Just two weeks ago the prime minister was standing in the Beehive theatrette to tell the country the government was still aiming to return to zero cases. This week she was promising a phased end to Covid restrictions in Auckland, under a three-step plan, which moves away from the current elimination strategy.
She acknowledged the elimination strategy was coming to an end, saying it had served New Zealand well.
Since then, the PM has said Cabinet has agreed to the use of vaccine certificates in New Zealand as a tool in high-risk settings including large events and the government is consulting on their use in places like hospitality.
It’s harder in NZ to appreciate the extent to which this is happening. In England and Wales, the most recent weekly statistics showed 850 deaths with a Covid linkage (although the fact that deaths were 2,000 above the seasonal average is perhaps of more concern). But there seemed to be more interest in the latest slimming of Covid-bureaucracy to make it easier for Brits to travel.
A press statement we received from Nanaia Mahuta, speaking as Minister of Foreign Affairs, dealt with the findings of an independent review into New Zealand’s export controls system, which regulates the export of goods to foreign militaries, police forces or paramilitaries.
Produced by David Smol, a former Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the report calls for stiffer rules.
It found the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has managed the export of these goods in line with legislative requirements, but the design and implementation of the system falls short of contemporary best practice in several respects.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – authored by thousands of scientists and reviewers from more than 100 countries, including New Zealand – provides a grim warning of the risk facing our children, our planet, and future generations, unless urgent action is taken.
It prompted a press statement from Climate Change Minister James Shaw in which he called for a collective effort involving every sector of the economy, every community, and almost every government agency and their Minister to avert a climate crisis.
The Commerce Commission’s draft report into the retail grocery sector is being welcomed by the government as “a major milestone”. It is providing ammunition for Opposition criticisms of government economic and commerce policies, too.
Commenting on the report, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said the draft findings indicate there are problems in the market and (did he need a special inquiry to find this out?) inform him
“… that New Zealanders would get better prices, ranges and quality if there was increased competition in the grocery sector.”
The Act response is here and the National response is here.
But supermarket operators were not the only subjects of a statement from the Beehive which portends substantial regulation for some businesses.
The futures of tourism operators – Ngai Tahu is among the big players – will be affected by plans to address visitor pressures and safety at Milford Sound.
The Milford Opportunities Project (MOP) Masterplan unveiled in Te Anau yesterday follows four years work by cross-agency representatives, mana whenua, commercial interests and the wider community.
The project now moves to stage 3 and a new governance structure will oversee the next steps.
The government was battling on several fronts yesterday, just a few weeks after Defence Minister Peeni Henare acknowledged a $20 billion spend-up on defence had become a casualty of budgetary measures to deal with Covid-19 and its consequences.
The Defence budget was now much tighter, and defence would look different under Labour than it did under its coalition with New Zealand First, he said.
No matter. A well-armed defence force is not all we require to keep us safe, keep our enemies at bay, or fight the wars the government wants to wage.
The Department of Conservation’s war is against predators and Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says the government is throwing $4 million into a project aimed at eradicating predators from the three main peninsulas in the Bay of Islands.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, in the vanguard of the war against the pandemic, has been freshly supplied to fortify our defences against Covid-19. The largest shipment of the Pfizer vaccine to date has arrived in New Zealand two days ahead of schedule.
Doses are being delivered to vaccination centres around the country.
On the diplomatic front, Phil Twyford, our Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, addressed a bunch of diplomats to spell out the government’s position on disarmament and weapons control.
Success with this policy – the disarming of all foes and potential foes and a global declaration of a commitment to eternal world peace- obviously would enable the government to cut its Defence budget back to zero.
It was as if the cavalry had come galloping in: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins enthused that the largest shipment of Pfizer vaccines yet has arrived two days ahead of schedule.
The shipment of 150,000 doses touched down late in Auckland at the weekend.
Hipkins acknowledged how close the country had come to running out of the vaccine. New Zealand had distributed nearly all of its supply of the Pfizer vaccine in storage, giving DHBs enough stock to last until Wednesday.
“The early arrival means no DHB will run out of vaccine. Teams have been working tirelessly to ensure vaccine doses have been getting to the right places to honour all existing appointments, and they’ve done a fantastic job.”
In another statement, this time as Minister of Education, Hipkins announced that yet another group of people was being exempt from the border rules that – we are led to believe – protect New Zealanders by carefully regulating who can come here and under what conditions.