Prices through the roof. Economy contracting. Crime like New York in the ‘80s. Hospitals in chaos without nurses. Building paralysed by a shortage of plasterboard. A totalitarian super power expanding its sphere of influence towards us. Better do something ‘bout all that, eh?
Where on earth is our Government? You know, the one we are paying $128 billion this year?
Last week we saw an amazing thing. Common sense pierced through the molasses of inertia that Labour coats over every other issue. Making people take pre-departure tests for covid before they can enter New Zealand costs heaps and achieves nothing. So, from 11:59pm tonight, the Government will stop requiring it.
But action’s the exception, not the rule. On every other issue, Labour is inert. They rush legislation under urgency at the drop of a hat, but they’re missing in action on the most urgent problems facing New Zealand this week.
Take the shortage of nurses. There is chaos in our hospitals. Operating a hospital understaffed is not only very stressful, it is unsafe. What the hospital workers don’t realise is that they’ve got it easy compared with the aged care sector.
The Government’s pay settlements, the legacy of the Terranova case, have given DHB employed nurses a 30 per cent margin over those in care homes. In the latter, the problem is much worse.
So here’s the question. What could the Government do to get more nurses? Let’s brainstorm. There are many overseas. Maybe they’d like to come here. Are there any currently waiting for immigration papers? How many could we expedite?
Brooke van Velden has found 518 nurses stood down due to covid vaccine mandates. Does that still make sense in the context of Omicron and hospitals overloaded with flu?
What about trainees? Are there any nurse trainees or foreign trained nurses waiting for certification who could be fast tracked?
The answers to all these questions could be no, but the nursing shortage has been building all year, does anyone really believe Andrew Little is on the case?
How can an industrialised first world country be paralysed by a lack of plasterboard? It is not technologically sophisticated —a sandwich of plaster and cardboard, but New Zealanders cannot get it. What is going on? In short, one producer got 96 per cent market share, and it’s nearly impossible for substitutes to enter the market because of insane regulations.
The plasterboard shortage is crippling the building sector because it is on the critical path for any building project. If you have to stop at the stopping, you’re stuffed.
We have BRANZ to approve products, we have AS/NZS standards, we have councils specifying their own preferred materials for sign off. Only one brand regularly gets through this gauntlet, so they have 96 per cent share. The truth is that for non wet areas (e.g. bathrooms), the type of wallboard makes bugger all difference to anything. The Government should legislate, if necessary, that substitutes approved offshore are allowed. Open up supply and bring down the price.
Three weeks ago David Seymour asked the Prime Minister about changes to the proceeds of crime legislation, to hit gangs where it hurts (their pockets). With gangs completely out of control, where is this legislation? Labour voted against ACT’s equivalent a month ago, where is theirs?
The Chinese Communist Party is busily wooing our friends and neighbours in the South Pacific. Where is the plan for a high level delegation of New Zealanders touring the Pacific? A competent Foreign Minister would assemble high achieving Pasifika Kiwis from sport, arts, and business, and go on a roadshow around the Pacific. The message? Covid’s over, we are open for business, our friendship is deeper than money.
These are just some of the practical actions that an awake Government might take to clear bottlenecks and address urgent problems. Of course, the only matter they’ll treat with urgency is imposing the co-governance of everything on all of us.