Kerre McIvor: Time for Ardern to burst the Covid bubble and open the border

ACT Party leader David Seymour called it this week. For the love of any deity you believe in, would the Government please start treating us like adults!

Talking to the Mike Hosking Breakfast show this week about the lack of a travel bubble, he implored the Government to respect us as grown-ups. People deserve to be brought into the Government’s confidence, he said. If the Government has a plan, they should tell us what the plan is. And if it doesn’t have a plan, then in a democratic society, we have a right to know that, too.

Amen, brother. One of the most infuriating aspects of the daily sermon from the pulpit during the first nationwide lockdown was the feeling of being talked down to – the simplistic messaging and the exaggerated facial expressions: oooooh, I have bad news. Frown, sad face. Yay, I have happy news! Beautiful smile and glad hands.

I read somewhere that the reason for that was because if you are asking people to give up their liberties, you have to keep it simple. The PM kept it basic because you have to get the message through to all of us, whatever our IQ, whatever our EQ, whatever our learning ability.

I rolled my eyes, but actually she was right. The moment you deviate from the remedial reading style of instruction, some people get confused. Look at the latest cluster that saw Auckland go into Level 3. The Ministry of Health’s messaging was inconsistent and incoherent.

Contact Plus? Come on, guys. I would love to see and hear more nuanced messaging but clearly some people just don’t get it.So I understand the rationale for the PM’s Keep It Simple, Stupid approach.

But what’s the rationale for keeping the borders closed? The science says that specific travel bubbles are fine. We’ve seen how much Kiwis can spend when they’re locked inside their own country – imagine the boost the Aussies would give to the economy.

The tourism and hospo industries don’t want handouts.They just want to be able to work.Some of the tourist towns just want the chance to survive.

Why is the Government dragging the chain?Probably because people have had their wits and their common sense terrified out of them.

Having created an abundance of fear, the Prime Minister can justify an abundance of caution in keeping the country closed for business.Poll after poll says the Government is on the right track with its border policy.

People appear to believe that the moment a bubble with any country is created it puts us at risk of dying in the streets from the galloping Covids.They don’t look at the numbers and they don’t look at the science.

I guess that’s what happens when you treat people like children and tell them you’ll make the decisions for them.

People have told me to be patient.That the vaccines are here and once we’ve all been inoculated, that’s an extra layer of protection and THEN we can crack the door open a little and peer cautiously out into the world.

But by the time the vaccines have been rolled out among the general population, it will be far too late for many businesses and some towns.A third of Queenstown businesses are not expected to survive the next three months.

If the borders were opened to Australia, that would be an absolute lifeline for them.But it’s not a lifeline the government is willing to throw to them.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash says the Government is working closely with the Australians and with its own agencies to come up with a plan that would allow a transtasman bubble to work.It’s been a year now.That plan should already be in place.

And it should have been shared with us.Stop treating me like a child or I’ll behave like one.

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