OPINION: Rural NZ is again getting the rough end of the stick when it comes to services - this time in relation to Covid-19 vaccinations.
It hasn’t been perfect, but we are one of the luckiest countries in the world thanks to him and his team.
However, in the last few weeks, some cracks have appeared with all sorts of problems in the isolation facilities and the disconnect between the politicians’ expectations and what the Ministry of Health and the others managing the isolation facilities have been doing. The ministry is great when it comes to straight health but is woefully out its depth when it comes to managing things out in the field.
The classic example is their dealing with Auckland’s latest lockdown. It has been an unmitigated shambles of the highest order. Dad’s Army would have done a much better job! Farmers and a whole range of people who work in the rural area around the border of the super city are rightly frustrated, enraged, dumbstruck and in a state of despair at the incompetence of the MoH’s management of the border.
In Auckland it seems a trip to Waiheke Island was okay – no penalty, just the usual slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. But trying to look after your calves or other stock, get a vet to sick animals or move your produce to other parts of the country was taboo. The penalty for trying to do your job – a five hour wait in a queue.
The inconvenience inflicted on the rural sector in Auckland at the border checkpoints was unforgivable. Yet Dr Bloomfield and the PM at the daily Jacinda/Ashley pantomime proclaimed that the exemptions were being processed quickly. Really? So, a farmer who calls a vet has to wait for five days until the vet gets permission to travel! Excuse us, but by the time he arrives the animal will likely be “dead, buried and cremated” – to pinch a phrase coined by former Australia Prime Minister, Tony Abbot.
It seems that agriculture – let’s call it food production – is not a priority for the MoH or the politicians running the COVID campaign. One feels for Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and MPI who seem to be bystanders in this whole fiasco.
MoH policy wonks are not experts in supply chain and food production. Come on Ashley – take the advice from MPI and the rural community and get it right. Aren’t we all in this together and wasn’t agriculture supposed to lead the economic recovery?