Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to insist that she will maintain, until part-way through next year, her cruel and unjustified policy that New Zealand citizens abroad, who are double-vaccinated, may even have had Covid last year and continually test negative, must nevertheless submit to her MIQ lottery instead of being able to exercise their rights as citizens to return home and self-isolate in Auckland.
This is despite her Government allowing 1,199 Aucklanders across 934 households – and rising every day – to self-isolate at home despite actually being sick and contagious with Covid, and mostly being unvaccinated. Indeed, according to Covid Minister Chris Hipkins, self-isolation at home is now the primary management regime for people who become sick with Covid in New Zealand.
Ardern’s policy is also despite epidemiological experts, including Professors Michael Baker and Nick Wilson, advising that:
“Current MIQ requirements for vaccinated arrivals to Auckland could ... be dropped for most, without increasing the risk for Aucklanders.”
As a baseline, the professors and their colleagues point out that:
“Auckland’s total case rate of 83 per million per day is higher than the case rate in many countries, and higher than the vaccinated case rate in many more.”
They compare our case rater with case rates abroad:
"In Canada, for example, after adjusting for their lower testing rate, there could be 130 new cases per million people per day. While this rate is higher than in Auckland, their vaccination rate is 75%. That means their case rate in the vaccinated is estimated at 68 new cases per million people per day, less than Auckland’s 83. So if you’re at the supermarket in Auckland, a fully vaccinated person randomly teleported from Canada is less likely to infect you than an average resident Aucklander in the aisles.
"However, the risk from vaccinated international arrivals is even less than that, because they’re tested before they travel. For example, for a traveller from Denmark, where the daily new case rate is 290 per million people per day, although the 156 rate in the 76% who are vaccinated is still higher than the rate in Auckland, half of those cases are excluded by pre-departure testing. That testing brings the Covid-19 case rate in vaccinated, 72-hour tested people in Denmark down to 79 cases per million per day, lower than in Auckland."
The experts conclude:
“[C]urrent MIQ requirements for tested vaccinated travellers have become inconsistent and arbitrary. Furthermore, filling MIQ rooms with arrivals who typically have a lower infection risk than Aucklanders wastes limited MIQ space. Public health would be better served by having those rooms available for community cases, when their homes are not suitable for home isolation.”
Note, this epidemiological advice came out after Bolton v MBIE, in which the High Court had already given the MIQ system a rocket and forced MBIE to reconsider their stance towards the Auckland businessman. The Government effectively accepted the judgment when it decided not to appeal.
Remember, too, that nothing that the Prime Minister says means anything anymore, so ignore what she says. There is no remaining relationship between her brand proposition, slogans and other utterances and what she is selling. Her words certainly do not reflect what her Government’s policies will be in a week or two, or even what they are now. Recall that she never announced sick people would no longer be carted off to Jet Park. That just started to happen, without any media or legal attention. Ironically, it is more useful to listen to what John Key says, as that is more likely to be Ardern's policy in a week or two than anything she has to say herself.
The MIQ system is breaking down under political and legal pressure, and the slightest bit of additional pressure should see you get an exemption from MIQ within days.
To help you, here is my 10-point Instruction Manual for how Kiwis abroad can get home as soon as next week and certainly by the end of this month:
1. Get a lawyer. They don’t have to be a very good one, as all the facts and case law is on your side. But you may need someone who can file a claim in the High Court (see 9 below). So a cheap local lawyer will probably be fine.
2. Read through this background material from MBIE but remember everything has changed since it was written.
3. Write a heart-felt letter to MBIE asking for permission to self-isolate at home. Provide basic information, such as:
i) that you are a New Zealand citizen, and not a citizen or resident of any other country, and give your date of birth and passport information;
ii) your planned flight details, including your arrival details – either expected or actual date and time of arrival in New Zealand and the flight number;
iii) the city you’re will arrive at (Auckland), the country you left from, and all the airports you’ll transit in;
iv) when, if at all, you have had Covid and when you recovered;
v) that you are double-vaccinated, preferably with the Pfizer vaccine, and at least two weeks ago but no longer than six months ago, and provide evidence of that;
vi) the address in Auckland where you can self-isolate away from other members of that household;
vii) your Auckland GP or the Auckland GP you will approach to keep in touch with;
viii) that you will sign a statutory declaration you will not be in close contact with anyone while in self-isolation; and
ix) that you will submit to any type of surveillance MBIE requires for up to two weeks, including, for example, an electronic ankle bracelet.
4. Check you address the six tests in par 77 of Bolton v MBIE. That is, mention or discuss:
i) the need, as you see it, to return home, perhaps mentioning things like:
a) you have run out of money where you are, or staying there is costing you an unreasonable amount;
b) your visa has expired and you are currently living illegally wherever you are, solely as a consequence of the New Zealand Government’s policies;
c) you have a desperate family need to return home (ageing or dying relatives);
d) your mental health is at risk because of the above, or because you are profoundly lonely; …
e) etc etc
ii) your right to enjoy the rights conferred by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, including the right to freedom of movement and as citizens to enter New Zealand without unreasonable limitation;
iii) your need to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 at an MIQ facility, including in view of any characteristics that may make you especially vulnerable to COVID-19, including age;
iv) the precautions you’ll take or other conditions that you will accept may be imposed on you (see 3, vi – ix above)
v) your vaccination status (see 3 iv and v above); and
vi) the prevailing circumstances within the community at the present time (including the latest number of people being allowed to self-isolate in Auckland, that you can get under the “Auckland Update” section of the Ministry of Health’s latest daily Covid media statement).
6. Emphasise you need a decision within three working days, because your travel plans need to be confirmed and paid for by then, and that you hope it won’t be necessary to take the matter to the High Court, the media or the Opposition.
7. Get your lawyer to check that your letter covers everything – but make it a personal plea at this stage rather than a formal lawyer's letter.
8. Send the letter off to [email protected] and call MBIE on +6449315720 until you speak to someone who can confirm the letter is being dealt with urgently.
9. Wait three working days. If you are turned down or don’t hear from them, instruct your lawyer to sue the bastards. You’ll win. They know you’ll win. So they should quickly back down.
10. Confirm your flights and look forward to seeing your friends and families as soon as you are out of self-isolation in less than two weeks.
Good luck! And see you back in Aotearoa New Zealand very soon!