Heather du Plessis-Allan: Give Ricardo Menendez-March a break - he's broken no rules

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Feb 2021, 4:42PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Give Ricardo Menendez-March a break - he's broken no rules

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Feb 2021, 4:42PM

This story about Ricardo Menéndez-March travelling to Mexico has been completely blown out of proportion. 

If the facts are as we know them that he went back to Mexico to look after his sick dad and stepmother, and did that with the blessing of the Green Party and there are no other secret surprises to be learned, then what has he done so wrong as to warrant all this condemnation? 

There is nothing wrong with him travelling overseas. Yes, he did that despite the government’s SafeTravel advice for Kiwis not to travel. But it’s only advice, it’s not a ban. 

There are thousands of people travelling in and out of New Zealand at the moment.  In just the last six months 7273 either came to NZ and then left again, or left and came back.  So he’s hardly unique in what’s done. 

And these people aren’t just travelling because they have to – because of illness, death or work.  Plenty of them are travelling because they want to go on holiday, and often that holiday is here in New Zealand before they head back to London or whatever other cold spot they’ve come from. 

Now personally, I don’t like that this is happening, that people who want to go on holidays are taking up spots that could go to skilled workers we need, but those are the rules and as long as he’s acting within the rules, he’s done nothing wrong. 

If we don’t want this kind of travel, then let’s impose a ban.  It’s not a crazy idea. The Australians have done it.  Once you’re in Australia you can’t leave.  But unless we actually go to that step of preventing travel, people are able to travel. 

And as for the fact that he’s missed parliamentary sitting days.  Let’s get a grip on that too.  He’s missed three sitting days.  By the time he gets out of the MIQ hotel and then does his extra cautionary isolation at home, he’ll have missed another three sitting days. 

That is hardly the crime of the century.  MPs miss sitting days all the time.

The Prime Minister is a case in point.  She’s hardly ever in the house on a Thursday, including today. Phil Twyford missed all of parliament’s sitting days last year after the election.  This week was his first back in the house since the election. 

I’m not advocating MPs not turning up for work.  I’m just pointing out it’s not unusual and should be seen in the context of why, which is that there was – as far as we’re told – a family emergency. 

We can hardly be so cruel as to insist Ricardo Menendez-March turn up for the first day of parliament given a family crisis on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. 

Let’s be reasonable.  He acted within the rules, he says there was a family crisis, unless there’s more to this than that, I think we should give him a break.