Two weeks ago, the National Party announced a policy that would see anyone coming to New Zealand from October 4 charged a portion of the cost for their 14-day stay in quarantine to offset the increasing burden placed on taxpayers.
By the end of the year, forecasts indicate the taxpayer will have spent around $300 million on managed quarantine and isolation, so it was encouraging that the Government’s initial response to our policy was supportive.
However, this week the Government backed down and announced that a very small number of people would now be charged for their quarantine, a number so small it begs the question: why even bother?
The Government’s proposal is to only charge those who come to New Zealand for less than 90 days or those who leave after the new rules come into place and then return. Of that $300 million quarantine bill, this is expected to raise a paltry $10 million.
The reality is that there has been plenty of time now for Kiwis overseas to return home if that is their wish and, while we should never prevent our own citizens from coming back, we have to accept that the taxpayer can’t fund quarantine forever.
National believes it has come up with the fairest solution, that all returning New Zealanders should contribute to the cost of their quarantine if they wish to come home. We will allow for exemptions to this fee on compassionate grounds and provide support for people facing financial hardship.
Our solution lines up with what other countries have done in recent months. Most Kiwis who actually wanted to return home or had no choice have already done so and the taxpayer should not be expected to cover the cost for those who stayed overseas in high-paying jobs or on expensive holidays.
New Zealand is about to take on the greatest amount of debt in its history and, while much of it is necessary, National holds grave concerns over how that money will be spent. It cannot simply become a free-for-all and sensible decisions need to be made now to reduce the burden on future generations.
MP for Pakuranga