Like 52.8 percent of those who voted, my ticks went to change the government.
The process to get the special votes counted and a governing Coalition agreed to was more than a bit cumbersome but now that all the deals are done, I’m enthusiastic about what will happen in this country during the next three years.
The reporting and commentary around the Coalition Agreements has been extensive although predictably opposed to many of the ideas and plans for the next three years.
For example, while it’s accepted in the interests of balance that the NZEI has a right to comment and disagree on the new education policies, the obvious retort to the teacher unions would be that the definition of stupidity is to continue working the same way and expect a different result.
Education is at crisis point in New Zealand because of the union influence and the ideology of the Ministry of Education. Policies to change the system are part of the Coalition agreements and that’s to be applauded.
But If ever the philosophical difference between the previous government and the incoming one was on display, it’s the smoking policy.
Having a country of non-smokers is a laudable but impractical idea. The Labour Party’s heavy handed approach to stop selling cigarettes to those born after 2008 and restricting the number of tobacco retail outlets to just a few hundred nationwide had the potential to be a disaster. A hundred years of history tells us that prohibition never works, and the likely criminal activity which would emerge from such stringent laws was the driving force behind the wind-back.
The new government, contrary to the alarmist statements of the outgoing Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall, is not “encouraging children to take up smoking to pay for the tax cuts.”
Rather the new Coalition believes in a concept called personal responsibility. Nobody ever instructed anybody to start smoking. A combination of education, pricing and the reality that tobacco smoking is now seriously uncool means that the number of those who puff on a fag is falling annually. The repeal of these laws is unlikely to reverse that trend.
Very predictably the agreement to have a proper Covid inquiry has received little attention.
This could be blockbuster news story of the next few years – if the mainstream media have the courage to cover it. For many of the 173,533 voters who ticked New Zealand First this was the number one issue.
The key lines are buried rather deep in the Coalition document but as Winston Peters likes to say, words matter. “Ensure, as a matter of urgency in establishment and completion, a full scale, wide ranging independent inquiry conducted publicly and with local and international experts into how the Covid pandemic was handled in New Zealand including covering the use of multiple lockdowns, vaccine procurement and efficacy, the social and economic impacts on both regional and national levels and whether the decisions made and steps taken were justified.”
Considering what we know now about how this virus was politicized from the start, the prospect of what this inquiry may uncover should have Jacinda Ardern, Chris Hipkins and Ashley Bloomfield very nervous.
For instance we already know through OIA requests that Medsafe’s clinical evaluation of the Pfizer vaccine in January 2021 stated, “due to the unresolved concerns and additional quality, safety and efficacy data to be provided at the time of completion of the evaluation, Medsafe is unable to recommend that this product be granted consent.”
That recommendation was overruled by the Medicines Assessment Advisory Committee (MAAC) whose members to this day remain a mystery.
Then on February 10, 2021 Bloomfield told Hipkins “at this time, mandatory vaccination is unlikely to be a justified limitation of the right to refuse medical treatment under Section 11 of the Bill of Rights Act.”
Hipkins and Ardern mandated vaccinations later that year anyway – when little or no new data was available about whether or not the vaccine actually worked or was safe.
The current Covid inquiry is a waste of time and may as well fold now. But this new inquiry, with its much wider scope threatens to blow the lid on a massive government overreaction and intervention, one which had a wide ranging impact on the mental and physical health of large swathes of the population, let alone the country’s economy.
All that needs to be exposed for what it was.
For that reason alone, the new Coalition is an enticing prospect.
For more from Peter, listen to Pete's Ponderings on RCR.