Otago Daily Times

Green MP had party’s blessing to travel overseas


WELLINGTON: Green Party list MP Ricardo Menendez March says he travelled to Mexico to visit his father, who is recovering from major surgery, and his terminally ill stepmother.

The list MP, who grew up in Tijuana, returned to New Zealand on February 1 and is in managed isolation after seven weeks abroad.

That is despite the official advice on the Government’s SafeTravel website which urges all New Zealanders to remain in the country.

Mr Menendez March said on Facebook last night his trip received the blessing of Green Party coleader Marama Davidson and party whip Jan Logie.

He said he had planned to go to Mexico earlier but had to delay it after becoming a member of Parliament.

‘‘It was a serious family matter,’’ Ms Davidson said.

‘‘He had to make that decision . . . a tough decision, but it was a serious family matter.’’

Fellow coleader James Shaw said Mr Menendez March had received no special treatment and went through the same process as all other New Zealanders.

In midJanuary, Mr Menendez March contacted the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) from Mexico to apply for an emergency spot in managed isolation (MIQ) which would have allowed him to return to the country earlier.

MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain ultimately declined the request but first contacted both Mr Shaw and Covid19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

‘‘What I said was: under no circumstan­ces should he get special treatment,’’ Mr Shaw said.

Mr Hipkins said he similarly steered clear of the case.

MBIE declined to comment on the case, citing ‘‘privacy reasons’’.

National Party leader Judith Collins said she would not have allowed any of her caucus to travel overseas at the moment.

She had major questions about whether the Greens had handled the matter appropriat­ely.

‘‘It certainly reeks of disconnect­ion with every other New Zealander who has to miss out on . . . spending time with their families.’’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would expect her Labour MPs to adhere to the same requiremen­ts which apply to all New Zealanders.

‘‘We haven’t had a situation or circumstan­ce that has justified that at this stage.’’ — RNZ

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