COVID-19 vs New Zealand | The Jackal

30 Mar 2020

COVID-19 vs New Zealand

Yesterday, New Zealand recorded its first Covid-19 related death on the West Coast. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the only fatality, with the virus now being found in every region of the country.

However despite the significant danger, people are still unfortunately breaching lockdown rules.

There’s really only one main very simple rule, stay at home. But for some reason certain idiots think they’re impervious to a virus that has now claimed 31,000 victims worldwide and is predicted to kill many hundreds of thousands more.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Covid 19 coronavirus: Police called to '60-person party' near Queenstown backpacker's 

Police were called last night to a backpacker party involving up to 60 people in a Queenstown park. 
Footage from the area shows backpackers spilling out of Deco Backpackers, which backs onto Rotary Park on Lake St in Queenstown. 
Officers were called at about 5.45pm to find a group of about 60 people having a party, a police spokesperson said.

However it’s not just people’s arrogance currently creating additional risk and likely prolonging the countries lockdown. As we all know, the neoliberal agenda has dramatically increased inequality in New Zealand, impoverishment that is now hindering people’s ability to safeguard their families through isolation.

Successive New Zealand Government’s have believed that benefits need to be set below the actual cost of living, to encourage people into low-waged employment, which has effectively resulted in a system of begging for food grants. Low benefit rates also mean people living below the poverty line don't have anything left over for a rainy day.

People living hand to mouth are being forced (through hunger) to leave the place they reside. In effect the discriminatory system is endangering Kiwis lives.

But it’s not just a hangover from an out-dated ideology that’s the problem. Capitalism is also ensuring that a lockdown isn’t being executed properly. Along with numerous businesses failing to close down properly when they were legally required to do so, and a questionable list of essential services to begin with, the Government is now contemplating allowing the reopening of other non-essential businesses.

Today, RNZ reported:

Coronavirus: PM to reconsider 'essential businesses' 

Ministers will meet today to discuss whether more services should be deemed to be essential and allowed to be open for business.

I’m sure there has recently been substantial lobbying of the Government by businesses with vested interests. Perhaps even a few more secret donations have been offered to National and NZ First to relax the rules? There are after all billions of dollars at stake.

Here’s the Prime Minister clearly stating that the economy is of utmost importance.

"New Zealand was well-placed going in, the debt to GDP level of many countries was very high relative to New Zealand, so that makes a difference for us. 
"At the same time we have to think about what the future looks like for sectors that have relied on people moving around the globe. So I am thinking, and ministers are thinking about our tourism industry in the long term. And what we can do to heat up and warm up and get our economy going, once we get through the other side of this."

What was that about not keeping all your eggs in one basket? Who was that saying we needed to diversify our economy I wonder? Certainly none of the selfish capitalists who are now bleating about their bottom lines.

If Covid-19 is as bad as they say, much of the economy won't get through to the other side. That means industries like tourism in New Zealand will effectively end. With confirmation that the virus can survive on items for weeks, there is no doubt that our export driven economy will also take a hammering.

"We will have to be managing Covid-19 until there's a vaccine, and that will be many months. My goal is for, at the end of this four weeks, to at least be in a position where ... some parts of the country can move to a lower level of our alert system."

Whether or not Jacinda Ardern places the economy above people’s safety will be the real test of her time in power. There will be intense pressure on her to think of the capitalists instead of the safety of every day Kiwis at the moment. Let’s hope she makes the right decision.