Heather du Plessis-Allan: We need to consider delaying the election

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Aug 2020, 4:43PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: We need to consider delaying the election

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Aug 2020, 4:43PM

It’s starting to look increasingly likely that we are going to have to delay the election. 

This hangs entirely on what happens on Friday.  If we have ANY extension of the lockdown restrictions beyond Friday whatsoever, then the election has got to be delayed. 

I’m not a fan of delaying the election, by the way. I argued against it on the show earlier this year, mainly because I worry about the effect on democracy. But quite frankly, there is a point at which holding the election may be more damaging to democracy than delaying it. 

If we hold an election while we are living under restrictions, even under level 2, we can’t have campaign launches and town hall meeting and, the further up the restriction levels you go, can’t even meet the candidates.  

Already, the National Party has cancelled its campaign launch on Sunday.  Already we are seeing the democratic impact of these restrictions. 

As long as we are under restrictions, there will be very little space for anything other any Covid.  We in the media will be, quite rightly, flat tack bringing you Covid updates and things you need to know: what the rules are, if you need to get tested, where you need to get tested, what restrictions you’re under. 

We’re not going to have the column inches and the radio and TV time to be able to talk about policy and contest ideas.  That’s not going to happen. Covid is going to drown everything else out. 

 

The government is obviously open to delaying the election. That’s at least part of the reason Parliament’s dissolution was delayed today. This brings us to the question, by how much do you delay it? 

 

Honestly, I think we need to seriously consider pushing it out to next year. At the moment, pundits are floating the idea of a November election, but that’s not going to solve the problem. 

 

Flare ups as we know are a possibility which means we can’t rule out further flare ups in the medium term. We can’t really rule it out next year, but perhaps by then the world has settled down a bit.  

 

Plus, we need our politicians right now to be focussed on nothing other than this response.  

 

We’ve already seen how distracting this election has been this year.  The government has dodged decisions, played things safe, prevaricated on risky subjects.  Politically, you can’t blame them.  It’s exactly what they should do if they want to win the election. 

 

So let’s take the election out of the equation.  We don’t need to add another two months to November of risk-averse governance at a time when the country needs bold and brave decision-making.  We don’t need a government with one eye on an election. 

 

We need them, right now, to make decisions in the best interests of this country, not in the best interests of their election strategy.