High Court says MIQ breached Kiwis’ rights

Declarations issued by the High Court today confirm that the operation of MIQ in late 2021 breached the fundamental right of New Zealanders to return to their home country, says National’s COVID-19 Spokesperson Chris Bishop.

In April, Justice Mallon’s judgement in Grounded Kiwis v Minister of Health found that the MIQ system did not sufficiently allow individual circumstances to be considered and prioritised where necessary. Justice Mallon instructed Grounded Kiwis and the Government to reach agreement on the appropriate wording of a formal declaration to give effect to that finding.

“It is clear from today’s judgement that the Government simply couldn’t bring itself to concede that MIQ operated in an unfair way,” Mr Bishop says.

“The Government tried unsuccessfully to get the formal declaration to include aspects of MIQ that did not breach the Bill of Rights. The Government also tried, unsuccessfully, to get the formal declaration to not mention the errors of law in the exercise of the chief executive of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s powers relating to offline allocations in MIQ.

“National welcomes today’s declaration by the High Court. MIQ made sense at the start of the pandemic, but by September 2021 it was operating as a lottery of human misery, unreasonably stopping New Zealanders returning to their own country. People missed the deaths of loved ones, the births of new Kiwis, and were stuck overseas when their visas expired.

“The most frustrating thing was that many suggestions for a better way of operating MIQ were made, only to be ignored by the Government. National’s own suggestion of a points system was even referred to by Justice Mallon in the substantive MIQ judgement.

“Thankfully New Zealand is now reconnecting with the world after two years as the hermit kingdom. But we should never forget the hardship that MIQ created for so many.

“There are tens of thousands of New Zealanders around the world who feel like their country abandoned them. Today’s judgement confirms that is true, for which the Government will be held accountable in 2023.”