National Leader Gerry Brownlee on Wednesday told the media pack that the Government knew another lock down was coming weeks ago. Essentially he implied the Government had planned the lock down. The Deputy Leader of the New Zealand National Party implied that a conspiracy theory popular with the far right of New Zealand politics had credibility. And when someone in the media asked him to clarify as he left the podium, he said “I’m just outlining the facts”.
At a time when New Zealand is struggling to keep COVID19 in check and the world is watching, at a time when a decisive clamp down has a chance of crippling what could be the second wave, this is disturbing in the extreme. It smacks of a desperation that can only be linked to the appalling performance of National in the polls, of a party that has completely and utterly lost its way, as a U.M.R. poll show the parties as follows:
- Labour 55% (67 seats)
- National 28% (35 seats)
- A.C.T. 5.9% (7 seats)
- Greens 5.4% (7 seats)
- N.Z. First 5.1% (6 seats)
It is not just National having an attack of the conspiracy theories and theorists though. The New Zealand Public Party/Advance New Zealand has been engaged in this activity as well.
Some is not so much laughable as really quite disturbing. Here we are dealing with a COVID surge and the country needs to be together as a unified team of five million people and the New Zealand Public Party which has merged with the Advance New Zealand party of former National Member of Parliament Jami-Lee Ross, is promoting dissent. Let me be clear that the act of protesting itself is perfectly okay and I have participated in several protests – against student fees at University; the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and more recently in support of Black Lives Matter. But to actively promote the defiance of perfectly reasonable instructions issued in a time when we are at risk of losing control of the COVID19, and thereby potentially compromise the well being of fellow New Zealanders and jeopardise our recovery that has caused plenty of damage already is absolutely not okay.
And yet they are not the only ones involved either. I and others on Twitter have been assailed by Donald Trump supporters deliberately injecting American politics into the New Zealand discourse to cause discord and distrust.
Some of their nonsense is so far out in whack field it would be laughable if they did not truly believe in it. A good example is an exchange I had a few days ago where out of the blue on Twitter someone whose handle along the lines of “KAG_nightshift” (K.A.G. stands for Keep America Great, which is Trump’s current election slogan)told me that New Zealand is not a country and that we are an Australian state. I asked him for evidence. He told me it was written in the flag description of Australia. This is not true – the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet explanation makes no mention of New Zealand. and he pointed me to a website where my suspicions were immediately aroused for two reasons:
- Australian Government website addresses end in gov.au – this one did not
- It had the emblem of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission
I told him that if he is going to try that nonsense, he should at least get his facts right. There have been others as well.