A head of pressure is building among New Zealanders overseas at the difficulties in securing Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) slots.
No, these aren’t holiday-makers off to see their rellies, stranded tourists or those with dual citizenship who flit between countries according to the levels of Coronavirus infections.
Rather, these are the hundreds public servants from several agencies – Customs, Education, MFAT, MPI and the NZ Defence Force – who have come to the end of their postings, yet must take their turn at the MIQ lottery.
Another group are those who have been away on postings for years and are due home leave but cannot secure slots or match them with the limited international flights.
Even more frustrating is the apparent ease with which sports teams – including Olympians who are said to be “representing NZ” – can secure slots well in advance. There is no suggestion, of course, that the Sports Minister, Grant Robertson, who is also Minister of Finance, might play any role.
There is a growing opinion that these New Zealanders have been abandoned by the government as most agencies tell their staff to make their own arrangements.
Some have taken to sitting up all night watching the MIQ site.
Adding to their discontent woe was the speed with which PM Jacinda Adern said some 500 more rooms would be made available to cater for all those New Zealanders who visited Australia and have been caught by the sudden outbreak of infections there. Surely anyone who took that journey would have known there was a risk and such an event might occur?
MBIE, which runs the quarantine system, thinks all is well, even though many hotel rooms have had to be withdrawn for essential refurbishment.
There is a view among expat Kiwis, including public servants, that the system has become corrupted.
Why? Because by paying a fee (upwards of $300) an “agent” can secure slots using various IT tricks.
This seems to defy concepts of transparency and openness promoted with great vigour by ministers.