HARD AND EARLY

In Magazine Editorial, September 20214 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 2, 2021

Obviously, anything I had on the list of potential editorials went out the window on Tuesday 17th at 11.59pm, the moment we were plunged into a second nationwide level-4 lockdown.

There’s a stark difference between this nationwide economic blackout and the first one on 24 March last year: there was a better than good chance we could have prevented this one.

Last time, Covid-19 had the world where it wanted it, a bug on the loose with a target host that had little in its immediate defence armoury beyond isolation and sanitation. Since then however, mankind has hit back with an effective vaccination.

No one would argue that our single biggest advantage in keeping Covid at bay through this whole nightmare has been our isolation. Yet, we have not used the precious time that advantage gave us to effectively massvaccinate our people, fortifying not just their health, but incomes also. Instead, we’ve used it to justify a far more apathetic stance on the urgency of vaccination, even with the Delta variant firing warning shots at us form our leaky border on several occasions.

New Zealand is not home to Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Walmart; the spinal column of our economy is made up of SMEs, small to medium enterprises. Most are impacted by the vagaries of the global economy and/ or our relevance to it. It does our cause zero good telling a global supply chain, already struggling to stay interested in us as they cope with big economies high on a sugar hit of cash, that ‘sorry, we’re shut’.

The vaccine strategy reflects the politics of the nation at this moment in history. The modus operandi of this government is one of reacting at the 11th hour to any issue. The answer will be again to print more money as a mechanism to control the damage, but as we know, that’s all borrowed, and as it stands, the sum of all New Zealand debt – central, local, and personal – now stands at about $130,000 per individual.

If you were going to dole out dosh, wouldn’t the better option have been to do whatever it took to get the vaccines in the first place and then incentivise individuals to get jabbed? In my mind, you’re far better off giving out money in an economy that hasn’t stopped functioning rather than in one that has.

‘Go hard, go early’ in early 2020 had an entirely different meaning to what it should have had in early 2021. In 2020, it was about the disease; in 2021, it should have applied to the vaccine roll-out.

Grant Robinson spent billions saving the economy in 2020. That he didn’t spend some of what was left ensuring it stayed on its feet in the first half of this year indicates a yawning gap in his understanding of the resilience and vulnerability of that over which he presides.