If US tech billionaire Peter Thiel was a suitable candidate for fast-tracked New Zealand citizenship, surely much-needed doctors, ICU nurses and more could be extended the same privilege?
As a pro-business realist, I don't object to Thiel's citizenship — just the initial secrecy around it.
New Zealand essentially sold the US tech entrepreneur his citizenship after spending only 12 days in the country in return for his making substantial investments in the local technology sector and acting as an "ambassador" by advocating for New Zealand on the global stage and providing introductions "stateside" for Kiwi firms.
But why not build on this ground-breaking precedent?
There is also another category of "investor" in New Zealand.
That's not just the entrepreneurs with cash to spare — to use the vernacular "chump change" — who have residency status here through various investor class programmes.
These include many from the US and China.
But those that want to live in New Zealand and contribute not just to our economy but also to our national health and wellbeing.
The people who are in hot demand now worldwide are the doctors, ICU nurses and other health professionals when it comes to navigating through a global coronavirus pandemic.
Given this may have two to three years to run yet according to director general of health Ashley Bloomfield, is it not time to take a more self-interested approach on New Zealand's behalf?
Start putting New Zealand first as we have lately started doing when it comes to the Pfizer vaccine procurement.
There have been any number of disquieting statements in recent weeks:
The Radius Care managing director Brien Cree who said the Government's inaction over the chronic shortage of nurses has "let New Zealand down badly by failing to prepare for Covid-19's return and for making our health system vulnerable".
"We had a head start on Delta but the Government didn't prepare for it by bringing in the thousands more nurses needed throughout the health system," Cree said.
Radius Care has 22 aged-care facilities, so this stance is hitting home on its business.
The late July story urging the Government to urgently reopen residency for healthcare workers to avoid losing them overseas.
Immigration NZ figures at that time showed 901 registered nurses and 235 doctors were still seeking residency. Surely, this can all be fast-tracked?
The idiocy that has seen too many health professionals sucked out of the DHBs to undertake vaccination programmes while too many GP practices have been prevented from doing the same.
This all suggests Health Minister Andrew Little has urgent work to do. But so, too, does Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.
We are losing highly skilled health professionals to other countries who are rolling out a welcome mat, including to dairy farm managers from the Philippines who are relocating to Canada.
Then there are the many migrants who are still awaiting reunification with their families from offshore.
The stories are heart-breaking.
It is not as if the Ardern Government has not shown some welcome pragmatism in other immigration areas.
Just yesterday, the Government announced "free travel" for recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu from October. These workers who are needed for the horticultural and viticulture sectors have to have received their first vaccination pre-departure, undertake tests on arrival and complete a self-isolation period of seven days, pending a negative Day 5 result. This will help underpin a successful harvest season.
And what about investment itself?
In my own view, it would be preferable if the Government — noting here it is now Labour not the prior National-led government which granted Thiel dual citizenship — could shout this "exception" from the rooftops and invite more well-heeled entrepreneurs and investors to pony up with some ridiculously attractive proposals.
The Immigration Reset announcement by Faafoi in May talked about creating border exceptions so representatives from global companies could come here to conduct on-the-ground negotiations with companies they wish to invest in.
Companies that have already taken part in the programmes include Wisk, that tested its revolutionary air taxi technology here and LeoLabs, an American space innovator that unveiled its first "next generation" space radar in Naseby.
Faafoi said back then that this would enable over 200 people, representing high-value international interests, to come to New Zealand over the next 12 months to conduct due diligence and transact the sort of deals "we know will play an important role in supporting New Zealand's economic recovery from Covid-19".
The Delta Covid variant and current lockdown sequence may have slowed this. But importantly it was a pragmatic move by the Ardern Government and corporate lawyers tell me that investors are finding other ways to "kick the tyres" from offshore meantime.
In truth, much of the Western world is opening up again and providing an additional carrot through fast-tracking citizenship and /or permanent residency would cement personal connections with investors who the Government wants to help create highly skilled jobs, enable the valuable transfer of knowledge and technology, and increase international connectivity for New Zealand.
As for Thiel, at the very least the Ardern Government should look to cash in on his connections when New Zealand does "reconnect to the world" and the Prime Minister can lead the business mission she intends to the United States.