Disturbing and persistent rumours suggest that there have been ongoing international negotiations at the highest level to turn Stewart Island into a global HIV and Aids isolation colony.
The killer disease Aids, stemming from the HIV virus, has spread to millions of the world’s population, particularly in parts of southern Africa.
Sources indicate there has been a series of high-level meetings in Wellington and Canberra involving WHO, New Zealand Cabinet ministers, an small team of freelance ‘diplomats’, and a multinational research company aimed at producing a feasibility study to determine the suitability of Stewart Island for the project.
When approached by Pullet Surprise Minister of Health Sonny Boyle hotly denied the suggestions. ‘The whole idea is outrageous,’ he stated. ‘Besides the obvious resistance and opposition from New Zealanders, there are far too many HIV positive people in the world to even fit on Stewart Island. Anyway, there aren’t enough tents and just imagine how much it would cost to fly them there.’
A further denial came from the politician responsible for biosecurity, Nuthan Bloak. ‘I’ve heard nothing of the sort,’ he said. ‘If there were any truth to this disturbing rumour I certainly would have been told at least I expect I would. I mean it wouldn’t be right would it? And speaking as Minister for Primary Industries the biosecurity implications would be horrendous. With a concentration of infected persons in such a limited space there would potential for cross-species contamination and a ruined meat and dairy export economy. As an experienced farmer I’ve seen a lot of strange happenings and can tell you such things are possible.’
Minister for Foreign Affairs Harry McFlurry also commented when approached about the concept, ‘Speaking as Minister for Foreign Affairs, no other ministers have mentioned anything of the sort to me, so why should I give it credence? You know the whole thing would be a logistical nightmare and no government in its right mind would commit such political suicide. I wonder if Tasmania would be a better place? No that’s ridiculous besides there’s such things as human rights you know.’
As Mr McFlurry was hurriedly ushered away by his press secretary through a side door he was heard to protest ‘Let me go! I haven’t finished yet!’
ReAct leader Hon Don Blanks said it wouldn’t surprise him if there were truth to the rumours. ‘If you look at the idea from a business angle special UN funding and all that you can see we could all make a killing. I’ll have to look into it further.’
Stewart Island Residents’ Association spokesperson Mandy Grumple was horrified at the concept. ‘What sort of sick minds could even think of such an idea.’ she said. ‘I’m going to have to call a meeting immediately.’
That was last week. By yesterday Pullet Surprise had received reports of clashes on the island between what seem opponents to the idea and a large group of residents wishing to promote it. According to Invercargill police there have been isolated incidents including a fire in a jumbo bin, several broken windows, and threatening telephone calls. ‘These things are usually about money,’ said Senior Sergeant Fred Smith. ‘Apparently some people have gotten wild ideas into their heads about selling off real estate at a high price to some big multinational. God knows what’s going on. Anyway we’re investigating and they’ll be sending a couple of extra officers over for a few days just to keep an eye on things.’
Pullet Surprise shared the developments with the NZ Aids Supportvine spokesperson Willy Neville who said. ‘What you tell me is very disturbing. Regardless of the truth of the matter even the thought that anyone could even come up with such an idea is appalling. It’s just another example of gay bashing not that Aids is a gay disease although some feel gay men are in a more at risk environment, generally speaking. But look, what I am trying to say is that this idea is extremely dangerous. You can bet your boots there will be some out there who might take the idea seriously, and that’s scary in itself. In fact it even annoys me that I’m being asked to comment on it. It might seem OK while the disease is still seen as a minority issue in this country and other parts of the so-called West, but what happens when the rich and powerful themselves really feel under treat from the disease. Then look out!’
Finally we asked the Prime Minister the Hon John Goldfischkey about the matter. His only comment was ‘Get off the grass!’no