Mike's Minute: Why hasn't the Government closed the borders?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2020, 10:40AM

Mike's Minute: Why hasn't the Government closed the borders?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2020, 10:40AM

As mad as it seems, the more we learn, the more it becomes apparent the answers are in fact clear and simple. Not unlike, wash your hands.

In a complex world washing your hands isn't interesting, new, or edgy, but its as applicable as it ever was. We just don’t necessarily want to know.

So simplicity in the answer is in this question, why isn't this country locked down? Now? Already?  

There are lots of other equally pertinent questions as well, like why didn’t we test earlier? Why didn't we know about the number of test kits we didn’t have?

But for right now, why isn't this country locked down? China has given us the answer. Not necessarily in a way we find comfortable. But the numbers don’t lie, they are largely out the other side by locking their country down. Europe is all the evidence you need as to what happens if you don’t act.

We seem in the midst of some bizarre, slowly unfolding series of decisions released in a cumbersome, lethargic, and needlessly ineffective way.

We have messages for New Zealanders to come home, messages to self-isolate, messages to practice social distancing, messages about large gatherings, that become smaller gatherings, that will inevitably lead to no gatherings.

All of this is unfolding, it's all going in the same direction , but it's just not happening fast enough. It's all heading to an obvious end point. Locking the country down, why are we waiting for whenever? When the call is the right one now?

The trouble, in part, is the government. They are useless at project management. The government can't do stuff, they talk about stuff, but they don’t do stuff.

We asked Monday whether you would feel differently if someone like Sir John Key was still in charge. The question is still applicable. If decisions were in the hands of proven project leaders would you feel better? And would stuff be happening faster?

The answer, if you need one, is yes.

Is an overreaction? What's the worst that can happen? You were wrong with an abundance of caution?

I doubt, in the fullness of time, with China and the various other success stories of this crisis show us, you will not be thanked for procrastinating. You stand a better chance of being thanked for appearing overeager.

The government faces the very real issue of people taking decisions into their own hands. It runs the risk of people thinking so little of their leadership they run their own programme.

The one thing the Prime Minister has done correctly is tell us not to panic. There is no need for panic, but there is an increasingly urgent need to act, and act decisively.

As we said earlier this week, this looks and feels like a government being led, not leading.

That needs to change now.