Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern wants the politics taken out of the Covid-19 response:
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for politics to be taken out of the Government’s COVID-19 response as Opposition leader Judith Collins grilled her on the lack of testing of border workers.
The Prime Minister acknowledged in Parliament on Tuesday that the Opposition has contributed to constructive criticism of the Government’s response, paying tribute to National’s health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.
“I have to concede that in my view that at these times I absolutely expect as a Government we should be held to account. That is why we are here,” Ardern said. . .
That criticism has included valid questions over shortcomings which have put Auckland in level 3 lockdown and the rest of the country at level 2.
But the Prime Minister hit out at the Opposition over criticism of the Government’s testing regime and previous calls to ease lockdown restrictions.
When the testing regime hasn’t even met the government’s own expectations it is absolutely in order for the Opposition to question it. It is also valid to ask for an easing of lockdown restrictions so that exceptions are based on what can be done safely rather than the arbitrary definition of what’s essential.
“There are areas where I think it would be useful if we took the politics out of the response.”
That might have more sway had she not declared this will be a Covid election which put politics firmly into anything to do with the response.
“We have always prepared for this scenario because no one has managed to get themselves to a situation where they haven’t experienced a second wave – no one.”
If not testing all frontline workers, having so few testing stations people have to queue for hours, and forcing essential workers to queue for hours to get out of Auckland is being prepared they need to seriously reassess what is adequate preparation.
Even if she hadn’t said it was a Covid election and that they were prepared, the Opposition should be questioning the Government’s handling of the response which, as Kate Hawkesby points out has shown a marked lack of competence:
If we’re weighing up competence, what’s our most recent example of it? The border. The testing, the lack of testing, the failure to check things are being done that they say are being done.
That sheets back to the lack of commercial and private business experience in this Government. It is not used to the measures, checks and balances that a robust business in the private sector would have in place. It is not used to demanding higher standards, or running things efficiently.
Health Minister Chris HIpkins has followed his predecessor’s example of blaming the DG of Health.
Hipkins may have some grounds for that but not sufficient to excuse his own failure to check that what the government had requested to happen was happening, especially when there had been similar failings so recently.
If, as the government has told us, this is the new normal, they need to urgently address their preparation for, and ability to cope with, it and to accept that the Opposition’s criticism, political or not, is valid.