Previous Posts

  • Brogan Powlesland

Former National Party MP, Parmjeet Parmar, recently raised the issue that even after we achieve sufficient infrastructure to allow the general population to take up the COVID vaccination, we may still not achieve herd immunity. She writes:

“It was nice to hear a Covid-19 vaccine related advertisement which basically says that people will be informed when it’s their turn. But what happens if people contacted decide not to get vaccinated? It should not be a surprise that a significant number might say “no”. Various surveys have shown around 1 in 4 New Zealanders are hesitant or will not get a Covid-19 vaccine. …. Believing that by achieving herd immunity with around 75% of New Zealanders getting vaccinated – that are willing to get vaccinated – will do the job for us, is a false hope …”

Parmjeet has a point. By opting for an elimination strategy, we cannot reopen the border until herd immunity is achieved. This means that those 25% of people hesitant to get the vaccine pose a huge risk to our health system and economic future. Economists have come up with a simple solution – cash incentives. Robert Litan of the Brookings Institute was the first to propose the idea. Here’s how it could work in NZ:

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.

The Minister of Health, Andrew Little, has this week announced that the system "shake-up" was designed to end "postcode lottery" care - which he says means that the quality of treatment can be affected by where you live. And the Labour Party's website describes it as being vital to eliminate such "barriers" to make things more "equitable".

Hang on. Our entire school system is based on a "postcode lottery", whereby you go to school according to which zone you happen live in. Should you live in a poor part of town then you can't apply for public schools in a posher part of town, which maybe better. Yet the government has insisted for decades that its in our own best interests, even though many of us believe that more competition should be built into the system to help drive up standards. So which is it? Is there some profound difference between health-care and education?

For sources, see:



Thanks for submitting!


Robert MacCulloch