Berating Bauer Media for reacting to the government’s inability to think of unintended consequences of its actions really is inappropriate.
You’d need to have been living in another galaxy to not be aware of the struggles of print media over the past few years. Bauer is just one. NZME, Fairfax, all community newspapers, indeed everybody who used to be able to make a go of publishing various magazines and papers, has been struggling.
Standing on your high horse and berating an international company for closing its doors without consulting you is at the upper end of arrogance. The wage package was never going to cut it for them or for many other companies. Determining that their business (most of which can easily be conducted from home by most employees), must close for no clear reason other than some bureaucrat or politician decreeing that only dailies were essential, is beyond short-sighted. It’s complete blindness.
While I am terribly distressed by Bauer’s decision, I am not even slightly surprised. They have no interest in New Zealand other than as an investment. Kill the investment and you force them to decide: Take a loss now and get out, or try to stick it out in a failing media environment with absolutely no clarity about the future, both in terms of time and what will inevitably be an economy in crisis. They chose to cut their losses as quickly as possible. It was predictable, foreseeable and inevitable. “Grow up, people” is what I say to the government. The outcome of your actions was inevitable. That’s how business works. Had you not pushed them (and many others) into this untenable position, they wouldn’t have closed the doors. It’s that simple. You gave them outstandingly good reason to hang up the “closing down” sign.
Quite apart from the unilateral, dictatorial, ill-conceived and completely disorganized jumble of what should be an ‘essential’ service and what shouldn’t, only a cretin would be unable to foresee what was going to happen and what is indeed already happening.
Businesses without cash flow cannot (or will choose not to) pay their bills, and that means their suppliers cannot pay their bills which creates a major problem that resonates through the entire economy. Small business owners will be complying as they have been asked to, but I can tell you from the many conversations I’ve had this week, they are absolutely devastated and are living in fear that their businesses will not survive and with them will go their incomes and those of their employees. They are not afraid of the virus. They are not afraid of death. They are not afraid of losing loved ones. Because, like all sensible people, they are taking precautions well beyond the simple “stay at home” instructions of the government. These are successful people who know how to think things through. Most of them could have kept trading with safety protocols in place. Instead, they are bleeding to death with nowhere to go and only bank loans and a partial wages subsidy to help.
I was a very strong supporter of a lockdown and I was at the forefront of those calling for action and for it to be fast. My definition of a lockdown is vastly different from the half-arsed ridiculous shambles we’re all currently being forced to painfully stumble through under ever changing, confused rules and puerile state supervision.
My expectation was that government and its advisors would have enough knowledge, understanding and information readily available to them to make the correct decisions for the benefit of all New Zealanders. Despite the consistent evidence to the contrary exhibited by them on every imaginable subject and with monotonous regularity, I at least thought they’d have sufficient common sense somewhere in the group to ask the right questions of the right people and come up with the right conclusions.
For me, a lockdown meant business as usual, with the exception of places where there are large gatherings. Elsewhere, strict sanitising protocols and separation, no large gatherings and a complete and strict 14 day quarantine and testing regime at the border for every incoming passenger. No exceptions.
Meanwhile, everybody displaying symptoms to be tested, regardless of what they could remember of contact with people from overseas, and they too would be straight into quarantine until clear.
Instead, we have a shambles of extraordinary proportions which time will prove was neither necessary nor useful but will have provided entertainment for the forlorn fools with nothing better to do, as they dob in their neighbours for perceived breaches.
We’re still in time to partially save ourselves by backing off the silly and inconsistent parts of the lockdown but maintaining a strict regime where we conclusively know it’s necessary however, I doubt there’s the foresight or courage to rethink it.
Four weeks is a long time in politics and these four weeks are changing New Zealand’s history. The damage to New Zealanders will far exceed anything this virus is dealing out.
For most of us, surviving Coronavirus will ultimately be more about surviving the self-inflicted damage to our way of life than the illness itself.
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