Heather du Plessis-Allan: Quarantine charging is nothing more than tokenism

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Jul 2020, 4:14PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Quarantine charging is nothing more than tokenism

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Jul 2020, 4:14PM

COMMENT:

As expected, the announcement on charging returning Kiwis for quarantine is a total cop out. 

It’s nothing more than tokenism.  It’s just designed to get a good headline, but actually do very little. 

 The plan announced today is that no one flying into the country gets charged for their quarantine unless they are: 

  • Living here, then going overseas for business or work and coming back 
  • Or living overseas and heading to NZ for a short break here fewer than 90 days 

What’s the point?  The vast, vast majority of people in quarantine will still get it for free, paid for by you and I. 

We’re expecting 168,000 people through those quarantine facilities every year. 

Of them, we’re going to charge as few as 710 for their quarantine.  On the high side, maybe we’ll charge 2800 for quarantine.  Either way, the numbers are piddly. 

Somewhere between 0.4% and 1.7% of people going through quarantine will pay.  How is that anything other than tokenism?  

And by the way, don’t expect all them who should pay to actually end up paying.  There are easy and obvious ways for them to get around the system. 

For example, the plan to charge anyone who is here fewer than 90 days?  Well, what’s stopping them from buying a one way ticket to NZ, telling authorities they’re moving here for good, enjoying a wedding in Hawke’s Bay and a couple of weeks’ holiday, then buying a one way ticket back to London?  Literally nothing is stopping that.  Minister Megan Woods says she’s still working through how to avoid that from happening.  

I don’t buy this excuse about the legality of charging.  This is being sheeted home to the Bill of Rights.  New laws are inconsistent with the Bill of Rights all the time.  Two laws this year, four laws in 2018, three in 2017, three in 2016.  Adhering to the Bill of Rights is not quite the holy grail the Government’s making it out to be. 

This feels like a cynical cop out by every single one of those parties in government, but especially Labour and the Greens.  It’s really hard to see this as anything but a competition between the two of them for the traditionally left-leaning offshore voters.

The fact is someone has to pay for a bill that is going to be a quarter of a billion dollars by the end of this year.  Either you and I pay, or they those people actually staying the hotels pay.  This plan announced today makes it very clear: you and I are footing the bill.