Whoops we forgot to order vaccines for a couple of months

Newshub reports:

Chris Hipkins is pushing back on criticism he was “slow to even order” COVID-19 vaccines amid revelations the first batch wasn’t requested until late January. 

The COVID-19 Response Minister has revealed in written parliamentary questions from National MP Chris Bishop that the Government made its first purchase order with Pfizer on January 29, for 65,520 doses. 

So it took three months to order any vaccines, and when they finally did, it was for around 1% of the country.

“New Zealand’s advance purchase agreement with Pfizer was signed on 12 October and it was the first vaccine agreement we signed. The Government should’ve then immediately ordered as many doses as possible and moved as quickly as possible to approve the vaccine use in New Zealand,” Bishop says. 

Why on earth did they wait three months to place an order?

“We weren’t able to put in an order for that first delivery until we knew that we were getting Medsafe approval. Once we were confident of that, a few days before that, we got the order in so that we could take the delivery fairly soon after the approval was officially given.

Oh nonsense. Of course you could order them ahead of approval. You just couldn’t use them.

The Minister for Police is against Police

NewstalkZB reports:

National is calling on Police Minister Poto Williams to resign following her comments on Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking Breakfast today.

The Minister pushed back at the suggestion the police should be armed, and says the communities she represents – Māori and Pasifika – are against arming officers.

National leader Judith Collins says Williams should be replaced by someone capable of caring about police officers.

Ms Collins told Heather du Plessis-Allan firstly, Ms Williams representing claims are incorrect.

“You’ve got a minister there who says she represents Māori and Pasifika communities – no she doesn’t, she doesn’t at all. She represents Christchurch East.

“I can’t imagine too many people in Christchurch East agree with her pathetic response when asked to condemn the activist group People Against Prisons Aotearoa, who want to disarm, defund and abolish what they call the blood-stained, racist institution that of the New Zealand Police. She couldn’t even stand up for Police then.

“Police can’t come out and fight for themselves when it comes to the media, the least thing they want from their Minister is to have some spine and to stand up for them, and if she can’t do that she should go.”

It is sad that front line police officers don’t have a Minister who will back them.

Ipsos on the issues

Ipsos have done a poll on what issues are of most concern to NZers. The top ones are:

  1. Housing 53% (+19% from a year ago)
  2. Health 27% (nc)
  3. Cost of living 27% (+4%)
  4. Poverty 26% (nc)
  5. Economy 22% (-18%)
  6. Crime 21% (+5%)

So housing is massively up and the economy massively down. Labour will be pleased to have the economy low down as major issue as that is not a traditionally good area for them to compete on. Housing is usually a better issue for them but obviously they are not doing well in this area. The question is whether people will see National as doing better?

Cost of living and crime are both up modestly from last year. They are both areas potentially useful for National if they continue to grow as a concern.

Ipsos also ask people to rate the Government’s performance on a 0 to 10 scale. It has declined from 7.3 a year ago to 6.4 today. So not a good trend but 6.4 is still pretty damn good. Only 15% gave them a rating of 0 to 3 compared to 58% who gave them a 7 – 10.

Also of concern to National should be the number of people rating Labour as better than them on managing key issues. The scores are:

  • Cost of living – Labour +17%
  • Health Labour +28%
  • Poverty Labour +37%
  • Economy Labour +9%

National needs to lead Labour on the economy and cost of living to be competitive.

Devlin in hospital

Stuff reports:

Broadcaster Martin Devlin is in hospital after attempting to take his own life, his ex-wife says.

Andi Brotherston said she and the pair’s 20-year-old son found the Newstalk ZB sports broadcaster unconscious on Monday night.

“So many families don’t get that second chance we do here, and we were so lucky. If it had been another five or 10 minutes it would have been quite a different outcome,” she told Stuff before she was about to visit Devlin at Auckland Hospital.

“He’s in terrible shape,” she said.

“I don’t know what to say other than it’s been utterly, utterly heartbreaking – but we got lucky.”

Thank goodness his son found him in time.

It is a timely reminder that us human beings all have limits at which things can get too much. Should employment disputes be made into front page news just because they involve a broadcaster?

ACT’s Law and Order policy

ACT have released their draft law and order policy. Safe to assume that unlike Labour, funding the Mongrel Mob is not part of their policy. Their key points are:

  1. Introduce Gang Injunction Orders based on the UK ones introduce in 2009
  2. Ban gang members on welfare benefits from spending the benefit money on alcohol, gambling or tobacco
  3. Automatically increase Police numbers annually to maintain ratio of 1 officer per 500 population.
  4. Abolish the target to reduce the prison population by 30% as the role of Corrections is not to reduce the number of people in prison, but keep the community safe
  5. Make rehabilitation programmes compulsory for prisoners to gain parole

Still a distant last

Had another look at the latest Covid-19 vaccination data. We are still last in the OECD with just 17% vaccinated almost eight months after the vaccine became available.

Covid-19 vaccination rateJul-21Jul 21 Rank
South Korea32%32
New Zealand17%36

Not only are we the only country under 20%, we are the only one under 25%.

Four countries have a rate at least one and a half times us.

Nine countries are at least double us.

17 countries are at least triple us.

Five countries are at least quadruple us.

Not even a techie can get a booking using the MIQ system

Chris Keall reports:

Wellingtonian Jonathan Brewer – who has been stuck in Singapore since March 2020 – wants to be home by Christmas.

The odds look long – and are longer because Brewer has too much integrity for his own good.

After battling bots (automated software) for a place, Brewer has now laid a complaint with the Government’s top watchdog saying the MIQ booking site is simply not usable for those who play within the rules.

The booking system is a disgrace. No one but a Government could come up with such an awful system.

It would not be hard to have a fairer system where for example people go on a waiting list. But you have a system that not only makes it near impossible to book a place without cheating, it also ends up with thousands of rooms sitting empty.

Sean Gourley, a Canterbury University Physics and Complex Systems PhD who went on to become a NASA research scientist before founding an AI startup, divides his time between the US and NZ, and told Brewer’s experience was typical. Gourley’s logs showed bookings “happening in under 750 milliseconds which is faster than a human can navigate this UX [user-interface].

“The only way to book a spot to come back to New Zealand is if you pay $1000 to a third party to employ bots for you,” Gourley said.

Again there are so many better ways you could run this. You could allow private MIQ operators. You could block assign rooms to airlines, and allows them to allocate a room as they sell a ticket.

And Gourley has publically suggested a simple change, which he says would make the site workable.

“The simplest change [MBIE] can make to the booking code is to keep the date open for 10 minutes and let anyone choose the date. Then randomly select from all those who have clicked on this date within the 10-minute window,” he posted.

“It removes the speed advantage bots have. And Importantly, makes it accessible to people who can’t afford to pay $950 to the black market. It’s a simple code change that you can push out today if you want, MBIE.”

Also a workable change.

Academics warn against proposed hate speech laws

VUW academics Michael Johnston and James Kierstead write:

If the ability to say things that may offend is legally hindered, then the contest of ideas necessary to keep a democracy healthy is hindered as well, write Dr Michael Johnston and Dr James Kierstead …

A society that leaves it to politicians, the courts or – worse still – the police to determine which ideas may be expressed and which may not is no true democracy, whether or not it holds elections. If the ability to say things that may offend is legally hindered, then the contest of ideas necessary to keep a democracy healthy is hindered as well. Many good ideas may never be expressed, and many bad ones may go unrebutted.

Supporters of the Government’s intended ‘hate speech’ legislation might argue it is only the ill-intentioned – those who would deliberately offend, hurt or stir up hatred against vulnerable minorities – who need fear these laws. But if we hand to those in power the ability to control public discourse, they will inevitably use it to advance their own agendas. They might even do this with a clear conscience, having convinced themselves they are merely protecting the vulnerable.

There are many contestable and topical questions that affect vulnerable groups, such as whether trans women ought to be incarcerated in women’s prisons and whether separate political representation for Māori is compatible with universalist democratic principles. Three years ago, Massey University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas justified banning Don Brash from speaking there on the grounds that his expressed views on the latter issue came “dangerously close to hate speech”.

Statements like Thomas’s make it clear why the Government’s proposed legislation might stifle public debate. Had this legislation been law at the time at which Brash expressed his views, would he – the leader of the National Party until 2006 – have been liable to jail time?

This is indeed the huge danger. These laws will be used to intimidate and prevent debate on controversial political issues. If hundreds of people flood the Police with complaints that someone’s view on an issue is promoting hatred, then of course the Police will investigate. And even if not charged or convicted, that will be enough to have a chilling effect.

Meet Harry

Meet Harry Tam, whom Jacinda describes as a public servant. He’s one of those whom Jacinda and Grant gave $2.75 million to for “drug rehabilitation”.

Some key quotes:

  • “In our day we did the fuck what we liked and we got away with it”
  • “Come September this year there is going to be this thing called a general election and we all know the leader of the National Party is ganging up on us”
  • “We can turn in to twenty or thirty thousand votes”
  • “We don’t need to take this shit from these cunts”
  • “Register to vote otherwise that motherfucker will get in and your lives will be hell”
  • “We’re the mighty fucking Mongrel Mob and we don’t take shit from any cunt, and why should we take it from them”
  • “Sieg Heil to the Mongrel Mob for another 1,000 years”

No wonder Labour gave him $2.75 million if was going around that country urging the Mongrel Mob chapters to enrol and vote against National.

Gandhi, Mandel, King and Ardern?

The Herald reports:

A long chain of communication between the author of a contentious new Jacinda Ardern biography and the PM’s staff has revealed the convoluted efforts the author made to bag an exclusive interview.

Author Supriya Vani courted controversy this year when she published a biography of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, co authored with Carl A. Harte.

The book raised eyebrows when its publishers said it contained “exclusive interviews” with Ardern, which was contrary to Ardern’s policy of not doing interviews for biographies. …

“I realise that whereas Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King were heroes of the twentieth century, Jacinda Ardern would go in annals of twenty-first century [sic],” she said.

Obviously a neutral and balanced journalist!

“You have established a very high bench mark in the realm of empathy for suffering fellow human beings transcending all barriers of religion. It requires a heart of purest ray serene and Edenic innocence. You have become world’s iconic figure. Kindly share your message for world peace? [sic]” Vani asked.

Move over Jesus and Buddha.

Vance on the vaccination plan failures

Andrea Vance writes:

When are we going to admit that New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out is not going to plan?

One of the biggest criticisms of this Government is that they fail on delivery. While true of some major promises (housing affordabilitytransportchild poverty), they are driving through generational change – in local governmenthealth and education.

They are driving through significant change in those three areas, but it remains to be seen if it will be good change.

But the immunisation programme is their biggest challenge. And the signs are not promising.

The truth is mired in mixed messaging. The weekly sermon from the Beehive pulpit would suggest all is on track.

On the ground, this is not the reality. Listening to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, it feels like we slipped down the rabbit hole into an alternate vaccine Wonderland where graphs make no sense, up is down and right is left.

New Zealand is at the bottom of the OECD for vaccination rates.

Only half a million people are fully immunised. A third of border workers have not had both jabs – a milestone that was supposed to have been reached by June’s end.

The reality is that the Ministry of Health is not particularly competent at operational things. It is a policy ministry in the main.

But if Hipkins and Ardern persist in their White King and Queen double-act, while the rest of us experience more delays on the other side of the Looking Glass they will squander that trust, and patience will run out.

If the rest of the world opens up because they have been vaccinated and we remain the least vaccinated country in the OECD, people will get grumpy.

Is Labour going to introduce a death tax?

Tom Pullar-Strecker writes:

There are a couple of pieces of evidence to suggest may Labour may want to go to the next election proposing an inheritance tax.

The first is the Government’s decision to allocate $5 million over two years to Inland Revenue in the Budget to assessthe income and wealth of high-wealth individuals.

An IR spokeswoman confirms that work should shed light on issues including the amount of inherited wealth.

If the Government is going to consider an inheritance tax, commissioning such research was probably going to be a necessary first step. …

So did Parker order IR’s wealth and income study in the expectation that it might help inform a discussion on an inheritance tax?

Parker says “no’.

National’s Willis is unconvinced.

“I just don’t accept the idea that you would be doing that research with no view to changing policy,” she says.

“My suspicion is the minister is trying to create an evidence base for new taxes that Labour may to campaign on.”

If Labour wants to go to an election campaigning on taxing people because they died, then bring it on. Running a campaign against a death tax would be great fun.

Ambassador Udall

President Biden has nominated Tom Udall to be his Ambassador to New Zealand. As a former Senator, he should easily get confirmed by the Senate.

His background is:

  • Attorney-General of New Mexico 1991 to 1999
  • US Representative for New Mexico’s 3rd district 1999 to 2009
  • Senator for New Mexico 2009 – 2021

Most people were surprised when he retired from the Senate after just two terms.

He is very big on conservation, so I imagine that will be a focus of his time here.

Cullen lashes Auckland light rail

Sir Michael Cullen writes:

This would be far preferable to some of the current proposals, which have something of the air of monument-building about them.

The enormous cost and disruption of the proposed single-line light-rail project in Auckland is airily dismissed by its more enthusiastic supporters as of little consequence.

It seems they arrived at the solution well before properly analysing the problem.

A solution looking for a problem!

Buses, preferably electrified, will be the backbone of Auckland’s public transport network for the future.

It is not clear what a $10 billion-plus tram line will add to that.

The same applies in Wellington. A spend on buses will do far more to relieve congestion and improve public transport usage, than on light rail. But light rail is a religion to the converts and they ignore what is best.

Fascist activists demand state of emergency to stop a public meeting

Newshub reports:

The Trans and Non-Binary Dignity Collective NZ have urged Foster to declare a state of emergency to protect Wellington against the event, saying it classifies as an emergency for their community.

They really are fascists. This was a meeting to discuss a law change being considered by Parliament, where the organisers advocate the current law does not need to change.

And this group believe that allowing people to hear arguments against changing the law is so harmful that martial law should be declared to stop people being allowed to hear a view they disagree with.

Death porn film even worse than expected

Newshub reports:

Newshub can reveal the early draft script of the They Are Us film is a Hollywood rewrite of New Zealand history. …

Bridges, who was Leader of the Opposition at the time, is described in the script as looking “conservative” with a “very electable haircut”.

He’s portrayed as deeply opposed to Ardern’s firearm law reforms, and at one point delivers the line: “Come for our guns, you might get bullets.”

In another scene, he points to an assault rifle and says: “If one of those worshippers had one of these they could have stopped this tragedy in seconds.”

In reality, Bridges actually supported the law change.

“This scripting is entirely inaccurate and offensive. We immediately supported the ban,” Bridges told Newshub about the draft They Are Us script.

The death porn film needs a hero (Jacinda) and a villain so not content with the actual terrorist they smear Bridges as someone who parrots NRA lines.

David Seymour is one New Zealand political leader who has been left out of the draft script entirely.

In his place is a fictional character ‘Solomon Marsh’, a devout Christian who confronts Jacinda Ardern for wearing a hijab.

He’s the leader of a made-up party called the Independent Party and is Ardern’s arch-nemesis on gun law changes, often regurgitating arguments commonly made by the powerful NRA lobby of the United States.

And a second made up villain.

This is a work of fiction designed for US audiences. They are aiming to make millions of dollars by exploiting the pain of those killed in the attack.

Update on the Govt not funding great schools, and the outstanding Gumboot Friday Progamme – Comedy from the PM

Yesterday, late, I added a post script re Hipkin’s refusing to even allow a superb application for a new school (non-zoned) and near a transport hub in Auckland (I have included it in here as many KBs would have missed Ardern’s comedian-like performance yesterday on why some things get funded.

With regards to the teacher aiding issue I have actually been impressed by both the level of media engagement and their understanding of what is at stake. Lots that is worth fighting for.

In the last 10 days I have had the privilege of working alongside two amazing groups of people.

1. Mike King and team – working with us in Russell, Bay of Islands, being involved in three events and doing an incredible job bringing his mental health message to the Far North (where it is desperately needed).

2. A group of courageous, passionate and highly informed parents as the Friends of Mt Hobson Middle School advocating for diverse learners across the country, putting their own stories in public and challenging the Minister of Educations view that a new school for 480 students near an Auckland transport hub is not needed because (his words): “the are available supports for all learners in existing State schools” and that a new school of 480 students would make “no material difference to the network.”

Both causes have gathered significant traction and remarkable public support. 
Those with the purse strings have preferred to fund a white elephant bike and footpath from Birkenhead to Ponsonby and a gang led drug programme. 

I have just watched Jacinda Ardern explain why: 

“Our position is to fund what works, fund what makes a difference.”

(40 secs into this: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/07/mongrel-mob-rehab-funding-likened-to-money-laundering-officers-angry-police-association.html)

Surely she jests! How does she keep a straight face – that was funnier than Mike King.

Inflation soars to 3.3%

Stats NZ reports:

Annual inflation as measured by the consumers price index (CPI) increased to 3.3 percent in June 2021, Stats NZ said today.

This was the biggest increase in nearly 10 years and was driven by higher prices for new housing and petrol.

So aspiring home owners and vehicle owners most affected.

The cost of building a new house was the biggest contributor to both annual and quarterly inflation this quarter, up 7.4 percent for the year, and 4.6 percent for the quarter.

A 5% quarterly increase is huge. We’re looking at doing an extension on our house and the projected costs from the quantity surveyor were unbelievably high.

Petrol prices increased 16 percent between the June 2020 quarter and June 2021 quarter. The weighted average price of a litre of 91 octane was $2.13 in the June 2021 quarter, up from $2.00 in the March 2021 quarter. 

Even worse now – up at $2.27.

Expect mortgage rates to start to increase now inflation is above the 1% to 3% target band.

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