COVID-19: Kiwi expats sending Human Rights Commission complaint over proposed user-pays managed isolation

Expats are lawyering-up over plans to charge returning New Zealanders for their time in quarantine. 

National's COVID-19 border response spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said on Sunday it would charge returning Kiwis $3000 for their managed isolation, and Minister Megan Woods agreed it should be user-pays.

The community group 'Kiwis in London' is preparing a complaint to the Human Rights Commission (HRC), arguing the policy is unlawful. 

The group's founder Clint Heine says he's furious at the proposal.

"It isn't fair, and actually it's not legal. And I know the Government is probably scratching the heads of many of their best lawyers trying to get around it."

He's assembled a team of expat Kiwi immigration lawyers and will make the complaint to HRC.

"I know the community is pretty anxious. They're concerned they won't be able to come home."

William Findlay is one who's worried he can't return to New Zealand. He's had to cancel plans to attend two weddings in Gisborne in November because he can't afford paying for managed isolation.

"Having to pay for that hotel is a nail in the coffin. We just can't go home," he says.

"It means some people will never see their family ever again."

He's been living in London for four years and was hoping to take his skills and expertise as a lawyer back to New Zealand.

"There's a lot of people who can't afford to pay that. It's more than most people would pay for a flight back to New Zealand. It's a lot of money," Findlay says.

All arrivals must quarantine for two weeks at an authorised hotel to prevent COVID-19 entering the country. It's currently paid for by the Government, but soon it will be user-pays.

"The quarantine isn't a benefit to the Kiwis travelling home. The idea of quarantine is something to benefit the whole country so why shouldn't the whole country pay for it?" he says.

He says both Labour and National are playing politics with the issue and are targeting a group of people who aren't in New Zealand to defend themselves.