Widespread reports of people not receiving their voting packs in time for the local government election have led Whakatāne District Councillor Nandor Tanczos to call for an inquiry into the shambles.
“I heard multiple accounts of registered voters not receiving their voting papers in time for the election” said Nandor.
“Some households received papers for a couple of people while others in the family missed out. Some people got their papers the day before close of voting, way to late to post their votes in. People who updated their details on-line still had papers go to the wrong address.
“Council staff in Whakatāne did their best to take up the slack, with a drive in voting booth on the day and staff at the service centres trained to assist with special voting, but NZ Post let the country down.
“Postal voting is a challenge for many people as it is, with a lack of post boxes and an unreliable service, especially in rural areas. For people to not even get their voting papers is completely unacceptable”.
“Parliament needs to take this extremely seriously. Your right to vote shouldn’t be dependent on random chance, whether the papers turned up or not. There needs to be a full examination as to why this was allowed to happen, and what will be done to make sure it is different next time” said Nandor.
“Maybe postal voting has done its dash and we need to do local government elections differently”.
After the last election I was dubious about the Greens going into Government. Labour didn’t need them and so I doubted they would have the leverage to make any significant gains on things like climate change. I couldn’t see an upside. The downside was that, as with small parties in government before them, their vote could vanish as quickly as the Advance NZ donation box. Yet neither of these has proven to be true.
I work on the ground on climate change mitigation and adaptation, as a councillor in a small and dynamic district council. For many years central government has been missing in action. Like a number of councils we saw the need for local government to step in and show leadership. I’m proud of the work we are doing, but it has always been clear that Aotearoa needed central government at the table. We were missing a coherent national strategy both for reducing our emissions and for addressing the very real challenges of adapting to a changing world. In particular the question of managed retreat, and the difficult equity issues that raises, needed a national framework around it.
Frameworks, timelines, cumulative steps, these don’t make sexy headlines or provide many photo ops. But they are really important when we start to grapple with the realities of this huge and complex issue. Like an ocean liner, there is great inertia in the system and it doesn’t turn easily. Having James Shaw as Minister for Climate Change has meant that, for the first time, we have someone in the bridge trying to turn the rudder. And that has made a huge difference on the ground, most especially in terms of building understanding and certainty across our communities. Climate action is now locked in.
There is no doubt that if the Greens had been dealt a decent hand at the last election they could have done a lot more. Climate activists are right to demand more urgency in our climate change response, and to hold the Minister for Climate Change to account for that. But we also need to acknowledge that James Shaw has done more to advance this country’s climate change transition than any other politician, living or dead.
This is not to undermine those who keep warning us that we are moving too slow. We are. But the solution is for the Greens to have more influence in government. Greens electoral support is strong and it seems likely that any third term Labour Government will need the Greens to form a majority. Labour has some capable Ministers (Nanaia Māhuta and Kiri Allen are impressive) but Green Ministers have added real strength over the last two terms. Building a reputation as competent and credible operators is vital to broader electoral support, and the mandate that gives for deeper action.
The Green Party’s job, in my opinion, is to lead real change. It is the job of the broader green movement to be the radical voice. One is about navigating ‘the art of the possible’. The other is about maintaining an uncompromising clarity. I think sometimes we confuse the two. Over the years many people have spent energy trying to get the Green Party to be the radical voice outside the tent. Perhaps that energy would be better spent building a stronger extra-parliamentary movement.
Having said that, the recent vote to reopen nominations for co-leader shows a very real tension that I think James Shaw, and Marama Davidson, need to pay attention to. It doesn’t take much to see that many party activists are becoming disaffected. They don’t feel valued or listened to. They don’t feel that they have influence. They don’t feel supported, despite what they give to the party. These are classic causes of burn-out. And it is happening at all levels of the party, from the top down. The party needs to be much better at looking after its people.
The co-leaders need to take seriously their obligation to be good leaders of the organisation, as well as good ministers. They need to attend to the concerns of their members, as much as they do to their external stakeholders. They need to address the cultural as well as the structural problems in the party, which has allowed party processes to be captured by personal agendas and which makes internal debate a toxic affair. They need to value talent and plan for succession across the organisation. If they do not take the internal problems of the party seriously they may find themselves hamstrung just as they are finally reaching the level of influence they need to make deep change.
The vote to reopen nominations is a wake up call. I have no doubt that James will survive it. I hope he also learns from it.
District councillors have been getting a lot of campaign emails recently about the Government’s 3 Waters reforms. They come with no reply addresses, but they deserve a response. This is my open reply to those emails, and update for the community on 3 Waters reforms.
I’ve written about this before but as a quick reminder, the 3 Waters are: drinking water, waste water (mostly sewage) and storm water (mostly rain run-off). It’s not about who owns the water itself or water quality, but rather who controls the pipes, pumps and drains that moves it all around and treats it.
Local councils around the country have generally not invested what they should have in water infrastructure over the decades and things are starting to get desperate. I guess they hoped the Government would bail them out. This reform is the Government’s response. It basically brings control of all council owned water infrastructure across the country under 4 super-sized water service providers. We will be part of one that covers most of the middle North Island.
These will be owned by local councils and run by independent boards. Like councils, tangata whenua get some high level representation, but it’s limited. The main idea is that economies of scale will get the much needed work done cheaper. There is some debate about how big those saving might be, but there will almost certainly be some. It also gets cheaper loans and big urban centres will cross-subsidise smaller populations like ours.
It’s important to remember that these changes are driven by Wellington. For people sending emails to local councillors, it would be more effective to send them to the Minister for Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, since she actually gets to decide. We do not.
Which is what Whakatāne District Council did. We sent a letter to the Minister, and met with her on zoom. We made very detailed comments about what we saw was wrong with the reforms. These included concerns about the over-all approach, the governance arrangements, the lack of clarity about key aspects and the lack of say for our communities. I wrote a detailed article about this in the Beacon a few months ago. We were unanimous that we were against the proposals.
I want to emphasise this because there is some misinformation being put about. We were unanimous that we opposed the reforms. We did disagree on whether to join ‘Communities 4 Local Democracy’, a break-away group of councils, but that was just about whether it would be an effective advocate for Whakatāne’s interests. I still don’t think they have been, but we did end up joining them.
Almost everyone agrees some reform is needed though. It’s really about what that should look like. Local Government has not done a good job with water in most of the country. Recent letters to The Beacon about rates have highlighted the issue. Some people already find it hard to pay their rates bill, and so councillors are twitchy about putting rates up more than they need to. The true cost of that is underinvestment in water and other infrastructure.
We all hate rates rises, but good water infrastructure is expensive and it has to be paid for. Some people point to the Civic Centre Earthquake Strengthening, or the Commercial Boat Harbour development as places to save money, but both of these have very little impact on rates. I’ll write another piece about why and also why they are both so important. What is driving rates rises now is the need to catch up on investment in water infrastructure. Whakatāne is actually quite well placed compared to many councils, especially when it comes to drinking water, but the bill is still eye-watering. So I can see why the Government wants to take investment decisions out of the hands of politicians. The problem, of course, is that means less local accountability.
Our council has made our objections clear and specific, as have others. The Government actually listened to some of those and while they remain committed to the overall reform, especially the 4 big water service providers, they have made quite a few changes. There will be a review after 5 years. There will now be a subregional voice and consumer advocates embedded in the structure. They’ve made it harder to privatise by requiring a unanimous vote of all shareholding councils to do so. To name a few.
In response to National’s promise to roll back the reforms if they win the next election, it will now require a 75% majority of Parliament to do so. This will be almost impossible to achieve. So regardless of our opposition, the reforms will go ahead and they will be locked in. Labour has burned too much political capital already to turn back, they have introduced the bill to Parliament, and they have the votes. As a council our responsibility now is to make sure our communities are not disadvantaged. We are a small fish in the water services pond. By developing our infrastructure investment plans to the point where they can easily be picked up by the new entity, we can influence the work programme and make sure that the needs of our communities don’t slip to the back of the queue.
Critical projects like Matatā waste water, Murupara waste water, finding new sources for our drinking water supplies, are vital to the well-being of our communities. It’s a big program of work to get them ready to hand over to the new provider, but doing it well means our communities don’t lose out to the bigger urban centres. And this is just the first stage of a programme of local government reform. We need to keep communicating as clearly as we can about these big, complex issues. Being smart, adaptable, solution focussed and strategic is going to be important for the council for the foreseeable future.
One of the things I have been talking about since being on council is the need for a more strategic approach. I mean a couple of things by this. First, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be sidetracked by funding opportunities. Whakatāne District Council is good at prying money out of government hands but it has a cost. We cannot afford to spend time and energy on things that don’t take us where we are trying to go. We need to clearly define, with our communities, what our priorities are, and only seek funding for things that fit those priorities. Secondly, we live in a time of great uncertainty. Perhaps all generations do, but the pace of change seems to be speeding up. We face real challenges with climate change and resource depletion. There is growing instability from worsening poverty and inequality. Then we have Covid, with all its implications. We need to think strategically about how to face an uncertain future and what our communities need if we want to thrive in a changing world. Because thrive we can. Our district has huge positives, from fertile soils, to flowing waters, to a rich cultural tapestry, to creative and resilient peoples, to a population willing and able to help itself. The question for council is how we can help rather than hinder those qualities. In 2020 and 2021 I facilitated a series of workshops with councillors to identify a high level vision and some key priorities. We thought a lot about council’s role, because it is a large organisation that does lots of different things, from planning and consent processing, to running swimming pools, to building roads, to keeping the taps flowing. The purpose of all of that is to enhance the well-being of our communities. We summed that up with the words MORE LIFE IN LIFE – working together to make living better for our communities, now and in the future. This has always been a place of abundance. By working together we can ensure that our descendants enjoy a plentiful future.
To do this we need strong, connected, interdependent, diverse communities. The resilience of our local communities is obvious with every natural disaster, but different communities have different characteristics. This includes real poverty in some, as a result of raupatu and nearly 40 years of neo-liberalism. We need to serve all communities in ways that are relevant for them. We can support connectedness through spatial planning, affordable housing development, good infrastructure, by supporting events and clubs that bring people together, and through civic engagement and fair representation. Interdependence comes out of this connectedness, with the recognition that we are in it together. He waka eke noa. Council needs to be much better at working constructively and collaboratively with whānau, hapū and iwi. Mana whenua were here as political entities long before our council and they will continue to be here long after it. They are wrapped up in the very identity of half of our population. They control significant resources and they have economic, social and cultural aspirations for their people and the wider district. They act as kaitiaki of their ancestral areas, for the good of all, and they have statutory recognition in a number of Acts of Parliament. Recognising their mana is simply acknowledging those facts.
Local government has a very poor history when it comes to acting against the interests of Māori. We need to repair a relationship that we have damaged. One thing is for sure – we can only truly thrive as a district if we are able to work together towards some shared aspirations. To do this, and to ensure an abundant future for our descendants, we need to integrate nature into our decision-making. We have to do more than green-washing. This is both about specific programmes, such as the climate change initiatives I have written about before, and about how we design all our activities. As an example we are starting to look at how flood control drains can be rethought as habitat for native species, an example of biophilic design.
An economic system that supports rather than degrades nature is also possible, with a thriving circular economy. I have written about this before but basically a linear economy takes a resource, extracts it, uses it once and then throws it away. A circular economy keeps resources in circulation for as long as possible. It looks at the sustainability of the source of that resource, how it is used, how it is circulated within the economy, and at the end of life how it can be returned to nature in a beneficial way
But it’s not just about the materials. How do we keep money circulating in our local economy rather than draining out? How do we provide education that leads to well paid satisfying work so that our young people don’t need to move away? How well can we meet local needs when things like Covid disrupt supplies? As a large organisation Council is looking at how our procurement spending can better support a local circular economy. We have also been assisting local business planning during Covid and with government funded Kia Kaha and Provincial Growth Fund money.
All of these things are about having a council that is able to face the 21st century with a clear focus rather than reacting with confusion. Our vision and priorities were agreed unanimously by councillors last year, and now we are working on bringing them alive through the whole organisation. It takes time, but we have started.
(First published in the Whakatāne Beacon 28 Jan 2022)
Yesterday Whakatāne District Council voted 10 – 1 to require a vaccination pass to enter all Council facilities excluding parks, reserves, playgrounds, cemeteries, the Murupara outdoor pool, and public toilets that are not inside a Council facility. This sets out why I voted the way I did. It is not my speech word for word, more like a mash up of the 2 different times I spoke.
I want to start by reminding us of the context of this discussion. NZ has had very low rates of covid infection to date. This has allowed us to keep fatalities low, as health services have been able to cope. This is very different from many other places where health services have been overwhelmed by covid cases.
This is now changing, and our national strategy is changing as well, as infections are increasing. I don’t envy Central Government decision-makers, who have to balance people’s civil and human rights, with the right to life, and their obligations to protect the community. I haven’t agreed with all their decisions, but I think we have to start from a basis that they are trying their best to balance those different needs. But it is difficult, and our very success has made NZers complacent. Add to that the misinformation that is circulating, often originating in overseas interests who want NZ to fail.
So we have to be very careful who we listen to. Councillor Silcock mentioned a doctor who has been talking about the rise of suicides in Auckland as a result of lockdown. I’d love to know where those figures come from because I’ve just looked up the latest report on suicide rates from the Chief Coroner and that is not true. Suicide rates have been down for the last two years. Those figures only go to June, but still cover a significant period of lockdown. Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Shaun Robinson has criticised speculation on increased suicides saying “We are aware of increased levels of distress, especially in Auckland, where lockdown is taking its toll on the wellbeing of so many people. But speculation that this will lead to increases in suicide is unfounded.”
I understand the concerns. At the start of this pandemic I was vaccine hesitant, but I have had to have a hard look at the science, at the peer reviewed studies and the advice of public health experts who have spent their lives trying to save lives. We councillors are not epidemiologists – none of us. As people in positions of responsibility should we take our advice from actual epidemiologists and public health experts, the vast majority of whom are in clear agreement, or should we just follow whatever we read on social media? Obviously we have to listen to the actual evidence, and the evidence is very clear.
Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you cannot get covid or transmit it. Being vaccinated carries some risk of adverse side effects. But despite what you might think from social media algorithms, significant side effects are rare.
The risks from getting covid are much higher. There seems to be around 1 or 2 deaths per hundred covid cases – which is quite a lot of people if covid spreads significantly. Around 1 in 3 have serious long term side effects.
One in three.
Vaccine risks are very low compared to that.
Vaccinated people CAN get covid but unvaccinated people are much more likely to. Obviously that means they are much more likely to infect others. Being unvaccinated also means that people’s symptoms are likely to be far worse – they much more likely to have serious impacts or die. But that’s a risk people can decide for themselves. That’s got nothing to do with us as a council. What we DO need to pay attention to is the risk to others.
So when it comes to being vaccinated, people have a choice. But choices also have consequences. To use Councillor Luca’s analogy, people can choose to smoke tobacco, which increases their risks of all kinds of serious health issues, and that is their right. But they do not have a right to smoke inside, in places that put others at risk. In fact we have banned such behaviour as a country.
So we must always remember the purpose of any restrictions, which is not to punish people for their choices, but should only be to reduce significant risk to others. People who choose to not be vaccinated should not be given unnecessary or unreasonable restrictions. It’s worth recalling that government regulations say that you cannot be asked to provide your Vaccine Pass to access basic services, such as supermarkets, dairies, petrol stations, public transport, pharmacies and essential health care.
I’ve had lots of emails in the last couple of days about how valued council services are – which is great to hear. We provide really important functions and facilities. But restrictions aren’t based on how much people value our services – they are based on what is the best way to keep our community safer.
So I support the amendment to exclude open spaces from vaccine passes, as the risk of transmission in those situations is much lower. I will move an amendment to explicitly exclude the Murupara Pool as well, as that is a predominantly outdoor facility with a low density of users. Additionally I would like us to state clearly that we are committed to maintaining our services for all members of the community, vaccinated and unvaccinated, by providing alternative means of access where this is practical.
But lets remember that if our staff do get infected, they are likely to spread it to a lot of people because most of our staff engage with many different people. We do not want council facilities to become super spreader locations. In addition as councillors we have legal and ethical obligations to our staff, to not put them at undue risk and to provide a safe working environment, as far as possible.
So Whakatāne is going into the new traffic light system at red. We have recent infections and low rates of vaccination compared to other parts of the country. This puts our health services capability, in particular our ICU beds, under threat. This is not just a concern for covid cases but for all those people that will have treatment delayed or cancelled if covid cases are taking up resources. So we need to do what we can to support reasonable public health measures in a time of pandemic.
So it seems self evident to me that we need to introduce a vaccination pass system. If we don’t, some of our facilities will have to close entirely. It seems unfair to deny access to all because a small number choose not to get vaccinated. It is also likely that many vaccinated people will avoid our facilities if we do not have a vaccination pass system in place. Again that seems like an unfair outcome.
Finally I’ll say that I am aware that some of our frontline staff are already getting abuse for trying to enforce the previous guidelines. I trust they will get the support they need to handle this kind of aggression, and I ask people who disagree with the decision we are making today to not take it out on staff. Talk to those of us who made the decision.
Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today to share some of our story about our climate change journey.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time with graphs and numbers. That is pretty dull conversation unless you’re a specialist and those are easily available from our website or by contacting our staff, who are all very keen to work with and support other councils. I thought it would be more interesting and helpful to talk about the human dynamics that shaped our journey.
Prior to 2016 if you looked at the WDC website you wouldn’t have seen anything about climate change. A search might have turned up a reference at the back of a planning document but there was no evidence that the council as an organisation understood the implications of climate change or that it was thinking strategically about how to either reduce local emissions or adapt to the climatic and ecosystem changes that are already baked in.
The problem, frankly, was political. There were a number of staff that were intensely interested in the issue with a base of knowledge and skill to work from, but there was a lack of understanding or will at the political level. Staff had developed off their own bat a sustainability strategy but it went nowhere.
Whakatāne District Council’s journey with Climate Change is, more than anything, a story about the power of unleashing talented staff on a challenging problem.
How we began
The journey began almost informally in the last term of council. A steering group was set up with hazy mandate, but it comprised senior staff at tiers 2 and 3 who put their hand up for it, and I was invited to chair. We brought in people from across the organisation, and this has been one of the features to this day, that we have taken a whole of organisation approach, recognising that all of our areas of activity have a part of play.
We also had a project group, that allowed staff at a lower level in the organisation to be involved and input into the program.
We spent a bit of time trying to define our understanding of the issue. One of the difficulties is the high levels of uncertainty. We know that we are warming the planet and we understand in broad terms some of what that means, but we do not know where the tipping points are, or exactly what the implications will be at a very local level. In fact I think one of the responsibilities of civic organisations like councils is to help our communities understand as best we can what the local effects will be, so they can start to make better decisions as they plan and go forward.
Because of that uncertainty it is important we take an adaptive approach – dynamic adaptive pathways they call it – where we try to make decisions that leave options open for the future as much as possible. So we decided that we needed to start with developing the principles that would inform decision-making.
At the same time, because of the lack of political leadership from Wellington at that time, LGNZ and some TAs were picking up the slack. The Mayoral Declaration on Climate Change, which was signed by our then Mayor Tony Bonne, was quite helpful in articulating some of the principles that we adapted into our draft climate change principles.
The other influential event was the Edgecumbe floods, which I think sharpened people’s thinking around what climate change might mean for a district like ours – generally low lying, at risk of sea level rise and inundation, with large areas of flood prone land protected by stopbanks. That’s without mentioning the fire risk with our large areas of plantation pine forest.
We joined up with the CEMARS programme (not known as Toitū) which helped us to understand our carbon equivalent profile
And we developed a set of 6 principles
1. We will act now.
This included commitments to emissions reduction, showing leadership in our community, and to change how we operate as an organisation
2. We will protect the environment Which included some specific commitments around transport, resource use, procurement, biodiversity and circular economies
3. We will acknowledge those most affected Recognising that the impacts of climate fall disproportionately on the poor, and often on the people who have least contributed to it
4. We will think long term Acknowledging that climate change impact projections often stop at an arbitrary year but the impacts will continue to grow for centuries
5. We will learn Recognising different knowledge bases, including positivist science, mātauranga māori and local knowledge. It is important to stay abreast of changing understandings and we have rolled out an education program among staff and councillors to get people onto the same level of understanding. We have also invested in sending key people to advanced training and education.
6. We will be part of the solution In which we commit to working collaboratively with stakeholders in our communities, with other local authorities, and on a national and internation basis.
We took our climate change principles to our council, which signed them off for consultation. We engaged fairly deeply and got a very good response, perhaps especially from young people. We used our community engagement to gauge what our communities knew about climate change, understand where they got their information from and identify what they saw as trusted sources of information. While we had a small but significant minority of people who were still locked in denialism about climate change, the overwhelming response was enthusiasm for council to try to grapple with this stuff and a clear message to be stronger in our approach.
This term of the council the Strategy and Policy Committee, which I chair, has been given a specific delegation around climate change, and has supported the development of a set of strategies, targets and action plans.
Again these went out to our community for feedback and again the general response has been for us to be more ambitious.
As part of the work towards implementing our action plans we have sought outside advice. We have used EMSOL to do an energy audit, and continue to consult with them. There hs been a lot of interest in solar PV on council buildings, which avoid having to invest in a lot of battery storage because the energy is used during the day as it is produced. Although our civic centre refurbishment will include some PV as a showpiece for the community, we buy our energy at such a good rate, and most NZ energy is renewable anyway, that the business case is not as compelling as less visible changes, such as an energy management system. There are many relatively small actions that can be taken which pay for the investment within 5 or so years. Who would not invest in a 20% return on investment?
We also listen to the community, because there is enormous expertise available if we do. For example one general manager was really keen on solar for our swimming pool. It took a sharp eyed enthusiast to recognise that this would increase emissions because they were least productive when we most needed the heat, and so would rely on gas back up during winter. An energy efficient heat pump turned out to be a better solution in terms of overall emissions, and cost.
In fact our swimming pool has been the real star of our organisation, with the manager really taking on board the recommendations from EMSOL and implementing a series of changes that have massively reduced the carbon emissions from our swimming pools.
The other thing I’ll mention is our fleet management advice, which has given us a process for changing out ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles with hybrids or electric over a period of time – where this is viable. We have a number of vehicle, especially in the roading team, where there are no viable hybrid alternatives at this time. We expect this to change.
As I have said the key to the program has been a whole-of council approach, with clear and strong political leadership from our mayor and our councillors, strong support and mandate from our CE, and then working with people across the organisation who have the passion. It’s extraordinary what staff at all levels bring to the table when given the opportunity.
That has led us to winning the Trust Horizon Business Awards inaugural award for sustainability. I was told by one of the judges that they were highly impressed at the comprehensive and detailed approach taken by our council, and its a tribute to our whole staff.
Our next big challenge is how to begin to lead broader change across our community. My feeling is that the focus most be on helping those who already want to change, to identify their options. I think people in general do understand that a real transformation is needed, that we cannot keep doing what we have been doing. I think Covid has helped us understand that as well. As civic leaders we are in a unique position to be a catalyst for that change.
So either there is an actual virus sweeping the planet and killing millions of people – (as has happened before) and public health officials are trying to get everyone protected by vaccinating them as quickly as possible, and trying to stop people spreading disinformation that will lead to many unnecessary deaths
a global cabal of public health experts and doctors who have spent their lives learning how to prevent and treat disease are actually lying about how dangerous the virus is and/or about how best to treat it, and are conspiring to inject everyone with a killer substance, hiding the evidence, getting scientific journals to publish fabricated studies and suppressing more effective underground treatments because they want to… um… kill all the people? Sell masks?
One of these sounds more likely than the other.
But perhaps there is a third option.
There clearly is a Covid pandemic happening and it is scaring the kak out of medical people. In desperation to get a vaccination out, things were rushed. There were confused messages. That has left legitimate questions in some people’s minds, but in the concern to get people protected, tolerance for those questions has been low. All in all an unhelpful dynamic.
Many people are legitimately suspicious of pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer etc are in it to make money after all. They have the resources and expertise to develop the treatments, but they need to be kept in check by government regulators and good oversight. This is a constant tension. That’s why we need independent (peer reviewed) research, not company marketing.
Like all things, the vaccination carries risks. But it is clear from the independent research that the vaccination is a LOT safer than the virus, for most people. Websites that allow people to self-report side-effects can imply otherwise but not everyone who reports is telling the truth, and not all symptoms are caused by the vaccine. It’s best to rely on robust reports that test and investigate the data – which means Ministry figures. Unless you think that the entire medical profession (doctors, nurses, public health experts) are conspiring to hide vaccine deaths for some reason, which makes no sense to me.
At the same time, the relative risks for children and young people are not as clear. More solid information would be helpful.
But all in all the vaccine seems like the best response we have. Some people are touting unproven remedies, but what evidence there is seems to come from places desperate to try anything because they can’t get enough vaccine. I don’t see that they are better, more like an inferior alternative.
But I do agree with people who say that we should have more health promoting information from the Governmentl. Again, it’s not an alternative to the vaccine, but always good advice. We have to overstand health and well-being in its holistic fullness.
Then there is the politics. Some government’s have used this pandemic as an opportunity to cover up their incompetence and make a grab for power. In Aotearoa a few people have tried to drum up a following by playing this up, but as far as this country goes, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. People have claimed that the Government has passed laws to make vaccination compulsory, or to force people to participate in medical experiments, or remove the Bill of Rights. I read the act. They haven’t.
Was the virus made in a lab? I’m not sure it matters. If you weren’t already horrified at micro-biological weapons research, what’s the difference? In any case, humanity has been due for a pandemic for a long time. We are out of balance with the rest of life and we either get IN balance, in a hurry, or we pay the price. This pandemic, or the next one, or food insecurity, or something else entirely will soon end this short lived civilisation if we do not radically transform it.
Perhaps what worries me most about this vaccination debate is all the confusion and disinformation. The ones who benefit from the babble are the people behind a REAL conspiracy – one well documented and well-known. The conspiracy to defend and protect a dysfunctional global economic system based on inequality and exploitation, that is destroying the web of life on which human existence depends.
Challenging THAT is much harder work than refusing a vaccine. It means we have to do more than share posts on Facebook or Twitter. It means we have to change ourselves and how we live, and it means we have to change the system that we are all so dependent on.
We urgently need to restore balance and harmony. That’s what we are here for, I&I, in this time.