Privately-run border quarantine would put New Zealanders at risk

The Public Service Association strongly opposes allowing privately-run quarantine facilities to open for international travelers, and the union says it would put all New Zealanders in danger.

PSA members work in the government agencies spearheading New Zealand’s efforts to keep Covid-19 at bay, and the union is deeply concerned at the idea of private sector entrepreneurs undermining our collective achievements as a nation.

"Thanks to the exemplary and tireless work of New Zealand’s public servants we now live in one of the few places on Earth free from Covid-19 community transmission. We have all gone through too much to jeopardise that," says Glenn Barclay, National Secretary of the PSA.

"Many Kiwis have faced enormous difficulties returning home from overseas. Isolation is hardly luxurious for most, and the idea of a privileged few paying for special treatment will not sit comfortably with most New Zealanders."

The PSA questions where and how privately run and for-profit quarantine facilities could be set up, considering the enormous work required and difficulties already experienced in building a quarantine service from the ground up.

The dark history of private sector encroachment on core state functions raises further questions, with such experiments as private prison management and rail privatisation leading to abject failure and public bailout.

"The New Zealand public can only be confident rules will be followed, standards will be maintained and safety will come first if our borders are protected by a professional public service, whose only motive is protecting public health," says Mr Barclay.

"This is an issue of responsibility. New Zealand is rightly viewed as a world leader right now, but other countries have fallen from that pedestal. Our border security and public health professionals never left the front lines of this fight, so let’s not distract ourselves from backing them one hundred percent."