Government is stuck at the traffic lights

By: Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges
National Party MP

 I want to touch on the government’s handling of Covid-19, since its re-emergence in the community in August in the form of the Delta variant.

While the government duly received some credit for its Covid response the first time around, its handling this time around has been underwhelming.

Firstly, the downsides of the Labour government’s restrictive approach to Covid have outweighed the upsides.

For instance, some of the consequences of the restrictive lockdowns - that we know of so far - include the many Kiwis who’ve had surgeries and critical health screening delayed, kids who haven’t been at school, the thousands of businesses who’ve gone to the wall, and people separated from dying loved ones.

Secondly, we’re now a couple of weeks into the new traffic light system and it’s still about as clear as mud to me and many of my constituents and our local businesses too. My simple view is one of two things is likely to happen over the summer period - either New Zealand will become a temporary police state, with police looking here, there and everywhere for proof of vaccine certificates, or the response will completely fall by the wayside as Kiwis struggle to understand the unclear and constantly moving goalposts.

What was needed instead was a clear, simple plan - while supercharging vaccinations - which would’ve given Kiwis certainty and the opportunity to be with family at Christmas. Instead, thousands of Kiwis stuck in Australia and other low-risk countries will be apart from family this Christmas.

Let’s not forget that much of the pain of the last four months of lockdowns and restrictions could’ve been avoided if the Labour government had moved more swiftly to procure, and thus administer, vaccines during the first half of the year when New Zealand was largely Covid-free.

Instead, our vaccine rollout was the slowest in the OECD when the Delta outbreak began.

As this is my final column for 2021, I want to wish you a very merry Christmas as you spend time with friends and family. I look forward to seeing you out and about in 2022.