Jason Walls writes:
But there was something the vaxathon did lack – the presence of Opposition MPs.
The event organisers were able to get US-based former pro-wrestler Chavo Guerrero to deliver a “get vaccinated” message to the people of New Zealand, but not a single National or Act MP made an appearance.
This is despite Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi both showing up for live crosses.
It is understood that both Act and National made MPs available for the vaxathon, but were not given the opportunity to meaningfully participate.
This came as a shock to both camps, especially given comments made by Ardern when announcing Super Saturday earlier this month.
“Our political parties have different views on aspects of the Covid-19 response, but we are all united in one thing: vaccination.
“So Super Saturday will be an opportunity for all of us to put aside our political differences—just for 24 hours—and work together for a cause that we all support.”
Her comments couldn’t have been clearer, which is why the backrooms of both parties were confused as to why they had not been contacted about participating in the event.
Their confusion turned to frustration when they ran into brick wall after brick wall, trying to get the likes of David Seymour and Shane Reti into the run sheet.
Even Judith Collins – who was quarantining in Wellington after spending a few days in Auckland ahead of attending Parliament this week – didn’t get to pass on so much as a video message.
Having politicians from across all political parties involved in promoting a single, strong “get vaccinated” message could have only helped the event.
As much as the Government’s tried, there are still more than a few vaccine-hesitant people across the country who won’t listen to the Government.
They might have listened to a Seymour, a Reti or a Collins.
It was a missed opportunity. People whose politics lean right and are vaccine hesitant are more likely to respond to messages from MPs whose politics are closest to them. The vaxathon did well, but if they hadn’t banned opposition MPs, it may have done even better.