The Ardern government is clueless and making it up as it goes along, Ashley Bloomfield has no idea, and computer modelling is useless garbage.

Of course, that’s not the message Stuff wants you to hear, but it’s the clear conclusion from the latest release of Cabinet papers regarding New Zealand’s uncontrollable covid “delta” outbreak.

Newly-released papers show the Government believed the Auckland Covid-19 outbreak had peaked and could be contained when it moved the city out of level 4 in mid-September.

Indeed, it was even told just days before that modelling projected an eventual return to elimination.

Every single one of those beliefs was wrong. Yet this, we are told, is the government that is the world’s best covid manager. As for the “experts” advising it…

In the September 20 paper moving Auckland to level 3, Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins’ office says the outbreak appeared to have peaked and is now contained, based on advice from Bloomfield […]

“As set out in the Director-General of Health’s interim health advice, the ongoing decline in cases, lack of unexpected wastewater testing results, and reduced proportion of cases infectious in the community suggest that the current outbreak in Auckland is gradually coming under control.”

And the computer models?

Modelling of the future of the outbreak from Te Punaha Matatini was provided in three scenarios – very optimistic, optimistic, and pessimistic. Overall this modelling projected an “eventual return to elimination”.

So, even on its worst scenarios, the modelling was disastrously wrong. To be fair, Bloomfield sounded a minor note of caution, and the modellers themselves warned that the modelling was not reliable.

Was any of this conveyed to the public? Of course not, the “sole source of truth” continued to blithely sell New Zealanders a fat, shiny lie. Of course, as George Costanza said, “It’s not a lie if you believe it” — and Chris Hipkins clearly believed the government’s own bullshit, writing in mid-September that the modelling predicted “an eventual return to elimination”.

PM Jacinda Ardern kept parroting the comforting lie, too: asserting that they would “achieve the goal of stamping out Covid-19”. It took nearly a month more for Ardern to admit that the “elimination” myth was buried. Even then, she wouldn’t actually come out and say that: instead, she buried the truth under a mountain of Ardern-esque waffle.

The Government’s own polling showed the public found this new phased approach confusing and that many felt they were not being told about a new strategy.

It would take weeks more for Hipkins to make clear that elimination was over not just for Auckland, but for the entire country, which he did on November 10.


So, like Dan Andrews and Annastacia Palaszczuk, the opinion-poll tail is wagging the governmental dog.

So much for “following the science” — especially when even “the science” is a dodgy mess of garbage and wishful thinking.

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A Cabinet of COVID Clowns

Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...