Sir John Key’s piece yesterday was so good it ran front-page across two rival news websites. If you haven’t read it, look it up. It’s refreshing. You can’t argue with common sense, and it was so fortifying to see someone being ambitious for our country, someone being sensible and forward-thinking and optimistic, someone not bogged down with fear and a hermit mentality.
It laid bare what we’ve been missing all this time. Grown-ups. People with proper ideas and tangible solutions.
When inexperience is at the helm, you get bogged down in the minutiae of laborious detail. The same way you get dragged into an argument with a toddler who refuses to put clothes on to go out into the cold. You find yourself pointlessly arguing at their level a thousand different ways. And I feel like that’s what’s been happening in the last few weeks with our Covid response. We’ve been getting bogged down in flawed ideology peddled by an inexperienced unambitious government, which has left us dissecting and debating stuff that isn’t even worth the effort.
When a grown-up steps in and says, ‘cut the crap, this is the way forward’ and it makes sense, it’s like a light goes on.
Both Key and Michael Baker say it’s a ‘marginalised’ group holding us back. That’s politically correct speak for ‘gangs’ and people who can’t be bothered. Those people are costing us mentally, psychologically, economically, and they’re threatening our health system. So drill down on it. Forget the 1 pm sermons to the converted, forget the expensive ad campaigns on mainstream media outlets that these people will never tune into. ‘Get into the weeds’ as they say in the corporate world.
Most of the preaching about vaccinations is into the ears of the 80 per cent. We need to get into hard and fast detail on who this 20 per cent is, and target them at grassroots level. How old are they, where do they live, what’s their level of education, are they in paid employment, do they have a criminal record, what’s their health status, are they anti-vax, vaccine-hesitant, apathetic, afraid, anti-social?
Use carrots not sticks. Punishment and fear is not working, and we’re sick of it. Give them money. Look at what this is costing the country every day we’re locked down. Estimates say Level 3 costs Auckland 350 million dollars per week. You can take your Shot Bro bus anywhere you like, it’s not going to cut the mustard. We need more.
So what’s the government doing about it?
How much research are they doing into who these people are and how to target them? Asking the hard questions and doing the hard work is our only way out of this. The time for spin, feel good cliches, cutesy bus names and modellers waving alarmist horror graphs is over. It shouldn’t have ever got the airtime it did.
The only way out of this is to wake up, get detailed, and get serious.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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