The litany of woes from people trying to cross Auckland’s boundaries grows by the day.
A Rotorua father faces the prospect of missing the birth of his triplets after his application for an exemption to get through Auckland’s southern border was denied.
The rejection letter leaves Kevin Acutt forced to pick earning a living for his family over one of the most significant moments of his life.
His wife Amber went into premature labour during the nationwide alert level 4 lockdown last month – just 23 weeks into her pregnancy – but staff at Waikato Hospital were able to put a stop to her contractions.
Since then, she’s been having regular scans at Auckland City Hospital’s maternal foetal medicine unit – and last Friday she was admitted there permanently as she requires close monitoring for abnormal umbilical cord flow.
Currently, the triplets are in a stable condition – but the couple have been advised it’s still a high-risk pregnancy, and things could change at any moment.
If one of them takes a turn for the worse, it’ll prompt an emergency procedure requiring swift removal of the babies, and likely the need to promptly resuscitate them. . .
He is in Auckland with his wife but has to return to his job on Monday.
“We’ve fallen into a category that doesn’t really exist at the moment, because you can go to appointments as a support person, but our appointment has turned into a whole ‘however long she might be’,” he told Newshub. . .
He’s asking the ministry to show humanity.
“What’s the point? What are we doing this whole COVID lockdown thing for? It’s for the people, it’s for humanity. But what’s the point, if we’re going to lose our humanity along the way?” he said.
“We’re stopping people from burying the dead, from witnessing the birth of new life. What’s the point of carrying on if we’re going to stop doing that?” . . .
It’s not only stopping people at the city boundary where humanity is lacking, there’s a growing problem at the border. Claire Trevett says MIQ is a debacle that has made mincemeat of the promise Kiwis could always come home:
If there was one thing Sir John Key was right about in his critique of the Government’s response to Covid-19, it was his assessment that the MIQ system has become a national embarrassment.
For all the successes in the Government’s handling of Covid-19, there have been failings and the ongoing bottleneck that is the MIQ system is one of them.
MIQ has been largely effective in one of its two core purposes: keeping Covid-19 out.
But its other core purpose was to let New Zealanders come in. The extent to which it is keeping New Zealanders out has now reached an inexcusable level.
It falls well short of the Jacinda Ardern’s promise that, no matter what else happened, New Zealanders would always be able to come back.
The latest draw for MIQ slots highlighted that in the process of trying to make the MIQ booking system fairer, it has done the opposite. It has also been very bad PR for the Government.
The new ‘virtual lobby’ system in which people are randomly selected for places in the queue for rooms makes it abundantly clear just how much the demand is outstripping the supply. . .
MIQ has become an MIQueue that has left people stuck in other countries without jobs, without homes and with the threat of losing their pensions.
The Government’s response has partly consisted of blaming people for not returning earlier – for not coming, say, in June last year when there were vacancies in MIQ, or for not coming back from Australia when the bubble was open, or for going overseas at all.
That is not good enough. The Government showed it was capable of quick action when it ramped up the vaccines rollout after the Delta outbreak. But it has failed to deliver the same urgency on MIQ.
The delays and uncertainty have flow-on effects.
This week, it was pensioners overseas who were concerned they would not be able to get back within the 30 week window after which their pensions would be halted.
The Ministry of Social Development’s response bordered on heartless:
“Closure of the travel bubble with Australia, other flight limitations due to Covid and difficulty securing a spot in MIQ, were all reasonably foreseeable before departure for anyone who left New Zealand within the past 30 weeks.” . .
The return of Covid-19 was more than reasonably forseeable, it was inevitable but the government was prepared for that.
Had it been, we’d have had a vaccine rollout not a strollout, testing and tracing would have been much faster and any lockdown would have been shorter, or possibly unnecessary.
The MIQ system was put together in a hurry because it had to be. It was a blunt instrument and it has also been effective. It was not expected then that it would be needed for so long.
But it has not evolved since then. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse – and the downstream consequences have compounded: it is not only New Zealanders trying to get in that are suffering.
It has caused backlogs in immigration and severe worker shortages in many sectors.
That was excusable for a while, but it has dragged on and on and things have hit pressure-cooker levels. . .
It is no longer excusable. New Zealanders overseas have a right to come home and people here have a right to leave the country without the fear they won’t be able to come back.
Remember the tongue lashing Jacinda Ardern gave Scott Morrison about the way Australia treated illegal immigrants?
She was demanding he show kindness to the people who had become their problem but she, her government and bureaucrats are showing none to our own people.