If we ever get around to having a royal commission into our handling of Covid, its findings will contain very little surprise. Perhaps the more important part is whether any of what it recommends gets implemented, or whether the real finding is about luck.
Any given country or state’s response to the pandemic came down almost solely to who happened to be running the country at the time.
This country was supremely unlucky.
We were stuck with a major party in a coalition that was really only running the place because the party that got 7 per cent was run by a bloke who didn’t like the other large party by way of an alternative.
The Prime Minister was accidental, having been thrust into the top job when the previous bloke uttered out loud just how unsuited to the job the polls appeared to be showing him to be.
The new leader improved the party’s standing, but only enough to come a distant second.
But with the help of the aggrieved leader of the minor party, next stop was government.
Part of the royal commission should involve some study into the hypnotic effect fear plays in voting patterns in pandemics, because there is no other possible rationale for Labour’s 2020 result, other than a mix of panic, madness and insanity.
The polls now prove that.
Beyond the opening stanza of closing the borders, this country’s Covid response has been found badly wanting at about every turn.
From last year’s shambolic rollout of PPE, testing kits, last winter’s flu jabs, to this year’s failure to present a vaccine until it was too late for Delta and too late for yet more lockdowns, there is little this government has got right, and certainly nothing I can name off the top of my head that saw them in front of the problem.
Saliva testing is as good an example as any.
The Roche Simpson report (there have been several) of last September implored the Government to roll out saliva testing as fast as possible. Fast forward last week, over a year later, and read for yourself the Auditor General’s report into the Ministry of Health’s awarding of the contract.
Saliva testing still isn’t rolled out to any great extent, despite the rest of the world seemingly having no real issues doing so.
But the eye-opener is the way the ministry went about doing business.
To say it is a scathing account is to underplay it.
It got nothing like the attention it should have, and I shook my head this week when I talked to Grant Robertson about it, and who dismissed the report in the sort of way you get in countries where shonky operating goes on all the time and any negative spotlight is of no real importance.
You can mount the same argument over the director general of health’s response to the court case brought by Māori health authorities over vaccine status.
While we’re on the courts, the fact Murray Bolton won is further proof that this Covid house had no foundations and all you needed was the wherewithal to get a decent lawyer and you were on your way to your board meeting.
MIQ will of course be the most glaring of inconsistencies and poorly executed ideas.
The sheer misery inflicted on the hundreds of thousands who could not get back will be the darkest part of this government’s legacy.
The irony being even now, at in excess of 80 per cent of us fully jabbed, we still insist vaccinated people with negative tests sit in hotel rooms.
We can’t have a royal commission of course until we get through Christmas, a big part of the response, the borders both domestic and international have yet to play out, but they, like the rest of this mess, carry with them the same level of chaos and confusion.
Booking times to leave Auckland, a thought bubble or a real policy?
When is the bubble with Australia reconnecting? What’s the criteria?
Why is the vaccine app so slow? Why are the unvaccinated out shopping with the vaccinated as part of level 3 step 2 with no vaccine app?
You see the questions are still coming thick and fast, and we haven’t even covered the mandates with associated job losses, the economic damage of lockdowns, the billions of debt someone has to look at repaying.
And the increasingly large comparisons to be made with so much of the rest of the world who are doing things we can only dream of.
This won’t last forever of course, and when it’s over we will want it in the rearview mirror as fast as possible.
But these past two years, perhaps three, before it’s over, must be reviewed and documented, because the upheaval is like nothing any of us has seen.
And a lot of it didn’t have to be anywhere near as damaging as it has been.
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