Rangitikei Matters May 2020

Rangitikei Matters - 01 May 2020

New Zealand’s response to our Covid-19 Lockdown has been great and the health results are a credit to everyone.  I hope now as we progress to the new normal that we do it quickly, effectively and in a manner which allows as many New Zealanders as possible to get their lives back in order.

Rangitikei Matters - 01 May 2020

New Zealand’s response to our Covid-19 Lockdown has been great and the health results are a credit to everyone.  I hope now as we progress to the new normal that we do it quickly, effectively and in a manner which allows as many New Zealanders as possible to get their lives back in order.

I also hope that our Government has the courage and foresight to move quickly to protect and assist those who have been particularly badly affected by the Lockdown, and are still very much out in the cold.  This includes the many, many thousands of small businesses including almost all of those involved in the tourism and hospitality industries.  As so often happens in times of difficulty, it is the people with the least that suffer the most and I don’t only refer to the business owners but also those many thousands of people who work in the sector.  Let’s also ensure they don’t suffer more as a result of this.

With Levels governing our lives, our new reality is slowly changing as we move from Level 4 to Level 3.  The roads around here are a little busier this week and no doubt our building sites are grinding back to work, our forestry industry is back in action and you can play golf - as long as you play with yourself it seems and with a 10 minute gap between players.  You can also fish but not off the rocks or a boat.  And if you are waiting along with the 30,000 others who missed out on surgery last month – you are still waiting. 

The irony of all this of course is that in the supermarket for the past 5 weeks we have been able to touch the packet of biscuits, the loaf of bread or whatever and leave it there for the next person who is only two metres behind in a stuffy building. If nothing else I guess this provides some assurance that community transmission is not widespread.  But there are many examples of businesses that are in no way a risk to our health and wellbeing, and yet they have not been allowed to operate or get back to work.  Let’s hope the bureaucracy doesn’t continue to make uninformed decisions about who can and can’t get back to work, and what they can and can’t do when they are able to resume working.

Back to the health sector for a minute and let’s consider how long it’s going to take to catch up the ground lost with those 30,000 people who have not had their operations.  The potential health consequences of this are frightening and very real - the delay in cancer treatment and the fact that many have put off seeking medical advice when they should have. This could be one of the greatest problems that has arisen from this Lockdown.  Had the Ministry used a more moderate predictive model for Covid -19, we may well have saved many more lives than we have on our current pathway. Time alone will tell.

The other concern I have as a result of the Government’s actions over the Lockdown relates to the Wage Subsidy - which I must add I fully support - and the expectation that it will save businesses.  It will not.  It has merely taken some of the wage cost from business in an attempt to ensure those jobs have a chance of survival. We must remember the big costs for business are property related, compliance, rates and bank charges - none of which are being helped by the government funding. I also think the witch-hunt provoked by the media over who should and who shouldn’t receive the Wage Subsidy is counterproductive.  Audits and the Inland Revenue will sort this when tax returns and end of year accounts become available. The Government needs to remember and understand that property owners and landlords have many other costs related to their property too - and often are not in a position to grant much relief on rents - so there is a gaping hole in the system here as well.

 

 

One idea or concept I believe we need to adopt and promote, particularly in provincial New Zealand, is to ‘buy local’. Where possible we should support and purchase locally, look after our own, look after our neighbours and their businesses and help our communities recover from Covid-19.  This will certainly help to build strong, resilient, self-sufficient and thriving local communities. 

 

 

 

I read a good quote the other day which sums it up and went something like this – ‘Remember when you asked that small business or local store or café to support your fundraiser? Well now it’s time to support them.  They are the heart of a town’.

 

 

 

If we as individuals or small businesses and particularly our councils and multi-nationals buy locally, if we source the services we need locally, I am certain we will all be much better for it.

Finally it is exciting to see people able to go back to work and I am a little buoyed by the number of businesses who have found a way of operating, albeit with very limited turnover in testing times.  I wish them all the very best as we move forward from here.

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