COVID Level 1 for New Zealand from Thursday


On Thursday at 0000 hours COVID Level 2 will take force in Auckland, nearly 6 weeks after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sent the country’s most populous region back to Level 3 (2 for the rest of New Zealand). At the same time Level 1 will take effect across the rest of New Zealand.

The country has spent the last nearly 6 weeks at an elevated COVID19 level as it stamps out what appears to be the inevitable second wave. In that time 200+ more cases have been added to the New Zealand tally, whilst 3 more deaths were also recorded.

It has not come without significant controversy though as conspiracy parties such as Advance New Zealand try to make people believe COVID19 is a cover for a takeover of New Zealanders rights by the Government. They point to actions by the New Zealand Defence Force, and Police during the first lock down – actions that are actually sanctioned by decades old legislation: the Health Act 1956; Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002 and the Pandemic Preparedness Act 2006.

However it also means New Zealand has possibly achieved something no other country has yet done: seeing off the second wave of COVID19 without it merging with the mayhem caused by the first.

COVID19 waves and their impacts (IMAGE: VICTOR TSENG)Whilst we had a second wave, the strategy employed meant that only the Auckland area was made to shut down to Level 3, whilst the rest of the country went to Level 2. For the second time this year Auckland will be reopening on Thursday to an elevated alert level and wondering how much of 2020 can be salvaged from two lengthy shut down periods. For the first time too, campaigning for the 2020 General Election will be able to take place.

Many on the far right will continue to say that New Zealand is bent on destroying its own economy. They will continue to claim that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a Communist whose goal is a takeover of the country. These people could not be more wrong, and potentially could not be less empathetic with the families of the dead and the people who have suffered it, if they had tried. But not only that, the level of deceit being foisted upon New Zealanders just trying to get their lives back on track in what has been a very testing year by any reasonable measure, is quite shocking.

As for other countries, Australia, despite having the misfortune of having to watch Victoria slump back into lock down, is still the best friendly country. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales as well as the Northern Territory are all largely open to domestic travel. Like New Zealand their border is largely shut, with only a few people who are citizens or permanent residents being allowed back.

Watching from a far, it seems like COVID19 is some sort of sinking ship. New Zealand and Australia, plus a few other nations have somehow managed to paddle their life boats away from it, whilst the rest of the world continues to struggle to get away.

Two parties that are bad for New Zealand


If you have a friend who drives drunk, I assume on the first instance you would tell him/her s/he is being an idiot and that a second instance would cost them your friendship our similar?

Now…

If you had a friend blast off at Maori, that they are all dole bludgers growing cannabis/cooking methamphetamine and the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal is a gravy train, what would you do? Would you ignore it? Would you tell them to pull their head in, or would you put them on notice?

I have come come to an extremely grim conclusion about two parties in New Zealand politics. There are two parties that unfortunately have policies that have policies that go much deeper than about party and electoral preferences.

If you wish to vote for #NewConservatives you are in effect telling me you wish to null and void the Treaty of Waitangi. You are telling me you want to undermine the essential foundations of this country: Te Tiriti O Waitangi. I have looked at New Conservative policy and they want to do this. All references to the Treaty of Waitangi must go according to New Conservative. In terms of consulting the tangata whenua about this must go. All duties to consult on wahi tapu, mahinga kai, taonga – everything that has enabled the Iwi and the Hapu to get to where they are – must apparently go.

Unfortunately for women, New Conservative’s harsh line does not stop at being anti-Maori. Their policy platform is something akin to The Handmaid Tales. Far from looking forward into the 21st Century it seeks to wind the country back to the 1950’s, possibly earlier. It seeks to criminalize abortion; prostitution – the oldest industry in the world after agriculture – would also be criminalized. But it is the idea that young mothers should be placed with experienced couples – who for all we know might want to exploit a person in a vulnerable position or might not have the time or the gumption to go through with their obligations – that I find truly gobsmacking.

The other party that has come to my attention is the #NewZealandPublicParty, which was established this year by Billy Te Kahika Jr, and which has merged with Advance New Zealand.

When you seek official information – information verified by an official source or from an official source – one expects that this information will be as accurate as possible and subject to immediate change if found not to be. Correct?

So, it is a mystery to me as to why the second party in my sights deems it necessary to tell complete lies, spread disinformation and which was born in the last year. People are entitled to believe what they want, but the wilful spread of disinformation – information that is knowingly wrong, yet people still spread it – is an act that to me is as bad as lying.

We all tell our children not to lie. We tell each how wrong lying is. And with good reason. It can be dangerous. It certainly tells one a lot about a person’s values if they insist on spreading disinformation. It is hard for me to understand a person’s values if they are willing to accept a party that knowingly lies. Why would you want them anywhere near Parliament?

 

Government changes election date


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has changed the date of the 2020 General Election to 17 October 2020

The change in the election date follows pressure from National, A.C.T. and New Zealand First to move the election to November so that the political parties would have more campaign time in the current COVID19 environment.

There are numerous good reasons why the change happened in the manner it did:

  • Auckland cannot participate whilst in a LEVEL 3 lock down as no facilities would be open to enable voting and candidates and parties would not be able to campaign effectively
  • Pushing back four weeks will give candidates time to get around their electorates and “Meet-the-Candidate” sessions to be held in each electorate, where the public can ask questions of them
  • The Government would want to be sure that the current COVID19 outbreak has been resolved and New Zealand is once again operating relatively normally
  • In terms of timing, the Government could afford to allow some leeway – the latest Parliament could have continued prior to yesterday’s announcement was 12 October at which point it would dissolve automatically.

And yet, the conspiracy theorists are out. To them this is another indicator of some sort of conspiracy to deprive New Zealanders of their freedoms. Despite the numerous articles written by Stuff journalists such as Henry Cooke and Luke Malpass among others, New Zealand Public Party seem convinced that something improper is afoot.

But despite the conspiracy theorists being at work, the parties in Parliament all welcomed the move and generally believe that the Prime Minister got the timing about right. I believe it is a fair call to have made. It would not have been proper for 2/3 of New Zealand to plunge ahead with election campaigning and leave Auckland behind, especially when its electorates are some of the key ones to watch in 2020.

 

Conspiracy parties do nothing for New Zealand except tell us they exist


As New Zealand hurtles towards the 2020 General Election, it has become clear to me that the truly extraordinary year of 2020 has extended to the New Zealand political spectrum. From an increasingly desperate National Party wanting to build roads, roads and more roads to New Zealand First and the Green Party hovering near the exit; from the sky high Labour Party to the conspiracy theorists who are the subject of this article the range of parties this year is impressive. But not as impressively disturbing as what they are espousing, and what it might mean for New Zealand.

To claim COVID19 is a scam is to deny the medical catastrophe unfolding in the United States which has killed over 145,000 people there; to deny the fact that 15 million people have been infected around the world have been infected with it and that several countries have lost control of pandemic. The mother of a former colleague of mine now living in America was very nearly taken by COVID19. And yet, there are people in New Zealand who believe COVID19 is a scam and that people as diverse as politicians, epidemiologists and other officials are in some kind of giant conspiracy. More over they believe that long time philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates are planning to inflict.

Many of the COVID19 denialists go much further than this though. Some go so far as to believe it is a Government agenda to take away their rights, all because when long existing provisions that can only be enabled in a Civil Defence Emergency, were triggered by the declaration of a pandemic . Trying to tell the conspiracy theorists behind this idea about the sequence of legal steps that had to be taken to enable the triggering of the emergency provisions is usually met with a stony silence.

In the last four months several parties have been born out of frustration by fringe elements with the direction that New Zealand society is moving in. Some of their supporters are disgruntled with the legislation banning certain types of firearms in the wake of the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack, and think that the Labour-led Government is out to confiscate the firearms of all law abiding citizens. These elements might well have the support of the toxic National Rifle Association of America who tried to apply pressure on the Government to not change the law, and whose intervention even National Party Members of Parliament such as Judith Collins and Chris Bishop were angered by. The Real New Zealand Party will repeal the firearms laws that were passed following the terrorist attack. They will also commit us to rejoining A.N.Z.U.S., which I will take to mean repealing the nuclear legislation and binding us to silly American wars that have nothing to do with New Zealand.

Some think that the United Nations is bent on global take over, and that soon there will be a United Nations New World Order in place. These people point to Agenda 21, which is a non-binding action plan to promote sustainable development, and was born out of the Rio de Janeiro 1992 conference called Earth Summit. This could not further from the truth, based on the schism’s that currently dominate the United Nations Security Council. United States President Donald Trump’s confrontational approach to international affairs, the worsening tensions with China and Russia’s continuing support for the backward Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad have seen many United Nations Security Council resolutions shot down.

Given that Agenda 21 was part of the inspiration for the Resource Management Act 1991 and the fact that the world is in an increasingly parlous state ecologically, I honestly find it incredible such a well intentioned plan could be so deliberately misconstrued. But it has been. At least this is what Bill Te Kahika’s New Zealand Public Party (who merged with the Advance New Zealand Party of ex-National M.P. Jami-Lee Ross) have done.

It is a damning thing when A.C.T., a party many believe to be a fringe party is suddenly made to look rather sane – admittedly its leader David Seymour has contributed to two good Bills of Parliament – because the true fringe of New Zealand politics is further out in whack field than we thought. But here we are in 2020 and that is precisely the case.

Why I am supporting a party not in Parliament


Be bold. Be brave. Step outside your comfort zone.

Be bold: In the 2020 General Election I am being bold. The party I have chosen to support is Prosperity Party of New Zealand. Prosperity Party is led by Helen Peterson, J.P. Mrs Peterson and her husband Dave launched Prosperity in January 2020. Prosperity is a centrist party that is seeking to balance economic development with environmental protection, and to which end have a number of interesting ideas that I will mention later in this article.

Some will argue that I am throwing my vote away by voting for an out of Parliament Party. I could argue back that a vote for National or Labour is a vote for same-old same-old. In the next few weeks I am going to do pamphlet drops for Prosperity Party in Ilam.

Got out of the comfort zone: I am stepping outside mine. Under other circumstances I would have been happy to support a party in Parliament on the simple grounds that they will probably be back. I would be overlooking the fact that Parliamentary parties tend to be quite conservative in their policy making, but also political parties can become stale with time. One only has to look at National or Labour to see how those parties are frightened to rock the boat with a bold change in direction.

Whilst I like Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in terms of her leadership style, the unfortunate fact of the matter is unless done from the leaders office, or with caucus on board, turning National or Labour around is probably akin to turning a Cook Strait-going ferry around at short notice.

Having met Mrs Peterson across several New Zealand First meetings and being struck by her drive to work on behalf of vulnerable/disabled/disadvantaged people in New Zealand, I have concluded I have nothing to lose. Coming from a background of having severe hand eye co-ordination problems when I was a child, and having friends who have Aspergers and find daily situations confusing, I see a need for this community to have a political champion.

The depth of Prosperity’s policy platform is impressive for a party not in Parliament. In terms of policies Mrs Peterson’s party it advocates for:

  • A Kiwi Fund that is protected and ensures the health and well being of New Zealanders is protected
  • Renationalising the electricity sector
  • Restoration of Public Trust as a means of providing legal support for poor and vulnerable people

This is not to say I expect to Prosperity in Parliament in this election. It would be a feat not achieved by any New Zealand party to go from new born to having Parliamentary seats in the same election cycle. Getting past the 5% threshold of the Party vote is a formidable exercise in its own right, and of the Parliamentary parties to exit Parliament only New Zealand First on the back of its leader Winston Peters, has returned.