Returning Kiwis should not be charged for quarantine, they should be welcomed home with open arms, The Opportunities Party (TOP) says.
There are one million kiwis living overseas who have a right to return at any point. For those who want to return permanently, the government should pick up the quarantine bill and see it as part of the very small price of keeping Covid-19 out of the country, says TOP leader Geoff Simmons.
Simmons says that it does not feel morally right to charge fellow kiwis to return, particularly with many stranded overseas and having to incur significantly higher costs of travel to return, with airfares skyrocketing since the pandemic.
“The government has already committed $62.1b to fight Covid-19. Against this, the cost of quarantining returning New Zealanders is insignificant. These are our own, some of our best and brightest, wanting to come back. We are turning back the brain drain and stimulating the economy with a huge influx of talent. These returners are going to start businesses, grow businesses, earn money and pay taxes.”
The National Party has said that returning New Zealanders should be charged $3000 for the cost of quarantine and the current Government is considering charging kiwis that want to return home.
TOP’s position on managing returning kiwis is:
- Kiwis returning home to live permanently should not be charged for the cost of quarantine.
- Non-residents and kiwis visiting for holidays should pay $3000 to quarantine.
- Adopt some of the thinking by The New Zealand Initiative which would see the establishment of a voucher-based system where the government would guarantee the base cost of quarantine to the value of $3000 for returning kiwis.
- Returning kiwis willing and able to cover their quarantine costs, have the option to do so.
- Those wanting a more premium quarantine experience (hotel versus motel) have options to pay more and upgrade.
“The voucher scheme would allow accommodation providers to upscale supply of quarantine facilities in response to demand. The government would still provide the security and health aspects of the exercise, and would charge the accommodation providers for the right to take part. Quarantine doesn’t just have to take place in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch but could occur in regional locations where tourism has fallen off. In a situation where tourism has been decimated, we think accommodation providers will be thankful for the opportunity to have a steady stream of customers.”
“For many non-residents New Zealand is a nirvana. The quarantine costs are minor to live in a Covid-19 free environment. We can use this to attract highly talented ‘digital nomads’ to our shores who work in IT, many with established businesses who would contribute significantly to our economy. The same could apply to foreign students where universities already have the accommodation which would allow them to quarantine safely.”