The Green Response to COVID-19:
Careful and Caring
Kia poipoi, Kia haumaru
Values underpinning our response
We take the path of caution in the face of uncertainty, and look after all members of our communities while doing so. We support a response to COVID-19 that keeps people safe and improves equity. We are guided by our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and recognise the importance of Māori-led strategies for Māori. We also recognise the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Pasifika communities, particularly in Auckland, and support a Pasifika-led response that meets the needs of these communities.
- Support an elimination strategy, to protect the health and wellbeing of people within Aotearoa.
- Ensure the vaccine rollout meets the needs of all, particularly Māori, Pasifika, and marginalised communities. Ensure that equity is prioritised when designing the rollout to under-12s once MedSafe approvals have been granted.
- Support for a Māori-led health response for Māori, and Pasifika-led health response for Pasifika, particularly in relation to increasing vaccine uptake.
- An urgent funding boost for additional intensive care (ICU) beds in hospitals nationwide, and investment in training healthcare workers.
- Provide more equitable income support for people who need it during periods of Alert Level 3 and 4.
- Introduce new prioritisation principles for MIQ, based on need; and increase MIQ capacity.
- Ensure the costs of recovery land with those who can afford to pay, and economic stimulus tools help those with the least, instead of creating a windfall for the wealthy.
- Build a resilient society by addressing underlying inequities that create risk factors for the spread of COVID-19 – particularly inadequate, overcrowded housing and insufficient income support.
- Support economic stimulus that contributes to a clean, green economy by reducing emissions or restoring nature.
- Provide aid for an equitable global response and support international efforts to increase vaccine supply.
Ongoing support for elimination
Elimination has protected thousands of lives in Aotearoa and has given us long stretches of freedom between lockdowns. Elimination is still possible if we work together to stop the spread – and when elimination works it can mean fewer lockdowns. The Green Party supports retaining an elimination approach at least until vaccines are approved for and rolled out to under-12s, and high coverage is achieved for all age groups, geographic areas, and population groups. This includes ensuring that Māori and Pasifika vaccine rates are high enough to protect whānau from the spread of COVID-19. We also support empowering and resourcing iwi to implement roadblocks between geographical areas of community spread and those without community spread.
Equitable access to vaccination
The Green Party wants everyone to feel safe and supported to get vaccinated in a way that is accessible to them. We are particularly focused on ensuring the vaccine rollout is fully accessible to Māori and Pasifika communities, recognising current uptake is below Pākehā, despite warnings from expert advisors at Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā. The Green Party supports continued use of walk-in and mobile vaccination clinics in places such as marae, supermarkets, shopping centres, community facilities, and educational facilities. This includes partnering with community providers and Māori collectives to ensure vaccination is fully available through Aotearoa.
We support community providers determining their own approach to vaccine incentives, as they are best placed to understand what incentives are appropriate for building trust and removing barriers to access in each community.
We will consider vaccine requirements on a case by case basis against the test in the Bill of Rights Act (a reasonable limit on freedom to refuse medical treatment, demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society). We agree that vaccine requirements are important for people working at the border and MIQ, as well as for people working with vulnerable communities such as in healthcare and schools. We also support vaccine requirements for high-risk indoor locations such as hospitality venues.
Up to date research
Scientific and public health understanding of the COVID-19 virus has developed rapidly over the course of the pandemic. The Green Party supports a nimble response that can be refined based on new evidence about effective strategies. In particular, we support mandatory ventilation standards for workplaces, and rolling out rapid antigen testing as an additional widespread screening tool. We also call for a systematic Māori-led review of the COVID-19 response to identify how the needs of Māori could be better recognised in future planning.
A response that meets everyone’s needs
COVID-19 has shone a light on inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand. Many of the essential workers who keep things going at Alert Levels 3 and 4 are paid at the minimum wage, and live in overcrowded, cold, damp housing. At the same time, the Reserve Bank’s economic stimulus has seen property values skyrocket, increasing the wealth of the richest without contributing real value to our communities. We need to reset our approach and put equity at the centre. We recognise that more income support is needed for some people during Alert Level 3 and 4, so that everyone can afford to pay the bills and put food on the table while staying home to stop the spread. We can beat the virus if we work together, and focus on the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.
The Green Party supports fair tax, increasing revenue from high-wealth individuals to fund better social services and income support. This would include an urgent funding boost for additional ICU beds nationwide and investment in training healthcare workers. It would also include economic stimulus initiatives to help us build back better, with a focus on reducing emissions, improving climate resilience, and restoring nature – such as through the Jobs for Nature programme.
Welcoming people home
Tight border restrictions have been a crucial part of protecting people in Aotearoa New Zealand, but as the pandemic continues, we need a fairer way to manage the risks posed by international travel. The Green Party supports a trial of prioritisation of MIQ places for four months, so that people who urgently need to come home (for example, for health reasons or visa expiry) can get a spot. In that time, capacity will be increased and higher domestic vaccination rates will give us more options for self-isolation of vaccinated passengers. We support the Government building new MIQ facilities.
Equitable global response
This is a global crisis requiring a global response. The Green Party supports ongoing international efforts to improve vaccine supply and distribution. We particularly support affordable vaccines for all through the People’s Vaccine and intellectual property waivers for COVID-19 medical treatments. We also support increasing Aotearoa New Zealand’s foreign aid to assist lower-income countries hit hard by COVID-19, particularly in the Pacific.