Kiwi sailing great and America’s Cup hero Sir Russell Coutts has launched a stinging attack on the Government, accusing it of turning into a “dictatorship”.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the 59-year-old Olympic gold medallist and five-times America’s Cup winner claims Kiwis have been stripped of certain freedoms by the New Zealand government and media.
“The fact is that people are living with Covid offshore and although some people, perhaps many, rightly remain cautious, life has largely returned to normal in many places. But that is not what we are being told here in New Zealand,” Coutts said.
“The erosion of our freedom of choice, freedom of speech and the loss of precious time with family and friends and all the other negative aspects of a lockdown should be balanced against the health risk of Covid.
Imagine if we had invested the 1 billion plus spent each week on lockdowns on improving our health system, education or roading (we had 8 road deaths in NZ last weekend).”
Coutts, whom earlier this year was involved in a copyright dispute with Sir Ian Taylor, has spent plenty of time in Europe recently as chief executive of the SailGP series.
The second season of the series was curtailed by Covid-19 before the third season, featuring a New Zealand team helmed by Peter Burling, was overshadowed by the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland in March.
Plans for the inaugural Christchurch round of SailGP set for the end of January next year were sunk due to the New Zealand Government’s denial of access to MIQ facilities for the 160-odd contingent of teams and staff to enter the country.
In the Facebook post, Coutts seemingly takes aim at the much-maligned MIQ system, as well as the government’s vaccine mandate for a large part of New Zealand’s workforce.
The sweeping mandate, announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday, will see workers in the hospitality and other sectors given four weeks to get jabbed or risk losing their jobs.
“It seems totally insane that double vaccinated people are terrified of meeting unvaccinated people. Is that how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives?What about the people that have health issues and can’t get vaccinated?Are they going to be banished from society? (for the record I’m double vaccinated),” Coutts said.
“Finally the fact that the NZ government has now said that even if Auckland achieves 90% double vaccination that it’s people may likely still be restricted from traveling at Christmas seems like a total nonsense.
“It’s also total nonsense and contradictory that double vaccinated people that have negative covid tests are being locked down for 14 days in MIQ whilst people with Covid are being allowed to self isolate in the community.”
Coutts signs off by saying it’s “deeply troubling” that New Zealand “even got to this stage”.
“If you doubt what I’m saying then turn on the TV and check out the full stadiums at various sports events overseas. Check out the Premier League, Champions League or the recent Ryder Cup. The All Blacks just played against the USA in front of 40,000 fans in Washington DC.
“How New Zealand, a country where it’s people greatly valued freedom off choice…..how we even got to this stage of blindly accepting this sort of unilateral rule, power and dictatorship from our government is deeply troubling indeed.”
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