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Way back in April of this year, my friend and colleague at DownToEarth Kiwi, Brogan Powlesland, closely predicted the situation we have in NZ today in which the country is desperate to push the vaccination rate higher. In a "cash for vaccines" blog, he proposed:


"Offer every adult $250 to take both vaccines. At a total cost of around $1bn, it may be the most cost-effective way of avoiding lockdowns, which have come at far greater cost to the country. The wage subsidy scheme alone cost over $10 billion. If we’re serious about achieving herd immunity and opening the border, this may be the best approach. But given NZ is second lowest in the OECD in terms of vaccinations per 100 people and the government isn’t keen on using incentives and market solutions to solve society’s problems, let’s not hold our breath".


Well, as Brogan predicted, it's not the government which has implemented this type of scheme. Instead the news today reports that the Warehouse has: "The Warehouse Group, which operates stores including The Warehouse and Noel Leeming and employs 11,000 New Zealanders, is offering $100 to every employee that gets fully vaccinated against COVID-19". And the Herald is reporting that other firms have just started to offer cash prizes.


Srouces:

https://www.downtoearth.kiwi/post/cash-for-vaccines


https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2021/09/coronavirus-latest-on-covid-19-community-outbreak-wednesday-september-22.html


https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/covid-19-delta-outbreak-70000-in-prizes-to-get-young-adults-vaccinated/DSRJLMQ6OFLBSGFWCWAAHHNQPE/


The defining quality of Finance Minister Robertson's approach to economic management the past 18 months can be summarized by the following line, which he personally wrote in an article run under the heading, "Prioritizing public health in Covid pandemic was best economic strategy", just before Auckland entered its long lockdown:


"The Government’s strong public health response proved to be the best economic response as well ... While we are doing well, the world faces ... uncertainty & volatility". Stuff, 2 July 2021


Whilst some commentators are labelling the move down lock-down levels "political", that characterization maybe unfair. The decision appears to be more related to a tacit acknowledgement that NZ has entered a period of biting trade-offs between its zero-virus-in-the-community aim and its struggle to keep our economy & businesses afloat. A trade-off which the Finance Minister was in full denial about only a short time ago.

That very denial was flatly rejected yesterday by Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, who said, "The psychological pressures of the long level 4 lockdown are growing, and the financial pressures on businesses & jobs. Families are separated, there's people who don't have income coming in .. there are lot of people who are just on the edge at the moment .. I always listen to the epidemiologists... but they're looking at it through one lens"


Looks like the Mayor's "trade-off" view was hugely influential in driving yesterday's decision. Which means the Finance Minister better think up a new "economic strategy", and fast.


Sources:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/the-monitor/125444824/prioritising-public-health-in-covid-pandemic-was-best-economic-strategy


https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/451877/covid-19-auckland-mayor-calls-for-shift-to-level-3-this-week


 

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Robert MacCulloch