Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended the Government's new border-charge policy, saying the Government would expose itself to "high legal risk" if it charged Kiwis returning to New Zealand to live.
The Government will be charging only a small percentage of people for the cost of Covid-19 quarantining and isolation in hotels - essentially people coming here for holidays, or Kiwis leaving and returning, of which there have only been about 1000 so far.
Ardern told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today that the Government had received a range of advice, including legal advice, on what could be challenged.
The Government would not be charging for Kiwis returning home to live permanently.
"If we create a barrier to coming back for good, to someone's legal place of residence, that did carry some high legal risk.
"To charge them would bring a whole range of risks and issues."
She acknowledged a Colmar Brunton poll at the weekend that showed people wanted travellers to be charged, and she said the Government was doing that.
"Ultimately New Zealanders want people to be charged and we are," Ardern told Hosking.
Hosking: But they're not.
Ardern: We have just drawn a distinction on the different circumstances that cause people to travel. So basically if you're here, you're safe, you're in New Zealand and you're making a choice to leave (and return) then yes, you should pay for that. But if you're offshore and you, for no fault of your own, find yourself in circumstances where you need to come home, then you can come home (without being charged). We draw a distinction if you're coming here for a holiday.
Hosking questioned why a loan system could not operate - Ardern replied the Government had reached a balanced situation.
Hosking: But next to no one is [being charged].
Ardern: That is simply not true.
She said about 1000 people had chosen to leave New Zealand out of choice, and return, but she did not have the number of people coming in who could be charged. "Someone who comes home for a short period of time - less than six weeks - you will be charged."
The Government announced the border-charge legislation last week. It intends to be rushed through Parliament in the next two weeks before the House rises ahead of the general election.
The decision will mean a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) charge for:
• People who leave New Zealand after the legislation comes into effect.
• People who are visiting New Zealand temporarily.
Travellers required to contribute towards their managed isolation hotel stay will pay $3100 per room and $950 for each extra adult and $475 per child.
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Ardern launched Labour's Māori seat campaign in Auckland yesterday, pleading for supporters not to take anything for granted.
She received a rockstar welcome from her Māori MPs, with list MP Willie Jackson calling her "an angel".
He said he and colleagues such as Andrew Little sat across the House from the National Party "and we want to do terrible things to the Opposition and then we think 'Jacinda'".
"All we've got to think about is our angel, Jacinda.
"I have never seen a leader like it, who takes something to another level," he said.
"Because our natural instinct is to fight and to scrap – that's our natural instinct," he said.
"And she just somehow gets us away from all that ... she has got that old style where 'we are better, we don't have to engage, we don't have to pass information, we don't have to tell on other MPs, we are better'.
"We are better as a party, we are lucky to have her as our leader."
Ardern said Jackson had been one of the more surprising friendships she had formed in Parliament but she valued it.
Jackson is co-chair of Labour's Māori caucus and Māori seat campaign manager.
He is a former Mana Motuhake leader and Alliance MP but has been a Labour MP for a term.
The event at Waatea Marae in Māngere was emceed by the television stars from the Casketeers, Francis and Kaiora Tipene.
"If we are a team of five million, then she is definitely our MVP," Kaiora said.
Ardern said the economic effects, if not the Covid-19 coronavirus virus, would be with New Zealand for many years to come.
"And that challenge has sharpened our focus.
"That is why it is so important to re-elect Labour.
"At times of deep economic pain, it cannot be our whānau and our rangatahi [young people] who pay the highest price and we have seen in years gone by where that has been the case, and it will not, we will not let that happen," she said.
"When we have an opportunity to build back better, when we have an opportunity to make sure we address inequality, that we continue to show our guardianship for the environment, to continue to keep our people housed, to ensure that rangatahi fulfill their full potential, and to keep showing what is possible when we move forward together, that is why I am asking you today to take nothing for granted, to continue to show the support for our Māori MPs and candidates that they have earned through three years of hard mahi."
The Māori Party was voted out of Parliament at the last election but is standing again in all seven Māori seats, with co-leader John Tamihere standing in Tamaki Makaurau (held by Peeni Henare) and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer standing in Te Tai Hauauru (held by Adrian Rurawhe).
The Labour Māori Caucus
1. Kelvin Davis – Deputy Labour Party Leader, MP for Te Tai Tokerau.
2. Willie Jackson – List MP, Auckland-based: Co-Chair of Māori Caucus.
3. Meka Whaitiri – MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti: Co-Chair of Māori Caucus.
4. Peeni Henare – MP for Tāmaki Makaurau.
5. Nanaia Mahuta – MP for Hauraki Waikato.
6. Tamati Coffey – MP for Waiariki.
7. Adrian Rurawhe – MP for Te Tai Hauāuru.
8. Rino Tirikatene – MP for Te Tai Tonga.
9. Louisa Wall – MP for Manurewa.
10. Paul Eagle – MP for Rongotai.
11. Willow-Jean Prime – List MP, Northland-based.
12. Kiri Allan – List MP - East Coast-based.
13. Jo Luxton – List MP - Rangitata-based.
Other Labour Māori candidates this election
• Kerrin Leoni, for Waikato (Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāi Takato and Ngāti Kuri).
• Arena Williams, for Manurewa (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Tūhoe, Ngāi Tahu).
• Nerissa Henry, for Pakuranga (Ngāi Takoto, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Awa).
• Shanan Halbert, for Northcote (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Whitikaupeka).
• Soraya Peke-Mason, for Rangitīkei (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Apa, Tainui).
• Liam Wairepo, for Waitaki (Te Rarawa, Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Te Rangi and Waitaha).
• Georgie Dansey – List candidate (Ngāti Tūwharetoa).