Barry Soper: Time will tell if Govt's dramatic Covid-19 moves are right

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 17 Mar 2020, 10:16AM
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

Barry Soper: Time will tell if Govt's dramatic Covid-19 moves are right

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 17 Mar 2020, 10:16AM

COMMENT:

There were a couple of things that were telling about what was the most dramatic announcement of any Government in living memory.

The first was the admission by the Prime Minister that she hadn't seen official economic advice for the two weeks preceding the announcement to effectively shut our lucrative tourism shop.

And the second was the delaying the time the border controls would come into effect, from midnight to 1am. That would indicate they hadn't checked the move out with the airlines, who no doubt told them there were a number of flights landing in the hour after midnight.

Given the dramatic effect the move would have on the country, you would have thought all bases would have been well and truly covered. Certainly the extent of the announcement took business and tourism leaders by surprise. They, of course, have a vested interest in how this will play out and they know that it can only result in one thing, disaster for them and the general economy in the short term, with hope that we will be healthy and be on the road to recovery in the longer term.

In the interim there'll be business failures and job losses, particularly in the tourism and hospitality industries.

Public gatherings are also being canned all over the place, even though the few cases here haven't been spread by community contact. The Government has now banned any gathering with 500 or more attendees and has indicated there'll be more to come on that front.

The argument about the rights and wrongs of the decisions is for another time. In fact it's only time that'll tell us whether the dramatic moves were the right ones.

Certainly our biggest bank, the ANZ, thinks it was the right one, figuring it'll front-load a massive economic blow, which we are about to experience, in order to lessen the odds of a much worse one. Still they believe there'll now be a deep economic recession.

Today the Beehive will apply the band aid to the open wounds of bleeding business, offering a tourniquet to those who can prove they've suffered a 30 per cent or more downturn in revenue as a direct result of coronavirus. There'll be other measures as well, in what Jacinda Ardern says will be the most significant announcement of her tenure in office.

With the election just over six months away, that's something of an understatement.

But what of the pretenders to the throne, National? Well their enthusiasm and insistence last week for the Government to get a move on and make some tough decisions has left them with their pants down. The border decision was more than they could ever have expected and they've been left gulping like goldfish.

And after the expected multibillion-dollar package today they are likely to be left floating, belly-up in the goldfish bowl, providing the Government's package is watertight.