Andrew Dickens: It's been a rough week - but I still have confidence in NZ

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Sun, 21 Jun 2020, 10:23AM
The Novotel where this whole thing started. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Dickens: It's been a rough week - but I still have confidence in NZ

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Sun, 21 Jun 2020, 10:23AM

What a disheartening and disappointing week that was, eh?

Particularly so after the crescendo which was the return of Super Rugby last weekend. The world seeing stadiums full of New Zealanders celebrating and revelling in our Covid 19 banishment and the return of normal life.  We were on a roll.  We were on fire.  We were leading the world.

But the balloon was quickly burst by the saga of the 2 Karens from the UK and their tiki tour of the North Island, full of virus that should have been tested for before they were released from their quarantine early.  Covid was back after taking a 24 day holiday.

Oh, how the world enjoyed that, particularly the Aussies. Our false pride deflated.

What followed next were tales of quarantine parties in hotels. There was mass mingling of quarantined residents, some at the end of their quarantine some at the beginning, worst practice scenarios.  Escapees.  Weddings held in quarantined virus hives of hotels without the bride’s knowledge.

Then the ignominy of gang associated family, let out of their 14-day isolation to go to a funeral of a relative, a 57-year-old who had been gangland-style executed. Who then violated the trust put in them by allowing a teen and an eight-year-old child to go walkabouts and not return to isolation. What part of that wasn’t completely predictable?

What a storm this all created.  People, who only weeks before criticised the government for being heartless for not allowing compassionate exemptions. People, who praised the judge who flew in the face of Ashley Bloomfield and granted the son of a judge a compassionate exemption. These people suddenly changed their tune, pivoted 180 degrees and screamed at the Director-General of Health, “Why on earth did you allow these compassionate exemptions?”

 

The Director General. Saint Ashley. Who then turned round and said he had no idea but apologised and said he'd tell the frontline off.

Random question. Have you ever seen the Minister of Health or the Director General touring the quarantine facilities to check they're up to standard? Or to tell the frontline off? It has happened but obviously not enough.

There were the rabid revenge seekers who demanded Ashley's head. Guy Body did a great cartoon of a statue of Saint Ashley being pulled to the ground by an angry mob.

Oh, it was ugly.

But it got worse. At the same time, a report came out highlighting how misguided and inefficient our entire health system is. A report that highlighted the ideological devolution into a million and one bureaucracies that started 20 years ago under Annette King and a Labour Government that means we have more middle managers that health staff.

It made the tales this week of how the head and the hands of our health system seem to have no idea of what each other need and demand from each other make total sense. In Ashley Bloomfield's hapless interview with Mike Hosking, I heard him plaintively cry, “We have a devolved system”.

Yes, we do. We have reaped what we sowed. You can buy as many flu vaccinations as you want but the local DHB will still lose them.

Next thing we know the GDP figures came out. Not as bad as Canada. Way worse than Australia. All unpleasant.

And then some feral shot a police officer dead. Just as phase two of our arms legislation came up. This was gutting. A 28-year-old from Orewa who sounds fantastic, who always wanted to be a cop. This story made me cry for the first time in a long time.

It was a bad week for aspirational world-leading New Zealand. A New Zealand that boasted to the world it was fighting gun crime and defeating viruses.

But amongst the ashes were embers of hope.

My boss told us that our company is doing better than expected. So much so that the voluntary pay reductions we all took will be reversed this week. A story I've heard a bit. The Recovery is better than expected – which means we're still in a horrid position but not as horrid as some say.

Then Grant Robertson told Mike Hosking on Friday that the applications for the wage subsidy extension are far far fewer than expected.  A situation which may save the country billions in debt.  Again the Recovery is better than expected.

These two snippets of news on Friday lifted my spirits.  And I thought that being swallowed up by criticism and negative thoughts is not helpful right now. In fact, it makes things worse. For instance, do you really think firing Stephen Kearney right now is going to do anything for the Warriors at all?

I’m angry at the cock-ups, obviously, but I still have confidence in the country.  We must learn from this week and get better. I'm sure we will.