You want some numbers? $16 million. That's what we have paid on consultants when its come to Covid. Ah, the old consultant. Some got $400 an hour, so $3200 a day. But what's remarkable about the new numbers is that of the $16 million, about $15 million went on spin.
They use other words in the industry like "marketing" and "communications." But essentially all the hype you heard from Prime Minister, the likes of "the team of five million," "the stay safe stay home," the "be kind," we paid for that and it came from advertising agencies. One got $3 million, another got $12 million. You astonished? Extraordinary, isn't it? It shows, as I pointed out many, many times without the benefit of knowing the numbers, just how much we got played by a government that was as desperate to score points on this as it was to actually address a health crisis.
Those ridiculous rules during lockdown. Supermarkets were fine, but butchers weren't. You could walk, but only locally. What was local? You could surf, but only if you'd done it before. It will go down in history as one of the most made up, on the spot, nonsensical list of instructions ever.
What was remarkable was how many of us acquiesced, without a single question as to why. In fact some of us were hypnotised into a soporific sort of state where we ended up taking instructions from the head spin master Ardern about putting stuffed animals in windows.
The only thing that didn’t go to plan was the "be kind," because we weren't. We dobbed people in left, right, and centre.
And unfortunately that was driven by the Prime Minister who forgot her be kind message by issuing yet more pointless instructions on what number to ring, or e-mail, to spring recalcitrants who had wandered a bit far from their front door, or weren't carrying measuring tapes for their social distancing.
Is communication important? Of course. But do you need to pay $16 million for it? No. Which is what makes this so egregious.
This wasn’t simple instruction that any government or group or person can come up with, this was clearly a highly planned, seriously worked over piece of strategy designed for maximum political impact.
And the irony is, from the advertising agencies point of view, it worked. We got sucked in, followed orders and came out hailing the Prime Minister with a 59 percent share in a poll.
Value for money then? Or a master piece of fantastically expensive spin?
Again, we were played like a fiddle.
Mike Hosking is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB, who
has hosted his number one breakfast show since 2008 - see HERE.
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