PM furious over poor communication over Covid testing in Auckland

On Friday incorrect official advice was circulated which encouraged people South or West Auckland to have a Covid test.

This wasn’t corrected until Saturday, and the Prime Minister Jacinda Arxdern was reported to be furious.

But a bunch of people on social media seem to have been furious that Ardern was ‘repeatedly questioned’ on it.

The Government’s Unite Against Covid promoted this via their daily newsletter and social media:

Say yes to the test

Widespread testing is a critical part of our COVID-19 elimination strategy. COVID-19 tests are free and should be easy to access for everyone. We have more than 1,100 testing sites nationwide, including at most GPs.

If you’re in South or West Auckland, or if you have a greater risk of poor health outcomes if you were to get COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms, please have a test.

If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, wherever you are, please call Healthline (0800 358 5453) or your doctor immediately and have a test.

The Spinoff describes it as:

Some alarmingly poor health communication went out over the weekend, leading to a furious response from the PM. The all-of-government Unite for Covid-19 group basically wrongly everyone in South and West Auckland to get a test, even if they didn’t have symptoms, in a message that stayed online for a full day.

NZ Herald: Incorrect message results in people queuing up for testing

Incorrect messaging telling people in West and South Auckland to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms has resulted in people queuing up at testing stations today.

That mistake resulted in queues of cars snaking out from a Covid-19 testing site in Massey West Auckland.

But Ardern said it had not been reported to her that testing sites have been overloaded.

A witness at a testing station in Massey, said cars were around the corner stretching onto Triangle Rd soon after the station opened at 8am today.

Another witness told the Herald the testing station was a lot busier than it was yesterday and the majority of people were wearing face masks.

United Against Covid said the advice had been removed ‘to avoid confusion’:

That’s a poor response.

RNZ: PM ‘incredibly angry’ over wrong call for South and West Auckland testing:

In a social media post, it said people who live in those areas, or who are at greater risk of poor health outcomes, should get themselves tested.

But at today’s Covid-19 briefing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this was an oversimplification.

“That is not the ask coming from health officials currently … from what I understand of that message that has gone out, the detail of the message is correct, some of the topline headings were oversimplified and it is wrong.

“We’re working very hard now to deal with what’s that created within the community and we’re working very hard to correct that.”

She said was “incredibly angry” that it wasn’t clear and the government had to be “very direct in our asks”.

“There’s been an attempt to keep a message simple and it’s just been done badly.”

Jason Walls (NZ Herald): New Zealanders have every right to be ‘incredibly angry’ at the Government over incorrect Covid messaging

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is quite rightly “incredibly angry” at her officials for pushing out incorrect Covid-19 testing information.

But New Zealanders have every right to be incredibly angry at the Government for letting that official message remain unchanged for almost an entire day.

The fact that the stuff-up occurred in the first instance beggars belief.

The information affected roughly 700,000 people in South and West Auckland.

Ardern was “incredibly angry” about this “wrong” information being published on official channels, and rightly so.

She said she was told about the incorrect messaging late this morning and made it clear it needed to be fixed.

But the information was still up at almost 1.30pm.

Officials getting something this major so wrong erodes public trust in the Government.

People need to be able to rely on the Government for key information like this.

Ardern does get off the hook when it comes to the blame for how the stuff-up occurred.

She does not approve every single bit of Government messaging that goes out, she has officials for that.

In fact, she clearly shifted the blame to those officials when pressed about the issue – saying no ministers had uttered that information.

But Ardern needs to take responsibility for what happened next.

The incorrect post went up at roughly 5pm last night; it was reported on by most major news sites and made it to some Sunday newspapers as well.

Despite this, no formal correction notice was issued until the next day, according to Ardern.

And by formal correction notice, Ardern meant the All of Government communications team – the people in charge of the post – had notified newsrooms across the country, telling them the information was wrong.

The Herald, which ran the story that the Government was advising all people in South and West Auckland, received no such notice.

This is despite reporters seeking comment on the post.

In fact, Health Minister Chris Hipkins was interview by MediaWorks radio this morning and made no mention of the fact this critical bit of information was wrong.

Ardern revealed the information was incorrect at her 1pm press conference this afternoon.

Even then, she waited to be asked about the post rather than issuing the correction in her opening statement – a statement watched by hundreds of thousands of people each day.

Ardern said she had made it clear to the officials involved that they needed to fix the error.

Despite this, the post remained on the Unite Against Covid-19 Instagram page until almost 1.30pm.

Ardern should be furious at officials for this botch up – but New Zealanders should be equally as angry at the Government for not fixing the issue faster.

Was Ardern furious that the public was ‘misinformed’ and testing facilities were put under strain? Or because Government handling of this was criticised, and by association she got some poor PR?

On social media quite a few people seemed to be furious with journalists for highlighting the mistake to the Prime Minister.

To some it seems that Ardern is beyond reproach no matter what stuff-ups are made.

Disgraceful sermon, disgraceful pastor

The US seems to be heading down a slippery slope of intolerance and violence, greased by President Trump.

But we are not immune from exteme rhetoric here either. It’s very sad to see this sort of un-Christian preaching in New Zealand.

NZH:  West Auckland pastor preaches gay people should be shot

A West Auckland pastor has delivered a sermon calling for gay people to be shot.

Westcity Bible Baptist Church pastor Logan Robertson agrees his comments are hate speech but is unapologetic.

Footage posted online at the end of July shows Robertson making highly offensive comments against homosexuals.

My view on homo marriage is that the Bible never mentions it so I’m not against them getting married,” Robertson says.

“As long as a bullet goes through their head the moment they kiss … Because that’s what it talks about – not homo marriage but homo death.”

Bullets weren’t mentioned in the bible either Marriages as they are today didn’t exist then either.

WestCity is independent and has no association with the Baptist denomination of New Zealand.

I expect this is isolated religious nuttery.

As they should.

Stuff: Auckland police look to speak with pastor who made violent anti-gay remarks

Detective Senior Sergeant Marcia Murray said on Wednesday police intend to speak with Robertson.

“We recognise that members of our communities will be concerned and fearful about those comments and we would like to make it very clear that we are treating this matter very seriously.”

This is not an isolated outburst.

PASTOR’S LONG HATE SPEECH HISTORY

In the most recent video, published on Sunday, Robertson said he did not believe women should be allowed to vote.

He also said newly appointed Labour leader Jacinda Ardern should leave parliament and “get in the kitchen where women belong”.

Religious positions abused can be dangerous as well as disgraceful.

Beggar’s belief

Bob Jones has created controversy again, this time with comments criticising beggars on Newstalk ZB.

NZ Herald has more details: Sir Bob Jones labels homeless people a ‘disgrace to society’

“They’re a bloody disgrace, they’re an eyesore, it’s a disgrace in a modern society that fat people – that fat Maoris as they mostly are – are lying on our streets of our city begging.” he told Chris Lynch  on NewstalkZB.

He said begging should be made illegal.

“I was in the city yesterday, in Wellington, and one bugger was standing there, he had a message, this Maori bloke, ‘I’m not on welfare’ – and this apparently was an achievement – ‘so give me money.”

“It baffles me when people say, ‘Oh leave them alone’.  They should be ashamed of people begging on the streets… I’m ashamed of these people. They’re a disgrace to the human race.”

“If they want to degrade themselves, let them do it in private. We shouldn’t be subject to that.”

He said New Zealand has a welfare system and there’s a shortage in the country’s workforce so there’s no need for people to beg.

“We’re having to import labour for manual work ’cause that’s all these people could do, they’re obviously not lawyers and things, and doctors.”

Not surprisingly there has been quite a reaction to that, especially “it’s a disgrace in a modern society that fat people – that fat Maoris as they mostly are – are lying on our streets of our city begging.”

Coincidentally today, from Stuff: West Auckland beggar says his gig is up:

West Auckland beggar Conrad has learnt his first lesson in personal finance – never share your income.

Stuff published a story on Conrad on January 16 where he claimed he was making up to $150 a day from begging at Henderson’s Lincoln North Plaza. He also said that he was not homeless, and used the money for drugs.

westaucklandbeggar

He says the publicity has cost him dearly and says now “no-one is being nice to me”.

That’s not surprising.

Conrad claimed there was a begging “syndicate” operating in the area. A retailer also says a syndicate operates in the area and there is “a leader of the ring”.

I can guess that some of his fellow beggars are not very happy.

Henderson Community Constable Martyn Spear says the man has been issued with a trespass notice from Lincoln North Plaza for begging.

The community constable says drugs and alcohol addiction are the reason behind begging “without exception”.

All the beggars he has dealt with at the plaza are not homeless, have social support and are on the benefit, he says.

Spear recommends not giving money to beggars.

The poor people problem is not an easy one to fix.

Neither is Bob Jones’ propensity to say things as he sees them.