With Australian states this week ramping up their enforcement of coronavirus restricts, they now appear to be in competition with New Zealand to win the Tasman Totalitarianism Trophy. On Trad Tasman Talk this week Tim and Dieuwe share their respective government’s crackdown on civil liberties and business trading to see who wins the trophy.
There’s a bit of chaos in New Zealand, with the police having broad powers to interpret the lockdown rules as they see fit. Some businesses are attempting to open, but butchers and grocers are being forcibly closed. People are being turned back for driving to a park or beach.
Australia and New Zealand have both become a nation of snitches, with neighbours dobbing each other in to the police hotlines for breaching quarantine. On the first day of the online form being open, it crashed and had to be replaced with an email address. State governments in Australia are also asking for breaches to be reported.
Bauer Media, a magazine printer, has become the first high profile casualty of the lockdown, ending publication of half a dozen print magazines that were popular in New Zealand. Many in the legacy media are being asked to take pay cuts and advertising departments are being laid off. Bauer Australia is still operating and trying to get a discount on purchase of Seven Network Magazines.
The Health Minister David Clark was snapped driving to a mountain bike trail in his official MP vehicle, even though the government had advised against such activities. Jacinda had been giving daily proclamations from the throne, but didn’t turn up on the day the news of Clark’s indiscretion broke. Another Labour MP Michael Wood told grocers and butches to not bother lobbying the government as they would not be allowed to open.
Projections are for up to 20% unemployment, with a matching 20% drop in house prices that might send people under. The NZ government is matching about 80% pay for most of the country and spending over $500 million a day, which might put us up to 50% of GDP in debt.
In Australia, coronavirus supplements have been added to Jobseeker and Jobkeeper. Free childcare has been implemented and private-public partnerships are being set up for hospital beds. NSW, Victoria, and WA leading enforcement of restrictions with tough fines and even threats of imprisonment. Scott Morrison is being widely praised for his handling of the crisis.
Yet we’re all still left wondering, what’s the end game? Where’s the exit strategy? It’s only a matter of time before the economic deviation will cause more deaths than the virus, and in New Zealand that stage might already have been reached.