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Minister of Health gets it right – with MTB trip

  • April 2nd, 2020

Someone has already updated David Clark’s Wiki profile with the following:
COVID 19
During the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020 where the NZ Government was recommending all non essential personnel maintain a lockdown Clark, Health Minister at the time, drove 2 kilometers to go for a 6 kilometers mountain bike ride.
This was specifically against the policy his Government has been promoting while the whole country was in lock down and resulted in everyone just doing whatever they felt like” . 

I think the outcome will be the opposite. Though he will deserve all the opprobrium he gets for hypocrisy, the best outcome should be a more healthy resistance by our amateur government to Police abuses of power, and restoration of the proper focus for the lock down. 

The PM announced the lockdown details over a week ago with a proper explanation of its anti-contagion purposes. She approved a questioner’s approach to getting out for exercise, provided safe separation and hygiene protocols were observed. But later the Police took  a very different approach, and the PM then meekly fell into line. To be fair to the Police, they had an excuse. The Cabinet position appears to have been confused and contradictory.

If there was not unresolved internal dissent, the outcome is more discreditable – that they simply did not realise what they were doing. As well as the original sensible ‘safe activity is permitted’ theme, Cabinet announcements have also been consistent with the progressive left line in social regulation – that it is better to spread readily avoidable cost across all NZers, by confining them all, whether or not they could safely continue their work under protocols working in Singapore, Taiwan, Sth Korea and Sweden, because that is preferred to “singling out” and imposing deterrent penalties on those ignore the justifiable restrictions. Our recent governments, both Labour and National have been determined not to be seen requiring personal responsibility on young people, ferals and other anti-social “communities”. 

That cast iron aversion to enforcing personal responsibility is baked in to our law in numerous areas. The recent Police huffing and puffing on self isolation does not persuade anyone familiar with our justice system’s bottomless willingness to accept feeble excuses, and to avoid certain consequences for clearly defined wrongs.

Instead we cast around for convenient class enemies to make vicariously liable for the faults of the ‘disadvantaged and never-responsible’ clients for the politics of conspicuous compassion. Take, for example, our ludicrously misnamed “drinking age” of 18. No one under 18 faces a penalty for drinking. Our Police told Sir Geoffrey Palmer when he was redesigning liquor law that penalising drunkenness would be too hard. So instead our law is consumed by punishing supermarket and dairy owners, and other  ‘suppliers’. That pattern is now found throughout our law.

But the outcome from needlessly nuking hundreds of thousands of jobs might precipitate a reset. I hope David Clark’s commonsense decision to ignore foolish restrictions will hasten that day. The  contagion  needs a massive consensus adherence to effective hygiene and separation protocols. They could have been promulgated with advertising as sophisticated as our anti drink driving advertisements, with saturation coverage.  Then ruthlessly enforced by Police, alongside resuscitated social sanctions. The emergency law change powers should have been used to suspend the grotesque interference of the Privacy Act (and its idealogue Commissioner). To revive shame as the front line sanction for immoral lack of care for community safety. Shame (whakaama) is the mechanism at the cultural heart of nearly all successful systems for control of anti-social behaviour. Our lawyer/political elite decided 3 decades ago, with secret Youth justice, name suppression, Clean Slate law, and the so-called Human Rights Review Tribunal, that only they should be trusted to know about anti-social reputations, and  to allocate community disfavour. 

ACT’s  Free Press email newsletter explained on 30 March why David Clark is now right. He should acknowledge hypocrisy, but insist that the government take the incident as a wake up. The Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges, chairing the watch dog Parliamentary Committee that is supervising the government’s use of its dangerous powers,  should help David Clark and all of us. He could get his committee to assist the government to return to safer ground. Together the Opposition and the government should walk the Police back from their outrageous assertions of  powers that have next to nothing to do with contagion mechanisms. 

Here is the key part of David Seymour’s penetrating summary on 30 March. It is particularly pertinent on the closure day for the Listener, North and South, and undoubtedly thousands of other businesses that will be of much less interest to journalists. 

What Is Safe Versus What Is Essential

The Government has taken the view that in order to function under the lockdown, something must be deemed essential. We view this as a mistake. If the objective is to stop the spread of COVID-19, then the test should be whether something can be done safely, not whether it is essential. Moving to a test of safety rather than necessity would be a much better way of fighting the virus while salvaging businesses.

“‘Essential’ Compromises ‘Safety’

The Government rightly says it is essential to have food available. Once food is available in an area, no other activity is permissible. But making people travel further to visit a smaller number of bigger and busier stores undermines our goal of reducing the spread of the virus. Supermarkets have remained open because they are essential but they have only undertaken safety mechanisms more recently. Under a safety approach, only food stores with safe processes would be allowed to open, but all stores with such processes would equally be able to open.

Infantilising Us

‘Essential’ is a conditional term. It can’t stand alone. It only makes sense if you complete the sentence. “Doing X is essential… if your goal is Y.” By deciding what is essential, the Government is deciding your goals. It erases freedom at the most basic level. The Government will decide what you need, and by extension what you want. Instead of the objective test ‘can this be done in a way that is safe’ we are facing a subjective test ‘does the Government think you need this.’ This level of government power is not sustainable.

Breakdown Of The Rule of Law

Subjectivity leads to absurdities and a breakdown of the rule of law. The Government has decided that eating halal meat is a goal important enough to justify opening some butcheries. Driving to the beach for a walk or a picnic is not. Which one is safer? More worryingly, the Government has decided weekly papers are not essential but dailies are. The Government now has arbitrary ability to threaten media. This is an outrage but the other media are not sticking together.

Police Overreach

One consequence of Government deciding what you should want is Police overreach. The Police Commissioner’s Rambo routine of euphemistic threats to the public – ‘you might have to visit our place’ – is a major misstep. He is trying to demand respect instead of earning it. Anecdotal reports are that frontline officers, facing a time of great uncertainty, are following suit. The Police risk alienating all New Zealanders the same way they have alienated licensed firearms owners over the past year. We need community policing, not community intimidation.”

Comments

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An excellent, articulate and insightful piece.

This is a good summation of the Govt’s long held and practiced social experiment of non, personal responsibility to see how far and for how long they can fool the populace into thinking it is totally acceptable to have no personal responsibility in pursuance of a ‘nanny state’ that proffers we have 100% clean green pure freedom, when in fact they’re puppets of the state.

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  • Jim Rose
  • April 4th, 2020
  • 3:07 pm

Countless difficult decisions lie ahead including slowly reopening the border which will involves several secondary waves of infections.

Those decisions we made by a Prime Minister who can’t sack a minister who makes a fool of her in the government. Execute one, educate a thousand.

From Monday when the two weeks is up with everyone basically locked in bubbles, infections will still be below 100, hardly anyone will have died, fortunately, and pressure will go on to go down to alert level III. Then there’s the issue of reopening the border initially with Australia.

The political rewards in this crisis come from those who can get us out of it, not those who just follow health ministry advice to get us into it.

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[…] That cast iron aversion to enforcing personal responsibility is baked in to our law in numerous areas. . . Shame (whakaama) is the mechanism at the cultural heart of nearly all successful systems for control of anti-social behaviour.  – Stephen Franks […]

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