Not a Fair Delivery

As India battles an unfortunate second wave of the deadly Coronavirus that continues to kill and infect thousands of people on a daily basis, the anxiety and stress levels of people from New Zealand who are in India and want to return to this country increase. The ban on all people aside from Kiwi citizens to return to New Zealand and lack of any planning or declared timelines by the Labour government, mean thousands of lives and livelihoods stay in a forgotten state and stare at a dark future. However, in a clear violation of principles of a fair and equal society, this government supposedly promotes, New Zealand Cricketers who were part of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) being held in India, which was put on hold in view of the Corona crisis, get to fly back in the country on luxurious jet planes, run by the billionaire IPL franchise holders?

We must acknowledge that these are world-class Cricketers who have brought the nation glory. But when they decided to take part in this year’s IPL, they were fully aware of the risks involved, and most importantly they were not representing New Zealand at the event but were there playing for local Indian franchises. This is a completely different situation to the athletes who will proudly wear the Silver Fern at the forthcoming Olympics in Japan.

The major reason that has been given to severely cut travel numbers of people wanting to return to New Zealand from India, is that they can increase the risk of a community spread in the country as they are returning from a Covid hot spot. But the cricketers given these special privileges, fall in this category, so why do they get to choose when they can travel back to the country? Government talks about a well-managed MIQ policy for returnees- will they let us know how these Cricketers found a spot straight away in these facilities, as compared to thousands of Kiwis facing lengthy delays in securing an MIQ slot? Is there a special quota or policy that is known to an exclusive few? A private jet plane flies a few Cricketers back in the country from India, but the government is unwilling to undertake any steps to help thousands making  requests  to this Government on a daily basis , to let them return on special flights. Or is the reason these Cricketers are allowed to return is that they are citizens and suddenly in 2021 this government that claims to be transparent, now has different rules for citizens and residents of New Zealand; which we do not know of? Residents can vote to choose a government, but cannot return to a country they call home, where they reside as law abiding productive members of the society? Cricketers returning from IPL can pick and choose if they return to New Zealand or go to England (to play a series against that country) and all permissions and travel arrangements are made for them, with the blessings of the government. On the other hand, thousands of residents, work visa holders and students are left in a state of uncertainty in a country that possesses a health system crashing under the onslaught of this dreaded virus, with no end in sight. Does the government have a plan in mind for work visa, open visa and students in mind who are losing on precious time and expanding a lot of economic resources by not being in a country they desire to be in. These people have followed all directions from the authorities, only to find out that they are not treated equally when compared to the millionaire Cricketers. 

The least we can expect from this government is to at least acknowledge the pain and suffering  thousands wishing to return to New Zealand from India are going through? To create and share a plan to reunite these families and get their skills back in our economy.  Does the Minister of Immigration even have a plan, let alone a timeline for return of work visa, open visa and student visa holders back to New Zealand?  The governments disappointing track record on this front suggests otherwise – and these unfortunate people cannot wield a bat and bowl as well as a privileged few.