Claire Edmondson, General Manager
community outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta variant and the pressure it has placed
on an already stretched managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) network has
again raised the subject of specialist MIQ facilities.
At the same
time, there have been many reports of businesses unable to secure skilled
employees – often specialists in their fields – from overseas with skills that
cannot readily be sourced in New Zealand. The three primary reasons cited
- suspension of the processing of most work visa
- closed border
- inability to secure spots in an MIQ facility.
also reported issues caused by the inability to travel overseas to install and
commission equipment manufactured in New Zealand because of the difficulty
securing spots in MIQ enabling staff to return in a known timeframe.
New Zealand is exploring the merits of New Zealand having a dedicated
MIQ facility for skilled employees who hold work visas. We are
initially looking to focus on the construction sector, given its close
relationship with infrastructure projects and the delays some major projects
have experienced due to difficulties securing specialists from offshore.
There have already
been musings on the need for dedicated MIQ facilities, but sector engagement has
yet to be undertaken. A Government-private sector partnership approach could
potentially be the game-changer required to make a purpose-built MIQ facility
feasible. Sure, New Zealand will not be able to build a hospital-like
facility in a week like China does, but the involvement of industry expertise
would mean a commercial focus on delivery instead of endless briefings and
updates to bureaucrats.
We will survey
members in early October to gauge initial thoughts. That feedback will inform
our advocacy efforts to the Government, particularly whether a purpose-built
MIQ facility for work visa holders is needed, where it should be located, who
should fund it, and what it might be used for in a post Covid-19 environment. We
will expand on those discussions at Building Nations 2021 in November.