Kate Hawkesby: Quit stalling on quarantine charges

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Jul 2020, 10:17AM
Photo / Getty Images

Kate Hawkesby: Quit stalling on quarantine charges

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Jul 2020, 10:17AM

COMMENT

Do you get the feeling the Government's stalling on charging for quarantine?

Here's what governments do with unpopular decisions – they stall them.

Popular ones – they move fast, or look to move fast like commission a working group and talk about how quickly they want to move but, unpopular ones, they delay.

Ihumātao is a case in point.

That deal is a year in the making and is still nowhere - still talking, still negotiating, still working through the fine print. When will we know that deal? If the Government gets its way, probably after the election. God forbid voters hear in advance how much taxpayer money might be spent on that one.

Likewise, quarantine.

Having seen the unpopular fallout for National of announcing its policy to charge quarantiners, and the angry reaction of Kiwis still stuck overseas, this Government seems to have found an endless number of hurdles to prevent it from making a call.

But it'll have to make it soon, surely.

We were expecting the call yesterday post-Cabinet but, instead, we got more money being handed out. No efforts to bring some in.

Surely, you can't keep pouring hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into paying for quarantine, without - at some stage - asking the question: When does this all end? How do we pay this back?

There are lots of ways to slice it - part payments, means testing, payback models. It doesn't have to be the whole bill slapped on returning Kiwis.

But does all this not smack of holding us in some kind of pandemic syndrome right now?

Holding us in the throes of fear. The Government appears to be wanting to keep us in this state for as long as possible. Why?

Because it suits the narrative that the Government is our rescuer, it keeps us fearful and grateful.

That feeling wins votes and support and the timing could not be better.

We don't actually have Covid here anymore, it's not in the community. But, as long as they can keep us focused on what's happening in the rest of the world, we can stay grateful and just a little bit fearful that it might return.

And that keeps us frozen in time, in the grips of gratitude and obedience.

The key though surely, is to look forward from here, not backward. To look forward and ask the hard questions around how we rebuild, how we pay for it, how we kickstart again.

If we don't start making the hard calls and crawling out of debt, if we keep just handing out more and more money, and keep people stagnant, then the recovery is going to take that much longer.

Not just the economic recovery, but the mental and psychological one too.

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