Watkins on broken MIQ

Tracy Watkins writes:

New Zealand, we need to talk about MIQ.

We all know it’s broken. The good news is that there are a lot of smart people out there who believe it can work a lot better. But the biggest obstacle to fixing it may be you.

It’s not just that it’s a cruel and inhumane lottery that keeps families and friends and loved ones apart while the Wiggles are waved through; or that it’s cut us off from the rest of the world – or even that it has become a convenient excuse for kicking the can down the road on critical economic decisions.

There’s two key problems with MIQ. The first is that incomprehensibly the Government refuses to increase the supply of rooms. If supply was allowed to meet demand, then there would be no allocation problem.

The second is that there is no prioritisation. Unless you are The Wiggles or a famous sportsperson you have to take your luck with the MIQ lottery. Someone wanting to return home to see a dying relative is treated the same as someone who decided to go overseas on a holiday and now wants to return.

There has been no shortage of ideas from New Zealand’s most innovative thinkers on how to improve the system, while still keeping people safe.

But those ideas all go seem to go nowhere. Why? They keep hitting the same wall of bureaucratic and government inertia. There is no political will to make MIQ work better – and that’s because there is no public appetite to open the tap, even with safeguards.

Whenever change is proposed, or the Government’s models questioned, an angry mob steps in to shout it down as treason.

Whatever happened to the number 8 wire Kiwi? Or are they all stranded overseas?

Sadly, maybe.

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