Clark and Walker done in by ignored political party shortcomings

The Editor,  The Herald,  Auckland


It seems there is one similarity between the demise of the Nats’ Hamish Walker and that of Labour’s David Clark.  In both cases, they have been downed by a serious flaw in the approach to the virus by their respective party leaderships. Read the rest of this entry »

Opposition (+) reveals impatience and shallowness, but government must take some responsibility for that

The Editor,  The Dominion Post,  Wellington


It should be no surprize there are teething problems with the virus border control processes.  Read the rest of this entry »

Transmission Gully (again)

The Editor,  The Dominion Post,  Wellington

Wellington’s Transmission Gully (TG) roading project was apparently mooted as far back as the 70s when the question of sustainability of road building was ignored. Read the rest of this entry »

Transmission Gully’s real reason to be.

The Editor,  The Sunday Star Times,  Auckland

Wellington’s Transmission Gully (TG) roading project has always aimed primarily at thumbing the nose at the known fundamental need to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels by curtailing automobile use (sometimes wrongly referred to as ‘anti-car’). Read the rest of this entry »

To ThePanel (rnz) on the growth of deadly virus outbreaks

Hello The Panel,
One major factor not explicitly mentioned in your discussion is that the major growth (explosion?) of deadly (human) viruses has been from the nineties. And the major change unique to the nineties was the intense growth of globally integrated (human) food chains with concentrations of DNA similar varietal species (chicken, swine, etc) , thus opening up contact between wild and domesticated and human animals to a degree never experienced before, thus giving the viruses much more scope.

Richard Keller

Wellington councils should not rely on suggestions of ‘officials’

The Editor,  The Dominion Post,  Wellington

WCC Cr Diane Calvert says they should follow WCC official’s advice on council funding response to the Covid-19 crisis. But the ‘officials’ of both WCC and WGRC are where our society’s neo-liberal desperation has settled. These are the officials (GWRC) who advised the bus changes, and who (WCC) advised simply locking up the library without a plan even though it had experienced no earthquake damage. And where did the decision to remove the electric trolley buses replacing them with diesel come from. And then there is the new giant white-elephant-in-waiting, the convention centre (dubbed Conven-19 by writer Dave Armstrong).

Cr Paul rightly says all councillors were elected on their merits in their own constituencies. To disrespect other councillors such as Calvert has done in this case illuminates the frustration and arrogance that she and the other neo-liberals feel now that they (and Mayor Foster for that matter) seem to be in the minority on council now.

Richard Keller

Government and NZ likely not prepared for Level 3

The government’s stretch of level 4 past the holiday weekend is a no-brainer.  Read the rest of this entry »

E-mail to the Prime Minister on lockdown decision

Hello Hon Prime Minister,
Your Covid-19 plan has had one primary shortcoming from the start.  You have not admitted you would not do enough testing to confidently understand the extent of existing “community transmission”.  Please don’t let the temptation to cover this up and try to cut political losses get the best of you and government.  The lockdown has been your first and most important response and has been as successful as could have been expected.   Neither you nor the citizens and businesses of NZ are ready to handle the Level 3 requirements you have specified.


Richard Keller


Not enough testing to understand ‘community transmission’

My main criticism of the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis is that they should have been more transparent from the start about their inadequate testing regime.  They should have said at the start they were not going to do enough testing to know adequately the extent of ‘community transmission’.   It’s important to realize that it is in the medium and long term that expanded, perhaps widespread, lack of faith in the government’s approach may surface because of this.  As we near the end of the first Level 4 period it will be interesting what they will say about expanding testing for community transmission, if anything.

It’s common sense to be universally testing workers in ‘essential activities’.  The obvious ones are those involved with the health system where exposure is more likely, and food store workers where great numbers of individuals will be turning up.  Sure, it’s a lot of work to test everyone of those but a person may have contracted the virus before symptoms occur, and more worrying, some may have contracted the virus and never display symptoms.  Both types being carriers and transmitters, but invisible and silent like in Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story ‘The Mask of the Red Death’.  There’s too much ‘leakage’ in symptom only testing.  The government needs to explain why they are not doing enough testing (they know they are not doing enough testing). (*Note 1)

At risk of carrying on too long here, I’ll speculate about the usefulness of random country-wide testing, possibly doing a bit more in suspected more-vulnerable areas.  Just finding one person infected (perhaps even without symptoms) in an area would identify where normal multiple transmission expectation could result in exponential spread of the virus.  Without finding that person it might be just as dangerous to be out in that location as the areas identified as hotspots, but not know it.

Currently my thought about dangers to myself is that I’ll not want to go out after the lockdown ends, with return to Level 3 or Level 2, because not enough is known about community transmission.  And in particular going to the supermarket is going to seem the same in terms of danger, looking around the store, without confidence that community transmission is mostly understood (which it isn’t).


  • Note 1 – It isn’t only testing for community transmission where such ‘leakage’ would seem to be expected.  The term ‘self-isolation’ has doubt written all over it.  It’s actually good the few examples (in the hundreds identified by police) there have been in the first two weeks.  But with the end of Level 4 being discussed those numbers may grow over the next two weeks.  ‘Quarantine’ is a much different term and by defining the strict terms of quarantine now, the government is admitting the softness and expected leakage during our time of ‘self-isolation’.   The strictness of quarantine should keep open the discussion about greatly increased community wide testing.   It is interesting that only today (09/04) have they begun to explain the limitations of not doing enough when explaining the change to quarantine.  They should have explained that at the start three or four weeks ago in order to put off possible growth in resistance later.  The same discussion may soon arise over community testing limitations.

Will Covid-19 bring the end of the Trump illusion?

The Editor,  The Sunday Star Times,  Auckland

There is a report from the USA that plans are being made for the military to take over running the country if the government in Washington DC is crippled by Covid-19. This report curiously appears even though President Trump has tested negative and Senator Rand Paul is the only one I know who has tested positive. Is there more to the virus spread in Washington than has been revealed?

But just as interesting is Trump’s assertion that he wants a lockdown to last for only two weeks due to its economic impact, perhaps fearful that billionaires and large corporations may not come out more dominant from a prolonged shutdown. This appears to most as a trek into Neverland as the crisis has clearly raced onward.

It needs to be understood that Trump is not the real problem. Although dangerous, Trump is little more than a symbol and a symptom of a wider malaise, seen in the Post Truth Era that we are living through and which is global in dimension. So Trump already has the sound of a disembodied voice and may start fading from public view like Alice’s cheshire cat, leaving no trace in the global mind but the grin of an uncertain fear.

Richard Keller