Andrew Dickens: It's time Ardern stopped fronting the Covid battle

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Mar 2021, 12:24PM
Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Dickens: It's time Ardern stopped fronting the Covid battle

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Mar 2021, 12:24PM

Let’s try this again - take two on 2021 - because we screwed the first take up. 

I had high hopes for 2021.  Particularly when the first three day lockdown had the ambition of being a short sharp surgical shock.   

I was hoping that the systems and procedures had been sharpened over the previous year to a point where bringing the economy to a screeching halt was unnecessary 

I was thinking that this was the start of a new normal.  A lockdown that honed in on the viral outbreak like a laser guided missile, quickly identifying those infected and isolating them, cutting any spread before it happened. 

But I was wrong. We missed three viral vectors. Three people who through either ignorance or disobedience allowed the chance of the virus spreading to a wider community. 

Faced with learning on a Saturday afternoon that an infected person had been at the gym, the authorities panicked that the gym goers were heading out for a Saturday night to super spread Covid.  So the entire country was punished. 

I felt for everyone.  But it was deeply sad for the sports fans and art deco festival goers and all the ancillary business outside of Auckland that were closed even though the chances of inter region spread seemed negligible. 

So here we are back at the beginning and time for a Take Two on 2021. 

Here’s what I hoped I learnt.  

Firstly, the Covid App does work but only if the population uses it. It was the Covid App that alerted the authorities that case M had been to the gym and MIT within minutes of discovering he was positive. Without it would we have known.  Honestly, if you hate lockdowns, use the app. 

But the Covid app missed the walking ladies and the lodger.  Flat out fibs to contact tracers can’t be tolerated. It is an argument for an amnesty if contact tracing unveils dodgy behaviour. If people aren’t afraid of consequences they will tell the truth.  One undisclosed tenant is not worth a nationwide lockdown. 

I’ve learnt that this government is exhausted and holding the Covid card too tight to it’s chest. Too often we’re told things are tickety-boo when they’re not. Now we find vaccine press releases branded with Labour Party branding when this is not a political issue. This is no longer an emergency.  It’s becoming even more political than it’s already been. 

And I’ve come to the view that it’s time for the Prime Minister to step aside from fronting the Covid battle. There are too many other issues that are being put on a back burner that we will pay for for generations.  Whether it’s housing, child poverty or infrastructure.  The PM needs to get back to knitting.  

Watching Kiri Allan fronting the tsunami press conference I realised how the Prime Minister has hogged the issue.  When asked for science advice, Allan deferred to a scientist.  When asked about Civil Defence decisions, Allan deferred to Roger Ball.  It looked so easy 

The Prime Minister likes to think she has all the answers on Covid.  She does not and it’s becoming increasingly obvious.   

It’s been a long haul.  Time to delegate and move onto the next stage. So let’s go - 2021, Take Two.