market responsive and commercially focused way” in contrast to NZ First’s much larger $1 billion per year Provincial Growth Fund that Shane Jones keeps dishing out as he promotes himself as a champion of the provinces.

It is a sizeable amount of money, but is probably a worthwhile trial to see if James Shaw’s aim of a establishing a ‘green’ economy.

Jacinda Ardern, James Shaw: $100 million investment fund launched to invest in reducing emissions

Business and the Government will jointly tackle climate change with the launch of New Zealand Green Investment Finance Ltd; a $100 million fund to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Climate Change Minister, James Shaw, announced today.

The fund is a central plank in the Government’s plan to transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral New Zealand and it delivers on a Green Party Confidence and Supply Agreement commitment.

“Tackling climate change is a priority for this Government and business involvement is crucial to our success. No one can opt out of the impacts of climate change. This fund helps business to opt in to the solution,” Jacinda Arden said.

“Lowering emissions will require innovation and action from all sectors.

“This fund means the Government is bringing cash and know-how to the table to partner with business to deliver a clean, green future for everyone.

“This new investment fund is an important component of New Zealand’s plan to build a clean, sustainable, low-carbon economy that has both lower emissions and profitable enterprises,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“New Zealand Green Investment Finance will be a commercially focused investment company which will work to invest with business to reduce emissions while making a profit,” said James Shaw.

“The Government’s $100 million start-up capital injection is intended to stimulate new private sector investment in low-emissions industries; with returns over subsequent years expected to pay back the Government’s investment and see  NZ Green Investment Finance stand on its own commercial footing.

“More and more investment dollars are looking for clean, sustainable ventures to invest in. Establishing this fund positions New Zealand to attract its share of that investment capital.

“New Zealand faces a big job in upgrading our economy and infrastructure. New Zealand Green Investment Finance will help deliver financial backing to help ensure that the upgrade is fit for purpose,” Mr Shaw says.

FAQs:

What will NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd do?

NZGIF will bring financial and technical emission reduction expertise together into one organisation with the sole aim of increasing investment into low-emissions projects.

It will act as a bridge between investors and key industries and sectors, and identify low emissions projects ready for upscaling, commercialisation and use.

Why is NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd being established as an independent entity?

NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd is being established as a company under Schedule 4A of the Public Finance Act 1989 so that it can operate independently from Government and work in a market responsive and commercially focused way.

What will NZGIF finance?

NZGreen Investment Finance Ltd will have the flexibility and mandate to focus on sectors and industries where the greatest impact on emissions reductions can be made.

Potential opportunities include things like electric vehicles, manufacturing processes, energy efficient commercial buildings and low-emissions farming practices.

With New Zealand’s electricity supply already using around 85 per cent renewable sources, NZGIF will focus on tackling other sectors.  However, there may be opportunities to back smaller scale renewable energy projects; where they are smart and can contribute to making our electricity supply more sustainable as demand for electricity rises.

As a commercial entity, NZGIFwill likely focus on solutions that already exist; for example, knowledge and technology being used internationally where there is scope for use in New Zealand.

The Budget 2018 announcement referred to the NZ Green Investment Fund. Why has it changed to Green Investment Finance Ltd?

Use of the word ‘Finance’ is a more accurate reflection of the purpose and market-leading role NZGIF will play.

Why isn’t the private sector financing these sorts of investments?

New investment markets take time to develop and investors rely on good information to assess viability and risk.

They also need financial products which are structured in a way that fits the market.

As a result, there is limited activity initiating and funding low emissions or ‘green’ investment deals here.

The establishment of NZ Green Investment Finance Limited, which will focus on accelerating private sector investment into emissions lowering projects, will fill this gap.

More details about NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd are available here.

The government funded company may take a few years to prove if there is good business in low-carbon initiatives.