Labour agrees to charge returnees; announcement soon over quarantine costs

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jul 2020, 5:09PM
Megan Woods, Minister in charge of isolation facilities.
Megan Woods, Minister in charge of isolation facilities.

Labour agrees to charge returnees; announcement soon over quarantine costs

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jul 2020, 5:09PM

The Minister in charge of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Megan Woods is welcoming National's support for a policy to charge returnees to New Zealand part of the costs of accommodation.

"As I have been signalling for several weeks, we believe people returning to New Zealand should assist with the considerable expense of accommodating them in managed isolation facilities," Megan Woods said.

"Our number-one priority is to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders. Keeping Covid-19 contained at the border is an expensive, and logistically difficult, operation.

"As we have made clear on numerous occasions, we are working through policy options on a cost-recovery scheme.

"This requires detailed investigation to ensure that any cost recovery system is fair and equitable, and is balanced with the legal rights of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to come back home.

"This Government has the responsibility of ensuring that any cost recovery regime is robust and workable.

"National's stated commitment to a charging regime is a good sign there will be widespread parliamentary support for such a move.

"It is complex, but we are making good progress and we expect to make an announcement on this soon," said Megan Woods.

Woods will give a stand-up at her electorate office in Christchurch at 3.30pm.

Earlier today it was revealed that anyone who arrived in New Zealand from October 3 would be charged a $3000 fee per adult for their managed isolation if National wins the election.

The party's Covid-19 Border Response spokesman Gerry Brownlee said the fee would be used to "partially meet the costs of their quarantine".

Each adult would be required to pay $3000 per adult towards the cost.

Additional adults in a room if a couple had arrived would be charged an additional $1000.
Children under 3 years will have no cost and over 3 years will see an additional $500.

"Currently taxpayers are funding a long and very expensive Government response to let people come into the country. It's entirely fair that those who benefit pay a share," he said.

"This fee is for the purpose of cost recovery to reduce the burden on New Zealand taxpayers, and to cover some of the costs of accommodation and food over the 14 days of required quarantine for persons entering the country."

Brownlee said there could be exemptions on compassionate grounds but only for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

National's policy was similar to that used in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, he said.

"Two-week quarantining looks likely to be with us for a while," Brownlee said.

"This is a practical solution to a growing problem."