The writer is in New Zealand
WATCH the local news every night at six o’clock and you will get the impression that despite the best efforts of those horribly backward ‘far-Right anti-vaxxers’, everything in New Zealand is just fine.
Turn on the breakfast TV shows – notorious as their anchors are for their crony relationships with the Prime Minister – and you will finish your avocado on toast and almond milk latte feeling relieved that everything the Labour government have done to tackle these past two years of Covid has all been with your best interests at heart.
Is that true? And if not, at what cost?
Steadfast supporters of Labour (many of whom will never turn their backs on ‘St Jacinda’) point to one of the most crucial aspects of the deflating balloon that is the pandemic: the body count.
Compared with Australia, which has recorded 4,422 deaths (0.017 per cent of the population), New Zealand appears to come up smelling of roses with a mere 53 deaths, 0.00106 per cent of the near-5million populace, placing it amongst one of the world’s lowest death rates for countries of similar density. Pandemic? What pandemic?
Ardern’s cheerleaders (who are heavily involved on all media platforms) will continue to suggest that the numbers are so low because New Zealand implemented one of the fastest and strictest ‘lockdowns’ from the very beginning. To much of the pro-vax crowd here, lockdowns do indeed work.
To these same noisy do-gooders, every measure and restriction applied since – mask and vaccine mandates, ‘vaccine passports’, quarantine ‘hotels’, alert level ‘frameworks’ and social distancing – have been introduced and enforced at exactly the right times, despite being carbon copies of the whimsical measures and restrictions from other nations where ‘the science’ continues to suggest they may well have never been necessary, or, at the very least, were wholly destructive to wider society and massively disproportionate to the dangers of the virus itself.
But just as others around the world awaken to the harsh reality of the past 24 months of politically-induced hardship, so too are Prime Minister Ardern’s ever-growing number of detractors.
A report by the St John Ambulance on emergency service incidents from 2021 reveals ‘a concerning rise in the number of mental health and suicide attempt incidents – which were up 30 per cent on the previous year’. A spokesman added: ‘The most disturbing trend is the number involving patients aged under 14. This age group had a 36 per cent increase in 2021 (up 49 patients to 186 patients) compared with the previous year (137 patients) and was 77 per cent higher than 2019 (105 patients).’
Moreover, young people have borne the brunt of many ‘elimination strategy’ policies such as lockdown, with the statistics surrounding 15-24-year-olds very much raising the alarm.
According to a study conducted in August 2020 by the website loneliness.org.nz, ‘prolonged loneliness among young people rose from 5.8 per cent before the [Covid] crisis to 20.8 per cent during the lockdown, and decreased only slightly to 17.7 per cent in July 2020 after the lockdown ended.’
Whilst it’s important to remember that New Zealand isn’t alone on the world stage in the context of detrimental Covid-policy outcomes, it is important to remember, and realise, that pre-2020 New Zealand was already earmarked as a global leader in terms of mental health disparities, including youth suicide.
Add to that the country’s ongoing battles with bullying in schools, missed education, mask-mandated classrooms, child poverty (particularly in single-parent households), drug addiction and domestic violence, in which the nation leads the developed world, and all of a sudden the inane grinning and gurning ritual that is a Jacinda Ardern press conference seems wildly inappropriate. She and Justin Trudeau vie for the title of least ‘in-touch’ politician propped up on the world stage.
One has to wonder why, when domestic violence, including child abuse, was known to be so tragically high, were policies put in place that would unavoidably increase the likelihood of further hurt, suffering, and death within the home via lockdowns and other stringent restrictions?
How and why did this government – and most other governments – settle at a place that would ultimately view Covid harm as more necessary to protect against than any other medical menace, to the extent that that almost every other treatment for almost every other disease no longer mattered? How could it ever have been left to a reactionary establishment regime to determine which illnesses mattered more?
Finally, for how many generations will the policies of the past two-years, physically and psychologically, economically and socially, continue to touch the people of this gravely damaged nation?
This appeared in The Commoner on February 11, 2022, and is republished by kind permission.