Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

Mike's Minute: We are still feeling the mistakes of Covid

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 2 Aug 2023, 9:44AM

Mike's Minute: We are still feeling the mistakes of Covid

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 2 Aug 2023, 9:44AM

One of the many mistakes made during the Covid days that I could never understand, is how it was that the wage subsidy was handed out with such astonishing abandon, with no real recourse should it not be needed.

The Ministry of Social Development has released a list of the top ten companies that have voluntarily paid back the money they got.

It totals about 25 percent of all the money handed out, around $200 million.

The word 'voluntary' is an important one. No one has to pay it back and in that is the glaring hole in the planning, or lack of it.

The Government, namely Grant Robertson, has always said that the first priority was to get the money out the door as fast as possible, which is true and fair. Jobs were at stake and no one knew how it was all going to unfold.

But how is it that, at no point, did anyone ask the very simple question - what if they don't need it?

What if it isn't as bad for some as we think? What if, in some cases, people actually do well?

These aren't complex questions.

Surely one of the basics anyone who knows anything about economics understands, is that in any given scenario someone is going to gain, as someone else falters.

Given that was as likely during Covid as it was at any other time, it can't have been that hard to work out that along with those who may be about to be hit, someone was going to be a winner.

If you are physically closed, online surely would carry on. These are simple ideas, are they not?

So, why wasn’t there a rider with the money? Something like "yes, we will help you cover wages, but you will need to pay it back if you be profitable or if you pay a dividend". Those are basic rules that cover the person footing the bill i.e, us.

Yet, they didn’t.

It turned into quite a moral argument in many international jurisdictions. A lot of heat, especially across the Tasman, was created by people, quite rightly, furious at the free money that got trousered, never to be seen again.

Here, the big recipients got tens of millions and it's good some of it is getting paid back.

But, it doesn’t have to be and it doesn’t have to be because the Government, yet again, never planned, never thought it through and never covered its bases protecting our money.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you