Kate Hawkesby: Our 'team of 5 million' is not working as a team

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Thu, 17 Sep 2020, 10:18AM
A large convoy congregated in Auckland for the tangihanga of a gang member, despite alert level 2 restrictions that prohibit more than 50 people attending. Photo / Peter Meecham

Kate Hawkesby: Our 'team of 5 million' is not working as a team

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Thu, 17 Sep 2020, 10:18AM

This ‘team of 5 million’ response to Covid, is reliant on us actually all working as a team, which just has not, or is not happening.

We had the gang funeral example yesterday, more than a hundred gathering for a Mongrel Mob tangihanga, Police doing nothing.

And of course rightly so that upset all the New Zealanders who have been abiding the rules – the very upsetting and heartbreaking rules a lot of the time, to observe correct protocols for funerals and tangihanga based on level restrictions.

So I made the point yesterday that it just undermines what the rest of us are doing when there are no consequences for it.

And we’ve seen other examples too, not just funerals.. people gathering for protests in large numbers, people flouting mask rules, those who sneakily fled the Auckland border through the airport to avoid a second lockdown.

There have been plenty of examples along the way, and now I see businessman Nick Mowbray from Zuru, is calling out businesses who’re not doing their bit to play ball and be a part of the team. Those who’ve taken the wage subsidy but don’t actually need it.

Worse still, those who took it and have announced profits, and have no intention of paying the money back.

$13.9 billion has been paid out in wage subsidies to pay struggling staff and keep struggling businesses afloat.

We all assumed, and rightly so, that this was for companies truly doing it tough, who would not or could not, survive without it.

But Mowbray says, and it’s a fair point which I doubt many could disagree with, if you took the subsidy, and you were profitable and now have a strong balance sheet or are able to pay dividends to shareholders, then don’t you have an obligation now to pay that subsidy back?

Should you be profiting from it? Surely not.

Surely there’s a moral obligation here?

Mowbray says it’s ‘unethical’.  And it is unethical that a lot of this money has in fact gone into ‘shareholders pockets’.

This is partially the fault of these ‘high trust models’ that this government is so keen on.

We saw how high trust didn’t really work with self isolation, we’ve seen how high trust hasn’t really worked with gatherings, tangihanga and funerals, the high trust model seems to go hand in hand with the ‘educational’ approach.

It all amounts to the same thing – no consequences.

I’m not advocating for some kind of police state by way of alternative, I’m just arguing that there needs to be some checks and balances around fairness, so that those of us who are playing ball within all the rules, those of us who are sacrificing so much, don’t end up getting penalised for it, or ripped off by all of those who aren’t.