Peter Dunne says the Government and health authorities know that the public acquiescence achieved during lockdown was a moment in time unlikely to be achievable to the same extent again if future circumstances warrant it

Peter Dunne says the Government and health authorities know that the public acquiescence achieved during lockdown was a moment in time unlikely to be achievable to the same extent again if future circumstances warrant it

By Peter Dunne*

Universal public compliance has been one of the major reasons why New Zealand has apparently been so successful in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Fundamentally, people complied with the restrictions imposed during Alert Levels 4 and 3 because of an overwhelming fear of the risk they could catch the virus.

The clear and decisive rules of engagement from the government backed up that fear. With only a few exceptions everyone knew where they stood, what they could and could not do, and what the risks of non-compliance were.

The invocation of the idea of “team of five million” built up a culture of our all being in this together, and the individual privations we were all enduring being an individually small but overall important part of a wider national picture.

In an almost wartime atmosphere, we were encouraged to believe that we were all playing our part towards the achievement of a greater national goal, and we all apparently believed it.

Consequently, we accepted a level of intrusion upon our personal freedoms most of us would never ever have imagined occurring in our lifetimes.

Somewhat more darkly, some even embraced the notion of snitching on others whom they felt were not playing the game. But, in the interests of the greater good, such concerns were quickly pushed aside because it was comparatively easy to go along with what was happening.

However, those days now seem past us. That initial spirit has dissipated and will be difficult to recapture as we start to think about life beyond Alert Level 2.  In no small part, that is due to the unexpectedly rapid success in virtually stamping out Covid-19 in New Zealand, at least for the time being. After all, if there are no new cases being reported, now day after day, how can there possibly be a crisis to be concerned about anymore? Or, so the argument goes.

But a bigger factor is that the urgency around Covid-19 has waned. The absolute imperative of uniform national compliance has all but evaporated.  When the Prime Minister and the Director-General of Health – the two faces of compassionate reassurance but unflinching authority during Levels 4 and 3 – are photographed conversing with groups of people, the way we used to, it is difficult to maintain the line that for everyone else strict social distancing rules must continue to apply.

Likewise, when a demonstration of several thousand people takes place and the Director-General says it poses no threat to public health, because we have no cases occurring, it becomes very hard to tell business premises that they still need to regulate the numbers of people on their sites in the interests of preventing Covid-19’s possible spread.

The issue here is not whether these things should be occurring – the government, after all, seems to be giving clear hints that a move to the far more relaxed Alert Level 1, when virtually the only restriction still in place will be a closed national border, is maybe barely a week away – but rather the mixed messages currently being sent, and the difficulties they are causing for compliance. Where we once were united in the pursuit of a common goal, we now seem to believe we have achieved that, and are increasingly frustrated that we cannot get back to life as we knew it more quickly.

It is probably also a clear indication that as the numbers of Covid-19 cases have virtually disappeared the public interest has started to move on too. It is now becoming much more focused on the impact on individual circumstances – jobs that have disappeared, the struggle to pay the rent and the mortgage, the long winter ahead, and what happens when the wage subsidies run out. Worrying about catching Covid-19 is increasingly taking second place to these more immediate domestic concerns, especially when it appears that, even at an official level, things are not being treated as seriously as they were just a few weeks ago.

While none of this should come as any great surprise it also shows that the government’s authority on this issue has now peaked. As things start to become more relaxed, the unique authority the government possessed and demonstrated so effectively during the lockdowns will ebb away and New Zealanders’ natural instinct to be less automatically obedient to every government call will return. So too, one hopes, will the genuine contest of ideas so necessary to a functioning democracy, especially in the lead-up to an election.

The mixed messages of recent days notwithstanding, most New Zealanders will welcome and take in their stride the pending return to something approaching the normality they knew, albeit with a typically quiet sense of pride at what they have been able to achieve.

They will be hoping Covid-19 shows no sign of a significant return during the coming winter months, as we begin to reopen our border. So too will the government and the public health authorities. For they know only too well that the level of sudden public compliance and acquiescence achieved during the lockdowns was but a moment in time – a shocked reaction to what was happening overseas and the abrupt arrival of circumstances that no-one had properly anticipated. It is unlikely to be achievable to the same extent even if future circumstances warrant it.

*Peter Dunne is the former leader of UnitedFuture, an ex-Labour Party MP, and a former cabinet minister. This article first ran here and is used with permission.

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Actually Peter, several of us had anticipated where we are now, and that a trigger would be involved. And we'd been warning for years.

The problem is that everyone - including you - steadfastly focuses on ' money' and ' the economy' while Rome burns.

If you're going to continue commenting, how about addressing the bigger story?


Such a negative fatalistic view, based on simple fantasy...

We had 22 deaths, that's all - and putting it into context 35,000 people die in New Zealand from other causes that rarely if ever get any press at all and certainly don't shut the economy down impacting everybody - so you are using a myopic view of the world clouded by fear...
I don't see NZ cities burning - nor it is likely, it is right to be concerned about immediate livelihood concerns of everyday people which are primarily driven by and tied to the economy which has been severely impacted - the economy is part of everybodies lives - not separated from it

You think 'money' and 'the economy' are unimportant? try living without it..... you will see society break down as people fight for scarce resources, supplies would dry up and more crime and poverty than you can shake a stick at, try visiting south africa where people in slums living on $30 per month with unemployment at 40%, people fight and beg and steal as well as kill each other for cars, you see bars on house windows in Johannesburg, glass/ spikes on fences - basically people live in tension and fear

You are incorrectly assuming that money is something separated from normal life, yet it is what ultimately provides stability so peoples basic needs are met

Did you read PDK's link?

The link is to It's highly likely to be a narrative that sounds reasonable at first glance, with facts sprinkled in that are at best circumstantially relevant. Then when you think about it you realize all the new novel stuff in the column is just the authors opinion and they have not proven anything. You either believe everything on the website or are skeptical of all of it. PDK also generally does a good job of summarizing the content of the column.

Is this link different?

Its alarmist and suggests no practical solutions to anything

Which is why it has remained contained in the Interest bubble for years.

If by 'practical solutions' you mean 'things which advance my own short-term indulgence', then no it doesn't.

But it points to a way of living which is preferable to total collapse. Which is where growth ends, guaranteed.

So as long as indulgence is satisfied you deem it practical? I would not class practical sustainable solutions as such.

An idea or a signpost is a dream until there is a practical way of implementing it. The Great Leap Forward was a great idea but killed more people than the Nazis did in their concentration camps, and the execution didn't have the intended results. The article you linked to is great, as a signpost. But the authors seem to think in a couple of years everything will be tickety-boo. Changes like they're asking for are happening, but they're generational changes, not done and dusted in a few years.

I think they need to read 'A Splendid Exchange' by William Bernstein, for historical context on economic history

Exploitation and globalism are not mutually exclusive
It was often done under protectionist (trade tariff wars) and monopolistic (i.e. exclusion of Dutch Ships carrying Indian cargo bound for England) conditions initiated by powerful companies (the massive Dutch or British East India Companies) and protected by their own governments in the interest of financial and military power. Through trade in spices, cloth, precious metals and even slaves

Although these monopolies and protectionist actions ultimately raised prices for consumers, which is why protectionist views ultimately subsidizes inefficient industries at the expense of consumers

"yet it is what ultimately provides stability so peoples basic needs are met"

Fully disagree. What it has done is to further physically-advantage the already-physically-advantaged, while avoiding the real existential counts (indeed, it's believing faithful often have to decry same - CC denial, Limits to Growth denial etc - to keep their beliefs alive).

This is the nub of the nonsense: Child poverty is actually 'Child lack of access the energy and resources' (as per Soddy). Giving them more money (but conveniently less than you keep) merely inconveniences you in that you have to pay more to out-bid them. But out-bidding them you are doing right now, while pretending that somehow it's their lack of 'money'...... I challenged a reporter (probably calls himself a journalist but he isn't) reporting 'Child Poverty'. He replied that if it was good enough for the PM..... Parroting, not questioning. It's too common, sadly.

PDK, I think you a mixing issues here, my statement was that money enables people to buy basic needs (food + shelter + access to schooling and healthcare), it also funds the social welfare system indirectly through taxes that support those in need to a level that is certainly well above what you see in some poorer nations

I'm not clear on your points are re 'physically-advantaged' (wealth gap?) and 'child poverty' (out-bidding them?). These appear to be separate issues

UH OH - no, they're the same issue. I suspect your mind-set is in the road. Ask yourself what money would be worth if there was nothing to buy?

Then back one, ask what bets on the future are worth if the future increasingly cannot underwrite?

Then ask what it is that the Çhild'lacks? It's food, water, shelter, warmth. In our system, for a short while, there was enough planet to accommodate extra bets on there being more tomorrow. And more for others if they had more money. But if you're competing, you still comfortably out-bid them. Simple when you get your head around it.

PDK, most people support going back to normal. Otherwise they wouldn't be living like they do, buying crap they don't need and giving all their data to corporations so that they can be urged to buy even more temporary happiness.

It would take a special type of blindness and deafness to be unaware the planet is steadily being trashed. It will take a hell of a jolt to their own lives before they want to consume less.

Until then there are places on the planet where one can turn off the internet and live out your simple life happily oblivious to it all.

Nobody wants to talk about the fundamental problems on this planet PDK, thats because they are unpopular or impossible to solve until we have the changes forced on us, not by people in power but by the ultimate unstoppable power, nature itself.

But we've just proved we can do what's needed, this last couple of months

We proved that if we put a Nation in fear, enact some draconian laws and encourage snitches we can hold the line for a month or so. It is not a reset towards your utopia.

You are completely devoid of reality, completely delusional.
Back to your bunker PDK, I guarantee 80-90% of ALL you have is related to the oil industry.
I'd love to know how you made your own clothes, house and computer.

A very common ripost. Note the use of 'bunker'- equally interchangeable with 'cave' and so forth. It's called 'shoot the messenger' and the aim is to allow the writer/speaker to deny the message. Pretty standard.

Of course we are all part of the current system. But I demonstrate a way to live which is much closer to sustainable, and is probably more fun than being on the treadmill. I live on 300 watts of solar, produce more than 50% own food, add to biodiversity, am carbon-positive and so on. I appreciate de-consumption is going to be abhorrent to those who bet on an increase, but that doesn't mean the Limits don't exist.

No thats the first I've said bunker, maybe you refer to others. How much land do you have PDK ?
The problem is you advocate the destruction of society on all fronts from which you are currently enjoying ALL the benefits of.
You advocate de-population and de-consumption all the while enjoying the benefits of industrialisation yourself.

I also live completely off-grid. One of the things it teaches you is that resources are interdependent and not inexhaustible. The argument you propose is an 'either/or' one - it is possible to have a better relationship with the environment through data-driven management. Yes, this means using the benefits of industrialised knowledge - but having gained such knowledge, why must we continue with such profligate waste as well? Just because we have a way of doing things derived from technological advances, it does not mean that there are not better ways of doing things - and such better ways do not inherently require a rejection of everything that industrialised knowledge has provided.

The use of IoT and automation are examples of how the benefits of mass production can be harnessed to provide better management of existing resources. This is not to say that there will not be any energy expenditure or polluting by-products, but that such risks are both mitigated and reduced. The point here is not to claim access to some impossible magic wand that returns the world to a good-old world that never existed, but to use less new resources, to recycle and repurpose old ones, and to use what we have in a better way. This is neither 'anti-business' nor idealistic - it is a different way of doing things - one powered by turnover and circulation rather than ever increasing and non-sustainable growth.

"Carbon positive", but shouldn't you be carbon free??

Nope. I sequester more carbon than I consume. And I choose not to bank carbon 'credits'- this is real physical sequestering. Carbon-free is impossible, I think you need to think it our again

How do you sequester carbon?

You've got to have money to live like that. I'd like to live like that, but I can't afford to take a family holiday in anything other than a tent on a DOC site or staying with family, let alone consume mindlessly, let alone pay for the things that would allow me to live carbon positive. And my household has median income, let alone living in poverty.

Just because you don't bank carbon credits, doesn't mean you don't use products that are environmentally harmful then use your "real physical sequestering" to balance out the "equation". I mean how much natural environment was destroyed to make your laptop and electrical equipment? Having a vege garden doesnt make up for it.

Don't make assumptions, either of you.


We sequester carbon by letting the trees we planted 25 years ago (when we saw the need) keep growing and by not claiming ' carbon credits' for them. An you don't 'need money' - I'd have the least income of anyone on this site, I just live sustainably.


I think this accurately represents the views of most New Zealanders..

I picture the scenario where the response level has to be raised again : "Dear NZ, we need you to go back into lockdown because we stuffed up and allowed the virus back in through our border. No, we don't have a way to improve our quarantine measures for incoming travellers, so you regular folk get to pay the price _again_ for our inability to 'go hard' in the border quarantine game"

Its a bit of a joke, Govt. has thrown multiple billions at this problem. 3 x good quality quarantine stations could have been running @ Auk,Welly,Chch airports for less than $50 million by now, and be employing half the staff laid off by air nz. Oh wait you'd need to get consent from the councils first....if only they could speed things through parliament....


I think Peter is right. The next virus/wave would need to be killing hundreds of our young before the population would accept a similar lockdown again.


"So too, one hopes, will the genuine contest of ideas so necessary to a functioning democracy, especially in the lead-up to an election" - Amen to that!

Ideas is what we need. Both sides currently are not offering much on this front. Compare the fiscal response of countries like Germany and South Korea. Germany this morning announced investment in renewal energy storage, quantum computing and digitisation as part of a wider 130bill EUR package. South Korea hope to create 550k of jobs in Artificial Intelligence and robotics. Meanwhile NZ's main parties think extending benefit payments, a few hundred apprenticeships, some handouts for new hires, and some kindness will solve everything.

Its amazing isn't it. My expat friends, some of whom are involved in the tech sector of those countries you mentioned, frequently point out just how insidious the primary sectors influence is on NZ and quite possibly just how adversely it affects this country's economic modernisation. Server farm or dairyfarm...which one can deliver more economic potential?

The dairy farm.

But both rely, in current format, on a finite resource.

The daily 4th estate anti farming rant! Being stuck at the bottom of the world we have to leverage the things that give us an edge. Those TWO things are abundant water and a temperate climate. We have become very good at converting sunlight into something to eat. NZ farmers are good at change and using new tech - if it is proven to work! Our pasture based farm systems are the best in the world. They should be even better except that successive governments gutted the rural science institutions all in the name of "profit". Contestable funding has been a disaster!

I am not anti farming but I do enjoy a good discussion about our glorious primary sector...I'm not sure about your claim to embracing tech either. The ultra slow moving might (?) of the ultrafast broadband rollout is still not reaching the far corners of many lifestyleblocks let alone the bigger agri operations that could really benefit from digital leverage. Infact, its been so slow the long established urban networks in the central N.I. are already up for sale to foreign buyers!

Dd62 - our pasture-based farm systems are actually the process of turning finite fossil feedstock into food. Very inefficiently, I might add. Several calories of fossil oil to one of food. And it's a temporary arrangement. Can we get past the party political broadcasts please?

No party political broadcasts here. They are all equally bad! Like it or not, food production is going to be fossil fuel based for the foreseeable future. I know you bang on about fossil fuels all the time but you don't seem to have any viable alternatives other than depopulation. I agree that there are to many humans, however humans themselves are not going to change that!
4th estate, agree totally about broadband! The big 3 have totally conned government regards broadband availability. It's a joke outside the big cities. The current muppets just pumped another 15mil into rural broadband - what an insult! I live 5km off State highway 1, cell coverage is awful, internet is worse! No hills either! We will never see fibre in my lifetime.

For some reason it’s hard to get people to vote for their own extermination /sarc

@DD you can blame StevenJoyce for that. I lobbied his office when the fibre plans were announced as I was living provincially and struggling with my own digital undertakings. I was part of a large 'chorus' of complainants calling for a fast and wireless network, much like you find in Asia but he wasn't prepared to adequately fund it. His response was hugely patronising to say the least and I submit the results to date as evidence the build has failed.

The anti-GMO lobby would argue that we need organic farming. Which studies have regularly shown to increase eutrophication of water, require more land for the same food (and therefore increase the amount of habitat destruction in developing countries). Oh, and not reduce carbon emissions in any meaningful way that could be achieved through no-till conventional farming.

I am interested in how a server farm generates ongoing economical benefit to the country?
In particular:
Will it create ongoing jobs? or will they monitor remotely and send in a tech from india/philipines/states when required.
Will it pay tax? or will it be run by an offshore corporate that pays nothing (i.e. the google, facebook, apple approach)
Will it require countless daily inputs from the local economy to remain functional? or will it import all the internal equipment and maintenance every ten years?

Personally I think the answer to this is to not to have server farms. There's no reason why it's not possible to have multiple local stateless networks using LoRaWan or similar low energy transmission to create micro-clouds. Sure, not great for online gaming or number crunching, but a lot of use cases don't need permanent storage. Then, reduced energy use through harvesting, ditto heat, production and bandwidth kept local? Not to mention secure if they closed networks..

ModelCitizen: The year is 2050 and the education system has successfully been churning out young people qualified in Artificial Intelligence and robotics. They are now the only subjects taught at tertiary institutes. Even the large numbers of children of solo mothers in south Auckland are all trained in AI and Robotics. All human wants and needs are now supplied by AI and robots which, by the way, can repair themselves. There is nothing else to do so everybody is unemployed and spend their day remote tele-watching their personal robot lining up at the unemployment office which is run by robots...........

Interesting thought streetwise ... I guess those same robots will be doing all the jobs previously done by farmers, tradesmen and apprentices too; but that would require investment in the sector/technology so you won't need to worry.

Just to further humour you, if you're right and all human wants and needs are supplied by AI, the population growth rate would be in decline (such as seen in the likes of Japan and some European nations) so the link to 'a large number of children of solo mothers in South Auckland' seems a bit of a stretch without large jump in unskilled immigration which would be pointless if AI can do it. So how did you come to that conclusion?

Do robots dream of electric sheep?

You can teach them to do anything Hamish (for better and worse).

AI is mainly machine learning anyway. You'll never have true AI until humans let go of their desire for computational predictability (control). The logic itself is self-limiting, because that's how logic works. When most people say 'AI' they're referring to the concept of a created self-aware entity - an idea at least as old as Frankenstein, or earlier, golems. But this is not what 'AI' is.. it's one thing to cross-reference eye tracking data against behaviour (for instance) to 'learn' predictable outcomes, but this is a very long way away from 'intelligence'.

While I was reading your post I was thinking of other naughty robots in popular that springs to mind is from the movie Alien....the vile android from Weyland Utani Corp named Ash who was hell bent on recovering a speciman of that nasty face huggery thing....I suspect Paul Goldsmith IS ALSO an android...he just looks so out of place...

The other thing is that most people have kind of known that a lot of the Level 3+4 rules were pretty bogus (from a scientific and commonsense point of view) but went along anyway out of social conditioning/compliance.

Convincing people that going to sunbathe on a beach or in a park is dangerous won't be so easy next time, even if we do have some small outbreaks from here. This is highly likely as nature cannot be tamed so easily. We still have periodic Measles outbreaks even with a 90%+ vaccination rate for that disease.

I agree that we will never repeat the Level 3 and 4 lockdown experience (nor should we) - Level 2 provides a good balance for controlling any outbreaks that will occur. You get the vast majority of the benefits of a lockdown without the brutal economic pain and trampling of civil rights. Confronting this truth is necessary, as i don't believe we will get a viable vaccine for a long time.

PD has written a good article here, no one could disagree with much of it A to Z. This episode has educated NZ and hopefully all NZrs and we learn from it just as we should from all history. Recall that before CV19 struck, NZ came in about 39th in the world for preparedness to a pandemic. Right there, is the very first lesson then.

You're absolutely right, election time is going to be interesting once the impacts are felt when benefits/ handouts start to dissipate

The other thing is that most people have kind of known

We live in great days where our opinion is equally as valid as others' expertise and facts.

Which coincides with the demise of independent journalism. Without it, democracy will cease to exist.

We did far better then other countries and some tried to almost ignore the pandemic. Even Sweedens Anders Tegnell has acknowledged that they should have imposed stricter lock down controls to prevent the spread of the virus.

BBC Coronavirus: Sweden's Tegnell admits too many died. "Sweden has counted 4,542 deaths and 40,803 infections in a population of 10 million, while Denmark, Norway and Finland have imposed lockdowns and seen far lower rates. Denmark has seen 580 deaths, Norway has had 237 deaths and Finland 321. Sweden reported a further 74 deaths on Wednesday."

Sweden is currently a failure. The group "most people" that you mention seem to belong to the right of politics, also of the libertarian type that are openly refuting science.

Sweden is not a failure. By the time NZ reaches 7% of herd immunity we may well have the same number of deaths. IMHO Germany represents the ideal approach, operating as close as possible to business as usual. Social distancing, contact tracing, and masks. If you go into a store you have to wear a mask. Limited number of people per unit area allowed in shops. It's pragmatic.

Quite right. Sweden average Covid death age 88. Average female death age 85. Average male death age 81. Catching Covid adds 7 years to your life if male, only 3 if female.

Eric Crampton, in his usual, iconoclastic style, reckons that Da Gubmint has it exactly backwards as to the way forward.'s got things the wrong way around now that lockdown is over. Instead, the principle should be that if you can enter safely, you're allowed in - with no signoff from the Minister unless that were somehow already required for whatever visa you'd be coming in on.

And he notes that the spectre of elitism and plain old cronyisn looms over what passes for the current entry 'principles":

  • Aristocratic pull (James Cameron and the Avatar-sequel crews)
  • Picking winners - denying family members entry while privileging the Yarts
  • Convincing the Minister that you're important (or familiar) enough to be let in...

Simple principle: If people can come in safely, they should be allowed in.

Details are light on this "quarantine" business from government - not so sure about his "private providers" model but agree with most of his article about user pays and varying degrees of "quarantine" comfort and services. You'd need 14 layers of isolation as daily groups come in the front and exit through the back with no inter mingling. No hybrids, no shortcuts, military base style security. Sounds like a logistical nightmare.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see what we've prevented by collectively taking the path we've taken. We only need to look to many countries across the world for evidence.

The ones that are apparently can't see this appear to value financial and economic sustainability greater than health, and are now pointing out the 'problems' with the way things were handled probably because it's impacted their pocket in some way or another.

This is the problem imo

The 'problem' is anyone who questions the response's adaquecy in the early stages is made out to be some sort of hyper-capitalist. Level 4 may not have been needed had we not squandered all the advantages of being as island nation; had we actually gone as early as people want to believe we went, and as hard as the PM keeps telling us we did. Moving deadlines so more people can get in without quarantining doesn't exactly fit that, but people have short memories.

This is the problem. People are desperate to believe what they are told vs. what they could see to be true if they were only prepared to look. Hysterical over-reaction to anyone questioning how we ended up here in the first place doesn't exactly allow for meaningful scrutiny.

Agreed should have and could have gone earlier. One of the mysteries is the rest homes. If all of these had been locked down, when those that did so on their own initiative, how many clusters/cases and mortalities would have been prevented. Those are largely the numbers that kept stacking up and that were used to justify the ongoing levels of restrictions. Take them out of the equation, we might have been at level one a week ago?

When you make the sacrifices based on what the Govt asked as much as mandated, then you like to think it was worth it and that the action taken was the only course to take.

What will stop people listening next time, is when we realize we didn't need to do it this way. There was a better way.

And while most individuals and private companies are worse off, the Govt and the public sector has grown stronger.

Correct, with little hope of addressing accountability or delivery issues from that very public sector that have held the rest of the country back for the last few years.
Don't get a business case for a piece of critical transport infrastructure done on time? Who cares, you're still on 100%.
Don't get a meaningful pathway to housing and land availability? Who cares, you're still on 100%.
Global pandemic, rest of the country working from home for a pittance? Who cares, you're still on 100%.

If you're going to lock down the rest homes, then that means locking down all the staff and having them live on site for the duration also. Not really possible.

And there's plenty of people out there that would also be vulnerable - take my Dad, getting on, a bit fat and with dodgy lungs and yet completely independent, active and full of life. I don't think he'd survive a round of COVID, what's he supposed to do, according to you, stay in solitary confinement at home for the rest of his life?

Radius, Ryman and Summerset went early with it entirely on their own bat without any problem at all Doris. Those three had not one case of CV19. Other rest homes were made to follow suit over a week later when the government finally woke up. Those measures were then in place without any catastrophic difficulties for eight weeks or so. These conditions are now being carefully relaxed. Don’t really understand your point. No one is saying the lock downs were to be permanently in place, only they should have been in place in ALL rest homes much earlier.

A lot of interest in the Swedish response. Reports indicate that despite their much more relaxed restrictions, their economy has suffered more or less to the same degree as their nordic neighbours.

Genuine question. By economy, does that include Covid related debt?

Obviously their short term spending is down, but has the govt had to drop tens of billions in subsidies, welfare payments, etc... and accumulate long term debt?

yes,some would rather climb over a wall of dead grannies than suffer a reduction in their lifestyle.

Some are also a bit more pragmatic. What should we be trying to save? A young kids future, or an old grannies?

its a choice made every day - but for some reason COVID 19 is different to cancer research, expensive but effective drugs, investment in preventative measures, AOD services , child mental health, heart disease -

Our health system was and has for decades - all governments been underfunded to provide the services required to reduce our death rates - -intensive care beds are scarce, 24/7 high care mental health beds are in horrible inpatient units not rural peaceful community settings -

All choices that people were ok about in February - but in march we needed to bankrupt the country to stop COVID 19 killing people -- the 50 Billion this year -- as opposed to ( priot to covid announcements) less than 50 million on domestic violence - or 490 million new spend on mental Health services - hell the lockdown saved around 80 road toll deaths and 10 workplace related fatalities - but are we advocating to continue it to save those casualties that we know will happen just as much as we know Covid will kill citizens -

This is not about dead grannies to preserve wealthy excess -- the reductions in most lifestyles are really with ordinary workign people - deciding on heating or feeding their families -- nothing so grand as philosophical debate -

You mean the same people who can eyeball a group of women dying and say no to Keytruda or similar? The same people who refuse the request for a review of a dialysis patient deported home to the Islands for certain slow death?

Is 'those same consequences but deferred 30 years and loading the cost onto Kiwis who haven't been born yet' radically better?

In other news, water is wet.

It certainly wont be raised to L4 again unless in a very small part of NZ -- that horse had bolted -- and after allowing thousands to gather to protest on Monday - ran so far into the distance its probably half way to timbucktoo by now !

Fact is that COVID 19 will be active in America for at least a couple of years - Europe the same and so either we isolate from the world for that length of time- simply wont happen - or we allow it back

Politically no decision to let it in can be made - so it will have to sneak back in - say by inviting 30 Americans from a virus hotspot - or not quarantining flight crews -- as long as its an accident - its politically ok

more to the point - when it does come back - at least we will have all the advantages - contract tracing, testing capability, enough and the correct PPE, sufficient ventilators, knowledge of spread etc to mange the health impacts far better than other countries - so lowering death rates and the effects on those who survive

The sad thing - and yes i read PDK's link than you - is that despite putting NZ in the strongest global position of any nation - we have choices and preparation time they dont now - we are borrowing 200billion - yes lets not talk about just this year - consider the structural deficits for the next couple of years - but so far NOTHING is transformational - in fact its a headlong rush to go back to what things were before -

If we are borrowing our kids futures - at least we should be investing in a cleaner greener, more efficient technology and industrys, looking at promoting more sustainable lifestyles - a focus on people and planet - as measurements of our success not GDP - and the things our grandchildren will thank us for !

"Politically no decision to let it in can be made "

This is probably the single most important point I have seen. It raises all sorts of questions about how we will be able to approach the future.

I can't see anyone going back to L3 or L4 regardless of what the Govt say, and personally I don't think the govt would consider it.

In my mind it is now a personal decision.

If you are over 60 and/or have significant underlying health issues. You should probably think about what you do and who you come in contact with.

If you are under 60 and have no underlying health issues. Then you probably need only give it as much thought as when you get into a car.

Don't disagree about the difficulty of going back into Lvl 3 or 4. But, sorry, I think this comparison to vehicle risk is false equivalence. The problem with COVID is its transmisibility. I live in a home with two immuno-compromised adults. It's not simply a matter of their personal choices. It's whether I go to work or not and bring it home. It's whether the adult kids come home on Sunday night for family dinner together. It's NOT just a matter of personal responsibility for my own health. It's about personal responsibility for others' health. And our track record on care for others, in the absence of compulsion, is patchy (e.g., drunk driving, dangerous driving).

Life is full of risks, Currently you will already be exposing the people you live/work/meet with to all sorts of pathogens. Most are harmless, but there are some bad ones out there.

My question to you would be - Before covid - did you worry about bringing home the flu? Rotovirus? Norovirus?

If you did, what did you do to mitigate the risks? can the same action not be taken for covid?
If you didn't, why weren't you worried about the others? All have the potential to cause serious health complications and/or death.

I used the car analogy as I think there are actually many valid comparisons when it comes to risk mitigation.

Think of it like this:
Putting on your Seatbelt = washing you hands
Not drinking = facemask
Driving slower in bad conditions = contact tracing.
rego = stay at home when you are sick.
W.O.F = live an active healthy lifestyle.
Passengers in our car = people we live with/work with/associate with.

Some drivers will be drunk get into an unwarranted, unregistered beat up modified deathtrap car, not bother with the seatbelt (or their kids restraints), then hurtle off as fast as the car can go, ignoring their passengers screams.
Some infected will not wash their hand, cough and splutter without covering their mouth, roam all around the country/world without saying where they have been, ignoring the pleas of their family/colleagues/friends

We know this. So we factor in the risk.
We make sure our car is safe, we don't drive drunk, we put on our seatbelt, we drive to the conditions. We make sure out passengers are also fit to drive.
We wash our hands, wear a facemask (which has been common in many parts of asia since SARS), stay at home if sick (So we don't even need contact tracing)

But we can't mitigate all the risk.
Eventually, the idiot will be coming the other way, and we won't be able to avoid it. We hope that at that point we only get injured rather than die.
Eventually, some idiot will pass on the virus, and we won't be able to avoid it. We hope that at that point we are one of the 50% asymptomatic, or one of the 48% who get sick but recover.

Nice analogy. Sometimes I hear people say that you cant put a price on human life. If that were true, then the motor vehicle speed limit would be set at 20 km/h. I don't know what your analogy equivalent to that would be. Probably the approach NZ has taken.

So risk is part of life. But your plus or minus 60 years old argument belies your values. Age versus youth can be argued either way. As soon as you choose one over the other then your argument is akin to eugenics - the chosen 'fit' should survive and those not in the preferred group should be responsible for their supposed 'lack'.

We can easily measure the number of road deaths I have caused versus the amount of fun I have had since learning to drive in Grandpa's paddock. Same goes for practically all kiwis.

Anyways, looking at the increase in stabbings and shootings in Auckland, it seems that we are already in Level 0.