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Government probing use of computer programmes to get managed MIQ vouchers for returning Kiwis

The Government is investigating after 1 NEWS revealed automated computer programmes are booking Covid-19 managed isolation vouchers for returning Kiwis.

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MBIE says the system was designed to give everyone equal opportunity. Source: 1 NEWS

An overseas-based New Zealander decided to create a computer programme that books vouchers instantaneously after hearing stories of people who were unable to secure vouchers and return home. He’s made around 20 bookings for people in the UK, Australia and South East Asia.

Dan*, who didn’t want to be identified, says he finds people online who are struggling and offers to help. He believes there are at least two other programmers doing the same thing.

“I am helping people who I think are disadvantaged” he said.

“This system was designed in a hurry. People wait for hours while their booking is locked out - when the transaction has already failed. That is not me - that is 100 people trying for one transactable action.”

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Hundreds of overseas-based New Zealanders are struggling to get home amid the global pandemic. Source: 1 NEWS

“Some people have advantages - better broadband, faster mouse skills or they don’t have children. Some are using auto refresh. That is why I have only helped some.”

But the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) which runs the MIQ voucher system says it’s working to prevent the codes from running.

“We acknowledge that international travel right now is not simple or easy and while we are constantly working to optimise space within managed isolation facilities, this kind of behaviour is disappointing,” a spokesperson said.

“The system was designed to give everyone an equal opportunity to gain a Managed Isolation Allocation System voucher in the easiest and most user-friendly manner. We are reviewing options to prevent this automated process which replicates someone manually checking for an available day.”

MBIE Is also urging people to “be cautious when giving out personal details to a third party”, though Dan says that’s usually not required.

“They know to some extent it is happening,” Dan said of his system. “They are trying to stop it.”

The MBIE spokesperson said the Managed Isolation Allocation System has “various best practice security levels in place”.

*Name has been changed