Barry Soper: Aucklands mood will have lifted a little – from a low base


The mood in Auckland will have lifted a notch – not hard when it was coming from a pretty low base.

At last, its citizens finally have some dates to work with about when they will be able to travel north and south of the border, perhaps to get together with their loved ones for Christmas.

In reality the Government had no choice. And even though it may point to the health officials pulling the strings, it was the political reality that took over in the end.

There’s nothing like waning popularity in the opinion polls to make this Government sit up and take notice, especially when their ticket to ride – Jacinda Ardern – is taking a hit.

That will have driven the decision to get on with the job and breach the borders. Some would say poll-driven fruitcakes, a term coined by another widely popular Labour prime minister in David Lange, won the day.

But the fact is the Government couldn’t possibly lock down the country’s economic powerhouse any longer.

As it is, they have to wait for the best part of a month before they can get in their cars and hit the highways.

Why wait until December 15?

Well, Ardern virtually admitted the rest of the lower vaccinated country was holding the city to ransom.

She said by the time we see Aucklanders hitting the road with a vaccine certificate or a test, it will allow officials to get the rest of the country to a higher vaccine rate which, she says, will give us all an extra layer of protection.

Ardern’s said it long enough: Auckland is carrying the load for the rest of the country, and this simply proves it.

So, if the city folk can travel around the country with their double jabs and their tests if they are unvaccinated, then why shouldn’t the same rules apply to the thousands of Kiwis desperate to get home for the festive season, especially if they come from lower-risk countries like Australia?

The PM’s offered some encouragement, saying they have now halved the time returning Kiwis have to stay in managed isolation, from 14 to seven days, before they can go home to isolate for a few more days.

That will free up more spaces in the managed hotels, but it’s back in the ballot where they will still have to take pot luck.

Imagine the psychological effect on you if you have done your OE and want to come home, only to find the country of your birth closing the door on you until you win the key to open it in a raffle.As someone who did an OE many years ago, it would have been beyond my comprehension that a lottery – not me – would decide when I could return home.

I have a son in that situation whose raffle tickets have come close. There were 18 people ahead of him at one point, only for him to watch as the door closed. Thousands of others are in the same boat.Mention of it on air though and it sent the anonymous types on Twitter into a frenzy, accusing me of looking for favours.

It was simply used as a bit of inside knowledge to indicate the level of frustration of those locked out of their country when they’ve done everything they can on the health front and would pose little, if any risk, when they return to their country.

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