Day by day it’s looking more like New Zealand’s low incidence of Covid-19 owes a lot more to good luck than good management and when you look at the government’s record, that’s no surprise.
It’s been very good at making announcements but woefully inadequate in making a positive difference.
One of their flagship policies was Kiwibuild.
David Farrar has a graph updating progress on that – at the end of April they’d built 395 of the 5,167 they’d promised by then – that’s just 0.4%.
Another goal was reducing child poverty. It hasn’t declined – even before the economy got flattened by the harsher than necessary lockdown, there was no measurable improvement in most indicators and some had got worse.
In spite, or is it because?, of Labour holding all the Maori seats, tangata whenua are still over represented in negative statistics and under represented in the positive ones.
To give just one example, not only is there little if any progress in most areas, Maori mental health and addiction services are going backwards.
Mental health and addiction services have got worse for Māori since work began to overhaul the system nearly two years ago and serious gaps remain for young mums and those in forensic units, according to a new report from the mental health commissioner, Kevin Allan. . .
This is just one of myriad failings in the health system including delays in elective surgery.
The government has also had some strange priorities, such as budgeting more for racing than Pharmac :
It is a damning indictment of the Government’s priorities that the racing industry is getting more additional funding in Budget 2020 than Pharmac, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says
“On Sunday the Government gave Pharmac an extra $10 million for the next financial year, today we learnt that Winston Peters is giving racing multiple times that. . .
This follows the earlier money given to good looking horses.
That was just one of the large lollies New Zealand First managed the grab from the tax treat jar. Even bigger is the Provincial Growth Fund, the latest news of which is the $6.2 million spent on the railway line used by only three trains.
Apropos of wasting money, there’s the scandalous overspending on parliament’s playground:
Parliament’s new playground is a monument to extravagance and waste with revelations it cost $572,000 and went 43 per cent over budget, National’s State Services spokesperson Nick Smith says.
“Spending $242,000 on a slide is scandalous. The $180,000 on consultants is equally outrageous. The civil works involved minimal earth moving, yet came to an excessive $171,000.
We build three-bedroom houses clad in Oamaru stone with a garage, floor coverings including wool carpet, curtains, oven and heat pump for dairy staff for not much more than the slide.
“I built my own children’s playground in Nelson with a playhouse, slide, two swings and a climbing frame for $5000, or one hundredth of the cost. There are good quality playgrounds built all around New Zealand for $50,000 or a tenth of the cost.
“This half a million dollar extravagance on Parliament grounds is an insult to the thousands of playcentres, kindergartens, schools and other children’s organisations that scrimp and save for playgrounds across the country.
“The playground was opened by the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House on International Children’s Day last year. At the time the Prime Minister said having a playground sent a message about the Government’s focus on children’s wellbeing.
“But this was just another hollow statement. By the most important measures, poverty in our communities has got worse since the change of Government three years ago. According to the Government’s own data around 20,000 more children are living in poverty.
“Parliament’s playground was all about politics and a photo opportunity to show a child friendly Government, but it has backfired, exposing a culture of extravagance and waste. It contradicts the Government’s pledge to reduce waste on consultants when consultants have milked $180,000 from the small playground.
“Spending $500,000 on a small playground on Parliament grounds is not going to lift children out of poverty. It exposes the shallowness of expensive photo opportunities over the real work required to lift children’s wellbeing in New Zealand.”
This is a very serious symptom of a government that values the quantity of spend rather than the quality; that talks big and acts small and day by day is looking less and less competent.
If it can’t even manage to build a slide to budget, it’s no wonder it’s making so many mistakes in managing incoming passengers to keep us all safe from Covid-19.