The move to alert level 1 takes us back to nearly as life was pre-Covid-19, except that border are closed, at least to some though not others:
With calving season about to kick off, calls are mounting for critical migrant workers to be allowed back into New Zealand.
Going into calving short-staffed isn’t how Waikato’s Duncan Scott wanted to begin the new milking season.
But like many dairy farmers around the country, Scott’s without key staff who are unable to return to New Zealand because of border restrictions prompted by the international Covid-19 pandemic. . .
His herd manager has been on the farm for three years and can’t be replaced by someone inexperienced.
Scott said he understood the current drive to employ Kiwis and he had taken on people who were previously out of work because of the economic fallout of Covid-19.
“But you also need some experienced people to lead the new staff,” he said.
He gave an analogy of what it might be like replacing the herd manager with an inexperienced person.
“If you can imagine someone turning up to Waikato Hospital to give birth and finding the midwife is an airline pilot who has been out of work for the past three weeks.
“That’s the situation we are in and that’s why we need these guys (migrant workers) back in the country.” . .
Federated Farmers immigration and labour spokesperson Chris Lewis also farms near the Scott family in the Pukeatua district in the Waikato.
He is aware of the labour shortage but said it appeared only movie stars were allowed in the country, referring to the crew of the Avatar sequel. . .
Experienced dairy staff with work visas aren’t allowed in, but relatives of film crew are:
Ten of the 200 high-value foreigners – such as the Avatar film crew – allowed entry into New Zealand during the border restrictions were relatives of the workers.
The news comes as work visa holders and their families – already settled in New Zealand but out of the country when the border closed in March – clamour for permission to return.
The immigration industry has added its voice, saying urgent applications from New Zealand employers for vital overseas staff are languishing in a ‘deep dark hole’.
The government has faced criticism for the opaque process behind the exemptions, including initially that they even existed. . .
Getting to level 1 and having no active cases of Covid-19 has come at a very high economic and social cost.
We can’t afford to undo the gains with lax border restrictions.
But providing people who come in agree to managed isolation and, where needed, quarrantine at their own expense people with work visas, family of residents and citizens and anyone else who will make a positive contribution to the economy, for example foreign students, should be allowed in.
Like several other government policies current border restrictions are arbitrary and unfair, making some people more welcome than others with no fair grounds for discriminating.