Luke Malpass writes:
Covid for Christmas. It was a line that Labour ministers Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins effectively deployed with glee last week when National released its Covid policy.
National, they said, with its policy to open the borders at an 85 per cent vaccination rate, would be virtually giving Kiwis the virus for Christmas.
It was a clever line from two men who have spent almost their entire adult and professional lives trying to destroy the National Party. They just couldn’t help themselves.
Both Ministers followed near identical paths of student presidents to ministerial staff to MP to Minister, having never had a job in the private sector.
Yet it is now something that both men – Hipkins in particular, as Covid-19 response minister – could well live to regret. There will most likely be Covid for Christmas, but it won’t have been via an open border or the National Party.
I’d say it is going to bite them big time, and deservedly so. National’s policy was a serious constructive document, and the response from Hipkins and Robertson was nasty politics at it lowest.
The biggest issue, and where the Government has clearly dropped the ball, is ICU capacity. After the first lockdown last year, it should have moved quickly to create a special visa class to get ICU specialists into the country. It did not.
This is an astonishing failure, given that the clear capacity constraint in the system – testing, contact tracing, isolation, hospital care – was always going to lie in providing and staffing ICU facilities.
Not only did they not bring in a special visa for ICU specialists, they have been actively turning them away. It is beyond madness.