Richard Prebble: It is going to be a landslide defeat for Labour
Labour is heading for a landslide defeat. The seeds of its coming defeat were sown in its record victory.
Jacinda made it the “Covid Election”. We were promised we were at the front of the vaccine queue. MIQ was going to keep us safe.
Some 400,000 mainly female National voters crossed over to vote Labour.
Not one crossed over for the party’s manifesto. It was for Labour’s handling of covid.
Support has held up. In the Ipsos Issues Monitor in February 75 per cent of respondents thought the restrictions were about right, or could have been tighter. 47 per cent wanted the border kept closed.
In just one month 75 per cent of the electorate in the Kantar poll say it is time for tourists to return. This is an extraordinary turn around.
Why the change? Voters learn from experience. Even those who have not caught Omicron know people who have caught it. We are all close contacts.
Last weekend a fellow diner at the restaurant advised us the next day she had tested positive. I looked up the Ministry of Health website to see what I should do. The answer was nothing, keep checking for symptoms.
The Ministry of Health’s website’s advice a month ago was: “Register yourself as a Close Contact…Get tested immediately, and at 5 days and 12 days after the last contact with infectious person. Self-isolate at home for at least 14 days after last exposure and until you are released by Regional Public Health”.
The advice has gone from compulsory PCR tests and two weeks home detention to; you do not need to do anything.
I have no medical expertise but both pieces of advice cannot be correct.
My experience has been repeated by thousands of people every day. .
If I did catch covid today I am told I must isolate for 7 days. A week ago it was 10 days.
As a household close contact the advice was that I have to isolate for 10 days. As members of my household developed the virus my 10 day isolation would have to restart. In my multi- generational household that could have meant a month in home detention. Now the advice is to isolate for one 7 day period.
Tens of thousands of people who have isolated for weeks are now learning it was not necessary.
If you are a “vital worker” with no symptoms you no longer need to isolate at all.
Just a few weeks ago the government was telling us that RAT tests are so dangerous that they were made illegal.
A month ago we were being told only PCR tests are reliable and the government has plenty of capacity to handle Omicron.
The Prime Minister says she accepts no responsibility for the collapse of the PCR testing.
The PM was told 18 months ago in the Simpson/Roche Report to implement RAT testing as soon as possible.
Even staunch Labour supporters know there is no democratic accountability if ministers refuse to take responsibility for their own decisions.
The constant changing in the covid rules has shaken the faith of the team of five million.
Nurses with Covid are being recalled to work while healthy unvaccinated nurses have been fired. The vaccinated can catch and spread Omicron.
The mandates make no sense.
Labour’s Covid response was always more based on polling than science.
Last week the official advice was tourists would not return until July. After the Kantar poll result suddenly tourists can return 12 April.
There is still MIQ for foreigners. Aucklanders are far more likely to have covid than any traveler.
Why would tourists want to come to what is now the world’s covid hotspot? There are visitors with skills we need who do want to come and still cannot. Our hospitals are more at risk of collapse from the shortage of specialists than from Omicron.
We are still required to show Covid passes and to scan in. I have yet to receive a notification that my fellow diner has tested positive for covid.
The collapse in scanning numbers is a real time poll of the public’s falling support for the government’s covid response.
No doubt scanning mandates will shortly go.
Labour and its “influencers” are busy changing the narrative. (As an aside, is it not interesting that not one “influencer” admits to being themselves influenced by their privileged early briefings). Now we are told the government response was always to reduce the number of covid deaths. .
The 400,000 usually National voters voted for Jacinda because they believed she was going to keep us safe from Covid.
Not one voter who crossed over to vote Labour thought within 18 months New Zealand would be the world’s covid hotspot. Those voters will not vote Labour again.
It is going to be a landslide defeat.
Richard Prebble CBE is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996 to 2004.