ACT Party leader David Seymour
ACT Party leader David Seymour - Credit Getty Images

Skills shortage in Labour cabinet - OPINION

Opinion 24/08/2020

Skills shortage in Labour Cabinet - This is an Op-ed written by David Seymour

OPINION: I feel a bit sorry for Jacinda Ardern. She’s dealing with a major skills shortage. The problem is it’s in her own Cabinet and unfortunately for New Zealanders it means her Ministers are making catastrophic mistakes.

We have a part-time Health Minister who’s allowed Covid-19 to breach the border. He can’t give enough attention to this crucial role because he’s also the Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, State Services and Leader of the House.

He’s only in the job because the last guy was too busy mountain biking and moving to a new house to do his job properly.

The MIQ Minister is MIA. Megan Woods can’t give enough attention to the job because she’s still trying to clean up the mess Phil Twyford left behind in housing and run the Labour Party campaign. She's also in charge of two other portfolios.

The Prime Minister is the only one working full-time, but she has no one else to rely on.

Her Tourism Minister is on holiday and there just isn’t any other talent in her cabinet.

Where does the buck stop? We can’t afford to let Covid-19 back into our communities because of Labour’s incompetence.

The approach the Government should have been using has been under its nose the whole time. The Wellbeing Budget failed to change the substance of Government budgeting; it could enhance our response to Covid. It would allow us to count and weigh all the costs of Covid and our response to it.

Being Covid free is one dimension of wellbeing. We should also think about students and their life-defining exams, the mental health of small business owners, and non-Covid healthcare like missed cancer check-ups.

To make sure we cover all aspects of wellbeing, ACT is proposing:

  •  A multi-disciplinary Epidemic Response Unit, based on the Taiwanese model
  • Government as referee, not player: allow arrivals to isolate at alternative facilities and be electronically monitored, with strict punishment for rule-breakers
  • A risk-weighted response: treat different countries and travellers with different levels of caution
  • A technology-driven response: use innovations such as the Covid Card, ëlarm, rapid tests, temperature checks and thermal cameras
  • Continuous improvement: compare ourselves with the best and seek to strengthen our resistance.

If we want to enhance New Zealanders’ overall wellbeing, then we need to get a lot smarter. The steps above would make us more like Taiwan so that we can eat our cake and be safe from Covid, too. We just need a new Government with competent full-time Ministers to implement it.