ZB

Kate Hawkesby: Promoting division among people is the most 'unkind' thing a govt can do

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Feb 2022, 8:07am
Children sitting on concrete barricades on the forecourt during day 14 of the Covid-19 convoy protest and occupation at Parliament, Wellington. 21 February, 2022. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
Children sitting on concrete barricades on the forecourt during day 14 of the Covid-19 convoy protest and occupation at Parliament, Wellington. 21 February, 2022. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Kate Hawkesby: Promoting division among people is the most 'unkind' thing a govt can do

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Feb 2022, 8:07am

I know lots of people are over the protest, and I feel a bit that way too, and I know that’s easy to say if you're not sitting in the same city as it. Even those in Wellington, just not near the CBD, say they’re sick of it as well.  

But then there are those at the epicentre who say it’s horrific, don’t underestimate the gruesome time we’re having. The students who can’t catch the bus, the law students who can’t get on campus, the local businesses being punished, the commuters held up. 

But for those of us for whom it's out of sight, it's out of mind. If it doesn’t affect you, do you really care? And many don’t care. 

But a lot still do. 

I got texts yesterday from people analysing the politics in all this. Rating Seymour for at least having a view, and asking where the invisible PM's been and also, where the leader of the opposition's been too. 

He finally came out of the woodwork yesterday, arguing that the Government needs to address three key issues.  

He says a response from the Government is required, that they must have a plan for phasing out vaccine mandates – which Jacinda sort of did and didn't address yesterday - she alluded to it happening at some point, but I wouldn't set my watch by it. 

Luxon also argued that the Government has to make Rapid Antigen Tests available to everybody, allow Kiwis to purchase them and to take responsibility for their own health. I said this yesterday too – it’s a travesty the Government hasn’t been organised on this front, they’ve had the benefit of seeing how this has unfolded overseas, and they just did not get ready – even with all the lead up time. Thirdly, Luxon argued the Government needs to say when it’s going to move from emergency restrictions to a risk management approach.  

He points out it’s naïve – and I’d argue convenient - for the Government and its supporters to argue that ‘now’s not the time’ for these discussions. Since when has forward planning and thinking ahead not been valuable? Luxon points out too much of the debate is now characterized by fear and division – for or against us. And that’s top down too I reckon. The PM dismissing people and name calling or ‘punching down’ as she’s accused of, sets a tone. It speaks to a "them and us" camp - and for someone so hellbent on a 'team' narrative, that seems hypocritical of her.  

I just don’t think it’s black and white anymore. Pushing the division narrative of those who buy into her strategy - good, those who don't - bad is about the most ‘unkind’ thing you can do - alongside their current Trump-inspired idea of building a wall.  

But the tribalism on each side is so entrenched now, the same as the fear messaging promulgated by this Government, it’s really hard to turn that all around when you’ve taken such a defiant stance.  

It shows a lack of willingness to evolve, to grow, to shift. This is why David Seymour gets points on the board, for at least showing a preparedness to move with the times, to flex, rather than just sticking heads in the sand and saying, “now’s not the time."