Birds of prey

In Newsletter Editorial4 MinutesBy Dave McCoidAugust 20, 2021

Here we are, back again at level 4. This time, at least there are more amenities open, not just for the police but also truck drivers. In that context, with few other positives, I want to start with one. I’ve heard that Mobil Rakaia is doing a splendid job in this lockdown. It’s enforcing the public interaction requirements, but staff are friendly and accommodating, and are selling hot, premade meals for busy truckers on the run. Well done to them.

I’m not sure what to make of this lockdown, to be honest. In some ways, it’s even more apparent this time that the government has a limited grip on what the term “supply chain” means. The number of “essential” businesses appears to have increased markedly. I’m aware of one surf shop chain still operating on an online basis, as well as several appliance and homeware vendors apparently open for business. That means more and more trucks on the road, in many cases driven by unvaccinated drivers, to ensure stock is at the inward goods dock, so ‘essentials’ can be loaded at the outward goods dock. 

On one level, I can understand why businesses are desperate to keep functioning. At some point, the chickens for economies unable to get on top of the pandemic will come home to roost. I’ve said before the instant gratification nature of modern life means we’re blind to how long the effects of the pandemic will take to play out. 

With Covid-19’s Delta strain on a rampage in NSW, a mere 2000km to the west, there was no apparent desire to hit the DEFCON-4 button on vaccination turnover here. The line was ‘we don’t have it, so we’re fine at the rate we’re going’. Truth was, it was often showing up at the border, an area not sporting a gold-standard entrapment record. 

Of course, one of the underlying reasons we’re tardy at most things is our enviable status as a welfare state… a fantastic system abused to the point where most of the nation believes there’ll always be another meal, regardless. Sadly, the reason most SMEs will be at their wit’s end over a second and preventable level 4 lockdown, is because they understand New Zealand is not home to Apple, Amazon, Walmart, or Google, and that tiny enterprises form the economic spinal column of this now highly geared nation. That makes us significantly more vulnerable.

With frenetic money printing, the only thing that’s kept the ship on course in the past 18 months is the cost of cash. This lockdown stalled a projected first rise in interest rates, and for some of our more highly geared citizens, even that may be akin to the executioner getting a flatty on the way to the gallows. But, at some point, for the thousands of SMEs the length and breadth of the nation, the cost of unnecessary level 4 lockdowns will begin to mount, were they to continue. The flow on effect of that will infect every household in the country. 

All the best

Dave McCoid