Caught in a political Stockholm syndrome

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A couple of weeks ago I gave a speech in Parliament where I described the country as being caught in a political Stockholm syndrome.

This caused consternation by Labour members.

For those who don’t know, Stockholm syndrome is a phenomenon where a kidnap victim develops feelings of trust or affection towards a captor.

I stand by those comments.

New Zealand was locked up for six weeks and many grew fonder of the Government that removed their freedom.

This is understandable given the doomsday prediction of tens of thousands of deaths if complete lockdown wasn’t followed.

While I broadly supported the need to restrict movement, the idea that this was a binary choice between that level of death and complete lockdown was disingenuous.

There were many positions on a spectrum between these two extremes that we could have taken, that wouldn’t have increased Covid spread nor caused as much economic carnage and non-Covid health issues.

This week thousands more job losses were announced.

The Warehouse, H&J Smith, Taieri Gorge Rail and Larnach Castle are just some of the iconic Dunedin organisations that face the prospect of significant job losses.

These are larger organisations, but the reality is the impact of the lockdown will disproportionately affect smaller businesses, the profile of which might not justify media attention but the combined effect of which will be thousands of job losses throughout the South.

National is committed to saving jobs and growing our economy.

Last week we announced our JobStart package, which will provide a $10,000 cash payment to businesses that hire additional staff.

It would begin on November 1, 2020, and run for the remaining five months of the financial year through to March 31, 2021, incentivising up to 50,000 new jobs.

This is on top of the excellent GST cash refund policy already announced.

More policy will be announced that underscores that our focus is on the economy that you live in, your community, your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism business.

The Stockholm syndrome I mentioned is rapidly disappearing as economic reality bites.

By September the crushing impact of the lockdown will be more apparent.

Even if you feel the response was appropriate, the recovery is another matter.

The question will be: which party has the track record and ideas for that recovery?

The answer isn’t the party that unnecessarily drove the economy down so far in the first place.