Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Retirees stuck in Australia fear being stripped of pensions

Retired Kiwis stuck overseas are worried they will be cut off from their pension if they do not manage to secure an MIQ spot to return home.

They are among tens of thousands of frustrated Kiwis wanting to come back from overseas, but unable to get a coveted MIQ spot through the government’s online booking system.

Last week, tens of thousands of Kiwis were left dejected after 30,000 hopefuls logged on to get one of the sacred 3000 spots and the situation was the same again last night when a further 3800 spots were released.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised yesterday that 12,000 MIQ rooms would be released in the next few weeks.

But time is ticking for retirees stuck in Australia who, according to the rules, could lose their NZ Super or Veteran’s Pension payments if they are out of the country for more than 26 weeks.

Retirees Ashley and Kerry Smith flew to Western Australia in early August to transport a car and caravan back to New Zealand in October.

The dream of returning home before Christmas is slipping away as the pair have failed to secure a spot in MIQ.

Husband Ashley Smith called the situation a “joke” and said it is taking a toll on him and his wife.

“This is the second ‘lotto draw’ we have entered. We could be here for years. This is total bulls*** – we have a right to return home when we want to. New Zealand is our home, not Australia.”

They were now concerned they would lose their pension if they cannot return back to New Zealand in the early months of 2022.

The fully-vaccinated couple are now living in the caravan they planned to ship back while they are stuck in the state. They are travelling around Western Australia finding places to park their caravan.

“We need to fill in time now, we have got nothing else to do, so we might as well keep tripping around before we run out of money,” he said.

As Perth currently has zero active Covid-19 cases, Smith does not understand why the bubble has been closed to the state. On top of that he and his wife said it was unfair they could not isolate in their Christchurch home.

Another New Zealand woman feared her and her husband they might lose their pension after failing to secure a spot in recent MIQ drop.

The woman and her husband flew to Queensland in May to see their family and planned to return in early December.

Before leaving the country, the couple in their 70s spoke with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and said they would return within six months.

But that is proving impossible because despite securing an MIQ spot last night, they are now struggling to get a seat on a flight back.

Prior to waiting in the queue, the woman knew there was a flight on November 27, but when she went to book, there were no seats left on the flight.

She is now worried they will lose their pension because they can’t return home.

“Through no fault of our own we can’t get back,” she said.

When speaking with MSD about their situation they were told nothing could be done and the money would be “taken off” the couple.

“We thought we’d do the right thing and get the vaccine so before we come back it will be it should go all good for us being double vaxxed.

“We also thought we could may isolate at home but no, nothing seems to be happening in that direction.”

An MSD spokesman has said that the pension could stop for these people as no exemptions were available.

“Closure of the travel bubble with Australia, other flight limitations due to Covid and difficulty securing a spot in MIQ, were all reasonably foreseeable before departure for anyone who left New Zealand within the past 30 weeks.

“There are no legislative provisions under which New Zealand Super and Veteran Pension clients who left New Zealand, and are now stuck in Australia solely due to closure of the travel bubble, could be paid any financial assistance by MSD.”

Source: Read Full Article