- By Christopher Luxon, MP for Botany
Last week, Aucklanders reached a bleak milestone: our 80th consecutive day in lockdown.
When Delta hit the community back in August, few of us could have predicted we would still be inside our homes as late as November, as Christmas quickly approaches.
It’s hard to sugar coat things – Aucklanders are exhausted, frustrated and drained. Long lockdowns sap our energy and happiness and, for some, they can be dire: many of our pressured business owners are struggling to survive and face losing their livelihoods.
People have had enough and the very least they want is some hope on the horizon and some certainty.
Unfortunately, certainty from the Government has been in rare supply.
We’ve seen senior Cabinet Ministers publicly contradict each other over whether the Government is considering the inexplicably absurd idea of state-issued time slots for Aucklanders to leave the region over summer.
We’ve been given a complicated menu of levels and steps. First we had the clear, simple Alert Level system then a messy, confusing three step “roadmap” for Auckland and now the new traffic light regime.
This is from the same Government that had delivered the slowest vaccine rollout in the developed world by the time Delta hit.
It’s the same Government that unfathomably spent more than $12 billion of money borrowed for our Covid response on flagrantly unrelated projects including art therapy, hunting wallabies, commercialising New Zealand music, centralising water services and putting cameras on fishing boats.
For all of these reasons, National has called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Government’s lack of preparation for Delta so we can understand what wasn’t done and prevent any repeat of the confusion and incompetence New Zealanders have now experienced for months on end.
National has been playing our part as the Opposition to present constructive solutions. In recent weeks, we’ve launched our “Opening Up” plan to tackle Covid-19, end lockdowns and re-open to the world and our Back in Business plan to save livelihoods and unleash our economy.
Both plans contain practical ideas supported by industry leaders that could be picked up and implemented by the Government immediately like providing rental support to businesses, urgently rolling out saliva testing and rapid antigen testing and delivering targeted assistance for highly-affected industries like tourism and hospitality.
We’ve also called for the end of the MIQ system, which has long surpassed its use-by date and our petition to the Government attracted 50,000 signatures in its first day.
It’s a farce that fully-vaccinated Kiwis without Covid-19 who miraculously secure a place then have to spend a fortnight in MIQ – while more than 1000 Covid cases or close contacts can isolate at home in Auckland.
We must end the MIQ lottery of human misery and allow fully vaccinated travellers who return negative pre-departure tests to enter New Zealand without spending time in MIQ hotels.
The Government must move with urgency to adopt National’s ideas and give Aucklanders the plan, the certainty and the hope that we need.