Covid isolation charges announced

The Government has announced that a small number of people will be charged for some of the costs of the 14 day Covid isolation required of everyone coming into the country – “$3100 per person in a room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the room”.

$479 million has been budgeted for managed isolation until the end of the year, but in Parliament Minister Megan Woods said:

Indicative modelling shows that the scheme would generate between $2.2 million and $8.8 million a year at a cost of recouping that of $600,000″.

That works out to about $1 to $4 million until the end of the year out of the $479 million cost so you would have to wonder whether it is worth it.

At this stage it is impossible to tell how long isolation will be required – going by how Covid is increasing in many parts of the world including parts of Australia it could be some time.

Also from Parliament:

Hon Gerry Brownlee: What is legally challenging about saying to New Zealanders who are coming back to this country, having been away for quite some time, that the costs of their managed isolation, the cost of their re-joining the team of 5 million, is a charge that they need to meet?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: This is a complex legal area and, I know, an easy political sound bite, but the advice that we have worked through in a lot of detail with Crown Law is about whether any charge to enter a public health managed isolation facility, a requirement of entry to your own country, that is placed on all New Zealanders, constitutes a barrier of entry to your country. 

I don’t know why some can be charged if it is supposed to be legally difficult to charge people. And Government legislation is supposed to make whatever they want legal.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Why has the Government not come to Parliament to introduce a law that would make legal the charges that she apparently says cannot be applied, so that the taxpayers of New Zealand can be relieved of some of this extraordinary burden for people who want to come back and join the team of 5 million?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Because this Government has come to this Parliament with a law that is not going to be legally overturned by the courts. What it does is it puts in place a regime that does not trample on the bill of rights and the rights of New Zealanders to return to their country. The member may like to look at the legislation that has been tabled this afternoon.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Where does the Minister think a law passed by the Parliament of New Zealand would be overturned by the courts?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: A thing called the bill of rights.

Not sure why the Bill of Rights stops them charging some but not others.

And I thought that checking legislation against the Bill of Rights was standard practice.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: So does her policy mean that a business person travelling offshore to gain new markets for New Zealand will pay for their managed quarantine when they come back but someone who had chosen to make a life offshore, perhaps for many years, will come back into this country to join the team of 5 million paying nothing?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: The regime that we have outlined today would see anyone that was leaving for a holiday or for business pay for their isolation and factor that into the cost of their trip overseas. 

This may delay people going overseas to try to do business. It could cost me my job.

Legislation for managed isolation payments

Legislation to allow the Government to recover some of the costs for managed isolation and quarantine will be introduced to Parliament today, said Minister of Housing Megan Woods.

“The Bill will allow the government to charge for managed isolation and quarantine facilities. We have carefully considered how to design a system that is fair on arrivals and not a barrier for returning to New Zealand, especially for those who might already be experiencing financial stress,” said Megan Woods.

“We want to share the costs in a way that fairly reflects the benefits to both the New Zealand public of having such a robust system, and those who leave and enter the country. 

“As Minister I am proposing to only charge New Zealanders who enter temporarily, or who leave New Zealand after the regulations come into force. Temporary visa holders would have to pay unless they were ordinarily resident in New Zealand before the border closure, and left before the border closure. I intend to seek Cabinet agreement to a charging structure of $3100 per person in a room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the room. There will also be mechanisms to allow charges to be waived in full or in part,” said Megan Woods.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill provides a legal framework to allow the Government to set payment terms, exempt groups of people and waive charges in cases of financial hardship. It will also ensure that recovered charges do not exceed the actual costs of managed isolation and quarantine.

“The legislation will be passed next week before the House rises for the parliamentary term, and will enable regulations to be developed. Further details of the charging scheme and when it will come into force, will be announced soon. Charges will not apply to anyone entering New Zealand and going into MIQ before regulations are in force.

It is forecast that more people will be travelling and arriving at the border. The Government has set aside a total of $479 million dollars to pay for the costs of Managed Isolation facilities until the end of the year.

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  1. John J Harrison

     /  29th July 2020

    Woods was absolutely hopeless in the House under the laser like questioning by Gerry Brownlee.
    It’s clearly going to cause more problems that it will address.
    Even Peters can see that – why even bother with this pathetic attempt to address the increasing concerns of the taxpayers?
    The only solution is the one offered up by Judith Collins.
    But Labour and the Greens are far too stupid to accept that , aren’t they ?

    • Megan Woods is being used as a catspaw, I suspect. One can almost feel sorry for her. Almost.

      This is The Old Man and the Donkey; it’ll please no one.

      • Do the maths, PDTs; even I can work out that it will recoup less than 1%. By the time admin costs come out, it will hardly be worth bothering.

    • Laser like? Like the ones they use at Specsavers?

  2. Duker

     /  29th July 2020

    “Not sure why the Bill of Rights stops them charging some but not others.”

    Its obvious , you are discriminating against classes of people.

    Its the Greens here who are the roadblock to more extensive cost recovery…no surprise as they love the offshore vote come election time and may be their lifeline

    • David

       /  29th July 2020

      bill of rights gets ignored regularly, its not some Supreme overriding constitutional document.
      She is charging some but not others so its bullshit argument.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  29th July 2020

        Didn’t seem to take any notice of it when issuing lockdown orders.

  3. artcroft

     /  29th July 2020

    I feel the govt owes me a $4k holiday. Where do I go to apply.

    • artcroft

       /  29th July 2020

      I hope Jacinda understands she is charging this to the Bank of Neve, cos the Bank of Art Croft ain’t paying.

  4. David

     /  29th July 2020

    How pathetic, its not even a half way measure. UMR have done the numbers that expat vote for Ardern is huge, more to lose than she will onshore so the taxpayers will pick up the tab for her re election.

  5. Mike Hor

     /  29th July 2020

    The Muslims coming into NZ for the Chch shooter sentencing ere exempt – get a free hotel stay.


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