by Mark Rais
Labour has presented a number of positions that are untenable, and in some cases simply irrational.
First, this week Little has indicated it should be compulsory that parents immunise their children before placing them in childcare centres. Little chose to make this point, even though the government’s own statistics indicate that over 93% of children are up to date on immunisations.
National seems to have cleared their position by indicating, rather reasonably, that it is unfeasible to achieve 100% immunisation rates, and that an attempt to do so by punishing the children’s access to education seems illogical.
This debate began over the ditch in Australia. This is not necessarily a country that we want to replicate in all of our policies.
If I listened intently enough to Turnbull and his points, it implies that if he is right to mandate every child be immunised to ensure their safety, there is therefore the possibility that immunisations are not as effectual as once thought. Otherwise, why would, as he implied in his media announcement, the great majority of children’s health be of concern if they have already been immunised and in a class with only a few unimmunised children?
I am a parent who takes immunisations very seriously, and we are even willing to pay extra costs for immunisations such as chickenpox vaccines. I see the benefits of immunisation, one of which is that my children are not at risk from children who simply may not be immunised, or have not been kept up to date on their immunisations. Hence I take comfort knowing that vaccinating kids keeps them safe from certain illnesses.
However, Turnbull’s announcement appears to validate some liberal media outlets’ news indicating immunisations are not as effective as once thought, with some immunisations only 85% effectual. Perhaps we should listen to Turnbull and his mandate, because if 15% of immunised children will still get sick then we have a much bigger issue.
On the other hand, how this impacts us here in NZ is not at all clear.
If 93.3% of New Zealand 8-month-olds are already fully immunised, then for what benefit is Little jumping on the Australian compulsory immunisation bandwagon?
It may be far more preferable if Little starts paying attention to the 93% of the population who do take their children’s health very seriously and would benefit from additional support with rising healthcare costs. Frankly, focusing on this larger proportion would be more rational place to take a Labour policy position on health care.
This week’s claims that parents should be forced to immunise their children under a Labour government comes on the heels of another rather irrational Labour decision.
Little stated that going into this current election, Labour will not mandate any change to the superannuation age.
This is potentially Little’s way of suggesting that following the election Labour may change the age, but are fearful of their voting constituency and hence will discuss it only once in power. I’d like to call them out on this, as a matter of principle.
Was English’s announcement particularly smoothly presented? It could have been better. But what we can say for National, and English’s leadership, is that as much as he is a spreadsheet man, having spent years as finance minister, we can trust that he is logical in his decisions. The current budget surplus comes to mind.
From basic numerical overview, superannuation changes must come at some point, otherwise there will simply not be enough money in the pool for the population. With this reality, English took the effort to open the discussion. Though some might argue a bit too far out, he did set a clear position. However, Labour unfortunately, took the far less logical path and simply avoided this looming issue.
Little could have said one of a number of things about superannuation. The fact he prefers not to do this is a clear indicator that he fears backlash from a cadre of his voting constituents. However, the great majority of Kiwis see the superannuation funding as a longer term issue that should be addressed.
Finally, I’d like to remind you of an important election which has just passed. Donald Trump is now President of the United States. However, does anyone remember his running mate? It is Mike Pence, all around nice guy and a well-established leader that nearly no one talks about.
Similarly, Labour has a two person ticket. However, they seem to be dividing their own votes rather than focusing them with Jacinda Ardern’s new emergence as deputy leader. Frankly, many people I’ve talked to see Jacinda as the choice leader, at least in the longer term. Perhaps we need to see more of her policies and vision, and a little less of Little, no pun intended.
In reality, having her sit at his side and every now and again chime in on these television appearances seems to downplay her value.
It is my superficial evaluation that Little is making very poor use of such a capable leader, and it all feels a bit hypocritical coming from Labour, who regularly point out the inequality women face.
Jacinda, when she is allowed to speak, is a far more convincing and capable leader who presents herself as far less irrational in policy choices.
Regardless of how Little plans to use her in this election, the reality is that Labour has had limited success in recent elections because their leadership routinely decide to focus on areas that few Kiwis are worried about.
Other Scoop articles by Mark Rais:
• The End of the Housing Boom
• Clash of Super Powers in an Age of Global Conflict
• Op Article: Oil Rules the World
• Op Article: War for the Hearts & Minds of Our Children
Mark Rais is a writer for the technology and science industry. He serves as a senior editor for an on-line magazine and has written numerous articles on the influence of technology and society.