“Private enterprise should safely take over managed isolation and quarantine, under strict regulations,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The two old parties want to charge returning New Zealanders for managed isolation, with a Government monopoly providing a limited number of spaces.

"Some people will say the private sector can't be trusted. Really? What about the Government?

“The Government has totally failed at the border. People have escaped and private health data has been left hopelessly vulnerable.

"Banks keep data safer than any Government department. Airlines fly people at 900km per hour every day without incident. Agribusiness delivers infant formula half way around the world with pinpoint quality control, but only the Government can keep people inside for two weeks?

“A smart, innovative government would set up a regulatory framework for private provision. Private providers would be offer safer, cheaper managed isolation.

“Many of our hotels are going broke and Air New Zealand is being paid not to fly. Instead, Air New Zealand and hotels could offer a private managed isolation package to essential workers and others prepared to pay and wait for time in COVID-free Kiwi paradise.

“Universities that run hostels, and RSE employers required to provide accommodation at a certain standard, should be trusted to bring students and workers in under strict rules administered by WorkSafe with appropriate penalties.

“Allowing private providers to offer managed isolation would also expand our capacity. We risk the economy slowly grinding to a halt as projects of all kinds wait on essential workers from overseas, unless we find a way to safely reengage with the world.

“There’s no doubt New Zealanders will have to contribute to the cost of managed isolation, but why should citizens be forced to pay an incompetent government monopoly?

“ACT has released five principles for leading the world in public health with safe, smart borders. All those principles come into play here.

  1. Ask what we can do -we should be exploring possibilities such as suggested by Universities New Zealand this morning
  2. Move from a state of fear to a state of open debate -new possibilities and options need to be discussed, not just an unimaginative play over who will pay for the same inflexible system
  3. Go country by country -private isolation might initially apply only to countries with low or no risk, such as COVID-free pacific Islands
  4. Use technology -It is almost certain that free enterprise will make better use of technology than Government
  5. Bridge the gap with the private sector -that's exactly what private isolation services are about.

“This Government’s idea of engaging with the private sector was to set up an email address – [email protected] – and then forget about it.

“That approach was typified in the way Rob Fyfe was treated. One of the country’s greatest business leaders gave two months of his time to the Government for free, got nowhere, and wasn’t even thanked when he left.

“The next government is going to have to bridge the chasm that has grown between the public and private sectors during this crisis.”