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With rural New Zealand sensing the public policy wheels are about to fall off, Guy Trafford wonders if another 'cuppa tea' is required to get some of the developing flaws sorted out

With rural New Zealand sensing the public policy wheels are about to fall off, Guy Trafford wonders if another 'cuppa tea' is required to get some of the developing flaws sorted out

I have tried to resist the urge to comment upon how the Covid vaccination roll out, among other related things, has been going. Or, not going as the case may be. But increasingly it appears as though there is starting to be a rural-urban separation or more specifically South Island-Auckland (and Wellington) split.

Sitting in Central Canterbury in yet another wet day (in a few months we will be saying long may they last but we don’t really need more rain at the moment), I am reminded of the old childrens’ story regarding the little boy on the train who could hear the train telling him that a wheel was about to fall off. But no one else could hear it and he couldn’t convince the powers above (adults) what he was hearing.

New Zealand feels like luck has been the major reason we have not ended up like some of the Australian states with repeated lock downs.

The issue that is really compounding the feeling that our luck is getting close to running out, is the lack of any real progress in getting Group 3 vaccinated. Certainly, down here. No doubt this is compounded by the issues around the Canterbury DHB although I suspect there is a story to be told around this also and not all is as it appears. I and good wife finally got our call-up to get our first vaccination last week, (worth mentioning both post 65 and one at least should be on the higher priority with a ”pre-existing condition”). After finally giving up with the on-line scheduling tool which kept saying there were no available vaccination sites in the country let alone Canterbury, a couple of calls to the Helpline ensured that we are on the list in Mid-August to get our first vaccines.

For those not living within a short commute to SH1 or Christchurch, rural folk will have to contend with considerable travel to get to a vaccination station also. But rural folk are used to that, right? This comes with the backdrop that there are some in Group 3 I know who are still awaiting to get the first notification.

In the meantime, Chris Hipkins says Canterbury has to remember it is part of New Zealand and get with the programme. Fair enough, then we hear that Auckland is planning a mass vaccination programme for all and sundry, (15,000) before the end of July and that MainFreight is planning a mass vaccination for a 1,000 or more of its staff in the first corporate mass vaccination.

It is great that there are the vaccines and resources available for these programmes to go ahead but there is this growing disconnect between Wellington and seemingly Auckland, and the South Island, I can’t comment too much on other regions. These examples and the lack of any meaningful commentary that feels like it can be trusted add to the feeling of nervousness building up at least in Canterbury, that we are living on borrowed time. (Remember, the timeline given back in March).

It is/was this same disconnect that led to the farmers protest last week and appears to be heading towards another battle with local body authorities other the Three Waters Programme which is being foisted upon councils with seemingly a lack of time for meaningful consultation.

The government is quick to put out ‘big picture’ regulation or at least what it aspires to be regulation in the near future, but it is very lacking in providing the detail about how these regulations are going to be implemented and more importantly a lack of appreciation how these regulations are going to impact upon society.

No doubt, apart from the Covid issues, much of the problem or urgency comes from successive previous governments lack of action and those in power now with limited scrutiny are in a hurry to catch-up on lost time. However, with seemingly limited appreciation of how New Zealand operates outside of the halls of Parliament there is a distinct wobble starting to be felt on at least some of the wheels propelling the train forward.

David Lange back in 1987 could detect such a feeling when in power and called for a “cuppa tea” just to give the country time to catch up and perhaps more importantly for his colleagues in power to draw breath and consider what and how things were progressing.

Perhaps the politicians have done the numbers, recognise that they are going to lose much of the Blue gains they made at the last election anyway and have their focus on their traditional support areas. If this is in their thinking it is a shame as under the earlier team of 5 million mantra New Zealand came together like no other country seemed to be able to achieve.

We now seem to be going into a phase of “A Game of Two Halves” which could still be avoided if the current mode is changed.

Happily, in the little boy and train story all ended well with the ‘wobbly wheel’ getting fixed. Here’s hoping for New Zealand.

P2 Steer

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11 Comments

The wheels have fallen off for a while now..

When you don't know where you're going any road will get you there.

The further you get from the border the lower the risk of covid spreading there before it is detected and a lock down occurs. By the time you get to a rural town outside commuting distance from MIQ or the ports the risk must be an order of magnitude lower than an average person in Auckland being exposed to virus. The spread will be much easier to control with lower population (density).

I understand that it's a comfort thing and being last in the queue does will not help moral or engagement with the vaccine program but if I was in charge I would prioritize the cities first too. I do agree that political motives might also be in play here as well.

Lots of we don’t like, that and everything else. No solutions offered as I see it - just continual denial of climate change (see speech given in Otago by retired Dr Alison at rally). 1 billion of taxpayers money nearly on bovis and only complaints - no I’m grateful to my fellow NZers for helping. That’s a heap of hospital operations and money for nurses.
You can only give vaccines when you have them.
We seem to have become delusional that once we are vaccinated it’s back to normal. Covid is worse than ever overseas and has a long way to go.
Be grateful you are here and not locked down for 18 months with cases rising and vaccinated people getting infected.
Lot of spoiled and delusional children in this country.
It may not be perfect but it’s a heap better than virtually anywhere else.

Your right, we don’t know how lucky we are mate, not everyone shares your M.Bovis view though.
https://www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/94166/dairy-report-perceptions-who...

Here's some food for thought
If you search on youtube for "Lake Garda 2021", or "Berlin 2021" then you'll see what life is currently like in Europe. Lake Garda in Italy for example -> https://youtu.be/PRY43ff14Rg
Or look at https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps to see the very low death rate in Europe.

JL- I think if you dig into it the taxpayer spend on M bovis has been nowhere near $1bn. Remember too that a proportion of compensation money comes from a dairy industry levy ie farmers' own money. Remember too that m.bovis is a problem that the rest of the world lives with, and as such would not in any way affect our market access. And remember that the incursion of m.bovis, like psa was a failure of border security - something that a taxpayer funded government department was supposedly there to protect us from. This farmer is not in denial of climate change, but he is very much opposed to farmers being asked to carry a disproportionate share of the burden. Christchurch City Council voted for a " climate emergency"; today they voted to build a $450m, 25000 seat covered stadium. Do they not connect the dots? Do they not realise that the events which will be necessary to make this stadium viable will themselves be major contributors to green house gas emissions. If global warming is the problem many say it is then we should all approach it on a "war footing ", the best model for which is how daily life was managed in Britain during WW2 - no major sports events, no race meetings, petrol rationing and much more. Our present administration knows that it cannot impose the likes of that on the public who would not accept it, so it seeks out a soft target which it then demonises in the public perception and attempts to make that target bear the brunt of its crusade.

I agree if we are serious we need to be serious but governments are constrained by voters. I personally don’t believe farming is being singled out. Everyone is being asked, and charged, now through the ETS. Farming is the only one not being asked for a full inclusion and have the chance to do something outside it with them involved. I do work with officials and they do not have a vendetta against farming, far from it. This issue is being faced around the world and looking at what the Australian beef industry is doing, UK as well etc they are working hard to make change and turn it into a market advantage. I see it here as well with meat companies SFF, Blue Sky and Fonterra, synlait etc all making changes that are market driven. Many farmers here can’t seem to join the dots as it’s CUSTOMERS driving this change - not governments. I also see this in the investment companies I know/work with offshore. The transformation in carbon, environment requirements has been astounding in the last 2 years. Basically if you don’t take this seriously and address it you are doomed, or sacked as I have seen a few senior people go because they don’t see it - I don’t say that lightly having worked with these funds for over 30 plus years - Dismiss it at your peril - it’s hard and challenging but there is no choice - if you get your mind around it you can be very profitable but things will be different to the past.

JL i agree with all that you have said. However I have some difficulty accepting that farmers have to change ( I believe they do ) when I see Christchurch CC doing what it has done with respect to its stadium plans, and also the proposed Tarras airport. The government is a 25% shareholder in Christchurch airport, so it looks to me very much a case of " do as I say, not as I do".

I don't disagree with you. We have to remember farming wont do anything until 2025. The ETS is in play and by then we could see a price well north of $50. This will push up costs of any carbon emitting product and will/should make people look at other options. If we let the market go with a cap on emissions the costs of carbon intensive projects will start to stop them. Everyone would then feel the pain and have to make choices. We are seeing this in coal - all users are already being priced out of business and changes are happening very fast. From what I read and hear 10% is doeable by 2030 for ag. Not easy and will require change. Farmers are not alone.

The M Bovis outbreak was greatly aggravated by the 70% of farmers who had refused to comply with NAIT so also a failure of farmers.