There is a mass wave of uncertainty spreading around the country as we grapple with the latest wave Covid-19 in the community. There is no doubt this year has been the most challenging of years in so many ways. We've heard "new normal", "next normal" and many other iterations of the concept that the world as we knew it, has fundamentally changed.
Being in lock-down once again is something Auckland has had to adjust to. From the conversations I’ve had over the phone and via email, the last few weeks have been particularly difficult and frustrating for our families and businesses who again had to close their doors. I would like to thank our community, however, for supporting local and I would really like to encourage you all to continue doing so.
My colleagues and I have been asked a lot recently about what we think of the latest lock-down. The Prime Minister was correct when she said in April that ‘the worst thing we can do for our country is to yo-yo between levels, with all of the uncertainty that this would bring’.
But the Government has inexplicably failed to ensure everyone working on the border or in quarantine facilities was regularly tested and we now find ourselves in the situation we are.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday 11th August about Auckland’s move to Level 3, I decided to kick-start again Covid Connect. Over the two and a bit weeks of lock-down, Covid Connect volunteers (a database up from 120 to 150 people) phoned 1,200 local seniors to check-in and offer assistance with grocery shopping, food parcel deliveries, pharmaceutical pick-ups, and to lend a friendly ear to beat the loneliness.
The feedback received from our community’s efforts was overwhelmingly positive and I cannot thank our volunteers enough for their support and dedication of time.
Below are a few comments I received from our volunteers:
“I spoke to Donna as John has had a serious stroke last December. She is very stressed as Nicholas was in hospital for 2 months, came home and she was just getting things arranged for his care when we went into lockdown for the first time... She says she is feeling deserted. Rita's biggest concern is that if everything turns to custard next week, who can she turn to? She is desperate for me to call back next Wednesday.”
“I spoke to Jake’s wife. She’s finding this second lockdown very hard, as are her friends. Not being able to see family when you are elderly is tough and she believes she has slight depression with the way our country is going… She would like me to call back next week as she really enjoyed chewing the fat with me.”
“Hi Denise, at the start of lockdown, my nanna got a call checking in from one of your volunteers making sure she was all okay with the circumstances of lockdown. She spoke to me about how warming this was for her and how lovely it was. So a huge thank you for making her feel a part of the wonderful Maungakiekie community even in terrible circumstances over the phone.”
NATIONAL’S BORDER SECURITY PLAN
The first lockdown in March/April saw 212,000 Kiwis end up on unemployment benefits with another 450,000 jobs kept alive by wage subsidies. The current lockdown not only is costing kids educationally, costing parents their jobs and the wider economy perhaps $400 million a week, but the uncertainty it brings will further crush business confidence and delay our recovery.
Borrowing $1.6 billion more to pay wage subsidies is necessary now, to help businesses that can’t trade for public health reasons, but we have to give ourselves the best shot to rebuild by competently managing the border.
Effective border management is the foundation on which our economy can recover. National recently released its border security plan, which includes:
- Establishing a NZ Border Protection Agency to provide comprehensive oversight and management of Covid-19 at the border
- Requiring international travellers to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in New Zealand.
- Compulsory contact tracing technologies to be used by agency employees, border facility workers, and District Health Board staff who treat or test patients.
- Deployment of Bluetooth applications to enhance contact tracing
- Widening the availability of Covid-19 testing nationwide
- Regular testing of aged-care workers and increasing opportunities for testing within aged-care facilities.
We must inject some steel into our first line of defence against Covid-19 by delivering robust border systems that will keep the virus at bay and allow the health of New Zealanders and our economy to thrive.
Parliament and the Election
You will have seen that the election date has been postponed to October 17; the cannabis and euthanasia referenda will also be delayed to the same date. Advanced voting will begin two weeks beforehand, from Saturday 3 October. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need any assistance with further information, voting materials, places to vote, or if you have any questions.
The change in election date has also meant that Parliament continues to meet and will do so until it finishes (for the second time!) this Wednesday and then dissolve on Sunday 6th September.
We have a few exciting upcoming events (I hope they’ll go ahead!) in the electorate that are worth taking note of:
- Meet Denise Lee MP Cafe sessions (no appointment necessary, 10 people max!)
Livestream Q&A with Denise Lee MP, every other Thursday, 7pm on my Facebook page (Next one Thursday 3rd September)
- Volunteer activities: We also have multiple opportunities for you to volunteer and lend a hand on the campaign trail! If you’d like to get involved, whether it’s for flyer deliveries, door-knocking, phone-calling, or something else, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add your name to our volunteer’s database.