Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Kiwis Should Be Concerned If Lockdown Broke The Law, NZ Initiative Report Shows

Even in emergencies, democratic governments must comply with the law, according to a new report The rule of law or the law of rulers by the New Zealand Initiative.

As legal challenges emerge to question the lawfulness of the Government’s restrictions, courts will decide whether the lockdown was illegal.

New Zealand Initiative chairman Roger Partridge said it is crucial for the sanctity of the country’s institutions that New Zealand is governed according to the rule of law, not the law of rulers.

“Alert Level 4 deprived Kiwis of many of their fundamental freedoms – to visit friends and family, including those unwell or dying, to undertake everyday recreational activities and to perform paid work. The restrictions caused immeasurable hardship, and Kiwis should be able to rely on the Government to restrict their freedoms lawfully,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government relied on notices issued by Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield under the Health Act 1956 to curtail the freedoms of all New Zealanders.

It only passed the Covid-19 Public Health Act 2020 (C19) Act immediately before the commencement of the Alert Level 2 restrictions on 13 May.

While the lockdown successfully eradicated the coronavirus from the country, Partridge said the legal underpinnings of the lockdown may not have been as robust as the Government has intimated – especially during the lockdown’s early days.

“During the first week of Alert Level 4, many activities prohibited according to the rules – such as swimming or surfing at the beach, hunting, or visiting individual friends or relatives – were not restricted according to a proper reading of the Health Act notice relied on by the Government,” Partridge said.

“This means that during the first week of Alert Level 4 there was no lawful basis for enforcement action by the Police against people who undertook these activities,” he said.

The Government took steps to shore up the legal basis of the lockdown when the Director-General issued a new Health Act notice. However, the validity of both notices is now being challenged in the courts.

Partridge added that while the Government eventually got round to “dotting its i’s and crossing its t’s,” the legal basis for implementing the Alert Level 4 lockdown was “messy” and vague.

“It is disappointing that Attorney General David Parker has refused to acknowledge the legal shortcomings at the commencement of the lockdown.

“His refusal harms public confidence in the rule of law and the administration of justice far more than admitting the Government had not lined up all its ducks before pulling the lockdown trigger.

Since the Government has high levels of support for its lockdown, perhaps Kiwis will not be troubled by this, Partridge said. However, public support and lawfulness are not the same thing and Kiwis should be concerned if the Government may have acted unlawfully.

“Given the scale of restrictions imposed on personal freedoms during the lockdown, it should make no difference that it has popular support,” he added.

These concerns and risks could have been avoided if the Government had introduced its special Alert Level 2 legislation before the lockdown. Other countries like the United Kingdom were able to do this, Partridge said.

Unfortunately, the New Zealand Government appears to have taken at least some shortcuts in implementing its lockdown. A future court – or Royal Commission – may yet find the entire lockdown was illegal.

“If the Government side-stepped the law in the heat of an emergency that sets a bad precedent which could be exploited by future Governments. Next time, the motives might not be so pure.

“Indeed, this Government is showing signs it may be getting used to taking shortcuts, such as passing legislation under urgency and truncating the time for public submissions, along with Cabinet’s recent decision to suspend the Regulatory Impact Statement framework for spending decisions.

“It would be a shame if a popular Ardern Government creates a precedent for future slipshod conduct,” Partridge said.

Read more:
The rule of law or the law of rulers is available here.
 

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Twitter Wars, And The Muller Muddles

Whatever the failings of our own politicians, spare a kind thought for the majority of Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump. Sure, it was depressing this week to watch Todd Muller clinging for dear life to his talking points on Q&A, lest he be carried away in the slavering jaws of Jack Tame…. but this was mere incompetence, not malice. At the same time the President of the United States was (a) falsely accusing one of his media critics of murder, and (b) threatening to shut down Twitter for attaching a warning label to Trump’s attempt at poisoning the electoral process by falsely claiming that postal voting has led to extensive voter fraud... More>>


 


Government: Freshwater Package Backed By Comprehensive Economic Analysis

Decisions on the Action for Healthy Waterways package are supported by comprehensive environmental and economic impact analysis by leading New Zealand research institutes, universities, and private sector firms. More>>

ALSO:

National: "Todd Muller Announces Shape Of Next Government"

National Party Leader Todd Muller has announced the line-up of the next Government. “New Zealand is facing perhaps the toughest time that almost anyone alive can remember. “We are borrowing tens of billions of dollars to get us through this crisis. There ... More>>

ALSO:

Lockdown Rules: Timeline For Moving To Level 1 Needed

The BusinessNZ Network is calling for more clarity about the conditions under which businesses can move to Covid level 1. The network is concerned about large numbers of businesses that are at risk of closure if restrictions continue at the current ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Day Of Reckoning

Congratulations. You are one of the 55 members of the National caucus being called together tomorrow to choose who will lead you to either (a) catastrophic or (b) honourable defeat on September 19, thereby saving some (but not all) of the jobs currently on the line. Good luck. Your decision process starts NOW... More>>

ALSO:


Budget 2020: Jobs Budget To Get Economy Moving Again

Investments to both save and create jobs in Budget 2020 mean unemployment can be back to pre COVID-19 levels within two years and could see the economy growing again as early as next year. More>>

ALSO:

Covid-19 Response: Law Setting Up Legal Framework For Covid-19 Alert Level 2 Passes


The law establishing a legal framework for the response to Covid-19 has passed its final reading and will become law in time for the move to Alert Level 2 tonight.
This is a bespoke Act designed specifically to stop the spread of COVID-19... More>>

ALSO:


Trans-Tasman Bubble: PMs Jacinda And Morrison Announce Plans

Australia and New Zealand are committed to introducing a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP have announced... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Support For Arts And Music Sector Recovery

A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: New Zealand Joins Global Search For COVID-19 Vaccine

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, and Health Minister David Clark today announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, which will enable New Zealand scientists to contribute to global research efforts ... More>>

ALSO:

The Dig: Steady State Economics: We’ve Got Some (systems) Thinking To Do

In this time of impending economic and ecological crises, we urgently need to aim for a sustainable or ‘steady state’ economy. In order to get there, we will need to adopt a ‘systems-thinking’ outlook taking into account the interconnections of our complex world.

In short, we’ve got some systems thinking to do... More>>

ALSO:

Election 2020: Parties Get Into gear

The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government. Using the most democratic list ... More>>

ALSO:

Insight Into Regenerative Agriculture In New Zealand

There is a fast growing movement in New Zealand that has been happening out in paddocks, fields, gardens and hill country across the nation. It is a movement that holds the promise to reshape our productive land use industries towards systems that work with the natural environment to regenerate the land. The movement is that of regenerative agriculture. More>>

ALSO:

Covid-19: Tracer App Released To Support Contact Tracing

The Ministry of Health has today formally released the NZ COVID Tracer app to support contact tracing in New Zealand. Kiwis who download the app will create a digital diary of the places they visit by scanning QR codes displayed at the entrances to ... More>>

ALSO:


Govt: Deep Concern At Hong Kong National Security Legislation
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong.... More>>

ALSO:


 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels