ACT Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden argues the stress of looming lockdowns on business is unsustainable

ACT Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden argues the stress of looming lockdowns on business is unsustainable

By Brooke van Velden*

When we started our ACT Party bus tour last week, I met a butcher in Northland who told me he wouldn’t survive another lockdown. Now that we’ve seen Auckland go back into Level 3, it’s understandable that business owners are feeling the stress and anxiety of further lockdowns looming over them.  

Last week the Government told us it had set itself one job – test, trace and isolate the virus in three days – but it has failed, at a cost to all of us. There are stories of businesses in Auckland losing thousands of dollars having to throw away fresh produce, and that’s before you count the loss in sales and the flow on effects of Aucklanders not being able to travel on domestic tourism.  

If the strategy was always for restrictions to last one incubation cycle of 14 days, the Government should have said so. Now we will all pay a heavy price for the Government being out of its depth. 

We were told that another outbreak was a matter of ‘when, not if’. The Government had 100 days to ensure the border was watertight, ramp up community testing, and achieve a gold standard of contact tracing. 

Aucklanders will rightly ask ‘what the hell have we been doing for the past 100 days?’ 

The decision to extend Auckland’s lockdown by 12 days is an admission that the Government is out of its depth. 

The border should have always been the Government biggest focus. News that it hasn’t tested [all] border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) staff – the people who were most likely to get Covid-19 is unbelievable. Testing numbers fell dramatically in July. People at community testing centres have faced seven-hour delays. Staff at MIQ facilities have been photographed without PPE. 

A lockdown might have been the right plan in March given the information we had at the time, but it’s clear the strategy hasn’t worked. 

The costs of lockdowns – in terms of mental health, delayed health treatments, small business failures, unemployment and debt for future generations – are just too high. 

ACT is proposing is a new strategy. We need to revise the way we’re dealing with Covid-19 because it’s simply unaffordable not to. We have to face up to the fact that the virus isn’t going anywhere, and we have to adapt and live with the virus intelligently.  

ACT has set out five principles for better public health: stop preaching fear, have an open debate about our national strategy, treat travel to different countries differently based on risk, use better technology, and use private sector solutions for testing, tracing and isolation. 

The priority should be to protect the vulnerable while allowing other New Zealanders to get on with their lives. 

I am not suggesting we take the Sweden approach. The health of New Zealanders is our priority. New Zealand should look to Taiwan, which has managed to have low rates of death and infection without imposing severe lockdowns. 

It’s time for an honest conversation about what our overall strategy is. One thing New Zealanders are clear about today is they cannot afford repeated blunt and expensive lockdowns. 

We’re sick of being told to be kind. We can’t hug our way out of this crisis. We need a new kind of leadership. We need competence, not just good communication. 

The butcher I met in Northland deserves some certainty and peace of mind, all New Zealanders do.


 *Brooke van Velden is the ACT Party's Deputy Leader and Wellington Central candidate. As part of an election series van Velden will be writing regularly for interest.co.nz between now and the October 17 election. Vanushi Walters, the Labour Party's Upper Harbour candidate and 23 on the list, is also writing for interest.co.nz.

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129 Comments

38
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"We should look to Taiwan"

Unfortunately, the Anglosphere doesn't have the same cultural disciplines as Taiwan or even Vietnam. And these cultural disciplines are at odds with ACT's fundamental philosophy focused on the individual's rights over the group.

13
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Imagine the screaming about civil liberties and human rights, totalitarian state and all if we had the surveillance of Taiwan.

Your smartphone listens to everything you say. What human rights?

Hear hear, ACT just conveniently overlook this.

20
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It’s time for an honest conversation about what our overall strategy is.

I think this government has made that clear - their overall strategy is elimination.

Judith Collins said she too has "zero tolerance" for community transmission - so National's overall strategy is elimination as well.

As for involving private sector solutions - we already do that, and they are not without their own problems;

https://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/article/undoctored/medical-laboratory-workers...

14
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Elimination of the economy.

We can't shut everything down whenever the wu-flu pops up. This approach isn't sustainable.

28
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And we never have shut everything down!!! L2/L3 lockdown doesn't mean cessation of all commerce.

Thing is ACT have never been interested in sustainability (attempts to simultaneously address environmental, economic and social equity concerns) in their policy. All of a sudden they've decided the word 'sustainable' is all the fashion.

They completely missed the fact that NZ (and the world, for that matter) was not on a sustainable path prior to COVID arriving, kind of shoots down any credibility they might have regarding an understanding of what is needed to put NZ on a sustainable footing.

23
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Hear, hear.
And if we had one last warning of what an unsustainable path we were one it came in 2008 - and we chose to ignore it. Worse; we thought we could circumvent the inevitable by using all things monetary.
Now? It's all too late, and ACT is even later to the party than many of the rest of us.

Good points, however I think you are underestimating the impact of level 3, especially on hospo and to a lesser extent retail.
It's also the ongoing uncertainty which can be really damaging to businesses.

Do wilding pines count towards the offsetting of our carbon emissions?

No, owners of the land would need to register them as a forest, which they aren't - they're weeds.

No. A sector of the community has decided to say they are undesirable. Others think they are a carbon banking, erosion preventing timber resource

And they would be wrong.

Each tree will soak up its given amount of CO2 regardless of what people call it.

I actually think many areas of wilding pine would count in the ETS as much of it grows on grassland which includes tussock. If that land was farmed in 1990 then it is eligible. If that were my land I would certainly register it.

14
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We should be looking to Sweden.

We can't save everyone. Elderly die every year from the flu. Let's do our best to protect the old and vulnerable, but let everyone else get to work.

Our socialist leader might like the idea of control and dependency, but the people of New Zealand are an independent and resilient lot. Let's keep moving.

Also, rather than waiting for a vaccine, let's start pushing for good immune system health and personal responsibility. Too many people are vulnerable due to lifestyle diseases. Ease up on the maccas and kfc, go out for a walk, get some sun or take a few vitamin d supplements.

12
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Yeah right. NZs society is nowhere near as conservative socially as they are, we tend to be far more social able and have more people living in each dwelling, allowing the virus to spread more easily. Mass death, and their economy is in worse shape than NZs as a result of it. Not only that but their health system is far better than NZs, so they can cope with lots of cases without it being overwhelmed, and their ICU capacity is far better than NZs.

The only reason many countries have not tried to eliminate it, was solely because it was too late. Because NZ acted early, we could eliminate it is weeks. The virus was far too entrenched in many countries, and it would have taken many months to eliminate it, it they even could due to many people ignoring lockdowns.

Also, if we don't eliminate it now, we will look like munters to everyone after all our self congratulatory backslapping.

19
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Sweden is far more politically socialist than anything we have seen in NZ for a long time! Also Sweden's rolling 7 day average cases are going up again (as are many countries in Europe). We don't know where Sweden, or anyone will end up in terms of the health and economic effects of the virus, we don't even know the long term effects. So we can't say either way.

I do think that continued lockdowns might be impractical but not because the virus isn't a threat. Behaviourally, socially, lockdown fatigue and civil unrest are growing in NZ, along with the conspiracy theories that have undermined efforts to control the pandemic elsewhere. I think Western Democracies have a limited appetite for paternalism. People aren't rational either. Compelling narratives win ground whether they are fact and science based or not.

15
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Sweden's June quarter GDP down 8.6%. Let's see what ours is before throwing our strategy and vulnerable under the bus.

https://tradingeconomics.com/sweden/gdp-growth

The lock down doesn't smash the economy, Covid 19 does.

New Zealand's March quarterly GDP fell by the most since 1991. If a government decides to open the coffers and throw a significant increase of money into the economy , there is every chance that measured GDP, on the surface will be better than other economies who offer less assistance. Comparing headline GDP alone, without any other metrics ,between various nations ,whether Sweden and New Zealand at the best of times provides many outcomes. Comparing quarterly GDP measurements at present almost meaningless. Given New Zealand's unemployment fell in the second quarter, its economy must be booming.

March should be a one off though. Due to the delay of going into lockdown we had 1000+ cases, 12+ clusters and the whole country in level 4 for a month and level 3 for a few weeks.
If new events are 1 cluster, 100 cases and one city in lockdown for 2 weeks its a whole different story.

Uh uh girlfriend. NZ's unemployment rate did not fall in the second quarter. NZ's unemployment rate as measured by discounting those who were discouraged to look for work during the lockdown fell in the second quarter. Big difference. And remember. You work an hour a week. You're employed.

Yeah NZ fell 1.6% (maybe next time state the figure (see https://tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/gdp-growth)) which is a lot less than Sweden's 8.6% (albeit different quarters). I wouldn't be crowing about how great no lock down has been for the economy with an 8.6% decrease. NZ's June figure will give some comparison to whether no lock downs beat elimination when comparing GDP changes.

I would have thought ours will be down by north of 15-20%. Be surprised if it isn't, especially given how reliant we are on tourism.

the headline unemployment number is nonsense. Over 67,000 Kiwis have gone onto an unemployment benefit since 20th March, and around 450,000 workers are covered by the wage subsidy scheme. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/06/new-zealands-4-unemploymen...

No it doesn’t...it’s your reaction to it’s existence that does

Yes well said, anytime I see the “we should look to, follow Sweden” it gets my ire up, have these people read the annual death rates? Usually the clocking in around 90k pa. Current tracking extrapolated out approx. 101k. So 10k more deaths this year.
Ref: https://www.statista.com/statistics/525353/sweden-number-of-deaths/
Then let’s see their BAU - nope, down every month for the last 4 months, like 11% July, 18% June...
Ref: https://tradingeconomics.com/sweden/gdp
That’s just the facts from numbers, nothing moral or social taken into account. So man, what is it about this “look to Sweden” line I see run out so often. Is it just poor research and heard it was a good thing? Maccas was a good thing once I suppose too, before I knew better. Cheers.

You're wrong! Overlaying Sweden's 2019 and 2020 daily deaths you can see that there was a spike in this year's April deaths, but daily deaths are now tracking below where they were last year. One way to interpret the data is COVID19 brought forward the deaths of frail individuals, many of whom would have died this year anyway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4DQ12216l8&t=314s

"many of whom would have died anyway" - another often repeated mantra put up as an argument against lockdown. Not backed up by fact.

How am I wrong? Way more people died so far this year than last year in Sweden. Their GDP has gone down the last 4 months. Hence, NZ did better. Why would NZ want to try Sweden approach?

it's popular in the libertarian circles as a poster child.

No idea sorry what you’re inferring. My poor basic country bumpkin growing my own making my own way catching n hunting but also shopping n travelling is not smart enough. But thanks for the something.

The right like to use it as a shining example of why we shouldn't lock down. No slight intended in any way, Sweden is held up in those examples as the way forward. Which it's not.

The most frightening words in the English language are reportedly : " I'm from the government, I'm here to help".

I really want to write something about this, but the editor will probably put me in jail, so I will leave you to imagine what I might be thinking. It has lots and lots of swear words.

Ha I hope I'm getting this right, but yes exactly. Who do we kill first. I always wondered how the holocaust happened, and how when the British colonised countries, how they treated the locals. But when you see greed, self interest, you can see how people treat other people, even in todays society, some people would rather have deaths, then a few weeks of lock down. I cant believe people actually write this stuff.

Nothing like a crisis to flush out the dick heads.

You been looking in the mirror, is it the shape of your head your uncomfortable with. Nothing like greed to bring them out, and forget about other people, money over life, makes a catchy hat just like your buddy Trump MAGA. I will take that as a compliment as well, as long as people don't associate me with someone like yourself.

Wasn't referring to you, you're probably more of a goes over his head guy.

You wrote under mine, apologies, I am not a quick person must forgive me. Always with the head HeavyG sure you will be ok. Might just be temporary.

Brazil, coronavirus doing Bolsonaro's genocidal dirty work for him

On the point of whether oscillating in and out of lockdowns is the best approach vs mild restrictions under a 'sweden' model the jury is still out. I empathise with the small business owner in the article but would be interested in his view point as to which approach and outcome he prefers;

1. Current plan, short and sharp strict lockdowns and then business can open up to 100% capacity again, OR
2. Long term mild health restrictions (Sweden model) and subdued earnings over the medium term

Some analysis by respected economist Shamubeel Eaqub suggests the former is, based on what we know today the better outcome for both health and the economy. I would be interested to hear of examples of developed economies that have taken option #2 and their economies have performed well as I'm not aware of any.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/300083404/heres-why-lo...

10
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The guy's a butcher.. probably with loyal clientele. From his point of view "why should the duopoly supermarkets get to trade when he can't?" Fair point I think. He's not looking at "macroeconomics" and all the other grandiose buzzwords spouted here.. he just wants to earn a living

Yep. Went to a pizza place today. Had to sign in because don't have a smartphone to scan that square thing. Nobody there. Went to New World, dozens of people there all coughing on the apples. No sign in necessary. I feel for the butchers.

Economies of scale aka big lobby money

from the article:

'In the three months to June, the number of hours worked fell by 9 per cent from a year ago, similar to Sweden.'

Yes, but I wonder what the productivity was like? I've heard a lot of anecdotes (yes, anecdotes,I know...) of productivity being way down, with quite a few workers technically doing their hours but also effectively furloughed...

Knowing what I know of NZ productivity, it probably went from 3 dudes resting on a spade and one on the digger, to 4 dudes resting on a spade

Who is it that respects Shamubeel? Is he still sticking to his principles and renting?

15
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Let's do our best to protect the old and vulnerable, but let everyone else get to work.

Errr, we are. Most people are continuing to work and most of the old and vulnerable were well-protected as there was no virus to threaten their lives.

Our socialist leader might like the idea of control and dependency, but the people of New Zealand are an independent and resilient lot. Let's keep moving.

We are independent and resilient eh? That's why we have so many people require state help to house themselves and for things like superannuation, health, education. If we are 'independent and resilient' then I guess we should abolish things like superannuation, working for families, the accommodation supplement, benefits etc. Unfortunately you and I both know what you say is nothing more than a catchy feel-good phrase (ironically the likes of which you accuse Jacinda of overly using).

Most New Zealanders are smart enough to know when they have to band together for the common good. Let's keep moving and not turn into the shit-show that is the US where 'individuals rights' have created a narcissistic and disjointed society who are currently imploding through lack of cohesiveness.

Also, rather than waiting for a vaccine,let's start pushing for good immune system health and personal responsibility

No, lets wait for the vaccine. Your lifestyle advice is fine but seems quite patronizing. How about we take 'personal responsibility' to not act like dickheads and instead completely prevent the transmission of a potentially deadly infectious agent to our family, friends and wider society?

Comment of the day.

Jesus, that's an overly simplistic rambling....if only all kiwis (regardless of age) with underlying respiratory, cardiac, renal, immunodeficiency etc conditions would just put down that burger and pop a few Vitamin D pills we wouldn't have to worry about that pesky virus...

10
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But businesses do survive the lockdowns. In the US some businesses in some areas have been locked down for many months, and they are not following the elimination approach, they are only trying to suppress it to slow down their cases. So there is no alternative for NZs economy. Our health system would very quickly be overwhelmed if we let it spread, and only introduced social distancing and mask wearing to try and control it. Many businesses can't operated profitability under those conditions, and the spending habits of kiwis would change, and people would tend to only shop for essentials. eg not go out to restaurants etc. Even Australia is showing us the problems when you don't eliminate the virus,and also delay locking down causing a disaster.

I can't see any fear being preached, the overseas news is showing us what happens when a country has covid. I think we are essentially following a form of Taiwans approach already, but adapted for NZs conditions, as there is no one size fits all approach here. Taiwan is a totally different culture, different social habits, different levels of compliance, and have different laws etc.

12
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Act only party with a one word vocabulary: business
Meanwhile proposing that public service staff take pay cut which would further deflate economy. Oh and not us not forget reducing debt and cutting taxes. Yeah those go together

Act only party with a one word vocabulary: business

David Seymour has had little experience in the'business world.'

The economy is pretty important to people's lives and wellbeing Mike.

Life is important to others.

There will always be an economy Fritz. It may not be the planetary life sucking force it has been in the past , going forward though. That is a good thing!

I thought the 'Gold Standard' of contact tracing was already in place, not just being ramped up. Also wouldn't it have been wise for all of these things to be inplace before moving to level 1, rather than just 'ramping them up'.

Much, if not most, of it requires us to do our bit. We haven't been, too busy screeching about civil liberties and Bill Gates microchipping us all via chemtrails from his jet

Does Act think that NZders should never have fought Fascism in WW2 because the families of the NZ soldiers who fought (not to mention the soldiers themselves) would suffer from mental illness; your arguments would seem to suggest so?
And it was completely random as to which soldiers didn't come home. What happened to the families of the soldiers who never came home? Did they crumble in a mire of mental illness; they accepted the situation and got on with their lives. And war pensions were a pittance compared to today's benefits.
I would equate the Covid pandemic to a global war. Randomness dictates that some Nzders will unfortunately take a hit in their businesses despite getting unprecedented help from the government.
But the greater good should prevail. Eliminating Covid will give these adversely affected business owners the best chance of prospering in the future.

"I would equate the Covid pandemic to a global war".
Apples and Oranges

12
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Fascism is what we've got now. We already have violations of free speech, free assembly, and free movement. The last, and most egregious step will be compulsory masking. The last step in turning NZers into faceless compliant drone units.

Here we go! See my comments above

Find it quite amazing that all the keyboard warriors below even wasted their time trying to refute an obviously ridiculous statement as Iscarriots. Talk about Lemmings .. lol

Honestly Hook? Getting pleasure out of winding people up is pathetic. Trolling is pathetic, immature and cowardly.

It's what the "social guardian/morally outraged brigade" deserve. A significant number of commentators here are so far removed from the real world whilst they exist in their cloistered, padded and protected little beltway treadmill, happily consuming to their hearts content whilst denigrating the productive part of the economy. As for the comment I posted about the reaction to "Fascism", the original post was so off the wall I was surprised people even bothered reacting to it.. that was my point

I completely understand your point, and to be honest there's a lot of merit in it. Comments like Iscariot's are utterly ridiculous. The problem is there's so much repetition of rumour, innuendo and non factual counterpoint that it really does need to be called out from that aspect.

It's a common political stategy to repeat things that just aren't true often, as they will stick at some level.

It's interesting you talk about the real world - I can only assume that's the world you inhabit. We all occupy different spaces, and you have no idea about me or any of the others when you talk about "cloistered, padded, beltway treadmill" - that smacks of elitism in itself, and seems a bit heated to be honest.

I'm certainly concerned about the productive part of the economy - as I'm sure most sane people are. However, the current narrative of the last 40 years has been incredibly destructive as well, so it's good to see some counterpoint, even if you disagree with it. Or this.

I wasn't the one who brought up fighting fascism.

Literally, the freedoms fought for against the Nazis (as noted above) have been overturned by a single law giving absolute power to Bloomfield to do what he likes.

There is no recourse and no evaluation of whether this course of action is proportionate or moral.

Sigh.

Is that a sigh of resignation? Like: *sigh* we f*ed up but I'm not going to fight it.
Or a sigh of consternation? Like: *sigh* Why do people think different to me?
Or a sigh of patronization? Like: *sigh* Check this pleb and his 'views'
Or a sigh of frustration? Like: *sigh* Why do people have to ruin my day by reminding me of the legalities to which I am bound?
Or a Kardashian sigh? Like: *sigh* ehrmehgerd why do people care?

Nah, it's a sigh in response to pointless comments that aren't worth any extra articulation. Yours qualifies only unfortunately I've gone and typed too much

"It's interesting you talk about the real world - I can only assume that's the world you inhabit. We all occupy different spaces, and you have no idea about me or any of the others when you talk about "cloistered, padded, beltway treadmill" - that smacks of elitism in itself, and seems a bit heated to be honest."

This bit it always cracks me up. Definitely not the type to be playing the guitar and singing a few songs at the local.

Nah he's right. Our freedoms and liberties have already been substantially eroded. New Zealanders are practically banned from going overseas by virtue of the high cost of quarantine on reentry. The media are self censoring criticism of the governments COVID19 approach. Police have been granted the right to enter your house using a covid19 excuse. The heel of the boot is coming down on the citizenry in Australia, see the thin edge of the wedge here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39---Rf-aVA&bpctr=1597645351

err....there's border controls around the world in numerous countries. This isn't some conspiracy to take away your rights. And you're perfectly able to leave and come back as long as you self isolate. The media aren't self censoring, they're actually holding the government to account.

The warrantless searching is disturbing though.

"New Zealanders are practically banned from going overseas by virtue of the high cost of quarantine on reentry."

Only rich people who can afford to travel overseas, not the average jo blow, who can't afford a typical NZ house or the high cost of living in NZ. Cant say, I feel that aggrieved about people not being able to travel the world, while a pandemic is happening.

13
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A complete lack of understanding of what fascism is. For a start, in a truly fascist society someone publicly expressing a critical viewpoint would be arrested, held without trial and detained in prisons or work camps. In a truly fascist society all social institutions, including business, would be subject to the policies and whims of the ruling clique. Read some history instead of using grossly inaccurate labels to substantiate your partisanship.

Said much better than I can articulate.

"Would be subject to the policies and whims of the ruling clique". As a farmer, that statement starts to ring a few bells for me.

Please report for re-assignment.

Take a look at historical record of what top 2 fascists got up to: Hitler and Mussolini.

Stalin's body count was much higher, as was Mao's.

I'm sure your point is to say hey the left did it too. Well, they're all dictators, and they're all mass murderers. Probably meeting some form of definition of fascism too.

My point is that you can throw around all types of political spectrum jargon but at the end of the day bad men in power do bad things

Yep, but they weren't fascists, they were authoritarian communists.

Communism and Fascism are technically at the opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are also very close.

Easier to understand if you see the political spectrum less as a line and more like a sheet of graph paper, left of the collective and right of the individual, and only concerning economics. The up and down are libertarianism and totalitarianism. People struggle with fascism as it is neither left nor right exclusively, its origins are in racism or scape goating. That you can find all along the left to right line, in fact Nazi Germany was fairly middle of the road where that went, but as fascism bedded in it became more like a plutocracy.

"Fascism is what we've got now" - No. We don't. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism

America is close to it. The politics of the right and far right are close to it. And gee, the pandemic doesn't care about libertarian principles.

The rest is exaggerated fantasy on your part.

Hmmm...you provide a compelling argument that we're seeing the dumbing down of sectors of society.

When David Seymour tells people they can't build multi-story dwellings in his electorate because it would spoil the views, he is literally being a communist police-state commissar destroying the last vestiges of our liberal propertarian heritage. I don't know why the sheeple put up with David's hate for our way of life.

Depends on what you call liberal.
You could say in a liberal democracy people have a right to say they don't want apartments in their community.
I'm not necessarily advocating that position, just saying.

No you could not say that. What you could say is they are hypocritical.

Last election ACT's advertising catch call was "Freedom to Build".

Replace the Resource Management Act to allow you to build without restrictive zoning. Vote ACT, the party of ideas, advocating for expanded personal freedom and responsibility.
Paid for by ACT New Zealand

And it never said, 'aside from in Epsom'.

Yes agree that's hypocritical.

Based on the reasoning in comments above, this must also be fascism?

Please look up the actual meaning of the political system called Fascism before throwing it round. Next you will be saying that something is decimated without it being reduced by 1/10th.

11
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No analysis of other countries who have not imposed a lock down when compared with NZ. No estimates of deaths and health costs if elimination strategy is abandoned. No estimates of economic impact of removing lock down and letting the virus in when compared with elimination. Just the old anecdotal "I spoke to a butcher the other day".

Waste of time really, at least all the "let's be Sweden" proponents know where to cast their votes.

Are we now seeing who was behind (and funding) the "Plan B" group which popped up a few months ago?

"ACT has set out five principles for better public health: stop preaching fear, have an open debate about our national strategy, treat travel to different countries differently based on risk, use better technology, and use private sector solutions for testing, tracing and isolation."

I commend the ACT party for having a crack at constructively contributing to the debate but it's not clear to me what their principled strategy actually means? I interpret it as privatizing the isolation facilities. There is no guarantee this would be 100% effective as I'm not aware of any NZ companies that specialise in quarantine operations. Allegedly the holes in the existing containment program are from security guards falling asleep that are... you guessed it, private contractors.

Britain has contracted out contact tracing, at great expense. The companies involved are reportedly very bad at the job, with local authorities having to do the bulk of tracing, unfunded by their central government.

The disease has not been as bad as initially thought. Fatalities much lower than were feared.

It is now perfect timing for any political party to postulate a new "solution", because policies are going to have to change.

What percentage of the population do you think it's OK for us to kill for no foreseeable economic benefit?

The lowest possible number.

Our current response to COVID-19 reduces medical care for other diseases during level 3 and level 4 lock downs. Yet COVID-19 has lower lethal risk than was predicted when the policy was formulated. I think we are currently causing a higher number of deaths than necessary.

There's a twitter thread comparing the average of 2010 - 2019 deaths, to 2020
https://twitter.com/Thoughtfulnz/status/1295215998539243520

Interesting.

There are known risks when undertaking hospital treatment for chronic diseases (and we have cut back on this work so should see a fall in some 2020 deaths). However the treatments are based on expected greater rewards, extending life years into the future. We know something awful is going to happen in 2021-2024.

There is absolutely no way the current Govt will allow the release of figures showing the premature death rate of people who couldn't get access to healthcare due to the previous lockdown. Most commentary coming out of the PHS is predicting years to catch up on elective surgery, so much so that there have been calls for the private HC providers to "step up". A targeted isolation after stringent tracing would have been far less damaging, disgraceful that MoH hasn't got the logistics sorted to do it now, but hey.. they've only had 100 days. Lock down a city of 1.6 mill for 60 - 70 cases is economic destruction on a grand scale

What about the reduced life expectancy resulting from lockdown induced economic damage? I'm sure that in the years to come economic-historians will write about this period of New Zealand's history.

You do not even know how the re-appearance of this virus occurred, no-one does, at this point it is a mystery, so you can stop with the nutter accusations right now.
There is no halfway with this thing, certainly not yet, anyway, you either is or you isn't until such times as better systems, treatments and tracing aids are invented, even a vaccine.
You are playing fast and loose with both the public health AND the economy, you are living in a dream world if you think we have the ability and methods to do anything other than eliminate at this point in time.'
You are living in lala land.
ACT - sociopathy for all

Act devotees would paraphrase Calvin Coolidge’s statement “The business of America is business”, subjecting all activities in New Zealand to a business-privatising lens would lead to a society more divided and unequal than it is at present. Their business-fixated monomania is the last thing this country needs in the current circumstances.

What ACT proposes is mainstream Right-wing politics. They want lower taxes, smaller government, more personal freedom etc. They insist that somehow, this is compatible with maintaining all the services a civilised society should have because they alone have the secret to much greater labour productivity than NZ has enjoyed for many decades.

The environment is there to be used and if possible protected, but not if that gets in the way of 'the economy'. How much longer do we need to see that these policies have failed almost all of us. I will admit that I have been a beneficiary of these policies as an asset owner and now at 75 and long retired, I am better off that ever, but I have seen all too clearly how many more have gone backwards. I could never vote for ACT or a any party like it.

What about their referendum? Voting on that? Now that you have benefitted from versions of their policy over the many years and banked the profits suddenly you develop a conscience? Bit hypocritical don't you think?

You could benefit simply by having a house. What the previous commenter is displaying is empathy towards those that have been left behind by the rapacious neoliberal policies of the last 40 years. So not hypocritical at all.

Absolutely it is. He's benefitted from the policies over the last 40 years but now seems to think there's a problem. Bit late now. Like a gambler saying "I made a killing on the ponies but now I think we should phase out racing cos it's inhumane".. Gimme a break

Do you know linklater hook? How do you know that "only now" linklater thinks there's a problem?

It's a very arrogant position you're taking.

I don't know linklater or care to know him/her. I'm merely responding to the current post provided.

ACT do not need (or even pretend) to be speaking for (or to) a majority of the population. They simply need to persuade 5% of people that actually vote (so about 4% of registered voters) that ACT represent THEIR views - so it's entirely reasonable that ACT go hard for the right wing fringe that "are sick of being told to be kind", that prioritise the butcher's short term business prospects over his mother's life (we all gotta die anyway). What's probably more interesting is how far they will go with this (and David S was very clear during first lock-down that he prefered 'go soft, go late, or preferably let's get on with 'living' with CV19'). And more pressingly, will the Nats throw them Epsom again...?

Well no one lives for ever and as long as the health system isn't overloaded he's probably got a valid point

Am what do you think would be the chance of that if this virus went rampant within the South Auckland community?

You just have to see what has happened in the US, and in the different communities over there. The best approach is to go hard and early to eliminate it. Almost every other country is only living with it, because they were too late to eliminate it, and it was too engrained in the community.

Would be interesting if all the old National voters in Epsom abandoned ACT in the next election and they didn't get to 5%. Self preservation is usually an important factor when voting.

Great article Brooke. Good to see that there is still some common sense present on our islands.

Totally Agree finally some logical thinking.

And this is a party political broadcast on behalf of....

"and use private sector solutions for testing, tracing and isolation" Serco, I presume? Fight clubs in managed quarantine facilities?

I would recommend Act do the basics better - get better proof readers. I've seen it before with one of their articles.
It just screams 'unprofessional'.

'ACT has set out five principles for better public health: stop preaching fear, have an open debate about our national strategy, treat travel to different countries differently based on risk, use better technology, and use private sector solutions for testing, tracing and isolation'.

Telling the truth and things as they are is not preaching fear. We have the examples of other countries to validate the threat that is waiting, if we lower our guard.

Have an open debate. How ? A referendum ? A talk show ? A Hui ? Elections are coming and that will show whether the public support is there or not.

Treat travel to diffrent countries differently : A big joke it would be when the shit hits the fan by such relaxation.

Use better tech and private sector : Let the Private Sector come up with solutions and put them out to the governement with costing etc. What stops them ? It is a good opportunity for them to get some good business and also PR as Helpers of the Nation. Which PS business is game ?

Come on ACT, get your act together.

I prefer a crate of beer, we could have a good chat, but dont see ACT doing that probably have their finest tipple, with pinky finger extended. Telling everyone how good they are and that everyone else are bludgers.

I hope all these pretty virulent comments are just evidence it’s election year.
Our key advantage as a country is a democratic and open leadership leading to some level of consensus. It’s been done, and policy settings of major parties are pretty consistent. Act, Nz first and the Greens are trying to achieve some sort of differentiation, which they are welcome to do, but we really don’t need to descend into American disfunction..

Think the comments, are factor of anonymity. In public I rarely talk politics, politics is an easy way to fall out with people. Some people have strong views behind closed doors and struggle to articulate thoughts in a balanced manner that dont offend. Best stay clear and vote wirh policies you align with in private.

I have to say I’m a bit surprised by the inclusion of this article in interest.co.nz. First of all it’s a political party advertisement, and interestingly almost the same words verbatim as that given by the ACT leader in Parliament yesterday.

More importantly, I thought this website was concerned with figures, if not necessarily always with facts. With a title like “the cost of the lockdown is too high” (it now appears to have been changed to “not sustainable”), you would have expected at least some figures presented to support the argument, as well as hopefully some analysis of what the financial alternative to our current covid control measures might look like (my immediate thought was “too high compared to what?”). So much for ACT being the party of business (although business leaders don’t seem prepared to provide this sort of detailed information either).

No matter how much we may wish otherwise, this pandemic isn’t a matter of fine-tuning your approach. You can either not have the virus spreading throughout your population and suffer economic hardship, or you can have the virus and suffer longer economic hardship. Most countries don't have the first option. We are hugely fortunate that we do, and I don't think that even now that has changed.

Unlike in business or finance, you can’t tweak covid controls and expect an increase or decrease in economic performance. You get an economic downturn no matter what. People around the world (including Sweden) have shown that regardless of what sort of control measures are in place, if the virus is being spread they stay home if they possibly can. The engine stays stalled. In economic terms, it's not really a matter of how many people get symptoms, or how bad those symptoms are. It's a matter of how they behave.

Recently published half-year GDP figures for Denmark and Sweden (both at about 8%) are a natural experiment in this regard. A less controlled response showed no significant benefit (although Sweden did have a five-fold per capita increase in deaths).

Our current approach is unfortunately the best of all possible (and all bad) options, and it’s about time both business leaders and politicians faced up to that. And it is working. Just because covid leaks in from elsewhere doesn't mean we should throw our hands in the air and give up. It's a prolonged war against outside forces, and when those forces don't show up in your country for months that doesn't somehow mean you’ve magically won. A breach of the border is a breach of defenses, and a signal to shore them up, not an argument for surrender.

If you think otherwise, then do your job as leaders (both in business and politics) and show us precisely what that change is going to mean. Show us your assumptions, your benefits in dollars, and your costs as well. Cut with the hand-wringing and platitudes. That’s the lazy way out. I would have expected much better from ACT, and John Key, and even Helen Clarke in that regard.