OPINION: New Zealanders need hope rather than fear.
If anyone had any doubts that the ‘podium of truth’ is a political platform, the stunt the Prime Minister pulled on Thursday to presumably scare New Zealanders into compliance will have set them straight.
What we saw was a rushed, irresponsible, and disingenuous attempt at scaremongering New Zealanders around the dangers of opening NZ up through the presentation of Professor Hendy’s modelling.
Whilst it is good to see modelling presented which provides scenarios around what will happen once NZ does open up, the information presented must be robust and peer-reviewed to give New Zealanders confidence that it can be relied upon.
What we saw was something quite different.
The Prime Minister who has worked with a small group of selected experts throughout the pandemic and has been quick to dismiss alternative modelling, was more than happy to present Professor Hendy’s model without it being peer reviewed.
Experts and academics often disagree, that’s why peer-reviewing is an important part of developing theories or knowledge we can trust.
That Jacinda Ardern did not even socialise Professor Hendy’s modelling within her circle of expert advisors, it wasn’t peer-reviewed by other experts, and was not seen by non-Government-aligned thought leaders, indicates that she was willing to present as truth a narrative that suited her about New Zealand’s pathway out of this pandemic.
On the surface this looks like an attempt to motivate New Zealanders by fear, rather than hope as we come through this Delta outbreak.
Unprepared for this Delta outbreak, Jacinda Ardern appears to be losing control of the narrative.
New Zealanders are sick of lockdowns and restrictions and the Prime Minister has been scrambling this week to change her messaging and divert attention elsewhere.
In Parliament this week Labour launched attacks on Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins and National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop suggesting they are peddling misinformation and harming the vaccine roll-out, which couldn’t be further than the truth.
Any precursory glance at Collins’ and Bishop’s statements shows the opposite as both have been vocal proponents of vaccination and gone to great pains to support public health measures.
In fact, it has been the Labour Government, itself, which has left New Zealanders ill-prepared for this Delta outbreak. They showed no urgency with the vaccine rollout until they were caught unprepared for this latest outbreak. They ordered the vaccines too late, they botched the roll-out, and they told New Zealanders repeatedly that it wasn’t a race and that other countries needed it more.
Trying to use fear rather than hope to motivate the country into obedience is unacceptable.
It is a relief, however, to see how quickly many New Zealanders saw through the stage-managed performance at the ‘podium of truth’ yesterday with many New Zealanders seeing it for what it was.
New Zealanders want to know the truth and definitely don’t want more spin. Give us bad news if you must but there’s no need to exaggerate. We know how serious the situation is and we are mostly all doing our bit.
New Zealanders are not sheep to be shepherded around. The ‘Team of 5 Million’ that the Prime Minister often refers to are not part of some game. This lockdown has devastated lives. Cancer treatments and diagnoses have been delayed, mental health has deteriorated, business have closed, livelihoods have been lost, our immigration system has ground to a halt, and entire industries have been brought to their knees.
New Zealanders know the dangers of COVID, we know the importance of getting through this pandemic, but what we need from our Prime Minister is hope over fear, and a clear plan to open our country back up.
Written by National MP Simeon Brown
MP for Pakuranga
National Party spokesperson for Police, Corrections, Serious Fraud Office.