David Hargreaves fears valuable time will be lost as the political parties now prioritise petty electioneering over long term strategies to deal with Covid-19 and its economic effects

David Hargreaves fears valuable time will be lost as the political parties now prioritise petty electioneering over long term strategies to deal with Covid-19 and its economic effects

It is probably stating the obvious to say so, but this election is coming at a bad time in terms of this country dealing with THE pressing issue, the pandemic.

I am always delighted to say that in respect of the 2014 New Zealand election, I spent the entire period of the election campaign and indeed the actual election itself on an extended break in Australia. Across the ditch was an excellent place from which to view the carnage of that particular election, based, as it seemed to be on everybody not talking about anything that mattered, while talking about everything and anything that didn’t matter.

Unfortunately, as my colleague Jenée Tibshraeny has already eloquently outlined, those people holding their breaths for a 2020 pre-election “contest of ideas” are going blue in the face.

The die has already been cast. This election is set to make the 2014 dog’s breakfast look like a high-level dissection of policy options. The race to the bottom has already begun at breakneck speed.

Which is why, to come back to the earlier point, the timing of this particular election is not great at all. Of course, you could say the timing of the pandemic is what’s not great, but that is what it is. The virus isn’t going anywhere and we have to deal with it.

Some people think we HAVE dealt with it, which is a worry.

Good instincts and good luck

We haven’t. We have had a Government that has flown by the seat of its pants in terms of pandemic decision making and through a combination of some good instincts from the Government and some very good luck, we find ourselves at the moment in a position where we have options. Which is great. No, it's fantastic.

The opposition parties for a while were having a great time trying to say the Government needed to give a detailed outline and timeframe for such things as opening up our borders to Australia (which with the benefit of hindsight might not have been the best thing to do) and of course, remember all the ‘we need to be at Level 1 NOW’ nonsense when the Government was taking a day or two longer than deemed absolutely necessary to let businesses open.

Look, there’s no point in the Government laying out absolute plans from here because Covid could wreck them.

But nor is it sensible to just sit on our hands and not make plans at all.

What is surely needed from here is some outlining of detailed scenarios and what the responses would be. It may be that some government officials are doing work in this area, but I’m not aware of it.

One extreme to another

For example, there are two extremes of what could happen from here: We could remain Covid free and with our economy ‘open’ for business, or, at the other extreme we could get a major debilitating outbreak.

Those are the extremes, there’s loads of ‘shades of grey’ scenarios that could be imagined in the middle.

Rather than making it all up as we go along – which pretty much appears to have been the approach till now – we would be well advised to have detailed plans and responses for as many potential scenarios as we can imagine.

Plans of course can and should be torn up as actual events may dictate. But the point is by actually having some detailed responses to specific circumstances worked out ahead of time, it is relatively easy to put a plan into operation.

Just to pluck one example out of the air – and I will choose a nice one – if we were able to maintain Covid-free status how might we capitalise on that? There are obvious things that could be considered such as staging major events of a sporting or other nature here, or we could maybe open the borders up selectively for tourists willing to go through quarantine procedures, and there’s the seemingly (for now) too-hard one of getting overseas students back. That’s just three things off the top of the head after two minutes of thinking about it. There may be all sorts of weird and wonderful things that could be thought of by someone spending some real time on the subject.

It's all about time

A key thing to this and any scenario would also be looking at potential duration times for the pandemic and what the kind of response should be depending on the length. What if this thing hangs around as a serious nuisance for 10 years? What's our response to that? Surely better to have something in mind as we go forward rather than just 'hoping for the best' via development of a vaccine or that the virus "will simply disappear" as someone might have suggested.

The scenarios are many, but there's no harm at all in working through as many as possible of them and logically deciding what could be a valid approach to each. It's better to have a plan you don't need than to suddenly need a plan you don't have.

Now, as I say, it’s possible there is some of this kind of work going on somewhere, but I tend to doubt it.

It should be though. And such work and options should be available to whoever forms the Government following the September 19 election.

We've got away with winging it this far. No, rephrase that we've actually done extremely well by winging it so far - but that doesn't mean we would continue to do well with such an approach. All it means is our luck might be about to run out.

Cross-party support anyone?

Dare I say that this is the sort of work that almost needs some kind of unanimous cross-party support - not to reach a decision at such, but at least to agree to look at the potential scenarios and resultant courses of action.

As I look, however, at the depressing sight that is our current Parliament (I see a giant playpen), I do realise that’s very pie in the sky. 

But it IS that important. We shouldn't be talking about which roads we are going to build until we've sorted out the Covid priorities. And Covid won't wait for us to have our election before doing what it does. 

Which is why at least dealing with the issues, possibilities and probabilities around the pandemic should come first, second and third.

Every crisis should also be regarded as an opportunity. 

If we do this right we could actually come out of this thing better placed in the world than before. But we shouldn't be leaving it to chance.

Issue number one

This is all work that should be going on now.

The concern is that dealing with our number one issue - which is the pandemic - willl now get put on the backburner while all the politicians busily talk and argue about nothing that's important (I refer back to my earlier comments about election 2014) and then by the time a new Government's formed, maybe in October, maybe later depending on the post election bargaining and squabbling, valuable time has been lost.

We are well placed right now. But we could easily mess it up from here. Very easily.

Let us hope this doesn't prove to be a costly election.

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48 Comments

However much Covid is politicised in the run up to the elections in NZ, it will pail into insignificance to Trump’s callous actions.

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I dont know,judith has already outshone Trump and drained the swamp,even if it was only to get the kauri for her company in china.

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As Bob Jones once said: Labour always stimulates the NZ economy (even while philosophically pro workers/social action) which ironically benefits small business owners.
National caps public services impacting hospitals, schools, universities, while favouring the large corporate sector which has no loyalty to NZ or NZers, and so resorts to artificial stimulation via immigration, tourism, international education etc.

"the post-election bargaining and squabbling," is the issue in a few words.
The best result? Either odds-on Labour or long-shot National get a majority of their own and move straight past the haggling stage.
And speaking of 'past'; it's time we brought back FPTP and scrapped MMP. Someone tell me what positive results have actually occurred from it? All I see is the haggling and blackmailing that goes on to get a raft of second-tier politicians a job for a few years. If you have, say, a Green agenda, join a major party and advance it.

Someone tell me what positive results have actually occurred from it? All I see is the haggling and blackmailing that goes on to get a raft of second-tier politicians a job for a few years. If you have, say, a Green agenda, join a major party and advance it.

MMP was a direct reaction to the governments of the 70s and especially 80s that were elected without winning majority support of the populace, running roughshod over public opinion and implementing far-reaching policies without having campaigned on them or really stopped to think about how they would affect every day people on the ground.

MMP has certainly stopped such drastic legislative action by parties, effectively making them more accountable to the electorate at large. It's probably a good thing that government's are more accountable to their electorate (even if individual MPs are now much less accountable).

Whether MMP was really necessary for that outcome (FPTP governments are likely to have calmed down anyway, since the hard work was largely done in the 80s) and whether we've got now are different questions.

"It's probably a good thing that governments are more accountable to their electorate"

It may be a 'good thing' but that's not the reality on a daily basis.
The Government; any Government suddenly becomes accountable once every, oh I don't know, 3 years!
If by "running roughshod over public opinion and implementing far-reaching policies without having campaigned on them" you refer to the Lange Government, then tell me that the policies enacted weren't desperately required. No Government was going to get elected on the platform that Government ended up implementing. Arguably, even Muldoon's "Think Big" got things done that otherwise would have been - The Clyde Dam being the obvious one that nearly sent us broke at the time!
And that's the problem. We can't face the changes that are needed, let alone vote for them! For example, which Party is going to get elected if it dares to threaten the value of the family home ( let alone the Investment Portfolio!). None. And MMP just aggravates the problem.

If these Covid isolation escapees or some returners exit undetected and cause a large community transmission then the election will get very interesting.
Maybe the bigger issue is which party will keep the housing market active & avoiding falls and loan defaults?
https://www.oneroof.co.nz/news/the-covid-conundrum-four-reasons-why-hous...

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For both the long term and short term future of NZ, there's only one party that can and has kept the covid-19 virus at bay and that's Jacinda's Labour party. She has shown a huge strength by standing up to the Chinese, who were trying to force us to keep our boarders open that would have been disastrous for NZ.

Unfortunately the National party have proved themselves to be feeble and spineless when it comes to protecting the NZ people. They're a one trick pony that relies on developing a false economy based on selling off NZ to the highest overseas bidder.

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If National elected will run to their master in China selling NZ for their Rock Star Economy.

Vote for National is Vote for China.

We need friends not Masters.

Is Labour, + for example primary producers, Timber producers, Universities, Tourist operators, City Councils connecting, etc any less beholden to the CPC?

It was a Labour Govt that signed the FTA with China. It's a Labour Govt that won't allow travel to the Cooks even though they're virtually bankrupt. If that's how we're treating our friends doesn't say much for us. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see why the borders aren't open to the Cook Islands and it's got nothing to do with health/safety. Can you supply some evidence of NZ being the loser by trading over 50Bln in goods with China?

'It was a Labour Govt that signed the FTA with China '

You are 100% correct and it was signed in good faith not realizing that that China has hidden agenda and what we are looking at is friends but they wanted and national allowed them to be our masters.

Now that China stands exposed repeating it will not be a mistake but Blunder - The very reason that one learns history is not to repeat past mistake.

So you're advocating rescinding the FTA then? Or should National restrict trade with China? I note Labour has been attempting to negotiate an upgrade to the FTA for the last wee while. The US had the opportunity to join the TPP, which would have provided some trade balance but pulled out but I don't read much of the same negativity directed their way. If any nation fits the description of being a bully, I'd say it's the US.. especially now. They see their so called "leadership" role under threat and out comes the big stick.

Do business but not to allow anyone to dictate. Doing business with democratic country is better than doing business with dictator who are threatining one and all.

Do not believe in left or right but just - what is good for NZ. Money for souverignity is not and this is what China has been doing with its citizens and also with many countries as are able to peneterate political system and corrupt people who will always argue on their behalf for biased vested interest at the cost of the country.

Lefties won’t reply to those facts. I’m still astounded there is so much politics and lefties at that on this supposedly financial site. What is its reason for being?

You mean you don't like having an easy ride or being challenged on anything you say? There's plenty of politics from the likes of yourself and others that are on the right so there should be no problem with fact checking on any outlandish statements and that goes for all stripes and colours.

Go right back to the top of these comments and look at MortgageBelt's contribution - and the number of people who agree with them. I'm not a 'leftie' but I'm sick to death of national selling the family silver - and our nationhood - for a place on some Chinese company's Board on their retirement.

Labour is in bed with them as well.

14
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Good to know it wasn't to do with millions of people staying home from work, losing jobs, living on severely reduced pay or all the other things people had to deal with during the lockdown. It was all the Labour Party. It's either the 'team of five million' or it isn't, not pick and choose when it suits. Considering Ardern couldn't even figure out how to reduce her own pay as a token gesture, claiming credit for the entire population's response to Covid19 could backfire massively.

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Okay, so you don't like Labour and you don't like Jacinda Ardern. Every single country in the world is facing the same problems we are and all are struggling. We haven't dealt with the pandemic perfectly, but we're upheld as global leader and hey - we get to mix freely in public and have suffered much less of an economic impact, so far.

Of course this isn't over yet, and we are exposed in certain industries - travel and entertainment being two. The next phase will certainly be unpalatable, and there's a huge risk of a second outbreak. Labour need to tighten up completely on best practices.

It's obvious to me at least that different ways of working and being will be necessary in the years to come. The pandemic isn't going to go away, although hopefully it's impact will lessen over time, and we will come out of this globally more prepared. What's disturbing is that very few of our political parties have any vision or lack of self interest to drive through generational change, apart from maybe the Greens.

We need progressive thinking, progressive policy. We are in a time of change and there is a huge confluence happening - man made climate change, technological revolution, planetary resources being stretched etc etc. This time of change will last decades.

The old ways of thinking, and the need for power for power's sake are dangerous, and should go the way of the dinosaur. Act, National, NZ First all fall under this umbrella.

The right around the world has opened borders too early, didn't shut down soon enough and are now generally disastrous for the countries they lead. And women have done a much better job than men in all of this with their leadership.

Our corporate owned media have a lot to answer for too - any kind of idea or debate that sits outside the current neoliberal spectrum in nz is ridiculed, shut down or not reported on. Sadly this election looks, once again, to be maneuvered into personality politics, with a dominance of talking heads talking up the saviour as Judith Collins.

How can Collins be the Saviour? Cindy has already taken that title. The sycophancy and hagiography of fellow NZers is a real worry. If it’s a Labour Green Government, we will spend the next three years with those with the wealth focused on frustrating the tax and spend ethic rather than growing the economy. It’s Muldoon all over again.

Haha, yeah EE.. Saint Cindy. I dare say there's quite a few wealthy Labourites who will be quietly squirreling money into Trusts, art and wine collections and gold bars.. all out of reach of the Green Goblins. Watch for that CGT.. it's coming. I pick it'll be on rental properties and Equities to start with. Gotta target those evil wealthy.

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To be honest, the cgt should have already been here. Pretty much every other country in the world has got one, it's only the power of the real estate industry that has prevented us from having one.

It's about fairness. No point being childish about it as per the rest of your comment.

Re: CGT what absolute rubbish. Some countries have tried it and most have dispensed with it. The ones that still have it (a few states in the US) get SFA in tax out of it. As for fairness - more drivel. If I choose to invest in start-ups or IPOs and take the inherent risk with tax paid funds, why should I then be taxed further. If there was a mechanism to claim losses and depreciation then it would be arguably fairer but there isn't. A CGT is just an envy tax.. nothing less. If you think the REI is that influential I think you're giving them way too much credit.

If you think a CGT is fair, then perhaps you could give some reasons for that position.

Tax should be paid on capital gains. There are exorbitant profits made on housing in this country, people paying no tax at all. It contributes greatly to house prices skyrocketing to severely unaffordable.

That's not a reason it's an observation. If people didn't cling to Auckland and it's congestion infested dysfunction they would find plenty of affordable real estate out in the regions.. which would actually benefit from their presence. Try again

You've got a strange definition of reason. By the way, work, circumstances, whanau and many other aspects of life generally happen to be concentrated in big cities.

Wouldn't it be better for some forward thinking to make the regions more attractive for business investment? Instead of using housing as a way of making tax free money and pushing up house prices?

I certainly don't purport to have any solution to house price appreciation in Auckland or other large centres. With the recent "work from home" initiatives that occured, it was shown that was viable and in fact desirable. If this was a trend that could be encouraged and increased perhaps there would be some migration out of the cities. With NZs relatively low wages there aren't too many ways people can enhance their net worth in a meaningful and low risk manner, hence the attraction of housing. Large cities are generally self perpetuating service based money-go-rounds. They all started as service centres for the surrounding area or a local port. If house prices are the problem then perhaps the solution should be targeted specifically at that but I don't believe a broad CGT does this.
I get the impression your beef is with the "tax free money" aspect. Applying a CGT to housing is certainly not proven to stabilize or reduce prices, any more than GST stabilised or reduced consumption. A CGT may indeed have the opposite effect as sellers look to retain their premium.

Thanks for the considered reply hook

Sycophancy and hagiography - a great description of the worship of John Key.

What’s the relevance of Sir John Key to this thread? Which party is he running for in 2020?

Sycophancy and hagiography is an exaggerated slur. Possibly a word soup. I'm pointing out it could equally have been applied any time during the reign of John Key as well.

It must really smart, that a woman under forty, is more capable, more articulate and more intelligent than you will ever be... lol! Tell us how emasculated you really feel?!

Just saying - Election 2020: National crushed in new Newshub-Reid Research poll as Labour soars
https://nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12351077

Yes and mysoginy is clearly another big word you are familiar with. Lets wait and see what the policies look like before making unfounded comments about how best to grow the economy.

I actually quite like Ardern. I rate her as a communicator. She is very pleasant to deal with. I'm not prepared to ascribe success to her that is the result of the collective action of a whole population, many of which made actual, tangible sacrifice. For many of us, including myself, this was severe reductions in pay, huge job uncertainty and potential financial ruin.

I'm also not prepared to overlook the fact that progressive policy that never gets executed is a successful or viable way to run a country. You may be satisfied with blue-sky thinking and speeches about 'fairness' and 'kindness' but actually making those things happen is their job too. I've never had a job where talking about stuff has been an acceptable alternative to doing it, but here we are.

As for our corporate media: They have spent more time trying to force successive leaders of the opposition out than holding Labour ministers to account for their bait-and-switch election promises they clearly neither had the ability or intent of following through on. 'Personality politics' seems to be fine when it's looking for reasons to not talk about Labour being an abject mess or abandoning flagship policy, but suddenly a very bad thing once the opposition has a high-profile and female leader. I wonder why that is.

Fair enough GV, agree 100% about progressive policy never getting executed, it needs to be implemented for the world to move forward from the current negative economic era.

Labour have indeed been found wanting, and they don't deserve another term if we don't see any action. Disagree about the press - if you have a look at newshub, nzme, stuff, most promote business as usual neoliberal points of view. In NZME's case, they're basically fox news for NZ.

Well that's not quite true that the government did a spectacular job compared to other countries. I would say the main factor is NZ is isolated with no land borders and a low population. Having a low population is easier to test and contain. Living in South East Asia which has big population, land borders, many airports, sea ports is much harder to control the pandemic. Here the army was out with automatic weapons and guard towers, fences were constructed to enforce quarantine. Comparing NZ on handling the quarantine compared to other countries is all a bit subjective. There is no social welfare, woman's rights, the police force has no department to investigate it, no refugee quota, limited freedom of media, racial and religious enforcement, the list goes on and on. So as you can see NZ is very different to rest of the world.

I thought we had a coalition government, with the Green Party along for the ride. When did it become a Labour Government? Why is the Labour component of the coalition getting all the credit for what has been as much good luck as good management?

Politics got in the way of Covid when Cindy ignored MOH advice to close the borders on the 6th of March. The result of that ten days of dithering was the lockdown and a $200 Billion bill for the kids to chip away at.
https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/final_rep...

Very salient point profile. If we'd closed the borders then it would have saved a lot of pain. However the Tourism and Education industries would still have been decimated. I don't think the isolation facilities would have been available then either. I'm not sure NZ would have saved that much money anyway by closing the doors earlier. The WHO didn't help much by dithering over whether C19 was a potential pandemic.

That report is dated 06/03. We were still talking about holding 15th of March memorial services & Pasifika right up until the 11th hour. It clearly states banning events in China helped contain the spread. But this doesn't gel with 'hard and early' so it doesn't get mentioned.

Is there an election on? It doesn't seem like policies are being announced or pertinent issues being discussed.

Also, just because you reopen borders, does not mean you are inviting disaster. As Iceland is showing the situation can be managed with testing.

I will of course vote, but who for? ACT and NZ First are non-starters-ACT is at heart a tax-cutting party and we can't afford that and NZF is long past its use by date.
I support the Green's on environmental issues, but their wealth tax is a nonsense. National do not deserve to return to governments yet, but Labour is seriously short of competent ministers and has achieved little of substance. I think I will probably end up voting Labour in the hope that a second term-unencumbered by NZF-would allow them to actually implement some of their stated objectives on housing, poverty reduction, transport etc. If not, I 'll vote to boot them out next time round.

Labour has had a reasonably clear run at addressing the first two of those policies (housing and poverty reduction) both an abject failure. Granted the Light Rail plan has been scuppered by NZF. What I don't get is the 100s of mlns spent on a bunch of low use cycle tracks to appease the Greens. If the L/Gs had focussed on getting more freight onto heavy rail and adjusted the RMA as reqd to allow it, they would be due some kudos but they chose to discount heavy rail until the last minute. This current govt has focussed on far too much virtue signalling and way too much hui with no doey. Dare I say it but Jones has actually been useful with the PGF and it would be good to see that continue. It's about the only proactive thing to come out of this CoL to date.

Looks like Labour might win the election in a landslide. Crusher seems to have done little if anything to turn things around:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12351077

It seems even less people like the way Judith does politics. Let's hope there is some sort of talent way down Labour's list.

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