A Word from Jacqui Dean, Waitaki MP

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NZ needs a new plan

In New Zealand, the Delta variant has been the game-changer and it is clear that we definitely need a new plan.

Elimination was at the centre of the Government’s previous strategies, but its own oversights have seen that fail.

Labour and Greens ministers coasted along during the middle of this year, with international plaudits for their elimination strategy and their relentless focus on big-picture projects and amalgamation clearly distracting them from focusing on the job at hand: protecting New Zealand.

The result was New Zealand being rated last in the OECD for vaccination of its population and holes in a shambolic MIQ system letting Delta into our country.

I am calling on Government ministers to halt their big-picture projects, such as the Three Waters reforms, to refine their focus and to address what is vitally important to our nation right now.

The distractions must end and a pathway releasing regions such as Central Otago from the crippling effects of the pandemic must be produced.

Managing Delta won’t be easy and flexibility will be needed but after an incredibly trying 18 months, small and medium-sized businesses, tourism and hospitality operators and many other sectors simply cannot continue to survive without both support and some certainty about their futures.

National supports rapidly boosting our vaccination rates. We have been saying it for months and well before Delta made it to New Zealand.

Vaccination is the only plan we have heard from the Prime Minister so far, but it should be just one part of a pathway aimed at leading us back to some kind of normality.

When there are regionalised outbreaks, it means offering meaningful and targeted support for businesses forced to sustain fixed costs for times like right now, where their operating capacity is well down or if they are forced to shut because of lockdowns.

Central Otago has done its part by keeping our region Covid free and by having hundreds of our tourist-reliant businesses effectively put into hibernation.

Now it’s the Government’s turn to urgently match those efforts and deliver an effective strategy to combat the effects of Delta.