Page 11«..10111213..»

Category Archives: Jacinda Ardern

Opinion: Jacinda Ardern – The Messiah, or just a crafty politician? – Newshub

Posted: August 26, 2021 at 3:24 am

In February, as the housing market was spiralling out of control, Ardern had a recommendation for property investors: "What we want them to think about is: 'How can you contribute to the productive economy in New Zealand?' By going into an overheated housing market, it makes it so much worse for others and you won't necessarily get the long-term benefits that we'd like you to get."

Only a politician detached from worldly reality would imagine this advice might help deter an investor from buying another dwelling in a sizzling market.

The same month, she was quizzed in Parliament by Act leader David Seymour about why the police programme to combat gangs was labelled "Operation Tauwhiro". He pointed out "tauwhiro" means "to tend or care for" and asked the Prime Minister if she actually believed "that violent criminals who sell P need to be tended and cared for".

Ardern replied: "If we want to make a difference to the young people who join gangs in New Zealand we have to demonstrate that there are alternatives for them that they can find a place to grow their potential without joining criminal organisations."

These responses reflect a belief in redemption that often appears hopelessly naive in a politician. Ardern sees the potential for good in everyone - which is no doubt a large part of her appeal - but the flipside is a reluctance to acknowledge the worst in people.

Consequently, she seemed surprised by public outrage at her personally approving $2.75 million for a drugs programme run by Mongrel Mob members.

Her unrealpolitik caught the eye of the Spectator, which mocked Ardern for offering one of the "Nine Worst Responses to Afghanistan's Fall" from around the world after the Taliban's victory:

"New Zealand's Prime Minister has 'implored' Taliban leaders to uphold human rights, telling a press conference: 'What we want to see is women and girls being able to access work and education' - which she insightfully noted 'are things that have traditionally not been available to them where there has been governance by the Taliban.'"

The writer added: "The Taliban's response is as yet unknown."

As another wag put it: "Ardern asks water to stop being wet."

Another unmistakable sign of her otherworldliness can be detected in her dismissing opponents' criticisms as "politicking" or "playing politics" over issues such as Maori co-governance or the management of Covid. This is an extraordinary stance for a politician to take towards other politicians debating policy but Ardern positions herself as floating above the cut-and-thrust of politics.

Consequently, she is very keen not to be seen to be beset by common human frailties such as dishonesty, arrogance or vanity.

When asked during one of the leaders' debates in 2017, "Is it possible to survive in politics without lying?", she not only said it was but claimed she'd "never told a lie in politics".

Only someone determined to convince people she is preternaturally saintly would have so outrageously denied political reality - and human nature. Bill English, a devout Catholic who wasn't nearly as ready to bend the truth out of shape as she was, couldn't in all honesty agree.

Humility is also essential to "brand Jacinda". In May last year, a memo from her office suggested ministers need not agree to be interviewed given how popular the government's Covid measures had been. John Campbell, who interviewed the Prime Minister, said he at first thought it could be a sign of "arrogance" but decided it was more likely that she simply didn't have confidence in her ministers.

Ardern's reaction showed she was more sensitive to a suggestion she might be arrogant than a question about her ministers' competence. She made a point of addressing that issue even though Campbell had dismissed it.

"Arrogance is just, I hope, something people would see as not in my nature," she said plaintively.

She mostly keeps her vanity under wraps - not least because she casts herself as a humble servant of the people - but slip-ups are perhaps inevitable for a woman from Morrinsville who has been internationally canonised for her crisis management and lauded as "the world's most effective leader".

Addressing the UN in September 2019, she made the extraordinary admission that she saw herself carrying the nation's burdens on her shoulders single-handedly. In her speech she mentioned a young Muslim boy who asked her to keep him safe after the mosque massacres. "My fear is, that as a leader of a proudly independent nation, this is one thing I cannot achieve alone. Not anymore."

The fact she very capably handles the quotidian tasks of a prime minister - such as explaining vaccination rollout figures - while also wearing the mantle of a secular saint makes her an extremely difficult target for her political opponents to get a fix on.

If she is caught out, she often switches to what she probably imagines is "going high", as Michelle Obama put it, however absurd that might be.

When David Seymour asked Ardern in late June in Parliament if she ever thought she would be reduced to saying "Hey, we're doing better than Africa" in terms of vaccinations, she replied: "When it comes to global health and wellbeing in a global pandemic, how countries like those in Africa are performing is relevant to us. And, as a country who has a stake in the wellbeing of all nations, including developing ones, I imagine that's a consideration most New Zealanders would be proud to take."

See more here:

Opinion: Jacinda Ardern - The Messiah, or just a crafty politician? - Newshub

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Opinion: Jacinda Ardern – The Messiah, or just a crafty politician? – Newshub

Will Jacinda Ardern Suffer Churchills Fate Once The (Covid) War Is Over? – Forbes

Posted: at 3:24 am

Humanity is at war with a virus. Jacinda Ardern, New Zealands Prime Minister and possibly the globes most successful Covid general, is this week leading another battle. Ardern placed the entire country into lockdown on Tuesday after the discovery of a single Delta variant infection in Auckland. Her goal is the same now as its been since the pandemic began - identify, isolate and eliminate Covid from day-to-day New Zealand life.

Ive been witnessing this firsthand from my wifes hometown of Ohope, in New Zealands Bay of Plenty, where weve lived since January after moving from California. Watching Ardern perform in daily press conferences this week I couldnt help thinking about Winston Churchill. I know, I know - older white guys always seem to think of Churchill. But loan me three more minutes of your time and you may glimpse a surprising future.

Comparing the two prime ministers fascinates me because, despite being almost unimaginably different people - Churchill was a round, aristocratic conservative with a deep belief in the British Empire while Ardern is a fresh-faced former youth socialist who still gets a packed lunch from her Mum - both have been very effective wartime leaders. And, perhaps strangely, their messages are ultimately very similar.

Churchills speeches used vivid imagery and waves of sound to tap into patriotism and an absolute refusal to quit. Ardern asks Kiwis to be kind and talks of a team of five million in a manner that manages to be both friendly and assertive. Their metaphors and styles reflect very different times and messengers, yet share the same core idea- togetherness and resilience will prevail.

But could these two leaders also share a less triumphant fate?

Just two months after leading Britain to victory over Nazi Germany, Churchill was swept out of office. His Conservative party lost the popular vote for the first time in four decades and suffered its worst vote swing since 1800. The decisive leader and inspiring communicator who helped save his country from an existential threat was gone. Why?

18th June 1945: William Waldorf Astor (1907 - 1966), later 3rd Viscount Astor, with his first wife, ... [+] Sarah Norton and a poster of Winston Churchill during the general election campaign, in which he stood as a Conservative candidate. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

After the horror, trauma and destruction of the War, Britain was looking to the future. Its priorities were domestic and largely focused on creating a more equal and fair economy. Churchill had proven wildly ineffective in dealing with those problems in the 1920s and so he was sent packing.

New Zealands Covid war is far from over, but so far Arderns strategy has been successful- only 25 deaths and a better economic growth rate than the U.S., despite the lockdowns. Do New Zealanders recognize this?

Yes. My experience has been that most people here are supportive of her strategy and grateful for its success. I played in a local tennis tournament on Sunday and before the first match someone marched up to me and said, What a great day to be a Kiwi, eh mate!. Noticing my slight pause, he added, Wait, youre not Aussie are you?. When I confessed to being American, he said, Ah, sorry. ..bet youre happy to be here. I really was.

And yet. Over the last eight months as Ive quietly listened to (eavesdropped on?) conversations, read the press and chatted to people here I sense the potential for Ardern to experience a post-pandemic moment similar to Churchill. New Zealand has a lot going for it, but it has important problems too. These problems are being subordinated to the Covid war now, but they could very rapidly lead to dissatisfaction once that battle is seen as over.

Foremost among these is the least affordable housing market in the developed world. It baffles and frustrates Kiwis that a country with vast amounts of open land and massive timber resources should have a housing shortage, but it does. My sister-in-law Sharon Brettkelly, whose podcast The Detail is one of New Zealands most popular, has done a series of fascinating shows looking at both causes and possible solutions. My take - this problem will not be solved soon. Electorates and people being who they are, Id expect Ardern to take a lot of the blame for this, even though the problem has deep roots.

Then there is China, where New Zealand must navigate an exquisitely complicated relationship. China consumes about 30% of New Zealands exports and is the largest destination for its ultra-profitable SunGold kiwi fruit. But of course its not shy about exercising power. For example, Chinese growers ignored New Zealands patent on the SunGold varietal and may now be growing 10,000 acres of the fruit domestically. Does New Zealand challenge this and risk killing the goose that laid the golden kiwi fruit? Or does it look the other way? Similar quandaries exist in both timber and dairy markets. Layer in human rights concerns that matter a lot to Arderns progressive base and one can easily see her falling off this narrow and wobbly policy tightrope.

Finally, like all modern leaders, Ardern faces criticism about immigration. Her strict border controls have kept Covid out but created a huge issue for agricultural and construction industries that depend on labor from the Pacific Islands. Meanwhile, while in opposition Arderns party was outraged about billionaires like Peter Thiel purchasing citizenship, but last year it essentially sold residency to Google co-founder Larry Page. Storm in a tea cup perhaps, but values-centric politicians like Ardern can find these emotive issues difficult to shake.

Ardern has two years until she must face the electorate again. Can she use this time to win final victory against Covid and turn her skills to these other difficult battles? You can be sure she will run a much better campaign than Churchill in 1945 who, out of touch with his people, lamented at one point I have no message for them. But its not assured that in 2023 post-war New Zealand, like Britain two generations ago, wont look for a fresh start.

Original post:

Will Jacinda Ardern Suffer Churchills Fate Once The (Covid) War Is Over? - Forbes

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Will Jacinda Ardern Suffer Churchills Fate Once The (Covid) War Is Over? – Forbes

Covid 19: Why was Jacinda Ardern able to suspend Parliament and what happens next? – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: at 3:24 am

ANALYSIS: The prime ministers announcement that Parliament would be suspending the House of Representatives sitting for a week has caused consternation within the opposition parties which are determined rightly that the Government be held to account during lockdown.

Initially the Government wanted there to be bipartisan agreement in Parliaments business committee. National and ACT declined, so the prime minister was compelled to use powers under Parliaments standing orders.

In order to get the suspension over the line, Jacinda Ardern had to have official advice from Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, had to consult with the other parties and then effectively recommend the course of action to Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard. Mallard, satisfied with suggested arrangements in place allowing ministers to be subjected to due scrutiny, accepted the recommendation.

What the opposition parties National and ACT in particular wanted was a return of the epidemic response committee, used during last years lockdown, with an opposition chair and majority to ask questions.

READ MORE:* How Parliament will work in level 2: Fewer MPs, more proxies and a lot of Zoom* Covid-19: Princeton University study dissects New Zealand's pandemic response

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the suspension of Parliament for a week.

All parties in Parliament, bar Labour, have signed a letter asking for a standing Covid committee as part of the select committee system. At the very least one that may not sit all the time but kicks into force if there is a level 3 or 4 lockdown.

The Government has so far refused, arguing that Parliaments select committee system is now well set up to meet remotely and will be broadcast. The Government also committed to making ministers and senior officials available to parliamentarians for questioning. It has given opposition MPs two-thirds of the time for questions.

On its first day of operation, both Grant Robertson, as well as Chris Hipkins, Ashley Bloomfield and other health officials appeared to answer questions. They were not in front of the committees for long but it seemed to work well enough.

As a result of the epidemic response committee not being reintroduced, the prime minister had to use standing order 55 to determine that the House would not sit.

Under this order, House sittings can be suspended for up to a month after the date of a scheduled sitting. Parliament was scheduled to sit on Tuesday August 24, so could technically stay out until September 24. Any extension beyond that would require agreement of all parties of Government. At this stage the suspension will last a week. Delta was considered reason enough not to have MPs jetting about the country.

Suspending House sittings is not unusual. The House is often suspended for short periods in time of national emergency or other events. It was suspended during the Pike River disaster and the Christchurch earthquakes. Often it is suspended for a day when a former MP or prime minister dies former prime minister Mike Moore being one of the most recent. It did not sit for two scheduled weeks during the last level 4 lockdown.

At the moment this is a Wellington issue but if the lockdown drags on and there is no parliamentary scrutiny of Labour and the prime minister, it could become a festering sore and give the appearance of Labour not fronting.

But for the meantime, while the rest of us are in lockdown, the idea of politicians jetting around the country, potentially spreading Covid to go to what would have to be a skeleton and socially distanced Parliament anyway, would probably stick in the craw of most people. Everyone else is either having to take leave or work from home with children crawling over them why not the pollies?

But more scrutiny is better than less, and Labour both must be, and be seen to be, constructive on this issue. When you are asking the whole country to forgo basic civil liberties, playing politics with being held to account is not the right thing to do. It will also be grist to the mill of all the Covid conspiracy theorists.

Whether Parliament returns next week will likely be decided after the alert levels announcement expected from the prime minister on Friday.

View post:

Covid 19: Why was Jacinda Ardern able to suspend Parliament and what happens next? - Stuff.co.nz

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Covid 19: Why was Jacinda Ardern able to suspend Parliament and what happens next? – Stuff.co.nz

Why were happy hobbits in Jacindas mysterious socialist hermit kingdom – The Guardian

Posted: at 3:24 am

Physician, heal thyself. This phrase has been in my thoughts ever since global media outlets, most of them British, started mocking New Zealands Covid elimination strategy last week.

Im a proud British passport holder, and spent some of my best years in London, but not once during this pandemic have I ever wished to be anywhere except New Zealand. That holds true even though were now back in lockdown while the British freely enjoy what passes for a summer there.

As Twitter users were quick to point out, it was indeed crazy of New Zealand to go into lockdown with just one case no wait, 22 hang on, 107 You get the point. The fact that coronavirus case numbers can mount rapidly should be obvious by now, but apparently not.

Also apparently, some British columnists believe New Zealand has become a mysterious socialist hermit kingdom. But weve led infinitely freer lives over the past 18 months. On the Oxford Covid-19 Stringency Index, theyve had crudely speaking 60% restricted lives for most of that time, while we have seldom been over 20%. We have lockdowns, but theyre generally short and sharp.

The lockdowns are also effective: weve had just 26 people die of Covid, a number which and I cannot stress this enough is very different from more than 130,000, the current UK death tally. Our per-person death rate is 400 times less than the British one. And if any British people think thats down to New Zealands being an island, they might want to take a look at the shape of their own country on a map. Luck, and living on the bottom of the world, have also helped us, but not that much.

Its hard to think of any downsides to our approach. Lockdowns are not great for ones mental health, admittedly, but also probably not as bad as having to watch the bodies pile high.

Our compassionate response has also been an efficient one: New Zealands economy recovered more quickly than Britains did, while our unemployment rate, at 4%, is so low that firms trying to recruit staff are contemplating desperate measures like actually raising wages.

Yes, we can be sleepy little hobbits, less protective of our civil liberties than the British. But when infringements are proportionate to the harm they seek to prevent, and governments act competently, citizens are right to be trusting. And its not as if no one dares criticise Jacinda Ardern.

In short, our coronavirus response has been that rarest of things, a win-win-win situation. In the slightly magical animal stakes, we can boast not just hobbits but also unicorns.

As to the hermit line: its not like we want to be isolated. We organised a trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia as soon as it looked safe, only for the Aussies to mess everything up. If we dont have one any more its not for lack of effort on our part.

Of course our government has made mistakes. Managed isolation bookings are chaotic, intensive care beds inadequate, testing systems far from perfect. Most notoriously, our vaccine rollout is the developed worlds slowest.

But we could afford some slowness because of our previous victories. Whats more, the continuing deaths and resurgent infections in vaccine success stories such as Israel, the US and the UK suggest there are few role models out there, unless one is willing to tolerate a body count of hundreds of people a day, tens of thousands a year. New Zealanders would be more excited about learning to live with Covid if it didnt look so much like learning to die with it. We would also probably prefer not to open up to Covid with a very partially vaccinated population, a delightfully British approach that appears perfectly designed to create the next Delta variant.

Given Deltas exceptional infection rates, of course, our latest lockdown may not work. We have no monopoly on perfection, no crystal ball. But for the moment it looks like the right strategy.

And of course we need an exit plan, just like everyone else, and we may eventually have to accept a few coronavirus deaths a year. But that exit plan, and the opening of our borders, will seem feasible only once global vaccination rates are sky-high and the rest of the world is a safe place for travel.

That, in turn, does not look likely to occur before the end of this year, by which point New Zealand will be in the same situation as everyone else that is, having got the vaccine to anyone who wants it before commencing a desperate battle with the anti-vaxxers.

Im genuinely delighted that the UK has nailed its vaccine rollout, helping protect my many British friends and family members. But rather than mock others, Britons would do well to contemplate their own past and continuing problems with a pandemic that is sorely testing us all.

Read the original here:

Why were happy hobbits in Jacindas mysterious socialist hermit kingdom - The Guardian

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Why were happy hobbits in Jacindas mysterious socialist hermit kingdom – The Guardian

COVID-19: Jacinda Ardern defends pace locations of interest are released to public after Wellington Mayor criticism – Newshub

Posted: at 3:24 am

"It's going all over the place," said another. "It obviously sucks but we're in level 4 - I think that's the right thing to do."

Kilbirnie's Asian Food Specialist and Pak'nSave are also on the list, plus Air New Zealand flight NZ443 from Auckland to Wellington on Thursday afternoon.

Delta has got people on edge, but it's not too scary for Mayor Andy Foster, who's holding his breath.

"So far it's not too bad, but obviously time is going to tell," he said.

At least one of the positive cases travelled from Auckland to Wellington in a private car. They stopped four times along the way - in Tokoroa, Waiouru's service station and public toilets, and Bulls.

Contact tracers have their work cut out for them.

"The majority of those contacts are located in the Auckland and Waikato regions, with small proportion in other areas of the rest of North Island and South Island," said Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay.

The Director-General of Health was alerted to the first Wellington cases before 9am on Friday, but there were no locations of interest on the Ministry of Health website until after 6pm that night.

"It's been very frustrating waiting for these additional locations to be made public," says Mayor Foster.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says getting those locations of interest can be "iterative", and says it's a balancing act of putting out information accurately and quickly.

One of the locations is Countdown in Johnsonville, where last night shoppers were told to leave immediately so it could close for a deep clean.

"We were told to drop what we had and start walking out, and yeah, I was in a bit of a shock afterwards," said shopper Daniel Borrie.

Johnsonville's 1841 bar is another location of interest.

"A 400-gram sirloin [steak] and a beer for $25 has proven too much of a lure for some people - here we are," said owner Jono.

Testing sites were busy on Saturday, as people scrambled to get swabbed in the hopes they can wave goodbye to the virus in this region soon.

Queues were under control though as more pop-up testing centres were set up, including at Te Papa, Sky Stadium and in Hataitai.

See original here:

COVID-19: Jacinda Ardern defends pace locations of interest are released to public after Wellington Mayor criticism - Newshub

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on COVID-19: Jacinda Ardern defends pace locations of interest are released to public after Wellington Mayor criticism – Newshub

Fall of Afghanistan: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says NZ unlikely to rescue ‘everyone we want to’ – New Zealand Herald

Posted: at 3:24 am

An RNZAF Hercules at Whenuapai Airbase prepared for a mercy flight to Afghanistan. Photo / Michael Craig

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warns a mercy dash to Kabul to rescue New Zealanders and Afghan allies might not be able to evacuate everyone they want to.

It comes as the situation in the Afghanistan capital worsens, just days after the Taliban reclaimed control of the country after a 20-year war.

"I am concerned that because of the situation on the ground, that we do need to start working on what the next stage will be, because it does not look like we're going to get everyone out that we want to get out," Ardern said on Saturday.

"There is a certain window everyone is using, to use the secure space available at Kabul airport, but it is an entirely separate issue people's ability to connect safely with the airport."

On Friday it was confirmed the first New Zealanders trapped in Afghanistan since the Taliban dramatically took power have been whisked out of the country on a mercy dash.

American soldiers and other Nato allies are in control of security inside the airport.

But with the Taliban controlling checkpoints in and out of Kabul airport, access has been "extremely difficult", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade acknowledges.

As disturbing images continue to come in from outside Kabul airport, where thousands of desperate Afghans have been trying to flocking to since the Taliban took control of the war-torn country on Sunday, the New Zealand Government made the urgent decision to send help.

Officials have been contacting individuals stuck in Afghanistan and making arrangements to try to get them out.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C-130 Hercules aircraft flew out of RNZAF Base Auckland Thursday morning on a mercy dash to Kabul to rescue New Zealanders, interpreters, and others who worked with Kiwi troops fighting the Taliban.

20 Aug, 2021 10:18 PMQuick Read

20 Aug, 2021 08:02 PMQuick Read

20 Aug, 2021 04:49 AMQuick Read

20 Aug, 2021 04:01 AMQuick Read

MFAT says it is aware of 161 New Zealanders and their families in Afghanistan who are eligible to enter New Zealand, "many of whom we are providing consular support".

Staff are also assisting a small number of people who the Government has determined as having worked alongside NZDF, including interpreters, and those who materially assisted in the Operation Burnham inquiry and on police and aid missions.

Ardern said on Saturday New Zealand was working with its partners who were assisting the New Zealand effort now, and New Zealand staff would assist others once they arrived.

"I don't believe we arrived too late. It is an international effort, not just uplifting our people. We are working closely together to pick up one another's citizens and Afghani nationals."

According to the United Nations' refugee agency, about 250,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their homes since late May, most of them women and children.

Both Canada and the United Kingdom have pledged to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees, but Ardern said New Zealand would not yet be making a decision on that.

New Zealand was looking to further increase its refugee quota, but it was too soon to say what the Afghani makeup would be, she said.

"This will be an area where there will be a large number of refugees in the future and that is something we will work through."

Per head of population, New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of refugee acceptance in the world even after the current Government increased the annual refugee quota by 500.

It accepts 1500 refugees a year - or about 0.3 refugees per 1000 people. This ranks New Zealand 95th in the world.

Similar-sized countries like Norway and Ireland accept 11.29 and 1.22 refugees per 1000 residents, ranking them 15th and 69th respectively.

National Party foreign affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee said it was a "chaotic situation" and not fair to say if anybody should have acted sooner.

"Intelligence clearly was that Kabul would not fall and there would be time for an arrangement with the Taliban.

"It is a horrible situation. I do not think we are able to say anything should have been done sooner, it is just a mess."

On refugees, Brownlee said it would be "some time" before agencies were able to figure out where Afghan people would fall in the international refugee programme.

There were already about 20 million people displaced around the world.

"If you just go to the latest hotspot then you are leaving out others who have been in that situation longer."

Read more here:

Fall of Afghanistan: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says NZ unlikely to rescue 'everyone we want to' - New Zealand Herald

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Fall of Afghanistan: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says NZ unlikely to rescue ‘everyone we want to’ – New Zealand Herald

Lockdowns or Vaccines? 3 Pacific Nations Try Diverging Paths – VOA Asia

Posted: at 3:24 am

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - Cheryl Simpson was supposed to be celebrating her 60th birthday over lunch with friends but instead found herself confined to her Auckland home.

The discovery of a single local COVID-19 case in New Zealand was enough for the government to put the entire country into strict lockdown this past week. While others might see that as draconian, New Zealanders generally support such measures because they worked so well in the past.

"I'm happy to go into lockdown, even though I don't like it," said Simpson, owner of a day care center for dogs that is now closed because of the precautions. She said she wants the country to crush the latest outbreak: "I'd like to knock the bloody thing on the head."

Elsewhere around the Pacific, though, Japan is resisting such measures in the face of a record-breaking surge, instead emphasizing its accelerating vaccine program. And Australia has fallen somewhere in the middle.

All three countries got through the first year of the pandemic in relatively good shape but are now taking diverging paths in dealing with outbreaks of the delta variant, the highly contagious form that has contributed to a growing sense that the coronavirus cannot be stamped out, just managed.

Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at New Zealand's University of Otago, said countries around the world are struggling to adapt to the latest threat: "With the delta variant, the old rules just don't work."

The differing emphasis on lockdowns versus vaccines and how effective such strategies prove to be in beating back the delta variant could have far-reaching consequences for the three countries' economies and the health of their citizens.

Japan has never imposed lockdowns against the coronavirus. The public is wary of government overreach after the country's fascist period before and during World War II, and Japan's postwar constitution lays out strict protections for civil liberties.

Before the delta variant, the country managed to keep a lid on coronavirus outbreaks in part because many people in Japan were already used to wearing surgical masks for protection from spring allergies or when they caught colds.

Now, almost everyone on public transportation wears a mask during commuting hours. But late at night, people tend to uncover in restaurants and bars, which has allowed the variant to spread. Hosting the Tokyo Olympic Games didn't help either.

While strict protocols kept infections inside the games to a minimum, experts such as Dr. Shigeru Omi, a key medical adviser to the government, say the Olympics created a festive air that led people in Japan to lower their guard.

New cases in Japan have this month leaped to 25,000 each day, more than triple the highest previous peak. Omi considers that a disaster.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday expanded and extended a state of emergency covering Tokyo and other areas until at least mid-September, though most of the restrictions aren't legally enforceable.

Many governors are urging the prime minister to consider much tougher restrictions. But Suga said lockdowns have been flouted around the world, and vaccines are "the way to go."

Daily vaccinations in Japan increased tenfold from May to June as thousands of worksites and colleges began offering shots, but a slow start has left the nation playing catch-up. Only about 40% of people are fully vaccinated.

In Australia, a delta outbreak hit Sydney in June, after an unvaccinated limousine driver became infected while transporting a U.S. cargo air crew from the Sydney Airport. State authorities hesitated for 10 days before imposing lockdown measures across Sydney that have now dragged on for two months.

Early in the pandemic, Australia's federal government imposed just one nationwide lockdown. Now, amid the delta outbreak, it is pursuing a strategy it calls aggressive suppression including strict controls on Australians leaving the country and foreigners entering but is essentially letting state leaders call the shots.

New infections in Sydney have climbed from just a few each week before the latest outbreak to more than 800 a day.

"It's not possible to eliminate it completely. We have to learn to live with it," Gladys Berejiklian, premier of Sydney's New South Wales state, said in what many interpreted as a significant retreat from the determination state leaders have previously shown to crush outbreaks entirely.

"That is why we have a dual strategy in New South Wales," Berejiklian said. "Get those case numbers down, vaccination rates up. We have to achieve bothin order forus to live freely into the future."

The outbreak in Sydney has spilled over into the capital, Canberra, which has also gone into lockdown. Government worker Matina Carbone wore a mask while shopping on Friday.

"I don't know that anyone's ever going to really beat delta," she said. "I think we just have to try and increase our rates of vaccinations and slowly open things up when we think it's safe to do so."

But Australia lags far behind even Japan in getting people inoculated, with just 23% of people fully vaccinated.

Last year, soon after the pandemic first hit, neighboring New Zealand imposed a strict, nationwide lockdown and closed its border to non-residents. That wiped out the virus completely. The country of 5 millionhasbeen able to vanquish each outbreak since, recording just 26 virus deaths.

It went six months without a single locally spread case, allowing people to go about their daily lives much as they had before the pandemic.

But this month, the Sydney outbreak spread to New Zealand, carried by a returning traveler.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promptly imposed the strictest form of lockdown.

By Sunday, the number of locally spread cases in New Zealand had grown to 72, and the virus had reached the capital, Wellington. Officials raced to track 10,000 more people who might have been exposed.

Ardern has been steadfast.

"We have been here before. We know the elimination strategy works. Cases rise, and then they fall, until we have none," she said. "It's tried and true. We just need to stick it out."

Baker, the epidemiologist, said he believes it is still possible for New Zealand to wipe out the virus again by pursuing the "burning ember" approach of taking drastic measures to stamp out the first sign of an outbreak.

That remains to be seen.

New Zealand doesn't have much of a Plan B. A recent report by expert advisers to the government noted the nation has comparatively few intensive care hospital beds and said an outbreak could quickly overwhelm the health system.

And New Zealand has been the slowest developed nation to put shots in arms, with just 20% of people fully vaccinated.

Link:

Lockdowns or Vaccines? 3 Pacific Nations Try Diverging Paths - VOA Asia

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Lockdowns or Vaccines? 3 Pacific Nations Try Diverging Paths – VOA Asia

Afghan refugees in our thinking: Ardern – The Northern Daily Leader

Posted: at 3:24 am

news, world

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern concedes her government will fail to airlift all its citizens from Afghanistan prior to a US-imposed deadline on military-assisted departures from the crisis country. Like Australia, New Zealand is one of many countries scrambling to support departures from the south Asian nation which has fallen under Taliban control. The United States has signalled it will not provide support for the airlift beyond August 31, turning the mission into a race against time. "The window is very short. The number of people seeking to leave is enormous," Ms Ardern said on Thursday. "No one has gone in with the intention of leaving anyone behind but the reality of the situation has been extraordinarily difficult." New Zealand is placing the greatest urgency on its citizens and permanent residents, followed by Afghans who assisted their defence forces and agencies during the two-decade-long conflict. On Thursday, NZ's foreign affairs ministry said applications from Afghans to resettle in New Zealand were no longer being accepted. That leaves the question of Afghans fearing persecution under the islamist Taliban regime. Oxfam Aotearoa, Amnesty New Zealand and other like-minded organisations are supporting a push for a greater refugee intake from Afghanistan, tabling a 20,000-strong petition to the parliament on Thursday. "There's a moral duty to help those who have helped the work of the New Zealand government, NGOs and others," Oxfam Aotearoa executive director Rachael Le Mesuirer told AAP. "They've taken huge risks with their safety. "New Zealand lags behind the rest of the world for refugee intake ... we take half as many refugees as Australia per capita." Ms Ardern said a plan would be drawn up on how to assist those in need who remain in Afghanistan beyond this month. "Cabinet intends - once we have a final consolidation of those that we've been able to evacuate - to then work through a plan for those who still remain," she said. That group will include not just citizens, permanent residents and wartime allies, but refugees and humanitarian immigrants. Ms Ardern suggested it would be within the country's regular refugee intake. "There is work to be done across the international community to see that there is going to be that (humanitarian) support," she said. "We'll have a particular eye on those who, because of their human rights work or others, we would have concern about." Australian Associated Press

/images/transform/v1/crop/frm/silverstone-feed-data/a047dacd-e450-405e-8b4f-17c359898b4b.jpg/r0_74_800_526_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern concedes her government will fail to airlift all its citizens from Afghanistan prior to a US-imposed deadline on military-assisted departures from the crisis country.

Like Australia, New Zealand is one of many countries scrambling to support departures from the south Asian nation which has fallen under Taliban control.

The United States has signalled it will not provide support for the airlift beyond August 31, turning the mission into a race against time.

"The window is very short. The number of people seeking to leave is enormous," Ms Ardern said on Thursday.

"No one has gone in with the intention of leaving anyone behind but the reality of the situation has been extraordinarily difficult."

New Zealand is placing the greatest urgency on its citizens and permanent residents, followed by Afghans who assisted their defence forces and agencies during the two-decade-long conflict.

On Thursday, NZ's foreign affairs ministry said applications from Afghans to resettle in New Zealand were no longer being accepted.

That leaves the question of Afghans fearing persecution under the islamist Taliban regime.

Oxfam Aotearoa, Amnesty New Zealand and other like-minded organisations are supporting a push for a greater refugee intake from Afghanistan, tabling a 20,000-strong petition to the parliament on Thursday.

"There's a moral duty to help those who have helped the work of the New Zealand government, NGOs and others," Oxfam Aotearoa executive director Rachael Le Mesuirer told AAP.

"They've taken huge risks with their safety.

"New Zealand lags behind the rest of the world for refugee intake ... we take half as many refugees as Australia per capita."

Ms Ardern said a plan would be drawn up on how to assist those in need who remain in Afghanistan beyond this month.

"Cabinet intends - once we have a final consolidation of those that we've been able to evacuate - to then work through a plan for those who still remain," she said.

That group will include not just citizens, permanent residents and wartime allies, but refugees and humanitarian immigrants.

Ms Ardern suggested it would be within the country's regular refugee intake.

"There is work to be done across the international community to see that there is going to be that (humanitarian) support," she said.

"We'll have a particular eye on those who, because of their human rights work or others, we would have concern about."

Australian Associated Press

Read the original:

Afghan refugees in our thinking: Ardern - The Northern Daily Leader

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Afghan refugees in our thinking: Ardern – The Northern Daily Leader

Expert: 2021 may prove a ‘golden year’ with more outbreaks, lockdowns expected next year – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: at 3:24 am

This year may well turn out to have been a the golden year for New Zealand, with more Covid-19 incursions and lockdowns inevitable once the border is reopened, a top Government advisor has warned.

The dire prediction came from Professor Sir David Skegg, who heads the Strategic Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group and has counselled the Government on how to re-open after the pandemic.

When we reopen the border things are going to get tough. This is the golden year. In the last six months, we are the only country on earth just living a normal life, he said at a health committee meeting on Thursday, the last of three meetings set up after Parliament was suspended amid the current Delta outbreak.

Skegg said he was less optimistic contact tracers would be able to get ahead of a new outbreak of the fast-spreading virus next year without lockdowns.

When we start opening the borders we are going to get outbreaks of Covid-19 and they are going to be difficult to control, he said. This virus is not going away and unfortunately we are going to be in a war with this virus for years.

READ MORE:* Covid-19: Baby aged under 1 infected with virus in Auckland community outbreak* Covid-19 NZ: How viable is New Zealands coronavirus elimination plan in the time of Delta?* Covid-19: 100pc of cases at the border in last three weeks were Delta variant

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Professor Sir David Skegg speaking at the Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World forum weeks before the Delta outbreak.

Skegg also renewed his calls to strengthen public health units and the contact tracing workforce. This was one of his key recommendations to the Government earlier this month when he presented his report on how border restrictions can be eased once everyone is vaccinated.

Since then, an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant has mushroomed to include more than 24,000 contacts, more than 400 locations of interest and 277 infections. New evidence has shown this variant is much more infectious than previous strains of Covid-19, with a case infecting another person two days earlier than the original virus.

The people dealing with this outbreak much be working night and day, its turning out to be a major challenge, he said.

The period of time from when someone gets exposed to an infected person and then becomes infectious themselves is on average two days shorter. It does make us less optimistic that next year we will be able to continue elimination of outbreaks by testing and contact tracing alone.

Most Kiwis have been living a relatively normal life over the past six months, while the economy has also done well. But that luck wasnt going to last, Skegg said.

We have gone for just under six months without a single outbreak. I hope this one is stamped out quite quickly [but] only time will tell.

Meanwhile, New Zealands stretched health system was not equipped to deal with an outbreak

When one starts to look at things like intensive care beds, we are way below the average for the OECD, he told the committee, referring to the global grouping of developed nations. That is one of many incentives to try and keep Covid-19 as low as possible.

At her 1pm briefing on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that nearly 1400 contact tracers would be in call centres by the end of the day.

The rest is here:

Expert: 2021 may prove a 'golden year' with more outbreaks, lockdowns expected next year - Stuff.co.nz

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on Expert: 2021 may prove a ‘golden year’ with more outbreaks, lockdowns expected next year – Stuff.co.nz

New Zealand’s Ardern implores Taliban to uphold human rights – Reuters

Posted: August 16, 2021 at 1:28 pm

WELLINGTON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand on Monday implored Taliban leaders to uphold human rights in Afghanistan by allowing women to continue in work and education and to let foreigners and Afghans who want to leave the country go.

Taliban fighters took control of the presidential palace in Kabul late on Sunday as U.S.-led forces departed and Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens. read more

"I would just again implore those who made these moves in recent days to acknowledge what the international community has called for - human rights and the safety of their people," Ardern said at a news conference in the capital Wellington.

"What we want to see is women and girls being able to access work and education. These are things that have traditionally not been available to them where there has been governance by Taliban," she said

Ardern said the situation in Afghanistan had deteriorated much faster than expected. Efforts are underway to evacuate New Zealanders and some Afghans who worked with New Zealand agencies, she said.

About 37 Afghans have been identified to have worked alongside the New Zealand Defence Forces, Ardern said. Efforts would be made to evacuate these people and their dependents, she said, adding that a C-I30 military aircraft and accompanying personnel would be sent to help with the evacuation.

The Taliban have issued a statement saying they would protect people's lives and property and create a peaceful and secure environment. They also announced an amnesty for anyone who worked for U.S.-led foreign forces or the old government.

"The whole world is watching. Taliban is making claims about the type of administration they wish to be. We would implore them to allow people to leave safely," Ardern said.

"It's not a matter of trust - it's going to be all about the actions, not the words," she said.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Here is the original post:

New Zealand's Ardern implores Taliban to uphold human rights - Reuters

Posted in Jacinda Ardern | Comments Off on New Zealand’s Ardern implores Taliban to uphold human rights – Reuters

Page 11«..10111213..»