New Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March is currently in a government-run managed isolation hotel after visiting family in Mexico.
Menéndez March was born in Mexico and was visiting for a “serious personal family matter,” a spokesperson for the party said.
He arrived back in the country on February 1 and is thus near the end of his mandatory two-week stay in managed isolation (MIQ).
His decision to leave the country contravenes the current travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (mfat) – which encourages Kiwis to not travel overseas at all.
i would think the only acceptable reason to travel there during this pandemic would be is if a close family member is terminally ill.
He was tagged in an Instagram photo in late-January by a friend in Mexico, although this account was made private soon after a rumour emerged surrounding his travel.
The problem for the Greens isn't just the trip (assuming the reasons were valid) but trying to keep it secret. If an MP is going to be absent from Parliament because they have been travelling overseas, then you should be upfront with that fact – rather than just hope no-one notices he isn't there.
Off memory MPs need the permission of their whip or musterer to travel overseas. I wonder if this was sought in advance. Also what is not clear is how long he was overseas for – was it a few days or weeks?
It's understood Menéndez March applied to MBIE for an emergency allocation that would allow him to enter MIQ sooner but this request was denied.
There are tens of thousands of Kiwis trying to return home, who are waiting for a spot in MIQ. By choosing to go to Mexico over the summer break, he has denied one of those spots to someone else. Hence his reason for travelling needs to be exceptionally strong.