COVID-19: Labour agrees with National to charge returnees to New Zealand

Minister Megan Woods says she welcomes National's support for charging returnees to New Zealand part of their accommodation costs.

In a statement on Sunday, Woods, who is in charge of New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine system, says it's a "good sign" there will be Parliamentary support for a move to a charging regime.

"We believe people returning to New Zealand should assist with the considerable expense of accommodating them in managed isolation facilities," Woods says.

"As we have made clear on numerous occasions, we are working through policy options on a cost-recovery scheme.

"This requires detailed investigation to ensure that any cost recovery system is fair and equitable, and is balanced with the legal rights of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to come back home."

Earlier on Sunday National's COVID-19 border response spokesman Gerry Brownlee said if it forms the next Government then National will charge new arrivals at the border for their quarantine stay.

From October 3, National would charge single adults $3000 each. Each additional adult in a room will be charged $1000 and children $500. Under-threes won't have to pay.

"National's policy is about fairness. Many Kiwis have only one or two overseas holidays in their lives. National won't expect taxpayers to pay for other Kiwis returning from high-paying careers or expensive holidays in Europe," he said.

"Those who need to return to New Zealand have had plenty of time to get home since border restrictions began, including through repatriation flights organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They will have a further two weeks to get home without facing the charge, after the election of a National Government."

Woods says the Government is "making good progress" and the public can expect an announcement on this soon.

'Incompetent Government monopoly'

However National's new policy has been rubbished by its potential coalition ally, the ACT Party.

Leader David Seymour questions why Kiwis should be forced to pay a "poor quality, Government monopoly". Instead he wants private enterprise to be in charge of managed isolation and quarantine.

"A smart, innovative Government would set up a regulatory framework for private provision. Private providers would offer safer, cheaper managed isolation," Seymour said.

"Allowing private providers to offer managed isolation would also expand our capacity. We risk the economy slowly grinding to a halt as projects of all kinds wait on essential workers from overseas, unless we find a way to safely reengage with the world."