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Archive for September, 2021

One thousand dead New Zealanders per year?

19 September 2021 3 comments

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The “Plan Bers” – including assorted right-wing politicians, privileged media commentators, faux “experts”, business lobbyists, et al – have a new argument they’re recently taken to trotting out, to justify opening up Aotearoa New Zealand to covid-19:

“We already have 500 New Zealanders dying each year from influenza.”

Overseas “experts” have been just as keen to join the But What About Influenza Club, like this character from the United States, Dr Amesh Adalja, from the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security:

“We don’t want anybody to die from Covid. Covid is a vaccine preventable illness, now is a vaccine preventable death, but I think there are many tools that you can use short of a lockdown to achieve that goal and I think what we eventually want to see is decoupling of cases from hospitalisations and death. But there’s going to be some level of deaths that occur, and I think it’s interesting because in New Zealand you had around 26 or so deaths.

But in the last flu season you had 500 deaths and I just worry about that precedent, because what is New Zealand going to do for the next flu season? How do you kind of square what you’ve done for Covid for flu? When the flu deaths are 20 times higher because of those actions you’ve taken and I think this is going to be something that your society has to to think about and debate, and I think it’s an important debate to have.”

So there we have it: allowing people to die from preventable disease is worthy of “debate”.

When do we get to debate if Dr Adalja should live or die. Or his family?

In the same “debate”, hosted by Nathan Rarere on RNZ’s “First Up“, Dr Adalja called our lockdowns  “as a last resort when nothing else works, and as a policy failure“.

He acknowledged that our current covid death rate was “around 26 or so deaths” (It’s currently at 27.)

Dr Adalja didn’t mention that the covid death toll of the United States – his home country – currently stands at 691,562. The US is currently experiencing 148,000 cases and 1,991 deaths reported per day.

Nor did Dr Adalja mention that the US is currently experiencing a massive resurgence of Delta Covid, with hospitals being over-whelmed.  Hospital care is being rationed as staff can no longer cope:

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Dr Adalja mentions none of these inconvenient truths. Out-of-control Delta surge. Hospitals forced to rational care. Rising death toll. 

Not. One. Word.

But he is happy to  lecture us that lockdowns are “a policy failure“.

On a recent episode of TV3’s The Nation, political report Tova O’Brien asked National’s covid spokesperson, Chris Bishop, and ACT Leader, David Seymour what number of covid-related deaths would be acceptable to open up Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chris Bishop suggested that “he would like us to get to around 85% before we start to open up“. David Seymour offered no vaccination target.

According to one report from The Lancet, at 90% vaccination rate (including under 15s), our death toll was estimated at around 1,030 per year – twice the influenza rate.

Neither had the courage nor stomach to offer an acceptable death rate.

Mr Seymour, however,  did respond with a bit of Grim Reaperish ‘whataboutism’:

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“Well, 30,000 people die in New Zealand every year.

The truth is that we cannot prevent all deaths. The important question here is how much more are we prepared to spend to prevent a COVID death than deaths from car crashes, deaths from cancer? Because at the moment, the money we’re spending on COVID, we can’t spend on preventing those other kinds of deaths.”

David Seymour has established a new benchmark by casually accepting the annual influenza death toll as an acceptable figure. If 500 covid-related deaths per year are also acceptable, we should look at other causal factors of death in this country, and apply the new benchmark:

David Seymour’s 500 Deaths Rule

Road toll for 2020: 320 + 180 more acceptable deaths = 500

Work Related Deaths for 2020: 66 + 434 more acceptable deaths = 500

Drownings for 2020: 74 + 426 more acceptable deaths = 500

Homicides for 2020: 142 + 358 more acceptable deaths = 500

There are probably many more categories that could have the 500 Deaths Rule applied.

If Mr Seymour can justify an increased covid death toll by pointing and demanding, “What about ‘flu?” then anything can be justified and made acceptable.

This is the benchmark set by David Seymour.  Let’s call it “Seymour’s Death Rule”.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 debate – When should New Zealand open up its borders?

Worldometer:  Coronavirus Cases – United States

RNZ: US hospitals ration care amid shortages and Covid-19 surge

Reuters: Some U.S. hospitals forced to ration care amid staffing shortages, COVID-19 surge

NPR: A COVID Surge Is Overwhelming U.S. Hospitals, Raising Fears Of Rationed Care

Vox: Americans are dying because no hospital will take them

New York Times: Idaho allows overwhelmed hospitals across the state to ration care if necessary.

Forbes: In Idaho And Other States, The Delta Covid-19 Surge Is Forcing Hospitals To Ration ICU Beds

CNN: As Covid-19 hospitalizations spike, some overwhelmed hospitals are rationing care

Newshub: Coronavirus – David Seymour says Govt ‘cannot prevent all deaths’, says money spent on COVID can’t be spent preventing deaths from other causes

The Lancet – Western Pacific:  COVID-19 vaccine strategies for Aotearoa New Zealand: a mathematical modelling study

Otago University magazine: Flu a major killer

Police: 2020 road deaths down on 2019

Worksafe: Fatalities

Water Safety: Water Safety Reports 2020

Police: Daily Occurrences of Crime and Family Violence Investigations

Previous related blogposts

Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

The freezing cold invisible hand of neo-liberalism

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

The Microbiologist, the Caretaker Leader, and some Nasty Germs

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Acknowledgement: Chris Slane

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Submission on Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill

14 September 2021 2 comments

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My submission on the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill. It is shorter than I had originally intended as – with everything else happening – I found the deadline had rushed up on me.

Ironically, it was a TERF posting on The Standard who reminded me to get this submission done before today’s deadline.

The Submission:

Committee members might want to reflect on a simple truth:

Currently, people who are transgender or non-binary have to go through a Court process to have their gender corrected and to be legally identified as to their identity.

Nowhere else in society do we demand that a sector of the community go through a similar process. Not cis males; not cis women; not Maori; not Pasifika; not Asian; not gay men; not lesbian women; no one.

But we demand that trans people go through a legal process that we do not require from anyone else.

This not only defies logic, but also hints at a form of “apartheid”, where a minority is treated differently from the rest of us.

Imagine if we ALL had to go through a similar process, to have our gender identity validated by a Judges stamp on a Court document. How would any of us feel about that?

I not only support the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, but I hope to god we never have to go through such a process again.

No one should have to be validated by an official process.

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Other Blogs

Boots Theory: End conversion therapy in Aotearoa

Boots Theory: Support accurate birth certificates for trans and non-binary people

Previous related blogposts      

First they came…

Apartheid in Aotearoa New Zealand – yes, it does exist

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

Anti-trans activists fudge OIA statement – Report

The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response

Submission on Conversion Not-A-Therapy Bill

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The Microbiologist, the Caretaker Leader, and some Nasty Germs

14 September 2021 6 comments

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The recent faux “scandal”  and pile-on levelled at one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top microbiologists, Dr Siouxsie Wiles:

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— is indicative of how threatened the Right feel about the country’s covid closed borders. Despite mistakes and some slow implementation of policies, the leadership of the current government has saved lives.

First, some numbers we should not overlook:

Aotearoa New Zealand’s covid death toll currently stands at 27.

By contrast, Sweden’s death toll currently sits at 14,662. They have had 1,138,017 covid cases compared to our 3,949 .

Yet, Sweden’s population is ten million – just double ours.

It takes no stretch of the imagination to consider the impact on our health system had we even half of Sweden’s infections, hospital admissions, and death toll.

Our nearest neighbours,  New South Wales (current death toll: 177) and Fiji (current death toll*: 535) also offer grim reminders where we might have ended up had it not been for our political leadership; dedicated health and MIQ border professionals; and committed scientists to lead us through this global war.

Anyone taking note of the facts would quickly realise that this is a ‘beat up’ by right-wing bloggers and the current Leader of the National party. Even some National-leaning media commentators have bought into the “scandal” narrative:

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Let’s be clear. This was not a “scandal”.

“Beat up” by the Right – yes. Pile on by covid-deniers, conspiracy fantasists, misogynistic cranks, and assorted RWNJs – yes.

Scandal? Not even close.

Critics of Dr Wiles have accused her of breaking the 5 kilometre rule of travelling for exercise. Except… there is no such rule in this country. Those critics have either dim-wittedly, or deliberately, conflated our country with New South Wales. (Easy mistake to make. Both places begin with “New”. They could easily have confused us with New York.)

The rules for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Level 4 lockdown, as published on the government covid website:

Recreation and Exercise

You are allowed to leave your home or place of residence for recreation or exercise at an outdoor location in your local area that is easy to access (including by vehicle).

You’re strongly encouraged to wear a face covering and should keep a 2 metre distance from people outside your household bubble, where this is practical. You legally must not attend or organise a gathering of people.

You are not allowed to do any dangerous activities, including:

  • swimming
  • surfing
  • scuba-diving
  • water-based activities with boats (sail or motor)
  • using motorised equipment
  • hunting in motorised vehicles
  • tramping
  • flying aircrafts.

Note where it states: “including by vehicle“. Dr Wiles rode her bicycle. She also, contrary to some mischievous claims, did not enter the water.

The New South Wales rules, by contrast:

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National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, was her usual measured, composed self when she described Dr Wiles’ exercise outing:

“I think she’s a big fat hypocrite, actually, and I’m sick and tired of listening to her telling everyone else what to do, and here we have the evidence that she had travelled from Freemans Bay to go and visit with her friend on the beach at Judges Bay in Parnell.

That’s about 5km, and unless she ran there – and I doubt it – then she wasn’t exercising. No masks on, sitting there on the beach, and the friend goes off for a swim. I watched that video, and I thought: big fat hypocrite.

I’m so sick of her telling us all what to do. She’s not doing it? Just do it… If those TV stations have her back on telling everyone what to do, I think we should just turn them off.”

It’s a shame Ms Collins did not approach Dr Wiles for her side of the story before attacking the much-respected microbiologist.

Dr Wiles’ comprehensive explanation of events on the day she went to the beach totally discredits Cameron Slaters blogpost. (This blogger will not link to Mr Slater’s post. It does not merit referencing. Readers can search it out if they feel so inclined. Have some disinfectant handy afterwards.)

On Twitter, Dr Wiles stated:

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Several anons (usual; name/word + numbers) attempted to perpetuate the attack on Dr Wiles, but were mocked and derided by other social media users who understood that this was little more than one of Mr Slater’s ill-conceived, malevolent beat-ups.

The support for the good Doctor was clear indication that most Kiwis respect and admire the work she has done to share information and educate us about covid. She has well earned her New Zealander of the Year title, plus some:

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As with death and taxes, it can be guaranteed that neither Judith Collins nor Cameron Slater will ever have to compose a “thank you” speech for winning “NZer of the Year”.

For Ms Collins to engage in a diatribe that – let’s face it – suggests that the pressures of her job; her ongoing lack of popularity; National’s stagnation in the polls; and David Seymour eclipsing her as Preferred Prime Minister – have raised questions about her emotional stability.

Ms Collins’ reference to Dr Wiles as “big, fat” is juvenile at best; Muldoon-style malevolence at worst. It is not the first time she has made snide comments based on a person’s appearance. Or even seven years ago.

Her desperation to keep her leadership rests on achieving the near-impossible: replacing the most popular, articulate, and effective leader this country has had for a long time. The pressure to succeed has seen her lashing out in ways that would be utterly unacceptable in any other part of society.

National’s more moderate MPs, hierarchy, and membership must be shaking their heads in despair at Ms Collins’ worsening irrational outbursts. They must lie awake at night wondering what the next headlines will reveal about their increasingly erratic Leader.

Several must be shaking their heads in despair that Ms Collins is once again associating with former Whaleoil blogger, Cameron Slater. They understand; no good will come of this.

The attack on Dr Wiles is a large dollop of misogynism writ large. No other virologist, microbiologist, epidemiologist, medical professional, or any scientist – who happens to be male – has been attacked as mercilessly; doggedly, and viciously as Dr Wiles.

Not one.

It is revealing that most of her attackers are men. Most are too irrational, with fragile egos, to engage in rational discourse. Dr Wiles is clearly threatening to this minority with their own intractable personal “issues”.

But politically she is also a threat to National and it’s aspirations.

This government has embraced decision-making based on science and safety. Economics comes after. Labour’s decisions have been largely successful, avoiding the over-whelming of our hospitals with covid cases; corpses stacked high in mortuaries; and a death toll in the hundreds – if not thousands.

For Plan Bers and others who want to see Labour fail, it must be galling for them to watch the government’s success thus far. Dr Wiles has been prominent, articulate, and popular in pushing the scientific framing of our covid policies. With her gender and bright pink hair, she has become an easy target for the anonymous on-line trolls and political opportunists, for sustained bullying.

But Dr Wiles is a strong woman and she understands that these people are, deep down inside, like frightened little children. Look at her reasoned, measured, gentle responses to trolls on-line and it’s like a mother reassuring a scared, anxious child during a violent lightning storm.

As another woman said so many years ago (but who holds not even a molecule of the same mana as Dr Wiles); “The lady’s not for turning“.

And as for National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins? Dr Wiles will have her job after the next election. The same cannot be said for Ms Collins.

How to Fight Nasty Germs.

Far from being passive observers of the targeted harrassment of Dr Wiles, many good people are resisting. They are fighting the Germs that have tried to infect and defeat this incredible woman with their misogynistic hatred.

As reported by Stuff’s Josephine Franks (no relation):

People are donating to Dr Siouxsie Wiles’ research after the microbiologist was accused of breaking lockdown rules and called a “big, fat hypocrite” by Judith Collins.

A video of Wiles at the beach with a friend was circulated in blogs this week. It showed the pair talking on the sand without masks on, before the friend goes in the water. The clip was accompanied by accusations of rule-breaking and hypocrisy.

Wiles told Stuff this was a “really clear case of disinformation” that was spread to discredit her and disrupt the country’s collective response to Covid-19.

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“It costs us about $250 to test each fungus, and we’ve over 10,000 fungi to test, so your support could help us discover more of these life-saving medicines,” the donation page reads.

People have been posting screenshots of their donations on Twitter with messages of support for Wiles.

“Donation made to a hard-working, intelligent and patient lady who has gone to great lengths to keep us all informed,” one said.

“Thank you Dr Siouxsie for your amazing work!” another read.

Some dedicated their donations to Judith Collins after the National leader called Wiles a “big, fat hypocrite” in reference to the video.

Wiles was unfazed by the insult, saying: “I get that comment every day, so it’s nothing new. Fat shaming someone who was exercising was kind of ironic, really.”

It would be the best karma ever if the Collins/Slater vendetta against Dr Wiles actually enhanced her work, with people responding to the bullying by donating to her Auckland University research fund:

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Make a donation (whether $5 or $500 – the amount matters nought); take a screen shot; and post it on @JudithCollinsMP (Twitter) or @judithcollinsmp (Facebook).

Like… this:

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This is the best way to fight germs – whether the microscopic variety or equally unsavoury, two legged specimens. As the American saying goes, “Don’t get mad. Get even.”

And we support a fine scientist in her work to beat Germs.

You just can’t get “revenge” more delicious than that.

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(* Fiji’s death troll is likely to be under-reported.)

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References

ODT: Collins calls Dr Siouxsie Wiles ‘a big, fat hypocrite’

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Dr Siouxsie Wiles warns of ‘disinformation’ after claims she was caught breaking lockdown rules

ODT: Dr Wiles hits back at accusations she broke lockdown rules

Newshub: Ashley Bloomfield defends Siouxsie Wiles’ maskless beach visit as Judith Collins labels her ‘hypocrite’

Worldometers: New Zealand Coronavirus

Worldometers: Sweden Coronavirus

NZ Herald: Covid 19 Australia: NSW, Victoria outbreaks grow – Queensland dodges lockdown

Worldometer: Fiji Coronavirus

NZ Herald: Judith Collins’ leadership flagging before Dr Siouxsie Wiles scandal

Covid19.govt.nz: Permitted movement within Alert Level 4 – recreation and exercise

NSW Government: Greater Sydney restrictions

Newshub: Siouxsie Wiles hits back at Judith Collins over ‘big fat hypocrite’ jibe

Twitter: @SiouxsieW – beach walk – 10.9.21

NZAwards: New Zealander of the Year 2021

Newshub: ACT’s David Seymour overtakes National’s Judith Collins as preferred Prime Minister in Newshub-Reid Research Poll

RNZ: Judith Collins – Obese people must take responsibility for ‘personal choices’

Stuff media: Collins jumps in ‘racist’ clothes-fight

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Donations fly in for Dr Siouxsie Wiles’ research after Judith Collins calls her a ‘hypocrite’

Auckland University: Beating the Superbugs

Twitter: @ConanMcKeggNational are goong after her for purely political reasons – 12.9.21

ABC: Medical experts say a third of Fiji’s COVID-19 deaths may be unreported

Additional

The Spinoff: New Zealand urgently needs a serious opposition leader

Other Blogs

The Standard: Dirty Politics does not work any more

Previous related blogposts

A fitting response to National MP’s recent personal attacks on Metiria Turei (Feb, 2014)

New Clothing Standards set by National Party (Feb, 2014)

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Acknowledgement: Weston Frizzell

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Free Speech, done Newshub-style

14 September 2021 Leave a comment

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Next time Newshub complains of restrictions to media, let’s just remind them of the time they restricted public comment on one of their stories.

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References Newshub Politics: Twitter – Who can reply? People @NewshubPolitics mentioned can reply – 13.9.21

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Categories: Media Tags: ,

Submission on Conversion Not-A-Therapy Bill

9 September 2021 4 comments

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To Parliament, Justice Committee:

Please consider my submission to the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill (2021).

Whilst Conversion “Therapy”* does not affect me as I am a cis heterosexual male-identifying person, it disturbs me that a practice that has no basis in science is being carried out against some of my fellow New Zealanders.

The issue of sexual orientation and identification is a complex matter that we still have much to learn about. Just as homosexuality was once illegal and considered a “perversion”, we now accept that sexual orientation is a facet of human nature. To attempt to change this through a practice that would seem more appropriate in the Medieval Ages, defies logic.

To implement a process euphemistically called “therapy” to change a person’s core being would be a pathway to deep psychological harm

It would be like attempting to change my own sexuality.

I do not understand how a person’s core being can be “converted”. Not without consequential harm to that person.

Consent cannot be a factor. For young people who are going through troubling times of adolescence and uncertainty, any attempt to “convert” a person to rigidly accepted “norms” would most likely be damaging to them in the long term.

It would be a re-play of Lake Alice “therapies” that have left so many people permantly damaged for life.

I see little difference between the state-sanctioned “therapies” of former Lake Alice patients and current practices involving conversion.

I therefore endorse section 5/2, which states:

However, conversion practice does not include—
(a) a health service provided by a health practitioner in accordance with the practitioner’s scope of practice; or
(b) assisting an individual who is undergoing, or considering undergoing, a gender transition; or
(c) assisting an individual to express their gender identity; or
(d) providing acceptance, support, or understanding of an individual; or
(e) facilitating an individual’s coping skills, development, or identity exploration, or facilitating social support for the individual; or
(f) the expression only of a religious principle or belief made to an individual that is not intended to change or suppress the individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Any acceptable therapy should involve a person’s journey for self-understanding and acceptance – not attempting to deviate their life from whatever path nature has alloted them. In effect conversion “therapy” creates and forces a lie onto a person; a self-deception; denying their true self.

I further submit that opposition to this Bill is mainly from a minority of chauvinists. They include TERFs (trans exclusionary radical “feminists”) – or “gender critics” as some call themselves now – who operate under the banner of the so-called “Speak up for women (SUFW).

This group’s primary and sole agenda is to deny the validity of transgender people. Many of their fear-tactics (“stranger danger in public toilets and changing rooms”) are a hostile re-play of the homophobic rhetoric from 1986, when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passing through Parliament.

Other opponants have a religious basis. Whilst people are free to believe in whatever deity they wish, pushing Conversion “therapy” goes beyond what is considered parameters for free speech: they actively seek to impress their views onto another human being.

This is be dystopian-future stuff.

I cannot subscribe to religious adherents having a “free pass” to force their beliefs onto another human being. We oppose this with the Taliban in Afghanistan in their treament of women; or LGBTQI+ in Iran, Saudi Arabia, et al, and we must do likewise for our own home-grown religious fundamentalists.

Otherwise we are not consistent.

Nature is diverse with sex. Far from being the binary Male/Female many TERFs and Fundamentalists maintain, there are many examples of sex-changing animals on this planet. I encourage Parliamentarians to do some basic research on sex/gender-fluid animals; they would be surprised how common it is.

The most common is the New Zealand fish, commonly known as the “Spotty”:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/spotty-fish-sex-change-has-potential-in-science/3UTTI2KQFVBG4SFD5JOFVWCPQ4/

https://www.insidescience.org/news/duplicate-genes-let-these-fish-switch-sex

Other animals also have sexual/gender fluidity:

https://www.inverse.com/science/animals-can-change-their-sex

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/frogs-reverse-sex-more-often-than-thought

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/sequential-hermaphroditism

We are not fish. But we are free to be who we are.

But regardless, human sexuality is more complex. There are more than just ‘XX’ and ‘XY’ sexes, as this tutorial shows:

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So any notion of a strict binary sexuality is a narrow human preconception, and denies the real diversity of Nature.

We once used to believe that only heterosexuality was the “norm”. Anything else was thought to be “abnormal”; a “perversion”. I thought we had outgrown such narrow chauvinism. The argument surrounding Conversion “therapy” is a replay of many of those same arguments, attempting to re-litigate the validity of our cousins in the Rainbow community.

People can believe whatever they want. But pushing beliefs onto others because their god told them, or because their hold narrow views on binary sexuality is not acceptable.

We would not countenance “converting” a person to homosexuality. I fail to see the difference in attempting to convert someone to heterosexuality (or any other orientation).

I urge all fair-minded Parliamentarians to consider that male homosexuality was once illegal and men were imprisoned for their orientation. We now recognise that was wrong. On the 6th of July 2017, Parliament formally apologised to homosexual men for the gross injustice meted out to them by the State:

“That this House apologise to those homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted for consensual adult activity, and recognise the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through, and the continued effects the convictions have had on them.” – Motion of apology, 6 June 2017

https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/house-unanimously-apologises-for-historical-persecution-of-homosexual-men/

If Parliament supports banning of Conversion “Therapy”, it will avert the need for another apology in the future for harm caused to LGBTQI+ through this odious practice. If we’ve learned our lesson the first time, a second injustice need not occur.

I commend Parliament for progressing the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill.

If the Select Committee has questions, I will be available for questions and answers.

Frank Macskasy

* The term “Therapy” is a dishonest mis-nomer. There is nothing therapeutic about this .

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References

Legislation: Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill

Other Blogs

Boots Theory: End conversion therapy in Aotearoa

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 20 (@L3)

7 September 2021 Leave a comment

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6 September: Day 20 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 801

Cases in ICU: 6 (4 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

Twenty new cases today – the same as yesterday. Not a drop down – but not a rise either.

Meanwhile, as reported, Aotearoa New Zealand :

“… outside of Auckland, will move to alert level 2 from 11.59pm Tuesday 7 September.

Auckland will stay in level 4 until 11.59pm next Tuesday, 14 September.

Cabinet will review the alert level settings for all of New Zealand next Monday, 13 September.

It’s a positive move which reflects that this risk-averse government accepts we are on the right track.

Meanwhile, business interests – notably the trucking industry – is bleating like stuck pigs – at requirements for truckies to be tested as they move from Auckland to the rest of the country.

Because these never happened:

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— right?

The grim prospect of an infected truckie driving the length and breadth of Aotearoa New Zealand, transmitting Delta along the way, does not bear thing about. One infected truckie could plunge the country back into Level 4 lockdown, giving the trucking industry more headaches than a simple nasal swab test.

Time to grow up, fellas.

And speaking of immature, self-entitled, plonkers of the worst sort:

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Seymour this morning released a written statement with an attached image displaying the priority access codes, which allow Māori and Pacific people to receive the vaccine at Whānau Ora locations without needing to book ahead.

“The virus doesn’t discriminate on race, so neither should the rollout,” the statement said. “Access to vaccination has been the same for people of all ethnic backgrounds. If fewer Māori are vaccinated it can’t be a problem with access, but this move by the government insinuates that Māori have trouble making a booking.”

However, the virus does discriminate. The New Zealand Medical Journal has found that after controlling for age and underlying conditions Māori and Pacific people have 2.5x and 3.06x higher odds of being hospitalised for contracting Covid-19 than other ethnicities.

Researchers estimated risk of death for Māori from Covid-19 was at least 50 percent higher than European New Zealanders and infection rates are also significantly higher while vaccination rates have languished.

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“The virus doesn’t discriminate on race, so neither should the rollout” – he doesn’t even understand the basic science behind infection; underlying co-morbidities; and heightened risks. His wilful ignorance is Trumpian, to put it politely.

Look, I get that the two right-wing parties are scrapping over the diminishing red-neck voter demographic. There are probably a few hundred thousand right-wing voters which could mean a couple of extra MPs for either ACT or National.

But if National and ACT are going to get dirty with their politicking, and put us at risk of a raging pandemic, I doubt they will endear themselves to the majority of New Zealanders.

What David Seymour did was so wrong that it reveals an immoral aspect to his nature that makes him unfit to be anywhere near political power.

A person who exploits a minority for political gain is the last thing this country needs.

We already have one deadly germ to deal with. We don’t need another.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 821

Cases in ICU: 6

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the twentieth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Newshub: As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak –  Sunday, September 5

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 20 new community cases reported in New Zealand today

The Border Mail: Truck driver in isolation with COVID, exposure site listed at Henty

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Truckie’s ‘guilt’ after spreading Covid-19 in Victoria

WA Government: COVID-19 update 27 August 2021 – NSW truck drivers test positive to COVID-19

RNZ: Māori vaccine equity scheme criticism blows back on Seymour

RNZ: Covid-19 Delta outbreak day 20: How it unfolded

Other Blogs

A Phuulish Fellow: Down to Level 2 – 2021 Edition (+ Rant about Australian Plague)

The Standard: Seymour undermines vaccine roll out for Maori

Previous related blogposts      

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 19 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 19 (@L3)

6 September 2021 1 comment

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5 September: Day 19 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 782

Cases in ICU: 7

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

Another day spent mostly at home. Plenty of housework to finish, and a chance to catch up on some tree and flax planting I’d been meaning to get around to for since Lockdown. The front lawn is slowly becoming a micro-“Zelandia, with native trees and other plants gradually replacing flat grass:

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New flax plantings, and Whao (encircled in red)

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New ‘Whao’ (centre)

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The flax was obtained from a professional garden-maintenance team who were going to dump it. The flax was perfectly fine, simply needing to be split apart, pruned back, and planted.

As I was doing the work (surprisingly easy, as the holes did not require to be large or deep), I spotted a ‘friend’ high over-head on a power-line studying my exertions:

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Perhaps in a few decades, when my ‘mini-Zelandia’ garden has become more mature, Kereru, Tui, and other native birds will choose to roost in branches that are only a few metres from my lounge.

How cool would that be?

Trimmed other trees around my property. Much needed, as they were over-growing a pathway, and entangling each other.

Went to ‘Repco” for car engine oil. The contactless-service was well designed; a table at the back of the retail outlet; roped off; masked retail attendant; QR codes well displayed; sign-in sheets filled with names and details of customers: a responsible corporate citizen.

Waited until after the 1PM press – more on that at the conclusion of this blogpost.

Phoned my partner. We chatted. Hoped that the North Island outside Auckland would drop to Level 2 this week. She had been gardening as well. If the nationwide lockdown lasted long enough, the entire country would have the most well manicured gardens on the planet.

Waited until 8PM to do grocery shopping. At this time, the supermarket was not as busy as usual, and social distancing was a simple, non-stressful matter.

A day where I managed to do the things I’d been meaning to do for months, but always managed to deflect my attention elsewhere.

Jarring note for the day, unsurprisingly, came from TV3’s Tova O’Brien, in an exchange that beggared belief. Ms O’Brien asked Dr Bloomfield this bizarre question about exemptions for funerals:

“Funeral directors are pushing for that because there’s this inconsistency where under Level Four, strangers can be socially distanced in a supermarket queue and they can be socially distanced on the waterfront, but they can’t be socially distanced at a burial outdoors at a cemetary.”

The utter incoherent stupidity of that question/assertion cannot be over-stated.

Firstly, it is not an “inconsistency”. Many businesses and services have either closed or been forced to offer reduced services.

Secondly, it defies rational understanding that Ms O’Brien compares a supermarket queue or people on the waterfront with a funeral service. Strangers at a supermarket, standing in a queue, do not – generally speaking – comfort each other in a heightened emotional state of grief. Strangers passing by on the waterfront, likewise, rarely grab each other for a ‘comforting’ hug.

Thirdly, comparing going to a supermarket for a loaf of bread with a funeral service where a family’s loved one is being buried or cremated, is offensive. Who makes such comparisons?!

As Dr Bloomfield explained – with the sainted patience of a teacher addressing a six year old:

“Indeed, one of the comments I would make and I know the Prime Minister has made it before, is that funerals and tangihanga tend to be places where people like to comfort each other and so its… that’s a very important consideration here where it may be more difficult for a whole lot of reasons for people to maintain physical distancing, but of course we’ll continue to keep talking with the funeral director groups. If the request comes through we’ll assess that on it’s merits.”

Ms O”Brien followed up with a loaded question that can only be described as appallingly bad taste:

“Do you support the arrest of grieving families at a ceremony if they were socially distanced?”

If she was looking for headlines, thankfully TV3/Newshub’s news-editors wisely decided against it. Little wonder that public irritation with some individuals in the mainstream media has increased throughout the covid crisis. And little wonder that social media lit up with outright disgust at her inappropriate line of questions.

Because most people with at least a modicum of comprehension realise how – during a raging pandemic – funeral services can be potential super-spreaders leading to more covid cases; more hospitalisations; more ICU patients, and ultimately, more deaths:

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I don’t know what Ms O’Brien thought she was doing, but it wasn’t journalism.

But to end the day on a good note, there were only twenty new cases today (same as yesterday); no covid viral particles detected in wastewater outside Auckland and Wellington.

And no one died.

There’s your headline, Ms O’Brien: no one died.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 801

Cases in ICU: 6 (4 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the nineteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown      

Facebook: COVID-19 update – 5 September 2021 (video, @ 25:22)

BBC: Coronavirus doctor’s diary – A super-spreading funeral that led to three deaths

Fox4: Texas funeral becomes ‘super spreader’ event after 40 people contract COVID-19

ABC News: Health authorities fear Wilcannia funeral could be a ‘major’ COVID event as NSW Far West cases climb

France24: Fiji’s capital enters lockdown after Covid-19 ‘superspreader’ funeral event

Newshub: As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak –  Sunday, September 5

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 20 new community cases reported in New Zealand today

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)  

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Acknowledgement: M David

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)

5 September 2021 2 comments

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3 September: Day 17 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 736

Cases in ICU: 6 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

It started of as a great day.

The covid lockdown was working. Yesterday there had been 49 new cases.  Today. the number was down to an an amazing 28 new cases. This would give the anti-lockdown cranks here and abroad (especially where covid is rampant; hospitals are failing to cope; and the corpses are mounting) something to get hysterical about.

There are plenty of covid-cowards who cannot abide our success at controlling this deadly disease. They would rather that we fail – as their leaders have utterly failed. It rationalises their own deficiencies.

Even National’s Covid Spokesperson, Chris Bishop, found good cause to cheer from the sidelines:

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Greater Wellington had one of the finest days since… last summer. With a bright blue sky and not a single cloud in sight, it was the promise of summer to come. (Chillingly, little did I know as I took those pictures that dark clouds were gathering over Auckland…)

Along Oriental Bay, Wellingtonians made the most of this perfect Spring Day:

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Oriental Bay, looking north

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Perhaps the loveliest sky in the entire Solar System (Ok, with possible exception of Saturn, with it’s dazzling rings)

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Southwest, toward the city

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Mask wearing could have been better, as I estimated only around two thirds (?) bothered.

That afternoon, before 3pm, reports started coming over the radio: an incident at LynnMall in New Lynn, Auckland. People had been hurt, one person dead.

As events unfolded it became clearer. Aotearoa New Zealand had been struck by another terrorist extremist. He had attacked and injured six shoppers at the supermarket (later, it was announced there was a seventh victim/survivor).

He had used a knife.

Acknowledging the horror of this incident and the deep harm caused to the seven people; their families; and to supermarket workers – there was an immediate thought that crossed my mind.

Thankfully he had not the same access to firearms that the Christchurch terrorist had.

The contrast in blood-letting was staggering. The Christchurch terrorist had used firearms and shot dead 51 people. The LynnMall terrorist had only a knife, and had not succeeded in wounding more than seven. All seven are still alive (though three remain in Intensive Care in critical condition), and hopefully none will lose their life.

We can be thankful to this government that semi-automatics have been mostly (but not all) eliminated from this country; that gun licensing has been tightened up; and that this deranged individual was under constant surveillance.

On a day we should have been rejoicing and being insufferably smug to the rest of the world, it felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under all five million of us.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 764

Cases in ICU: 9 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the seventeenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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4 September: Day 18 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 764

Cases in ICU: 9 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

A day off. Have not gone out – I still take Level 3 lockdown meaning precisely that: stay at home.

Another beautiful day outside. Breakfast time: feed companion animal. Feed myself.

Watched ‘The Nation‘ on TV3. A Tauranga port worker interviewed, demanding his right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine. I wonder if the virus will offer him the same choice to be infected or not? I’m 100% certain the virus will respect his right to decline infection.

Viruses are nice like that. They ask permission first.

Tova O’Brien interviewed Associate Minister of Health, Peeni Henare. When the issue of the recent absconder from Novotel & Ibis Ellerslie MIQ facility was raised, Ms O’Brien suggested to the minister:

“Your focus also has to be on your constituents in Tamaki Makaurau and keeping them safe.”

Considering Minister Henare is not a police constable on-the-beat on the streets of Ōtāhuhu, it is unclear how he could have intervened directly to apprehend the absconding idiot. She might as well ask him why he can’t walk on water.

On a lighter note,  this exchange took place between National’s Caretaker Leader Collins and another Twitter-user on the social-media platform. A subtle ‘burn’ if I ever saw one:

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*Ouch!* That reposte would sting.

And worse still, the Twitter-user had more “Likes” to his post than the Official (Caretaker) Leader of the New Zealand National Party.

Some work to do around the house; a week’s worth of laundry (done); hang-out to dry (done); change kitty litter box (done); do dishes (done); have fun jousting with RWNJ trolls on Twitter who have been harassing another Twitter-user (done)…

The 1pm figures are released and it is more happy news – tinged with tragedy. My fear has come to pass; we have had a loss of life due to Delta, the first for this current outbreak.

We have now lost 27 souls to this pandemic and 27 families (if not more) are grieving.

The sadness makes the good news harder to appreciate. Only 20 new cases of Delta infections. Less than half the number from yesterday. I should be punching the air in triumph and giving a whoop of delight.

But we’ve lost a fellow New Zealander.

If the Universe is playing a joke on us, I don’t get the punchline.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 782

Cases in ICU: 7

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the eighteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2    

RNZ: Covid-19 case numbers – 28 new community cases in NZ today

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2

RNZ: Covid-19 case numbers – 28 new community cases in NZ today

Twitter: @cjsbishop – 89,000 new vaccinations – 3 Sept 2021

RNZ: Man shot dead at Countdown supermarket in Auckland

Stuff media: Auckland terror attack – Victims aged between 29 and 77, three still in critical condition

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Man who allegedly fled managed isolation was given ride home by friend

Newshub Nation:  Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare promises priority for Māori should COVID-19 vaccine stocks run low

RNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown

Additional

TVNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown

Other Blogs

Bryan Gould: A Grim Future for National

The Standard: Judith’s very bad two days

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the messaging to the vaccine hesitants

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Guy Body

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)

3 September 2021 3 comments

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2 September: Day 16 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 687

Cases in ICU: 8 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

Woke up to RNZ’s ‘Morning Report’ to not one – but two stories! – of people wanting to travel and whining that they haven’t been allocated MIQ rooms. Both were classic cases of entitlement with the latter an unbelievable whinge. (Trigger warning: both are irritating to listen to.)

Especially as, in the same morning, it was clearly reported and explained that the Delta outbreak in Aotearoa New Zealand was already placing our MIQ facilities and hospitals under considerable strain.

It is unclear what purpose was served by airing those two stories about New Zealanders demanding to travel. While it is understandable that people may want to travel to see elderly parents, now is not the time during a global pandemic. (I would dearly love to visit my parents and family overseas!)

Especially – and RNZ failed utterly to make this point – Kiwis travelling through countries to visit elderly, vulnerable, or sick family is not a wise idea. In fact, it’ds downright dangerous. Picking up Delta and then infecting elderly parents would most certainly finish them off.

RNZ failed to probe whether international travel was wise.

This is ‘grief journalism’ we can do without.

The day was chilly and overcast.

Curiously, traffic appeared to be less than preceding days. In parts of Kilbirnie (away from the supermarkets) traffic was actually more like Level 4 Lockdown last year; sparse.

Only half of pedestrians were wearing facemasks. Disappointing.

The second best news of the day? We had 49 new cases, in contrast to yesterdays depressing ‘blip’ of 75. The downward trajectory resumes – hopefully – as long as all New Zealands act responsibly.

And the best news of the day? Despite over 700 cases, no one has died. (“Don’t ‘jinx’ it, Frank!”, I hear you all scream at me!) Despite everything that has happened since this outbreak began, our preternatural Kiwi good luck has continued.

Please may that not end.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 736

Cases in ICU: 6 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the sixteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 75 new community cases in NZ today

RNZ: Covid-19 – Overseas Kiwi distraught at MIQ vouchers pause

RNZ: Covid-19 – MIQ virtual lottery on the way, but bookings on pause for now

RNZ: Covid-19 – Delta cases outstrip hotel quarantine

Newshub: As it happened – Latest on COVID19 community outbreak – Wednesday, September 1

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Tom Scott

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

2 September 2021 5 comments

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1 September: Day 15 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 612

Cases in ICU: 8

Number of deaths: –

Day 15 of Level four lockdown in Auckland and Northland. For the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand, the first day of moving down to Level 3 – or Level 4 with takeaways, as others describe this alert level.

It’s a beautiful spring day outside. There are few clouds in our over-carbonised, clear blue sky.  According to 9AM news bulletin on RNZ, traffic around Wellington is “near normal”.

As I leave for work around mid-day (Wednesdays at the moment are short work-days for me) for my one and only client, I drive past the local railway pak & ride. A lot more cars today, around ten or a dozen.

Out on the motorway and the level of traffic stuns me. It is almost as heavy as pre-L4 lockdown. And… roadworks are back. Damn.

Though I notice that road-working crews are all masked up. It’s a warm, sunny day, and these guys are klitted up with work clothes, safety boots; flouro-jackets, and face-masks. They must be bloody hot with all that kit.

These guys are heroic. I hope their employers slip them a little “something extra” in their Christmas pay-packet.

On the Hutt River-bank, a few people are strolling or lying in the sun.

In Wellington I took a slight detour around Oriental Bay. My suspicions are confirmed: the footpaths are busy with strollers and joggers. And the beach has attracted a few families and others:

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Oriental Bay – northward

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Oriental Bay-Freyberg beach

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Only around half or two-thirds maximum were masked up. (Note: the photos do not do justice to the actual numbers that were present.)

So much for staying home during Alert Level Three. Some folk must have missed that memo.

This blogger wasn’t the only one who noticed the apparent, unannounced drop down to Level Alert 2, seemingly skipping L3 altogether:

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No wonder the government was so cautious before moving to Level 3. They had to make absolutely certain that there was no community transmission outside of Auckland before dropping a Level.

Government and Ministry officials understood that human behaviour being what it is, moving out of L4 would signal to people that there was no further imminent danger. To all intents and purposes, Level 3 and Level 2 are one-and-the-same for a significant portion of the population.

Danger over.

Slip back into complacency mode.

Time for fish and chips.

The Mystery of the Delta Strain

Yesterday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield admitted that government and ministry officials had no clear understanding of the source of the current outbreak:

Contact tracers have hit a brick wall in their efforts to find the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield explained all while evidence points to Auckland Crowne Plaza hotel managed isolation facility, the virus’ exact path remained a mystery.

“We’ve gone down a number of roads and they’ve all turned out to be dead ends so far,” Dr Bloomfield told a news briefing. “We may never find the exact way that the virus got from the facility into the community but we are very confident that’s the place where it came from.”

All that is known for certainty is that the Delta strain emanated from Sydney (or somewhere in New South Wales). The virus entered through a Returnee from Sydney (“Index Case”) in early August soon after the Trans Tasman bubble – originally strongly supported by the National Party – was closed on 23 July.

But the Ministry of Health has been unable to ascertain how the Returnee transmitted the virus to others.

There is one possibility that has not been publicly discussed: that the Returnee infected a member of the flight crew. This is a real option, as flight crews are not required to isolate for fourteen days at MIQs like everyone else.

They are provided with separate facilities at Heartland Hotel situated at 14 Airpark Drive, Māngere, some 3.5kms from Auckland International Airport; at Grand Windsor in down Auckland’s Queen Street, and Ramada Hotels at Auckland CBD and Manukau.

For more information, I refer the reader to two previous stories on this issue:

If the outbreak was caused by the “Index Case” transmitting the virus to a flight attendant, it will not be the first time an Air New Zealand cabin-crew member has been infected and transmitted the virus to others.

Whilst flight crews are not required to isolate in MIQ for the full fourteen days, that are required to provide a negative nasal-swab test before allowed to leave their facility:

Air NZ crew returning to Aotearoa have to enter managed isolation, just like the passengers they are transporting, but are allowed to leave if they return a negative test after 48 hours.

However, as the most recent Delta case in Wellington showed, negative results are not always accurate. Not even two negative tests. Or three negative tests!

All but one of the cases reported on Wednesday were in Auckland, the other is a household contact of a Wellington case who had returned three negative tests and remains asymptomatic.

If that Wellington person had been an Air New Zealand flight crew member, they would have left their isolation facility after their first negative test.

For reasons that can only be guessed at – but may involve strong financial incentivess – Air New Zealand flight crews continue to be exempt from isolation rules that are strictly enforced for others.

Private Enterprise, a pandemic, and consequences

ACT Leader David Seymour is not short of ideas. Most of them impractical, to put it politely.

One such very dim “light bulb” moment – which government has thankfully dismissed as downright dangerous – is to allow private MIQ facilities to operate:

ACT’s plan for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) – were it to be in Government – would be to allow private hotels to provide MIQ services under contract to the government as a way to relieve the shortage of MIQ beds. Governed under strict rules, both workers and guests in these facilities would have to be vaccinated.

“ACT has a plan to expand MIQ places and make it safer than what the Government is doing now. Under ACT’s plan, owners of currently mothballed hotels could seek a licence to operate MIQ according to strict criteria,” ACT leaders David said in a statement accompanying the release.

How successful would it be?

Who knows. But if two recent incidences are any indication: not very good:

Two students have now been caught breaching lockdown rules by flying out of Auckland, receiving fines for breaking the rules.

Over recent days, a Victoria University student flew from Auckland to Wellington without an exemption.

An Otago University student flew from Auckland to Dunedin.

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said this was “disappointing”.

“These people should not be travelling, there will potentially be consequences for them, for breaking the rules.”

But more critically still, Minister Hipkins made it clear these students had breached critical security protocols to board their flights:

“They should be being checked even before they get into the airport terminal. Previous level four restrictions, and I just want to check to make sure this has absolutely operating as it has previously, have had people at the door at the airport terminal checking why people are entering the terminal, before they can even get anywhere near the plane.”

So the Auckland airport terminal – a private company – had such poor security that two students were able to breach the facility and board their flights, without being detected?

If those two had been carrying the Delta Strain, Aotearoa New Zealand would now be facing new clusters of the virus in Wellington and Dunedin. It would cost the country billions more.

Would Auckland airport pay the bill for the economic damage that would result?

And if private MIQ facilities failed, allowing Delta (or a worse strain) into the community – would David Seymour take responsibility?

Did National take responsibility for the failed Trans Tasman bubble they pressured the government to open up?

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The answer to all three questions is a resounding “no”.

As the sign on the wall states quite clearly:

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Wiping the Debating Chamber Floor with ACT

National and ACT got their wish: Parliament sat yesterday. Though going by Hansard and video, National’s Caretaker Leader Collins and  ACT Leader David Seymour may be ruing that it happened at all.

A series of questions from Mr Seymour to Minister Hipkins resulted in hard answers that the former was perhaps not expecting. Minister Hipkins wiped the floor with the hapless ACT Leader.

But matters took a dark turn when Mr Seymour asked:

“Has he, his officials, or anybody in the Ministry of Health at all—or the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, for that matter—offered to pay additional money to Pfizer, as Canada has done, to get additional doses faster?”

Minister Hipkins made his response crystal clear; Aotearoa New Zealand would not be bribing its way to vaccinating the population ahead of other countries:

“Pfizer have been very clear: their production, the production that they have of the vaccine, is fully committed around the globe and they are not willing to offer rich countries the opportunity to pay more in order to displace countries who cannot afford to do that—which suggests that big pharma has a higher ethical and moral standard than the ACT Party does.”

Mr Seymour quickly changed his line of questioning.

For good reason. Various cranks around the country have been pushing the line that we should outbid other nations for the vaccine.

Former minister; ACT politician; and relic from a by-gone age, Richard Prebble made the same disturbing demand in a NZ Herald article*:

“The government is innumerate. They are willing to spend $685 million on a harbour cycleway with negative cost/benefit but not $40 million for an early vaccine rollout to save billions of dollars and possibly many lives.”

As did NewstalkZB ‘host’ and right-wing fellow-traveller, Heather du Plessis-Allan who said on 7 July:

“Why did we agree to $56 and then baulk at another $10 to get it earlier? Why would we say ‘nah we’d rather be right the back of the queue thanks, literally last in the developed world’?

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I do not buy the government’s argument that it’s unethical to pay more to vaccines ahead of others

We didn’t elect them to prioritise citizens of other countries, they’re elected to look after us

[…]

But isn’t it an insight into the lack of urgency behind the scenes. For a mere $10 a person, we might’ve actually been front of the queue, instead of dead last in the developed world”

A free marketeer Twitter-user also called for jumping the queue by paying a “premium” (a polite way of calling an outright bribe):

“Of course you can. By drug companies selling to the highest bidder, they increase their resources to ramp up production. ECON 101 which this government, and its defenders don’t understand”

The only people who do not understand “econ 101” are neo-liberals who are so blinded by their simplistic ideology that they cannot see the consequences of their reckons.

Let me oblige them.

Assume that pharmaceutical companies auction of their vaccines to the highest bidder(s). What would be the consequences (because free-marketeers/neo-libs must accept that everything has consequences, whether intended or not)?

As I pointed out to the ACT-supporting Twitter user:

Firstly, it is just plain wrong. It is neo-liberal, hyper-individualist self-interest taken to it’s deadly conclusion. Even if we could, is that the soul of Aotearoa New Zealand?

Bidding for what’s already available just pushes up the price & we WILL lose out every time to richer nations. There is no avoiding that reality. 

There are 49 other countries richer (GDP, 2017 figures) than us. Calculated per capita, there are thirtyone wealthier nations ahead of us. Imagine entering a bidding war with the US, China, UK, France, etc. This would be the scenario confronting us if certain foolish people had their way. We would end up with nothing.

Bidding for vaccines creates a law-of-the-jungle instead of international co-operation. Again, there is no way small nations would benefit from a tooth-and-claw struggle with richer economies.

To assume otherwise demonstrates a childlike lack of understanding of international affairs and human nature.

Pharmaceutical companies are already producing at full capacity. A bidding war would not create more supply; just push up prices. (Our electricity supply has similarities.)

How would out-bidding poorer, developing nations to grab vaccines  benefit us? It wouldn’t. It would simply create vast breeding grounds of new mutant strains of covid. These mutations would likely end up with strains more infectious; more deadly, and more critically, more resistant to current vaccines.

In effect, bidding and grabbing vaccines would end up with covid spreading and evolving, becoming vaccine-resistant, and we would end up back at Square 1.

It is obviously from the witterings of the likes of Mr Seymour, Mr Prebble, Ms du Plessis-Allan, Mr Wrathall, et al, that none of them have thought this through. Their shallow thinking would doom us all to repeating cycles of vaccination; new mutations; new vaccines; new mutations; new vaccines, etc.

With a lot of dead people in body-bags along the way. But then, Mr Seymour is prepared for that eventuality:

“If vaccination doesn’t work, then we’re isolated forever. Clearly, we have to have a plan B from vaccination being the endgame. And if we’re not prepared to do it at the start of next year, then when are we prepared to do it?

That could mean living with Covid-19, even if that led to large outbreaks, more hospitalisations and even fatalities because the level of population is not high enough to keep health services from being overwhelmed.”

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 687

Cases in ICU: 8 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fifteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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* This blogger will not be linking directly to Mr Prebbes or Ms du Plessis-Allan’s articles. To do so would reward them and their media platform with “clicks” this blogger is not prepared to encourage.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update on 31 August – 49 new cases in the community

Twitter: @FranklNZwe missed the L2 announcement – 1.9.21

Newshub:  Coronavirus – Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak – Tuesday, August 31

Newsroom: Sydney returnee likely source of Covid outbreak

NZ Herald:  Covid 19 coronavirus – Bluff wedding cluster – Air New Zealand flight attendant is possible origin

Newshub: Air New Zealand crew claim they’re being ‘forced’ to work on COVID-19 quarantine flights

Stuff media: Covid-19 – 75 new cases in Delta community outbreak, but curve is ‘gradually bending’

Stuff media: ACT proposes private MIQ and ending ‘the four horsemen of bad regulation’

RNZ: Uni student who flew from Auckland to Wellington didn’t understand guidelines

Twitter: National Party – Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

Hansard: Seymour, David; Hipkins, Chris; Mallard, Trevor

RNZ: Week in Politics – Learning to live with the virus – or not

Twitter – @SteveHWrathalldrug companies selling to the highest bidder – 31/8/21

Twitter: @fmacskasy – Bidding for what’s already available – 1/9/2021

Worldometer: GDP by Country

Worldometer: GDP per Capita

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – David Seymour -Open the borders next year regardless of vaccination levels

RNZ:  Covid-19 update – 75 new community cases in NZ today

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

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Acknowledgement: Jeff Bell

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

1 September 2021 5 comments

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30 August: Day 13 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 511

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

Another gray, overcast day. It’s been raining and though there’s no wind, there’s an edge of a chill in the air.

Local railway park n ride has four cars. On SH2 River Road, I counted half a dozen cars in sight – and a rainbow! Yet again, commercial vehicles dominate the road, including a car-transporter with two cars on the deck.

South of Petone, on SH2, a car had broken down, it’s rear end up on jacks. An AA Service vehicle and police car with flashing emergency lights were in attendance. (Just one example why people need to stay home and shop or exercise local: a break-down involves emergency services in attendance and the potential for those in the immediate vicinity to break their “bubbles”.)

Traffic surprisingly south of Ngauranga was lighter than usual.

Radio on in the car, Nine to Noon’sKathryn Ryan’s first guest was  University of Auckland Professor of Epidemiology, Professor Rod Jackson. It was a hard, in-your-face discussion, but worth listening to. For all those immature adults constantly demanding certainty, Professor Jackson had an apt saying:

“The only thing certain about covid is uncertainty.”

He added that the best way to contain covid is simple: keep infected people away from everyone else. That stops the spread. Blindingly simply. But surprising how many people don’t get it.

The  interview is worth listening to. Prof Jackson knows his stuff. He’s not a NewstalkZB “shock jock”; fear mongering columnist; or business whinger.

There is a world of difference between professional experts who have spent decades learning their science and telling us hard truths – as opposed to business whingers always demanding the impossible (because Sydney shows us where that road leads) or doom-merchant columnists who mock and deride us for our collective efforts to carry on fighting this viral foe. Or a media platforming bad-take “reckons” from overseas and local commentators that serves no useful purpose. Except gain ‘clicks’ for advertising revenue?

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Or, sadly, opportunistic and ambitious politicians (not mentioning any names) who will undermine the government in the hope that it will win them votes. It won’t. Team 5 Million are committed to this struggle; we have too much invested; and we identify with the empathetic, yet determined, leadership of PM Ardern. Anything that detracts from our collective “mission” creates an “Us and Them” resentment.

With the Opposition National party being the “Them”.

It is also a dangerous strategy  because Delta is apolitical. Any chink in our collective armour, and the virus will exploit it mercilessly.

Undermining the government undermines us all.

Later in the day, at the 1PM ‘presser’, the nation learns that we have 53 new cases! 53! A significant drop from yesterday’s 83.

Judging by the responses on social media, the entire nation just went nuts with joy. It’s like we just beat our Yankee cuzzies in KZ7 all over again.

The grim news is that numbers have reached mid-500s with five in ICU. These are not good figures to have. About now, statistically speaking, people will start dying.

Driving home tonight, I realise it’s been several days since I’ve listened to my usual news programmes, mostly RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and TV1 News. I’m not really missing either of them.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 562

Cases in ICU: 5

Number of deaths: –

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31 August: Day 14 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 562

Cases in ICU: 5

Number of deaths: –

First up on RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme: serial business whiner, Michael Barnett. I switch off.

It’s a new day and the big question on Team 5 Million’s collective mind is – was it just a ‘blip’? Or is it a real, downward trajectory. This afternoon’s 1PM presser will be top-rating, must-watch TV (or must-listen radio).

Pre-empting the announcement, I post on Twitter:

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And the announcement is made…

…the number of cases has fallen for a second day running: 49! And the crowd goes wild!!!

Meanwhile, in Wellington, having totally failed to read the room, National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, has demanded that Parliament sit – physically – instead of conducting business by modern technology.

Instead, she and a handful of picked cronies (but, curiously, not including Chris Bishop – the National Party’s covid spokesperson) fly to Wellington from Auckland.

Breaking lockdown in Auckland to fly to Wellington. According to Ms Collins, as an elected Parliamentary representative, she is an “essential worker”.

Bad news for Ms Collins.  Five million pairs of eyes just rolled simultaneously: a politician – by definition – cannot be essential.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 612

Cases in ICU: 8

Number of deaths: –

So ended the thirteenth and fourteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Delta outbreak sees 83 new cases, worst day of outbreak yet

RNZ: Covid-19 update –  83 new community cases reported in New Zealand        

RNZ: Cabinet considers tougher restrictions under Level 4

Twitter: @FoxyLustyGrover – stoically getting on with – 29/8/21

Twitter: @MariaSherwood2Are the media nitpicking – 26/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 13 – How it unfolded

Twitter: @fmacskasy –  if our new positives drop further, I expect – 31/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 update on 31 August – 49 new cases in the community

Additional

Other Blogs

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: (author unknown)

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