Valuable lessons learned in pandemic response

The Government and Ministry of Health handling of the Covid-19 was also generally very good in the circumstances. For various reasons New Zealand was also quite lucky to avoid having many infections and deaths compared to many other countries.

But the pandemic exposed a lack of preparedness. Testing for the virus, border controls and contact tracing systems were all inadequate. There were significant problems sharing health data between regions and collating data for analysis – some data was still being distributed by fax. There were problems distributing the influenza vaccine.

Normal health care was interrupted and disrupted too much when many resources were allocated to dealing with Covid that were not required. Our health systems should be able to continue as much as possible as normal as well as being prepared for any sort of abnormal rush of infections.

Some of our hospitals and health systems are in poor condition, this is something that should be given urgent attention and funding.

Valuable lessons should have been learned, and improvements either made or planned.

This is important for future viruses, which are inevitable, but especially for avoiding as much second wave infections as possible from Covid. It seems inevitable that Covid will be back here, but if limited and controlled it shouldn’t become a big problem here.


What the Government does about the economic effects over the next few months and also the next year or two will be important.

here has also been a major business, employment and economic impact. Large amounts of money were quickly allocated to save as many businesses and jobs as possible. How successful this has been won’t be known for months at least. At this stage we simply don’t know what the medium term economic effects will be.

There is also a lot of debt that will hang over the country for years, decades.

Lessons should also be learned from the economic measures taken, but it may be had to undo or rectify some of these.

On top of this are international economic effects that are largely out of our hands but unavoidable in New Zealand. Huge debts have been racked up around the world. Trade has been badly disrupted. Tourism, a major factor in economic activity for many countries, including New Zealand.

Lessons should have been learned but there is a lot more to be learned as we go.


While typing this post I have heard there is a report out today on the condition of our hospitals and health systems. See Hospital assessment report highlights dire problems

Key appears to ignore 7,000 lessons

So far, since the weekend’s by-election debacle, it looks like John Key hasn’t taken on board 7,000 votes lost in Northland.

Winston won’t play ball: Key

Prime Minister John Key does not believe Winston Peters will be any more willing to work with National now he is the Northland MP than he has been before, saying he is the sort of politician who regards Opposition co-operation with the Government as a failure.

“For the most part, if we are in favour of something, he is opposed,” Mr Key said from Melbourne last night.

“We’re always more than happy to talk to him and we’ve tried in the past and we’re certainly happy to try in the future.”

But Mr Key was not hopeful.

That’s a very disappointing negative reaction frm Key.

Things have changed substantially for Peters, thanks to Key’s and National’s ongoing mistakes.

And so far it looks like Key is choosing to change nothing. At his peril, and at National’s peril. And potentially at the country’s peril.

Peters may or may not try to rise above petty politics, but he has a mandate to be given a chance.

If Key is negative about it before trying the signs look bad for him and National, because it increases the chances of them getting the blame.

Failing to acknowledge and respond to 7,000 lessons is a disappointing reaction and just adds to a growing aura of arrogance.

The onus is on Key to repair the damage.

How National can show they’ve learned from Northland

There’s many lessons National could learn from their Northland debacle.They’re at real risk of falling out of favour with the nationwide electorate unless they are seen to have learned, and are seen to rectify the exposed shortcomings.

These numbers in particular should be food for thought.

  • SABIN, Mike 18,269 (September 2014)
  • OSBORNE, Mark 11,347 (March 2015)

That’s about 7,000 fewer people voting for the National candidate, despite a massive campaign effort including blatant election bribing and scare tactics. And despite the fact that most people never expected Winston Peters to deliver on many some major promises he made.

Safe seats and safe vote levels aren’t safe. If pissed off enough many voters will punish politicians and parties in the only way they can, and that’s what has happened in Northland.

OnTheCanvas

Slater. Osborne. National in Northland.
Key and National in 2017?

There’s two things they could do straight away that would indicate they have learned and they are prepared to act on a strong message sent by the voters of Northland.

1. Be up front and honest about when they knew about the police investigation of Mike Sabin

John Key’s and National ministers’ refusal to be open and honest about when they learned about Mike Sabin being under investigation has been arrogant and dishonest, and has proven very damaging to their Northland campaign. And to their nationwide credibility.

And it is likely to get worse when details go public. Information is widely known but if the media and other parties become unconstrained by legal suppression then Key and National will be hammered even harder. Unless they own up and front foot this, albeit belatedly.

John Key needs to lead on this and be open and honest about when he knew and when his office knew and when his Ministers knew.

Otherwise the impression of him lying to hide a dirty secret will linger on and keep damaging him and National.

2. Show that they will genuinely engage with Winston Peters and NZ First on Northland and regional issues

Winston Peters won a resounding victory in Northland. Voters there expect something for it, and if they don’t get what they want National should struggle to win back what should have been a relatively safe seat. Peters has indicated he will stand again in 2017.

Genuinely working with Peters on Northland issues will recover some support and credibility in the north. Peters may still hold the seat – if he reciprocates and genuinely works with the National government – but National have a party vote to protect.

And if National shuns Peters and NZ First it will look like petty punishment of them and of many voters.

Peters has a major mandate in Northland. NZ First have 11 MPs (and could get a twelfth, Peters hasn’t decided whether to drop out of his list position and bring in another MP yet).

Key and National have to show they are prepared to put wider Northland interests and democratic interests ahead of political pettiness (as do Peters and NZ First).

And if they don’t?

If National don’t show they’ve learned lessons from their hammering then they could get hammered on a wider scale in 2017.

They were helped in the 2011 and 2014 elections by the weakness of the alternative. But Winston Peters showed that if a Government does badly enough and is arrogant enough then voters will reject them and take their chances on an alternative.

If National don’t demonstrate they are prepared to act on and rectify lessons learnt in Northland then they could get thrashed in 2017.

And they should be addressing this straight away, demonstratively. Or voters will think they haven’t learned or that they think people will forget their failures and mistakes.

National can and should show they’ve learnt from their Northland debacle – if they want to stem a massive loss of confidence in them.

UPDATE: it looks like Key is planning on continuing to sweep Sabin under the National rug.

“The Mark Sabin situation is something we can’t adequately talk about” – Key on Northland loss

There are some aspects he could talk about if he chose to be honest and up front.