There is a better way

01/03/2021

You’ve got to feel sorry for Aucklanders.

Level 2 is bad enough for the rest of us with the impact on businesses and the uncertainty about public events and private functions.

How much worse if must be for Aucklanders at Level 3 – again.

It’s easy to say with hindsight, shifting the city out of Level 3 after only three days was a mistake.

There’s no point looking back to cast blame but we must learn from what’s gone wrong and look forward to how to do much better.

And National has a plan for that:

National is urging the Government to get on top of the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland by adopting a five-point plan for managing community cases, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop and Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti say.

National’s five-point plan for managing community outbreaks:

  1. Introduce rapid antigen testing – nasal swab tests that return results in 15 minutes.
  2. Roll out high intensity, well-staffed testing stations across Papatoetoe and at every single location of interest
  3. Conduct higher intensity wastewater testing at suburb and sub-suburb levels in Papatoetoe
  4. Set aside enough vaccines for all border and port workers, then priority vaccinate South Auckland
  5. Increase monitoring of people who are required to self-isolate, including spot checks

Mr Bishop says New Zealand should follow the example of Taiwan where managed isolation at home comes with strict protocols, such as random phone calls and requests to confirm their location through a video call or supplying an image.

“The high trust approach we take to self-isolation in this country comes with risks, as we’ve seen over the past few days.

“New Zealanders have largely done a great job of following self-isolation advice but it’s unlikely we’ll ever have 100 per cent compliance, and it’s extremely frustrating when a small number of people don’t follow the rules.

“Monitoring of self-isolators should be ramped up to guarantee compliance. This means regular spot checks, and if no contact is made within 24 hours then police are involved.”

The Government also needs to roll out more staff across more testing sites to cut down waiting times and make it easier for people to visit a testing station, Mr Bishop says.

“Long queues and wait times will discourage people from getting tested. We need to fix this.”

Dr Reti says the Government should also introduce rapid antigen testing in New Zealand. These nasal swab tests provide results in 15 minutes and are common overseas.

“Rapid antigen testing would allow us to test large numbers of New Zealanders, quickly. Those who test positive would then have their results confirmed by a standard PCR test.

“These tests are common in other countries like the United States where there are FDA-approved home test kits for less than $15.

“They are especially good for giving quick answers and peace of mind to people who are showing symptoms of illness and want to know if they have Covid-19.”

Rapid antigen tests would be an added layer of testing alongside the standard nasal PCR tests already being done here. Our Government already considers them reliable enough to accept them as a pre-departure test for arrival into New Zealand.

Dr Reti says there should be daily wastewater inspection at ports, and at a more granular level in Papatoetoe than just the main interceptors.

The Government should also set aside enough vaccines for all border and port workers, then priority vaccinate South Auckland, starting with Papatoetoe High school followed by wider Papatoetoe in parallel with border and health workers.

“South Auckland presents an increased risk of transmission due to the density of its population and the number of border workers who reside there,” Dr Reti says.

We understand the need to prioritise other vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, for vaccination but stopping outbreaks at the source is also a form of protection of these groups.”

That we’ve been able to enjoy a summer as near to normal as it could be with the border closed looks more and more as if it was due to good luck than good management.

We can’t keep relying on luck.

None of the suggested improvements National is suggesting look difficult and whatever the cost it would be less expensive than shutting down Auckland and restricting what the rest of us can do, again.

 


National’s refreshed responsibilities

25/05/2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Decriminalisation by stealth?

12/12/2018

The National Party has labelled the medicinal cannabis bill which passed into law yesterday as decriminalisation by stealth.

Health Minister David Clark said until a regime was set up, the legislation would help people ease their suffering with a wider range of medicinal cannabis products becoming available over time.

“We know that some people cannot wait for medicinal products to become more readily available and will want to use illicit cannabis to ease their pain,” he said.

“People nearing the end of their lives should not have to worry about being arrested or imprisoned for trying to manage their pain. So as a compassionate measure we are also creating a statutory defence for people eligible to receive palliation so that they can use illicit cannabis without fear of prosecution.”

The bill will introduce a statutory defence – or amnesty – as a stop-gap measure to allow people at the end of their lives to use illicit cannabis while the scheme is still being established. . . 

Serious question: if cannabis is a medicine, why isn’t it treated like all other medicines and prescribed by doctors who consider it the best option for their patients?

However, National leader Simon Bridges came out swinging in Parliament, calling the bill “decriminalisation of cannabis by stealth”.

“What will the police do when they’re outside a school and someone, under this bill, is smoking cannabis? What will they do?

“I don’t reckon they’ll do much at all,” he said.

“Shame on the House for passing this terrible, unsafe, dangerous bill.”

National’s spokesperson for health Shane Reti also labelled the bill as “lazy and dangerous”.

“This government is simply ticking the 100-day box that they were forced to by the Greens and it is permitting the smoking of drugs in our communities.”

Mr Reti said National supported medicinal cannabis regulation but opposed the smoking of loose leaf cannabis in public.

“That’s why we did the work and created a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime that widened access to medicinal cannabis and provided a framework for licensing high-quality domestic production under sensible and achievable regulations.

“We offered to share our regime with the government but egos got in the way and we were turned down.”

He said experts in the field should be the ones to decide what medical conditions were suitable for medical cannabis.

Exactly – if it’s medicine it should be treated like other medicines.

It’s not all bad though, the law change could provide an alternative income for farmers:

New Zealand cannabis company Zeacann, which is undergoing a $20m capital raising round to grow cannabis and manufacture medicines for domestic and export markets, welcomed the bill.

Co-founder Chris Fowlie said it was big step forward to helping New Zealanders who were suffering.

“The government is finally removing the stigma that cannabis has suffered from for decades,” Mr Fowlie said.

He said it was good to see that a timeframe had been set for a legal framework on making the products available.

Zeacann estimates it will be able to begin growing cannabis in the first half of next year, once it has received a government licence. . . 

I wonder what security will be required to stop thefts?

I visited farms which grow opium poppies in Tasmania where security was tight.

 


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