James Shaw hasn't secured MIQ spot for UK climate conference, only 1 of 14-person entourage has

Newshub can reveal only one of James Shaw's 14-person UK climate conference entourage has so far managed to secure a spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) - not even the Climate Change Minister himself.

"There is a delegation with a number of different categories. It depends how many MIQ spots we're able to secure. So far only one of the diplomats has got a place," Shaw told Newshub on Tuesday outside Parliament. 

"At the moment I'm waiting to find out if I've got a spot and if I don't have a spot I won't be going," he said, adding that he's about 15,000 in the MIQ queue. 

The Green Party co-leader said he did not feel comfortable going to the international COP26 climate change conference during a pandemic. 

"No I don't. My preference would be not to go at all, but we weren't given an option of doing this online," he said.

"You'd have to ask [Trade Minister] Damien O'Connor whether it was OK for him to travel to do trade negotiations; you'd have to ask the Prime Minister whether it's OK for her to travel to conduct the business of the country as well."

Shaw acknowledged there were circumstances where ministers have chosen not to travel, such as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opting out of attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. 

"She's managing an outbreak at the moment. She was going to go to that conference," he said. "If we hadn't had the outbreak of Delta then she would've gone."

Shaw said earlier this month Zooming into COP26 wasn't an option. The UK ruled it out because negotiations were too complex. So, if New Zealand wanted to be at the climate change table, someone had to go. 

The pause on the release of MIQ vouchers ended on Monday as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which oversees the state-run quarantine system, rolled out its new virtual lobby system. 

It soon became clear just how many people were desperate to get back into the country as more than 22,000 people waited in the lobby to try and nab one of the 3000 rooms. Shaw and his delegation are among the hopefuls. 

"We're in the pool, we'll see how it goes," Shaw said. 

Shaw plans to take with him legal advisors, policy analysts and his private secretary. Opposition spokespeople for climate change have also been invited. 

National's climate change spokesperson Stuart Smith said Shaw's entourage was unnecessary. 

"The minister has failed to read the room on this," he said. "We have heard countless stories of New Zealanders wanting to come home but who are locked out because they can't get MIQ spots."

ACT leader David Seymour was also critical. 

"Captain Planet James Shaw is taking 14 officials to Glasgow with him, the first XV of climate change," he said. "Despite COVID-19 being out of control in Glasgow, Shaw has decided to dive in boots and all."