Is it time to build a billionaire-proof fence for the South Island?

RNZ
The number of investor visa applications has soared since the coronavirus outbreak, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise says New Zealand's successful public health strategy is behind the tenfold surge in interest.

OPINION: Only a couple of lockdown days into it and I was loving the quiet earth and the reappearance of entire family groups, who had returned to walk and bike the street.

The front veranda does command a view of the passing parade, and it was like looking at a modern set of the traditional British playing card game Happy Families. Instead of Mr, Mrs, Master and Miss Baker, there goes Mr, Ms and They Sourdough-maker.

On the first day of lockdown I noticed the birds’ behaviour seemed a trifle reticent. Cars were few and there was hardly a plane in the sky. A special kind of hush had returned to the world. It was strange, eerily beautiful – profound even.

Only a smattering of birds turned up to roost before nightfall, as if they were holding back trying to work out what did all this silence mean, and where were the humanoids?

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Mostly the humans were inside rummaging round the back of the wardrobe to locate their Lockdown, Series One slobby barn dance clothes. And that loud snap you heard? It was the good women of the country collectively reaching behind their backs to unsnap their hooks, throw off the brace of their bras and unleash their magnificent mounds.

Slam the makeup drawer shut sistahs! This season’s look is – “I give myself permission to look absolutely knackered” as you once again, let yourself go and come up with excuses to say no to the zoom.

Wellington City streets during lockdown, “A special kind of hush had returned to the world,” says Jane Bowron.
Monique Ford/Stuff
Wellington City streets during lockdown, “A special kind of hush had returned to the world,” says Jane Bowron.

The snap decision to impose lockdowns brings a mixed bag of unexpected holiday rest, a final nail in the coffin for some businesses, and the overall lessening of the carbon footprint. This is the holiday that you can’t look up on the calendar, enter into the diary, or know how long it will last.

Recluses can be assured there’s no need for the Keep Out sign on the gate when the state does the “git off my land” for you. You can safely leave your doors unlocked and go for an evening stroll, confident that when you return, you won’t find a burglar sitting in your favourite chair, scoffing homemade sourdough rolls, and watching New Zealand Gothic aka Hilary and Jeremy on Seven Sharp.

US billionaire Peter Thiel's application for New Zealand citizenship.
Stuff
US billionaire Peter Thiel's application for New Zealand citizenship.

Even before the crazy talk of the south seceding from the north, due to the prevalence of more Delta cases, I was thinking perhaps it might be a good idea to follow Zealandia’s example and maybe fence the entire South Island off.

Implementing a billionaire-proof fence to surround the south would catch any foreign billionaire predators trying to sneak in and set up their boltholes to survive a global societal collapse.

Possum hunters would readily adapt to tracking billionaires, who, if caught, could be hung upside down by their feet along fence line perimeters and shaken till all the loose change fell from their pockets.

Jane Bowron: ‘‘If Grounded Kiwis want an apology from the Government, this will fall on the deaf ears of many of their fellow citizens, who have grown tired of their grievances.’’
Stuff
Jane Bowron: ‘‘If Grounded Kiwis want an apology from the Government, this will fall on the deaf ears of many of their fellow citizens, who have grown tired of their grievances.’’

Seriously, if there are any billionaires still keen on trying to immigrate Down Under after our recent Delta debacle, we need to rethink the terms of their investor visa requirements. A substantial contribution of at least half a billion each towards a fund set up for the express purpose of paying farmers to quit dairying and stop harmful land practices would endear the new immigrants to the province.

I think most of us could put up with a pesky billionaire or two if they nobly did our dirty work for us and picked up the tab for cleaning up the Selwyn and Ashburton Rivers and stopped our rivers and groundwater from being polluted. If only it were that simple.