Distance proverbially lends enchantment to the view, but Dan Wooton, an ex-pat Kiwi, looking home from London is less than impressed:
. . . Many Kiwis have become so brainwashed by Ardern’s incessant spin – swallowed whole by a compliant liberal media – that they reacted with a mere shrug when her government at the weekend revealed citizens who are household contacts of anyone who tests positive for Covid will have to self-isolate for a whopping 24 days as part of her ‘stamp it out’ policy approach.
Has anyone in government stopped to think about the impact this would have on hospitals, schools, other workplaces and supply chains if – as is very unlikely – people actually did this?
After just nine confirmed Omicron cases, Ardern then plunged the entire country into red alert, a form of lockdown that bans large gatherings, enforces mask mandates, makes Covid passports compulsory if you want to live normally as part of a ‘two-tier society’, and reintroduces work from home orders.
Ardern even cancelled her long-planned wedding to TV star fiancé Clarke Gayford in the ultimate act of virtue signalling aimed at showing New Zealanders she’s going through the hell of lockdown too.
While most governments have tried to quell public panic over Omicron, given the proven mild nature of the variant, Ardern’s regime has done the opposite.
Once again the government has failed to prepare and instead is stoking panic.
Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard – an Ardern loyalist from the ruling Labour party – warned panicked citizens to prepare as if they were facing an ‘earthquake’ by stocking up on emergency supplies, which helped spark an inevitable run on toilet paper.
He also tweeted criticism of Wootton, contravening the convention that the Speaker doesn’t indulge in political point scoring.
Remember panic buying? While the rest of the world is finally waking up to the need to live with Covid long-term, New Zealand remains trapped in March 2020, with terror and paranoia enveloping a country that was once famous for producing hard men like Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, fearless rugby giant Jonah Lomu and bunjee jump inventor AJ Hackett.
Rather than preparing for the inevitable over the past two years, socialist Ardern is hamstrung by a creaking health system with less than 200 intensive care beds to service five million citizens.
Perversely, she has banned international doctors and nurses from travelling to New Zealand – even Kiwi ones wanting to return home to work – meaning there are chronic staff and resource shortages.
The health system was ailing before the pandemic. The government’s failure to allow health professionals already here to stay, and to fast track immigration for others overseas has exacerbated it.
It’s not just hospitals that are understaffed., rest homes have empty beds because they can’t employ enough carers and nurses.
And while Ardern will never admit it publicly, she’s gripped with the terror that her decision to pursue a Zero Covid policy long-term is unravelling.
New Zealand has virtually no natural immunity, making the country far more vulnerable to Omicron than other countries.
Meanwhile, Kiwis have bought into Ardern’s message that eliminating the virus is not only desirable but possible.
Even a 90 per cent vaccinated country is not enough to reassure most Kiwis who have been manipulated by Ardern into believing that Covid is some sort of black plague that leaders like Boris Johnson have allowed to run rampant, to hell with the consequences.
Illness and deaths from Covid-19 have been much worse in most other countries, but at least some of the credit for the low toll here was down to our isolation and luck rather than good management.
Finally, the world is waking up to the insanity of the New Zealand approach as Ardern’s policies become increasingly draconian.
Keeping passport holders like me out of the country is also illegal, given the country’s Immigration Act guarantees that ‘every New Zealand citizen has, by virtue of his or her citizenship, the right to enter and be in New Zealand at any time’.
Instead, Ardern has instituted a sick Squid Game-like national lottery that dictates whether we can return home at all. . .
Grounded Kiwis’ legal challenge has been delayed but Kiwiblog has the story of the family who managed to stay in Auckland after arriving in transit, and the opinion of two lawyers who confirm New Zealanders have the right to come home at any time.
What’s most sickening is that to keep locals happy, foreign DJs, musicians, performers, sportspeople and film stars have been allowed in to continue with the veneer of life as normal.
Miraculously, the Kiwi superstar singer Lorde was able to win one of the spots in Ardern’s Squid Game lottery (my poor mum didn’t), which meant she was able to return to the country just in time to perform at Ardern’s now-cancelled summer wedding spectacular. Forgive me for being cynical about whether the lottery is fair.
The Herald had a story correcting social media claims Lorde had skipped MIQ. But it ignored the question of whether or not she got a priority spot. It is possible she struck it lucky in the MIQueue lottery when 10s of thousands of others have not, but if that’s the case, why wasn’t that part of the story?
Meanwhile, a lobby group called Grounded Kiwis has crowd-funded to sue the government, while stranded citizens are now considering using sail boats from Australia as the only means to return to the country with all flights cancelled.
Many New Zealanders will think I’m deeply disloyal for writing this column.
Some will troll me on social media, just as they have attacked helpless Kiwis overseas throughout this pandemic. We chose to live out of the country, after all, they say. Or, if you’re to believe many calls to local talk radio, we’re ‘sewer rats’ intending to infect healthy Kiwis with the dreaded ‘rona.
The local media used to cover my every achievement like a proud distant relative. They revelled in the fact I broke the bombshell story of Megxit in my parent’s living room in Wellington over Christmas in 2019, the last time I was able to return to my birthplace.
But since I have been critical of Ardern’s cruel Covid policies, if I am referenced in the media at all, it is as a ‘foreigner’.
Instead of addressing the message, they criticise the messenger.
Any criticism of Ardern and her policies is taken as a direct attack on New Zealand itself.
Civil resistance and protests are strong and common, but all dissenters are either ignored in the largely pro-Ardern media or portrayed as mad anti-vaxxers.
There is no perspective; no analysis of the data or the economic consequences of her decisions; only hysteria that Ardern has tapped into as some sort of smirking soothsayer. . .
Rumours abound that Ardern hopes to let the border closures go on as long as possible because if she manages to keep Kiwis out of the country for over three years they will be unable to vote in the next general election, where they are widely expected to try and boot her from office.
Throughout the Covid crisis Ardern has attempted to bring New Zealanders together using the hackneyed phrase, ‘We’re a team of five million.’
She is factually wrong, however, because there are six million Kiwis across the globe.
A million of them have been effectively banned from their own country for over two years – and we’re never going to forget it.
The time has come for the international media to stop presenting Ardern as a Covid hero.
Her policies have been nothing short of wicked for Kiwis trapped overseas and her country now provides proof that the isolationism of Zero Covid is downright dangerous.
Our media has delighted in stories of overseas praise for Ardern from people who are famous for being well-known, and quelle surprise, yesterday when Wootton’s opinion piece was covered, there was another one from a fan.
Distance is leading enchantment to some views, it won’t nearly as rosy for those desperate to return home, a policy that makes New Zealand stand out in the world for a very wrong reason.
Not all of us here are following the pro-Ardern party line. We are worried about not just the lack of preparedness for the Omicron variant, the control freakery that stopped us trying to look after ourselves with rapid antigen tests, and its heartless disregard for citizens stuck overseas, but other problems of the government’s making or on which it has made no progress too.
In no particular order that includes inflation which is predicted to reach the highest level in 30 years, ridiculously high house prices, the lack of action on the appalling rate of child abuse, the $50m plus wasted on the bike bridge to nowhere. . .
Then there’s the time and money being wasted on changes to the health system instead of addressing much-needed improvements to services and the three waters debacle, both of which are made worse by the government’s racist agenda which is creating two types of citizenship where some are a lot more equal than others.
Those praising as they view from afar, are seeing what the government is happy for them to see. Others, like Wootton, and at least some of us here, haven’t bought into the enchantment and have very real concerns about the state of our nation and its abandonment of citizens abroad.