The shift to Alert Level 3 this evening for Auckland will come as welcome news for many Aucklanders, their families, and the businesses who have endured the longest Level 4 period since the pandemic began.
This lockdown was avoidable. Judith Collins and Chris Bishop quizzed the government on this today – Labour's negligence in overseeing the slowest vaccine roll-out in the developed world meant we had no choice to enter Level 4 back in August. Just 20% of the country was doubly vaccinated on August 7. The government has even made a virtue out of being slow to vaccinate people!
To avoid future punitive lockdowns, it is critical that as many New Zealanders are vaccinated as possible. If you or a member of your family haven't booked a vaccine appointment yet, you can do so online here.
Parliament is back, and we’re focused on holding the Government to account for their policies, decisions, and highlighting how they will affect the lives of everyday Kiwis.
Catch up on the latest in politics with our Week in Review below.
→ MIQ lobby debut a depressing debacle
→ Shaw to have 14 staff in Glasgow for climate talks
→ Robertson tops up Covid slush fund with borrowed money, inflation running high
→ Wage subsidy problems must be sorted
→ Concerning NZ left out of AUKUS discussions
MIQ lobby debut a depressing debacle
The virtual lobby system used for the first time this week solves nothing and has just created even more angst amongst the thousands of Kiwis trying to come home. What is needed is a prioritisation system based on points, as proposed by the National Party.
When we have a health workforce shortage, why do we treat nurses and doctors the same as other occupations when granting space? It doesn’t make sense.
Let’s be clear – there are many good reasons for people to want to come to New Zealand through MIQ, but we need to be realistic. National believes a fairer way to allocate MIQ spots is a priority system based on points, similar to the way in which skilled migrants are assessed for eligibility for entry to New Zealand.
Chris Hipkins has argued that this would be too complex, but it doesn’t have to be. He should task his officials with getting on with it and implement it for the next round of MIQ room bookings.
Of course, the ultimate goal is for double vaccinated travellers to not have to enter MIQ at all. To get there we need to vaccinate as many people as possible and it’s yet another reason why the government’s failure on this matters.
You can read more from Chris Bishop here.
Shaw to have 14 staff in Glasgow for climate talks
If James Shaw was giving consolation gifts to Kiwis desperately trying to get home this Christmas, he’d likely give them a lump of coal, having confirmed he plans to take 14 staff with him to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.
The staffers going comprise a climate change ambassador, legal, policy and special advisers, as well as his private secretary and even an ‘events and logistics specialist’.
At a time when thousands of Kiwis are unable to get into New Zealand thanks to our chaotic and unfair MIQ system, James Shaw feels he needs an even bigger entourage this time around than the one he took to COP25 in 2019.
Today, the Prime Minister also said she would use her powers to give James Shaw and his entourage 10 rooms in MIQ. This is in stark contrast to what he said this morning – that he was ‘waiting for a spot’ and he was ‘about 15,000’ in the queue.
We have heard countless stories of New Zealanders wanting to come home but who are locked out because they can’t get MIQ spots. The Prime Minister preaches kindness for Kiwis, yet there’s a double standard when it’s one of her Ministers wanting to travel overseas.
You can read more from Stuart Smith here and here.
Robertson tops up Covid slush fund with borrowed money, inflation running high
Grant Robertson’s top-up of the misused Covid Response and Recovery Fund gives him carte-blanche to splash more borrowed money between Budgets. The additional $7 billion rivals what would normally be two Budgets’ worth of new operating spending.
The wage subsidy and resurgence support schemes are vital, but $12 billion of the Covid fund to date has been frittered away on projects with little or no connection to our recovery from Covid.
The Government views the recovery fund as a refillable pot of money to keep on spending, oblivious to the fact this is borrowed money that generations of taxpayers will have to repay.
GDP figures to June released last week also show that while 5.1 per cent annual growth is strong, it’s important to remember the thief in our wallets, inflation, is also running at 3.3 per cent.
The risk is that Labour’s debt-fuelled recovery continues to push up inflation, increasing the cost of living for Kiwi households and putting pressure on the Reserve Bank to increase mortgage rates.
You can read more from Michael Woodhouse here and Andrew Bayly here.
Wage subsidy problems must be sorted
Further reports of confusion about whether businesses are entitled to the wage-subsidy at alert level two shows the Government must urgently improve the scheme.
On the one hand, Labour MP Ginny Anderson made a public broadcast in Parliament last week to say all businesses in regions at Alert Level 2 were eligible to receive the wage subsidy.
Whereas Finance Minister Grant Robertson has clearly caught some businesses unaware by stating the revenue drop has to be directly connected to Auckland being at Level 3 or 4. National has also received reports of Government departments providing different advice on this issue.
This is yet another botch up about the wage subsidy scheme at a time when Kiwi businesses and their employees are under stress. The fact that even Labour MPs cannot communicate full and accurate information about the wage subsidy scheme shows they had not prepared properly for another outbreak of Covid-19.
Grant Robertson and Carmel Sepuloni are still to respond to a letter requesting the deadline for the first round of wage subsidies to be extended. People should not miss out on wages because of this Government’s incompetence, the least the Government can do is show some leniency.
You can read more from Louise Upston here.
Concerning NZ left out of AUKUS discussions
News that the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have formed a partnership without New Zealand is concerning and leaves many questions for Labour to answer.
It would seem Labour appears to have been unable to participate in discussions for ‘AUKUS’ and it raises serious concerns about the interoperability of New Zealand’s defence force systems with our traditional allies in the future.
New Zealand is not interested in the nuclear side of the new partnership, but the deeper integration of technology, artificial intelligence and information sharing as well as security and defence-related science, industrial bases and supply chains are areas we would traditionally be involved in.
We could have been carved out of the nuclear aspect of the partnership. The concern is now that we could be missing out on important intelligence and cyber-security discussions.
The Government needs to explain why it looks as though New Zealand has been left out of the loop.
You can read more from Judith Collins and Gerry Brownlee here.
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