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  • rmacculloch

The Law Can be an Ass (for economists)

The legal advice which our government has received regards charging Kiwis to return home makes little sense. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended the Government's new border-charge policy to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, saying that the Government would expose itself to "high legal risk" if it charged Kiwis returning to NZ to live. "If we create a barrier to coming back for good, to someone's legal place of residence, that did carry some high legal risk .. To charge them would bring a whole range of risks and issues".

But the government lawyers seem to have missed the point. There IS a massive barrier that has already been put in place that means huge numbers of Kiwis are presently not able to take up their existing legal right to return to the homeland. Namely, the fact that return places are being rationed (!) There cannot be a bigger barrier in place than telling a Kiwi that due to insufficient quarantine facilities, they cannot come back until further notice, no matter what. Why is a barrier arising from setting a quota legally different from a barrier arising from a price?

Had the government adopted the scheme promoted by DownToEarth Kiwi then way more quarantine facilities could have been made available. Low income Kiwis would pay little to nothing compared to high income Kiwis who chose to stay in more fancy accommodation. Equity and efficiency are achievable by implementing a fixed-rebate-for-all scheme. Means testing would not even be necessary.


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