25 November 2021

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced measures and timelines for facilitating the return to New Zealand of more citizens, and others with residence rights, who find themselves unable to travel home because of the unavailability of Managed Isolation and Quarantine placements. She also gave indications of easing restrictions on foreign travellers sometime from May 2022. The anguish of families divided by Covid-19 may moderate. However, the changes outlined appear to have worsened the angst of the tourist industry and the coalition of interests which sees little but disadvantage in closed borders. A uniting aphorism being that Auckland now with hundreds afflicted by Covid-19 and isolating (or not) at home makes the city more unsafe than most of Australia and that the Delta variant is more likely to be spread beyond current confines with the Christmas exodus from Auckland than would occur with double vaxxed and triple swabbed Australian tourists.

 In some circles, referring to New Zealand as a Hermit Kingdom speedily polarises. The inference is that supporters of Government policy are content with shutting out the World and closing down the most populous part of the country. And by inference they don’t want a renewed focus on economic growth – generated by tourism and foreign students – and are resisting the freedom to shop, travel, and to commute to their workplace. They don’t want to revitalise our connections to the World, for New Zealand to trade its way through the massive national debt incurred to cope with Covid 19, (and to help rescue Air New Zealand!). The insinuation being that the Prime Minister has created a climate of fear regarding Covid-19, and many have been convinced that she will keep them safe.

There is an irony in the implication that many New Zealanders don’t want their freedom.

The Human Freedom Index 2021 has been released by the Cato and Fraser Institutes and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (which have impeccable free market credentials!). What is measured is a social concept that recognises the dignity of individuals. That individuals should be able to do things that will not be prevented by other forces or that will result in punishment. Human freedom is seen as playing a huge role in human progress.

The latest Human Freedom Index presents the state of human freedom of 162 countries based on a broad measure that encompasses, economic, civil, and personal freedom.

Among the 76 indicators of freedom claimed to be using the most recent data available, are:

  • Rule of Law
  • Security and Safety
  • Identity and Relationships
  • Size of Government
  • Legal System and Property Rights
  • Access to Sound Money
  • Freedom to Trade Internationally
  • Expression and Information
  • Religion
  • Movement
  • Association, Assembly, and Civil Society

The Human Freedom Index places each country on a scale of 0 to 10, where a score of 10 represents the most personal freedom and the most economic freedom. Each country’s human freedom index is an average of the two.

Personal freedom is the freedom of an individual to have freedom of opinion and expression, freedom to come and go, equality before the courts, and security of private property. Economic freedom consists of personal choice, freedom to compete in markets, protection of person and property, voluntary exchange, and allowing people to prosper without intervention from the government or economic authority.

(However  a serious  concern must arise about the currency of the data when the people of Hong Kong are rated as the third most free.) The three peoples rated as the most free were the same in 2020 and in 2021.

New Zealanders, about half of whom appear unconcerned about being isolated from the pandemic afflicted World, score highest on the Human Freedom Index. That has been the rating since 2017-18.

The following are the World’s 12 Freest countries

CountryFreedom Rank Personal Freedom IndexEconomic Freedom IndexHuman Freedom Index
New Zealand19.278.58.88
Hong Kong38.78.918.81