Chris Penk

The BFD has serialised National MP Chris Penk’s book Flattening the Country by publishing an extract every day. Today is the final extract.

“Instead we can dismiss”

Let us finish as we began, observing that it was only supposed to be the curve that got flattened, not the whole country.

Labour’s particular form of lockdown lunacy, however, set us on a course that none could avoid.

Again, it’s worth remembering that some kind of lockdown had become necessary and the initial timing was roughly right.  And yes, it was inevitable that our economy would take a serious hit, particularly in those sectors most directly impacted by the prevalence of covid-19 overseas, including tourism and export education.

At the same time, it has been valuable to say aloud what so many have been thinking but too afraid to say.  We’ve seen how government inaction created the conditions in which we’re even having this conversation now and how they built arbitrary rules on a shaky legal foundation.

We’ve also seen how the government prioritised some health outcomes over others and kept the foot of big government on the throat of free enterprise for way too long.

Our hope must now be that New Zealand can flourish in the years ahead, despite this administration’s autocratic instincts.

I’ve had my say, in an attempt to balance the ledger, so let the last word be given to the Prime Minister’s office. 

“There’s no real need to defend because the public have confidence in what has been achieved and what the Govt is doing”, an email from Ardern’s aide explained airily.

“Instead we can dismiss.”

That message was part of a document dump on 8 May 2020, a Friday, of course, being cynically timed to minimise media scrutiny. 

Those words also double as my prediction for the government’s response to this book.  They’re not much good at delivering on their promises to do things like build houses and reduce poverty (quite the opposite, in fact) but haughtily dismissing entirely legitimate criticism is one thing in which they’re very well versed.

The instruction had come from the very top, directing ministers’ press secretaries to issue only “brief written statements” in response to all media queries, as the New Zealand Herald revealed.

It’s telling that a key instruction within that email was, quite simply: “Do not put Minister up for any interviews on this”.  Clearly Ardern has the same level of confidence in her Cabinet colleagues that most of the rest of us do.

After disrupting our lives and livelihoods in ways that were often incomprehensible and incompetent, it turns out that this government is actively denying us our right to know what is being done to us.

Such audacious disregard for the governed should not end well for the government.  There is an election in just a few months.

We don’t have to put up with this.  “Instead, we can dismiss.”

Let’s do that.


You can order a signed copy of Flattening the Country for $20 (per copy, including postage and packaging) by:

  1. sending Chris Penk an email at [email protected] with:
  • your name
  • your postal address
  • the number of copies you’d like (if more than one)
  • confirmation of payment; and
  1. making your $20 payment to:


(ASB account of Chris Penk MP)

**Please tell him that The BFD sent you as it never hurts to let the National Party know the power of Conservative media.


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