Call to ‘come home’ does not apply to our sleeper cells in Australia, says Government

A map of believed New Zealand sleeper cells in Australia, which the Australian Secret Intelligence Service has described as “painfully obvious” and believes is “pretty much comprehensive.”

A map of believed New Zealand sleeper cells in Australia, which the Australian Secret Intelligence Service has described as “painfully obvious” and believes is “pretty much comprehensive.”

As the Covid-19 travel bubble with Australia closes once more, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins have made clear that any New Zealanders presently in Australia should return home immediately, but they were also careful to stress that this does not apply if you are a member of one of New Zealand’s “many sleeper cells” in the country.

“If you are in Australia and you do not intend to stay there long term, our message is simple: come home now,” said Ardern. “If, however, you are planning or willing to stay indefinitely, or are employed as a member of a sleeper cell for purposes of progression towards the plan, you can stay where you are. Let me repeat: if you are not planning to stay in Australia, come home. If you are lying in wait for activation by our intelligence services, remain put.”

Hipkins would later put some additional caveats on the Prime Minister’s advice.

“Just before I get on to other matters,” said Hipkins, “I want to quickly clarify something from the Prime Minister’s statement. Just to be clear, the advice to not follow the advice to come home if you are in one of our sleeper cells does not apply, and I just want to get this correct, in the case of Cell 16C. If you are a member of Cell 16C, or for that matter subcell 16C-2 or subcell 16C-4, operations are considered complete for the time being, and you may return to New Zealand for redeployment closer to the Great Ignition.

“So let’s just recap that. If you are an ordinary New Zealander with no connection to intelligence services and no knowledge of secret plans to undermine the sovereignty of Australia and ultimately change the balance of power in the region forever, so I guess you’re just seeing your family or going to the beach or something, we advise that you return home now. If you are a member of a sleeper cell in Australia, our advice is to ignore that advice. If, however, you are a member of Cell 16C, or subcell 16C-2 or 16C-4, you may ignore the advice to ignore the previous advice. And finally, if you are in subcell 16C-3, we ask you to please ignore the advice to ignore the advice to ignore the initial advice.”

Hipkins appeared to mull something over as he flicked through his papers, and quickly turned to the Prime Minister standing behind them.

“Sorry, just, is there a 16C-1?” he asked her quietly.

“Yes, but…” responded Ardern, trailing off.

“Oh, I see.”


“Yeah, okay,” Hipkins said, turning back to the cameras and regathering his thoughts. “Yeah, they’re all dead, so that’s fine. Okay, I think that’s just about everything.”

In taking questions from reporters, Hipkins was asked whether sleeper cell members advised to return home should book their own seats on mercy flights, or await covert government transport.

“Uhm, no, we don’t have any cool planes or anything like that,” he said. “So yeah, you’re just going to have to go to the airport. Maybe take both your real passport and your fake passport, just in case.”

Hipkins said he knew “nothing about” 8 sudden high level resignations from the Australian Defence Force in the wake of the bubble cancellation announcement.

“That just sounds like simple economics to me,” he said.

Neither he nor the Prime Minister would be drawn on the nature of “the plan.”

“Yeah, look, could you stop asking me about the espionage stuff?” asked Hipkins. “Because that’s obviously sensitive, as you can imagine.”

It’s unclear how many covert agents New Zealand has in Australian territory, as reports suggest the Government has lost contact with a large number of its Australian sleeper cells after they become accustomed to the pay in their Australian jobs.

The cancellation of the travel bubble with Australia will last for a minimum of 8 weeks, though the Prime Minister has not ruled out carving out a small area of New Zealand for Australians to come to, one we normally don’t use, such as the Wairarapa.