Can New Zealand’s lockdown be justified?
A LETTER TO THE EDITOR, attributable only to the author. Publication does not constitute endorsement by CONTACT.
FILE PHOTO: Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford at the Government House, Auckland, Waitangi Day reception 2018. Photo courtesy NZ Government House.
From: Dr Auke Schade (Engineer UTS, Economist MO, Psychologist PhD)
To: The Rt Hon Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Private Bag 18 888
cc: Distribution List
4 April 2020
The Rt Hon Mrs. Jacinda Ardern,
China’s lockdown cannot justify the NZ lockdown. A lockdown affects the NZ economy at least ten times worse than the Chinese economy. In addition, the NZ lockdown period of 4 weeks is far too short, because Hubei was locked down for 11 weeks. Consequently, the NZ lockdown cannot be compared to China’s lockdown. This is just an experiment with an unpredictable result.
In accord with the W.H.O., it takes 12 months to develop a vaccine. The NZ economy cannot afford a lockdown for such a long period. The economic effects of the lockdown will be far worse than those of the last financial crisis. During that financial crises, the industry was working to overcome the problems. Now, that industry is closed down. That strategy is economically unsustainable. Hence, the collapsing economy will force NZ to abandon the lockdown.
The lockdown has disposed universities. Instead, that creative mindpower should be mobilized and work on solutions. The lockdown has also disposed parliament. That inhibits the upwards communication and prevents the creative ideas from more than four million minds to reach the top. Commanders do not shutdown their communication lines and command centres during battle.
Despite the lockdown, many of the essential workers will become carriers. That will eliminate the effectiveness of the lockdown. It takes only one asymptomatic carrier to infect more than 16,000 people within two weeks. Even if the lockdown works, NZ will only be back where it started on 3/2/2020. Another lockdown puts us back on the merry-go-round.
NZ has advanced to a dangerous strategic position, where it can neither stay nor retreat. It cannot stop the lockdown, because of the asymptomatic essential workers. On the other hand, it cannot continue the lockdown, because then the economy will collapse.
Plan-A is not working. NZ has to do much better than just hiding at home. This lockdown period should be used to design Plan-B with all the enthusiasm and number-8 mindpower of NZ. In nemonik terminology; this is the time to prepare.
Alternatively, we can all wait for the almost inevitable Royal Commission of Inquiry into the crisis-management of Covid19.
With kind regards,
Dr Auke Schade,
• Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark.
• Chief of Army, Major General John Boswell, DSD.
• Chief of Defense Force New Zealand, Air Marshal Kevin Short.
• Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor.
• Co-leader of the Green Party, Mr. James Shaw.
• Co-leader of the Green Party, Mrs. Marama Davidson.
• Her Excellency The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy.
• His Royal Highness Kiingi Tūheitia, Potatau Te Wherowhero VII KStJ GCCT KCLJ.
• Leader of the Act Party, Mr. David Seymour.
• Leader of the NZ First Party, Rt Hon Winston Peters.
• Leader of the Opposition, Hon Simon Bridges.
• Minister NZSIS, Hon Andrew Little.
• Minister of Defense, Hon Ron Mark.
• Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins.
• Minister of Health, Hon Dr David Clark.
• Police Commissioner Mr. Andy Coster.
To the Leaders who received copies of my letters to the Prime Minister:
As you know, since 3/2/2020, I have warned the PM that the W.H.O. underestimated the threat of Covid19. I also explained that the educational way of thinking is failing. You cannot solve problems with the same way of thinking that created them. Thinking is my field of expertise. It is too complex to explain in a letter. Therefore, I asked the PM for an urgent meeting. Unfortunately, the PM took no action and my request for a meeting was refused. On 29/2/2020, the first case of Covid19 was reported. That was a clear sign that the virus had arrived in NZ. Nevertheless, the PM took still no action. The lockdown on 25/3/2020 was far too late. The horse had bolted. NZ wasted seven precious weeks. That is more than three times the incubation period. Unfortunately, my early warnings were correct. On 29/3/2020, the first patient died a preventable death.
It is not up to me to judge anyone. You will judge yourself. I am just a seventy-nine-year old psychologist who rung the alarm bells, because no one else did. I see that as my duty, because we are at war. I have spent most of my life studying the way people think. Therefore, I have no resources, authority, power, or honorary titles. I have only my professional expertise. The lockdown shows that that expertise and my early warnings to the PM should have been taken seriously. The procrastination and silence of the PM and the Leaders, confirms my professional diagnoses that the conventional way of thinking is completely failing. Procrastination enhanced this disaster. It is up to you whether proactivity can get us out of here. You have the authority and contacts I do not have.
It would be nice to get a serious response before I die from old age.
Dr Auke Schade (Engineer UTS, Economist MO, Psychologist PhD)