Covid-19 Omicron outbreak: Barry Soper – Government trying to oil squeaks that have turned into shouts


We all wait with bated breath for the Prime Minister’s speech tomorrow where she will be announcing the where-to-from-here for lowering the drawbridge to this country.

Don’t hold your breath though, as you may clog up the threatened hospital system.

There will be an abundance of caution but hopefully it’ll give tourist operators and business in general some ability to plan for the future, whenever that may be.

The fact Jacinda Ardern making the speech would indicate she’ll have something positive to offer to get her Government out of the sump-hole it’s found itself in.

This Government has become like a can of CRC, oiling every irritating squeak which has become a deafening cacophony in recent weeks.

The pregnant Kiwi journalist in Afghanistan – Charlotte Bellis – has won a place in MIQ after kicking up a stink about how she was treated by officialdom who she said were preventing her from coming home to deliver her baby.So that’s nice for her.

But what will happen to the 30-odd other pregnant mums, represented by Bellis’ lawyer, who are desperately wanting to come home themselves for similar reasons is anybody’s guess.

All cases are different, and there are tens of thousands of them wanting to desperately come home for myriad reasons, Grant Robertson (standing in for the isolated Prime Minister) unconvincingly told us yesterday afternoon.

Conspicuous by his absence at the post-Cabinet press conference was Ashley Bloomfield.

It was a pity really, as he could have answered questions on another issue that required nothing short of a grease and oil change for the Beehive – that of rapid antigen tests – which until recently have been banned by Bloomfield.

Low and behold they are now about to flood into the country with the Government proudly crowing it had secured an additional 36 million tests – and that will grow to 120 million tests as ordered through until June.

Truth is, the Government was severely embarrassed about the recent publicity given to the Health Ministry snaffling orders placed by businesses which were clearly more prudent than officials had been. They’re important for business if they want to keep their doors open which will hopefully now be well supplied to test their workers.

For the rest of us, Robertson was unable to say when we could buy them over the counter as other country’s citizens are able to do.

The lion’s share of those announced yesterday were secured thanks to Dunedin businessman Sir Ian Taylor, who has been a reluctant irritant to the Beehive by holding them to account on a number of fronts.

If you listen to Taylor, the company supplying 20 million of the rapid antigen tests, or RATS, apparently offered the Government two months ago a million tests every 10 days with up to 30 million delivered in six weeks. They would have been here by now at a cost or between 50 to 60 per cent less than what the new deal cost the taxpayer.

Well, they didn’t like them then, but they most certainly do now and the oil’s silenced the squeak – for the time being.

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