National cries wolf over Coronavirus | The Jackal

27 Jan 2020

National cries wolf over Coronavirus

Opposition MP Michael Woodhouse
Last week, the current National Party leader, Simon Bridges, claimed that the Minister of Health wasn’t leading on ‘significant issues that matter to New Zealanders within his Health portfolio’ when commenting about the Government’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

This silly comment was made despite David Clark working closely with all concerned and providing daily updates to the public via the media about the Coronavirus pandemic.

The deluded Simon Bridges wasn’t the only one to unfairly criticise the Government's response however, with the former Minister of Health, Michael Woodhouse, also putting the boot in.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Coronavirus: Michael Woodhouse blasts Julie Anne Genter, David Clark over preparations for outbreak 
National MP Michael Woodhouse has called for the Government to implement precautionary measures to manage the risk of the deadly Coronavirus, blasting David Clark and Julie Anne Genter in the process. 
"He's not dealing with it - the reality is we haven't heard from David Clark here. He needs to step up [and] reassure the public that the ministry and health authorities do have this in hand, and there are steps we can take to manage the risk. 

The really dumb thing here is that the Government had already implemented a Pandemic Response plan on the 23rd of January, making Woodhouse’s comments null and void. Clearly Winston Peters’ metaphor concerning Bridges barking at every passing car also applies to the ignorant Michael Woodhouse.

The problem with this type of attack politics is that people lose interest in what politicians are saying, which might suit the National Party’s agenda of misinformation, but it certainly isn’t good for politics in general.

National, the party that always cries wolf, is simply trying to fabricate controversy where there is none.  Here’s the timeline of the New Zealand Government’s reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic in China including some of the National Party’s criticism:

22 January
The first media reports that China has nearly 300 cases and 6 deaths because of the Coronavirus are made in New Zealand. 
The Ministry of Health’s Dr Caroline McElnay reports that information is being provided to travellers about what they should do if they develop Coronavirus like symptoms. 
Vaccinologist Helen Petousis Harris recommends that NZ should implement its pandemic preparedness plan.
Woodhouse says the Government must take proactive steps to ensure the coronavirus outbreak does not spread to New Zealand.

23 January
The reported number of deaths linked to the Coronavirus rises to 17 with more than 500 people being infected in China. 
The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and keeping health professionals around the country informed. 
The Government implements its pandemic preparedness plan.
Woodhouse criticises the Government, telling media that there's a national pandemic plan that can be activated.

24 January 
There are 830 cases of Coronavirus in China and 26 deaths confirmed. 
An expert advisory group meets to peer review advice and provide technical expertise to the Government. 
The Ministry also sets up an incident management team to monitor and respond to the situation and provide public advice and information for all other departments. 
A Border Working Group specifically in response to the new Coronavirus is in operation. 

25 January 
Some schools tell students coming from China not to attend. 
Bridges and Woodhouse again criticise the Government’s response and more specifically David Clark and Julie-Anne Genter, wrongly claiming that the PM doesn’t have confidence in the Associate Minister of Health.

26 January
There are 1,072 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in China and 41 deaths. 4 cases are confirmed in Australia.  
The MoH reports that public health staff will begin meeting flights from China today to test for the Coronavirus.

The National Party is grandstanding and taking the mainstream media’s focus off what they should be doing, keeping the public properly informed.

By all other accounts David Clark and Julie-Anne Genter have handled New Zealand’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak well, with nobody but National trying to politicise the devastating pandemic.

The problem is that if the National Party keeps crying wolf when nothing's actually wrong, nobody will pay them any attention if they do actually have a reason to sound the alarm.

Constantly trying to politicise everything the Government does or doesn’t do isn’t a sound plan at the best of times, let alone during a serious pandemic that has now claimed the lives of 56 people.