Heather du Plessis-Allan: Border poll shows we're not brave enough

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 Aug 2020, 3:52PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Border poll shows we're not brave enough

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 Aug 2020, 3:52PM

I am so disappointed by the sentiments in that Herald poll this morning, showing how many of us are scared of relaxing border restrictions. 

68 per cent of Kiwis surveyed say they want the border kept shut as tight as it is right now. 

Only 29 per cent are brave enough to even consider a slight relaxation. 

We’re not talking about opening the border. The question in this survey was about opening the border to “non-NZ residents and citizens.” 

The survey made it clear: nothing would change about the 2 week quarantine, and any foreigners would have to pay for their own quarantining. 

So all we’re talking about is relaxing who comes in, and yet the vast majority of us are too scared of even that. 

This is not who we are.  We are not a country of cowards.  We tell ourselves we are a country of brave people.  It was the bravery of Kiwi soldiers that won the battle at El Alamein.  We are the tiny country brave enough to stand up to the might of the US over the nuclear issue.  We are the country of Edmund Hillary, the first to climb Everest.   

When did we become so risk averse?  Again, I need to reiterate.  We’re not talking about opening the border.  We’re just talking about letting in more people, who will go straight into quarantine. 

I’m disappointed in the way we’re freaking out and abandoning rational thought.  But clearly this is how it is. 

In which case, now is the time for political leadership. If we the punters are not going to lead the public opinion, then we need to be led. 

We need political leaders to stand up and tell us what we need to do, tell us we will be safe if we do it, and tell us we don’t have to be scared. 

But there is none of that.  At least not from within the current crop. 

It’s only coming from past leaders: Sir John Key and Helen Clark are the only ones saying anything close to this – telling us we must deal with the border choke point - and demonstrating the political leadership we are not getting from within parliament. 

If anyone could do it – if anyone could assure the country that we are equipped to be a bit braver – you’d think it would be Jacinda Ardern, with all of her popularity, her ability to communicate, and the level of trust the public has in her to keep us safe. 

And yet, she isn’t brave enough either.  According to this poll, only 29 per cent of us are.