The country is still stuttering along at lockdown 2 (or 2.5 in Auckland).
The government is borrowing every cent it’s spending.
The country, and the world is facing the worst economic crisis in decades and yesterday we got a contrast in priorities from National and Labour.
National launched a policy taking a health approach to the meth pandemic:
National has outlined an integrated and comprehensive plan to tackle the issues caused by methamphetamine use. Our Plan will deliver a response work programme, unifying resources from Justice, Health, Police and Customs.
National’s plan tackles the harm of methamphetamine use, restoring hope to people trapped in cycles of drug dependence and challenging those who peddle misery in our communities.
The use of this drug tears families apart, fuels violence, enriches criminals and destroys lives. We cannot tolerate the continued misery this drug causes, which leads to rising levels of violence and poverty, and widespread social harm.
Methamphetamine is the most commonly detected illicit drug nationwide. Social agencies identify it as a significant factor in domestic and family violence.
There is no single solution to what has become a scourge on our society. A National government will tackle this problem from all angles, addressing both demand and supply.
National Plan to tackle demand will:
- Deploy the Matrix Methamphetamine Treatment Pilot Programme across District Health Boards to provide direct support to those recovering from methamphetamine use.
- Add 13 detox bed for methamphetamine across New Zealand, ensuring every District Health Board has at least one.
- Ensure at least one methamphetamine specialist per District Health Board is available to assist with in-patient detoxing from methamphetamine.
- Establish a contestable fund of $50 million to pilot new or scaled-up whole-community harm reduction programmes.
- Establish best practices for frontline police to refer meth users to DHBs, Ministry of Social Development, education resources and community-based support.
National will reduce demand by improving the health response and providing treatment options that are not available today.
There must also be a strong response from our law and order agencies to disrupt those trying to bring meth into the country.
We will build capacity to interdict the international crime cartels that are bringing this problem to our shores. Good intelligence and international co-operation will be a priority under National.
There can be no tolerance for the dealing and supply of methamphetamine. Those who peddle this drug are responsible for the misery and social harm it causes.
National’s Plan to tackle supply will:
- Increase funding for drug intelligence to enable Customs, Police and health authorities to identify drugs coming into the country.
- Increase funding for Police and Health to identify new drugs and bad batches sooner.
- Introduce more drug dogs at airports and ports.
- Identify a new supply disruption strategy to reduce methamphetamine use in Corrections facilities.
- Target domestic organised crime networks with extra focus and resourcing from Police.
National has a strong track-record of fighting the meth scourge. The Methamphetamine Action Plan we introduced saw increased seizures of methamphetamine and a 59 per cent reduction in use as a proportion of the population, between 2009 and 2015.
Labour rescinded National’s refreshed Action Plan in 2018 in favour of an ad-hoc, piecemeal approach to drug harm.
We will re-establish the social investment approach across the justice system, making sure the impacts of crime are addressed, as well as the causes of it.
New Zealand needs a co-ordinated and effective response to the methamphetamine problem.
With this Plan, National will deliver one.
This is a positive policy that takes a health approach to addicts and a cross agency approach to the people who peddle the drug.
And what’s Labour’s priority?
New Zealand is in the biggest economic crisis in a generation and Labour’s answer to this is another public holiday, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“At a time when the economy is shrinking and we are losing jobs, it’s tone deaf for Labour’s second policy announcement to be an additional public holiday.
“More and more New Zealanders want to celebrate Matariki, but if it is to take the form of a public holiday it should replace an existing one.
I like the idea of a holiday to celebrate Matariki. Mid winter is a much better time for fireworks than GUy Fawkes (which isn’t a holiday) or New Year. But my support is for it to replace an existing one not as an extra one.
“Businesses up and down the country are under colossal pressure right now, they’re the ones who will have to pay for another public holiday.
“It’s a pity that Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern has shown zero empathy for the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling right now to keep their businesses afloat and employ Kiwis.
“A new public holiday won’t mean much to the tens of thousands of families who are now on the unemployment benefit.
“The absolute focus should be on saving jobs and creating new ones, but we’re not seeing that from Labour.”
The Taxpayers’ Union describes it as another tax on employers:
An additional public holiday is a blatant tax on employers, who will be forced to pay workers for a day off. It will also reduce overall productivity, which means a smaller economy and fewer jobs. An economic recession is the worst time to introduce this kind of regulatory tax.”
“If the intention is to acknowledge the cultural significance of Matariki, there’s an opportunity for a middle road: introduce the new holiday, but scrap Labour Day, an obsolete hangover from international Marxism that most New Zealanders just consider to be a day off.”
The concept of an International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day) began its spread after a resolution by the Marxist International Socialist Congress in Paris, 1889.
The EMA is unimpressed:
The EMA says the Government’s announcement today of an extra public holiday for Matariki from 2022 is unlikely to find favour with its business members.
Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says it will be seen as another cost to business and is unlikely to support increased tourism, which was the original argument for an extra public holiday during COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2.
Some tourism businesses already close on public holidays because any increase in customers doesn’t cover the extra cost of wages and time off in lieu for staff who work on those days.
Mr O’Riley says the Government priority should be focused on fixing the dysfunctional Holidays Act.
“We need to see a simplified and streamlined process for calculating entitlements and creating efficiencies for business.”
“We understand the cultural argument about Matariki being considered important enough for a public holiday, but it could have been exchanged with one of the other public holidays,” he says.
Heather du Plessis-Allan likes the idea but not the timing:
. . . Labour seem completely tone-deaf on this.
At a time when government should be reducing as many burdens on business as possible… they’re doing the opposite.
In this term alone they’ve increased maternity leave to 26 weeks, domestic abuse leave to two weeks, upped the minimum wage by 20 per cent, scrapped 90-day trials, regulated when employees must take breaks, are apparently considering doubling sick leave to two weeks and now this.
All in all that is a huge amount of regulation and cost added to businesses who are fighting for their survival right now.
It makes it slightly better than the policy is deferred to mid-2022. But, in truth, businesses will still be struggling then. ASB today projected it won’t enter recovery mode until 2023.
You have to wonder also at the priorities here. If this is the policy to kick off the campaign property you have to wonder whether Labour either doesn’t appreciate what’s headed our way or just knows it can get away with it while voters live in a fantasy land of sugar money propping up the economy.
This is a great idea, but it’s a great idea for another time. Right now, we have bigger problems than the need for another public holiday.
We already have four weeks’ annual leave and 11 statutory holidays.
If ever we could afford another day off it isn’t now.
The contrast between the two policies couldn’t be starker – National’s will tackle a very real problem, Labour ignores the problems we’re facing.