The Government has proven themselves incapable of forward-planning

Opinion 02/09/2021

OPINION: Looks like Jacinda is cancelling Christmas for Kiwis stuck overseas.

And again, some critics argue it's because the Government's been caught off-guard by an entirely predictable situation and proven themselves seemingly incapable of forward-planning. 

We've seen that with the vaccine rollout - where they've performed a cunning U-turn after being caught with their pants down having to slow bookings. 

One minute saying we don't need more vaccines, the next - we're working day and night to get it. 

Same goes for the Kiwis stuck offshore who've just been told not to come home for Christmas because we don't have enough room in MIQ - and that we've had to halt the booking system for weeks amid our outbreak.

"That means there are no vouchers available to be booked through the voucher website at the moment," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

You might think fair enough - our COVID-19 cases take priority in our MIQ facilities, sure. 

But the Government was warned about a shortage and advised by some officials to develop purpose-built facilities.

Australia did - and the company that built theirs offered to build ours for pretty cheap way back in August last year, which Newshub revealed a few months back.

When asked why they weren't built ages ago, Ardern said: "Certainly the scale."

Hipkins said: "It's not a flip-flop at all… I said I certainly wouldn't rule out doing it in the future."

Hmmm, you see, there it is - not ruling out doing it in the future. 

I'm not ruling out doing an ultra-marathon next year. I'm not ruling out going to Mars. It's an entirely meaningless thing to say.

The fact that more than a year after the offer was made and we don't yet even have a foundation laid for a facility should tell you one thing - this Government was again caught off-guard by the entirely predictable. 

To be fair to the minister, he says it's not just about buildings but staffing issues too - how do you man these purpose-built facilities? The question then becomes, how did the Aussies staff theirs?

The Government's doing a generally good job on COVID-19, but that's little comfort to those stuck offshore who believe more could have been done to avoid this situation.