MIQ has to go and it’s important the pressure keeps being applied to the Government on this, because this is a government that responds to pressure.
As Justice Venning pointed out in Murray Bolton’s successful judicial review of his MIQ exemption, under the Bill of Rights, every New Zealand citizen has the right to enter New Zealand without “unreasonable limitation”. And in those two words are the keys that open the gates, and clearly highlight that the legal grounds for MIQ are no more.
MIQ’s also redundant because we’ve abandoned elimination and shifted to containment, we have Covid throughout our communities, we’re 80% double vaccinated; and data from MIQ shows that double vaxxed returnees, who test negative on arrival, pose a statistically insignificant risk in the context of this outbreak.
New Zealand citizens wanting to return home, who are double vaccinated, Covid negative, and who are prepared to self-isolate for 7 days, should be legally free to return.
We are averaging well over 120 cases per day; there are more than two thousand people isolating at home, including more than a thousand who are Covid positive. Meanwhile, the Government’s released stats showing that for the 24 thousand people who were in MIQ over a 3-month period, only four tested positive after day 8. That’s 4 cases in 3 months, out of 24,000 people, and here we are with more than a hundred a day in the community. It makes zero sense.
ACT and National want MIQ abolished for returning New Zealanders and even Michael Baker has buddied up with other academics and called the Government out on this. As they said, you’re more likely to contract Covid in an Auckland supermarket, than from a double vaxxed returnee.
The Government continues to kick the can down the road on this, but it needs to happen now. Returning Kiwis would need to be self-isolating from December 16th at the latest, in order to be around the Christmas table with family and friends. That's also the time the Government's indicated we'll be moving to the orange traffic light, so my pick is, we will be welcoming more freedoms then.
For now though, the Government’s showing a lack of ability make pragmatic decisions and deliver. No doubt there’ll be more – and there should be more – legal challenges to MIQ. Pressure will continue to mount as case numbers rise, vaccination stats improve, and the number of people self-isolating continues to grow exponentially. So the Government has to be agile here, instead of waiting until the last minute, then suddenly announcing change and spinning it that that was their policy all along and we clearly all misunderstood them, again.
Scrapping MIQ now matters because there are thousands of New Zealanders desperate to return home, return to work, to loved ones. We, as a country, need hope and each other, and Christmas is the very best and most obvious opportunity to make that happen.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
Breaking Views brings you expert commentary on topical political and policy issues. The views expressed are those of the author alone. The blog is administered by the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, an independent public policy think tank at NZCPR.com - register for the free weekly NZCPR newsletterHERE.