These Protests Were Avoidable

When COVID first arrived in New Zealand we were experiencing the spread of an unknown virus that threatened health systems around the world.  The fact is the world had not seen a virus like this for more than a hundred years and we were not prepared for the cataclysmic outcomes we were told we could face. 

No one knew what we were dealing with, there was no vaccine, and the frightening predictions meant we had to act swiftly – and we did.  Our country responded the safest way we could by locking down with all of us making huge sacrifices in the face of the threat of unconscionable numbers of deaths.  We did the right thing, the only thing, we could have done.  This is proven by looking at the catastrophic results of inaction seen in some other western countries.  Remember, at that time we were the world leaders in ‘stamping out’ COVID and uniquely being free of the virus for nearly eight months. 

Then, on June 30th 2020, the Labour Minister of Health ignored advice and wasted six months when he was told by Pfizer a vaccine could be ready for New Zealand by December – but did nothing.  When the vaccine finally arrived well into 2021, after so many months of unnecessary delay, the eventual rollout went at a snail’s pace – particularly for Māori and Pasifika.  It was clear that Labour had failed to properly assess the threat of COVID entering through our borders, and totally failed in comprehending the danger of an inevitable arrival of a much more virulent strain.  But instead of action, what came was many more months of delays and obfuscations surrounding the lackadaisical approach to the access of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), the delay in ordering boosters, the dismal MIQ debacles, a frightening lack of ICU beds, treacle-like movement on self-isolation – to mention but a few examples.  The smugness and incompetence was palpable – but unsurprisingly seldom reported. 

Despite all of this, kiwis stuck to it to reach and vastly exceed that often promised 90% vaccination figure.  We were told that the goal was 90%, we would reach ‘herd immunity’, and then everything would change.  But the only thing that changed were the goal posts. 

We were told to get vaccinated once, then twice, and now three times – and we have done that.  So why still is Labour persisting with these crushing, inconsistent, and thoughtless mandates that only serve to attack kiwi’s freedoms, businesses, and livelihoods?

It is clear that Omicron is much more virulent but much less dangerous – this is a fact.  The so-called expert modelling has been so far off – to a factor of tens – that we have had enough.  Huge swaths of ordinary kiwis have already made their minds up - they will no longer scan, they will no longer test. 

The removal of freedoms and the forced compliance of a great number of kiwis, has served only to create a huge divide in our country.  It’s now them and us.  Whether Labour knew it would happen and took the risk anyway or whether they still just don’t accept it, the reality is that the often contradictory, inconsistent, and nonsensical nature of the mandates they have imposed are the sole cause of the protests we are now seeing.

Let’s be clear, the vast majority of those protesters are not violent anti-vaxers – they are pro-freedom.  They are ordinary fed-up kiwis like me and you.  New Zealand was built upon the sacrifices of our forebears who fought and died for the very freedoms these protesters are trying to hold on to.  It is any wonder there is a large number, a silent majority, of kiwis who have grown frustrated. 

There are many countries around the world that are starting to say that mandates are no longer justified – the reality is they are right.  The Prime Minister has been forced to say that it is only a matter of time before these mandates go.  It now seems that time will be when it suits the Labour party, not the people. The problem is for too many it will then be too late. 

The unavoidable fact is that if Labour was properly prepared, didn’t delay, exhibited a little less hubris, and didn’t show extreme inexcusable incompetence, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.