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Tim Dower: MIQ report shows we need to be prepared to do better

Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Dec 2022, 9:32AM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Tim Dower: MIQ report shows we need to be prepared to do better

Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Dec 2022, 9:32AM

The Chief Ombudsman has delivered a pretty critical report on the MIQ lottery.

Peter Boshier's report says officials didn't really think hard enough about the “very real impact” that the lobby system was going to have on people's lives.

Now, you'll remember it didn't come in right at the start. It was set up in September 2021, supposedly to improve on the chaos we had.

Tens of thousands trying to book a place in MIQ and match it with getting a flight home, them stuck over there, empty rooms over here.

The lottery was ostensibly intended to create a level playing field for everyone.

But it was only level really if you had internet access and could drop everything and log on at exactly the right moment, as each batch of rooms was released.

We replaced chaos, with random chaos.

New Zealanders overseas who'd missed out have talked about injustice, and the inhumanity and heartache of it all.

They want an apology.

I've admitted before that I did a complete 180 in my view on people who got stuck overseas as the whole farrago dragged on.

In the beginning my feeling was the writing was on the wall and it was obvious borders were going to close so if you want to move, now's the time.

And people who opted not to move, well, you made your bed.

As it dragged on though, and we set up MIQ, and it became clear just how inadequate and sloppy the whole thing was, I developed a real empathy for people locked out who couldn't see friends and family who were sick or dying, unable to come back to their rightful home.

So rather than a whole lot of recrimination and name calling, let's look on this time as an opportunity.

Let's really think about how we could do it better. And most obviously I think, do it bigger. Much, much bigger.

What we need to work on now is a better plan for next time.

We now have a pretty good idea of how many people we'll need to handle if we get another one of these and we've definitely learned what not to do.

We'll need something we can stand up quickly, operate much more cheaply and have away from the main centres.

The time to work on that is now, while the mistakes of the pandemic are still fresh in our minds.

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