by Christopher Ruthe
The Government has reached the pinnacle of popularity, with the Labour Party getting to 55% in the latest leaked UMR poll. Some commentators have referred to the “Cult of Jacinda”– a PM beyond fault or any media criticism. The facts speak for themselves: NZ has not had the up-to- 80,000 deaths predicted by the PM just before lockdown locked in (we have had only 21 to date). The spread of the virus has been stunningly contained. The debate on the proportionality of the health response to the virus vis-à vis the economic and negative social effects is for another time.
How dare one criticise. A symptom of Covid-19 does not currently include a loss of critical skills nor the application of reason. Is there anything that calls for an evaluation of where we are?
Civil Liberties — what of their curtailment? Iwi roadblocks around the Country specifically sanctioned by the Minister of Police and the Police Commissioner. Have these been necessary to fight a mere virus? Timothy McBride, a leading Civil Liberties lawyer wrote an excellent article on concerns about loss of liberties, published here on Waikanae Watch. This article had been deliberately rejected by both the NZ Herald and the Dominion Post. They refused to publish anything that took away the gloss of the Government’s “Unite” fight.
We are all aware of our inability to meet with others including sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers if they are not in the rather infantile ‘Bubble’ prescribed by the PM. Many have not been able to be at their loved one’s bedside especially where there has been no Covid-19 issues. Funerals have been forgone, although the Government may correctly say, “The dead have no civil rights.”
Is it right to criticize the Government in its Free-for-All handouts (an appropriate response to an economic necessity), for happily gaving millions to the five wealthiest law firms in NZ? The NZ Herald reported that most of the owners (partners) in these firms have been earning mega bucks, undoubtedly up to $1 million a year each. Who are they?
Simpson Grierson, $2.3 million
Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, $2 million
Duncan Cotterill, Lane Neave, $1.1 million
Meredith Connell, $1.6 million
Is this not an unjustified handout to prestigious law firms? And let us not forget it is from such law firms that our judges come.
Another voice raising the same concerns is Sir Roger Douglas, quoted in the NZ Herald of 6 May by Fran O’Sullivan: “Sir Roger Douglas has cut to the chase, saying the amount of Government cash pouring out the door to large companies with no obligation to pay it back is not only wasteful, but beggars younger generations.”
The former Labour Party Finance Minister name checks The Warehouse Group and partners in “wealthy law firms” like Simpson Grierson, Bell Gully and Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, asking why they have not been required to fend for themselves and their businesses.
With many thousands unemployed and many thousands having to ask for food parcels, why do New Zealanders (according to the poll cited above) approve of all the government has done? It is noteworthy that the polling was taken a week after the disclosure of this information by Martin van Beynen on 23 April 2020 in his Dominion Post column.
Let us hope that reason and common sense will be restored so that in the aftermath of all this we benefit from lessons well learned.
The accuracy of the UMR poll must be questioned, as at no time since 1954 has a political party in NZ ever obtained more than 50% of the popular vote at a general election.
For readers’ interest, here is a summary of public Colmar Brunton polls over the 12 months to February 2020, the most recent highlighted. Even at the time Jacinda put her hijab on and had an Iman broadcast a call to prayer from Parliament in April 2019, the margin was only 8 percentage points. —Eds