Jason Walls: Forget the vaccination carrot and stick – Ardern needs to bring out buckets of cash and a sword

Author
Jason Walls,
Publish Date
Sun, 3 Oct 2021, 3:59PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Jason Walls: Forget the vaccination carrot and stick – Ardern needs to bring out buckets of cash and a sword

Author
Jason Walls,
Publish Date
Sun, 3 Oct 2021, 3:59PM

The Prime Minister’s given her strongest warning to Kiwis to date: Get vaccinated or face yet another lockdown.

The two new, unlinked to the Auckland outbreak, Waikato cases have jolted the rest of the country out of their level 2 slumber.

Top ministers today scrambled to attend a last-minute Cabinet meeting while Jacinda Ardern’s team of advisors and writers got to work on her speech – a speech which was sent to media mere moments after she finished it.

The message was clear – parts of the Waikato were going to level 3 because their vaccination rate was too low.

“Get vaccinated today if you want to avoid level three in your community,” Ardern warned the potentially millions of people watching today.

She went one step further when questioned, saying if Waikato was at around 90 per cent, Cabinet wouldn’t have needed to bring the region back into lockdown.

During the roughly 40-minute press conference, Ardern repeated the call to vaccination numerous times – as she’s been doing for months.

But there’s a problem; vaccination rates are stalling. The number of daily first doses is falling.

The low-hanging fruit has been plucked – most of the people who had no issues being vaccinated, have at least had their first dose.

It’s time the Government started seriously turning its attention to the remaining 21 per cent of those yet to get the jab.

A carrot and stick approach is needed. Scratch that – a bucket of cash and a large sword approach is needed.

Ardern and her ministers have hummed and harred about how they can get the vaccination level up for months.

First, incentives were off the table. Then, they were looking into them. Then, they were actively encouraging iwi and community providers who were offering incentives to get the jab.

It’s time for some solid leadership. The Government needs to find out what will move the dial for the remaining 21 per cent, and give it to them if they get vaccinated.

It doesn’t matter if it’s money, sports tickets, food vouchers or tax rebates.

Lockdowns cost billions of dollars and Covid kills – the Government needs to invest money into incentives now before it’s too late.

And now to the stick. Again, this is an area where the Government’s been frustratingly noncommittal.

Ardern won’t explicitly say if the unvaccinated should lose the privileges we all enjoy if they continue to hold out.

It’s time she told the nation that if you don’t have your vaccination – you lose some of your rights. End of story.

If you don’t have the Pfizer jab – say goodbye to attending All Blacks games. Or any sports games for that matter.

Got a weekend trip to Bunnings planned? Not if you haven’t got the vaccine.

We simply cannot gamble with the safety of everyone else anymore – not when the Prime Minister has so explicitly said the cost of not being vaccinated is lockdown.  

In addition to this, it’s high time the Government starts coming down hard on rule breakers.

It’s simply not good enough for Ardern to say Brian Tamaki’s illegal protest is an “operational matter for the Police”.

The fact this dangerous false prophet was able to speak openly about protesting and whip up fear among his legions is shocking.

The fact he was able to actually carry out his plans is nothing short of a national disgrace.

Ardern indicated it’s not over for Tamaki and he could still face arrest.

But that’s not going to stop the fact that thousands of people still gathered in public when Covid cases, many unlinked, are still in the community.

As it should be with rule-breaking gangs – Tamaki needs to be punished.

Ardern says tomorrow, she’ll be outlining the “roadmap for Auckland”.

For all our sakes, that roadmap better outline a strong, decisive plan to get a needle into the arms of the remaining 21 per cent at whatever cost.