New law on Police powers is rushed through Parliament – but not so fast that changes to pacify protesters can’t be made

The Prime Minister’s contribution to the  outpourings from the Beehive yesterday was  a speech about the Budget, an opportunity to generate the release of more Covid-19  rhetoric ahead of the Budget’s actual delivery today.

The privilege of announcing the lifting of the State of National Emergency across New Zealand fell to Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare.  The National Emergency has made way for a National Transition Period as the country moves to Covid-19 Alert Level 2.

Among the features of the move into a National Transition Period, this entails:

  • providing for the conservation and supply of food, fuel and other essential supplies
  • directing people to stop any activity that may cause, or substantially contribute to the consequences of, the spread of Covid-19

Police can also exercise powers during the transition period.

But what are these powers?

The law establishing a legal framework for the response to Covid-19 passed its final reading – no, it was rushed in unseemly haste – and became law in time for the move to Alert Level 2 last night.

Describing it as a bespoke Act designed specifically to stop the spread of Covid-19, Attorney-General David Parker said the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act

“ … will ensure controls on gatherings of people and physical distancing are still enforceable while narrowing the Police powers from those that applied under Level 3 and Level 4”.

Enforceability to date had relied on the Epidemic Notice, the Health Act and the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, Parker noted.

While there are fewer restrictions under Alert Level 2, those that remain need to be enforceable.

Police will be able to enter private homes to break up gatherings that violate the rules on the numbers of people assembling and Police will be allowed to issue infringement notices.

The Act will be automatically repealed unless continued by a motion of the House of Representatives every 90 days, or another period agreed by the House.

The law will not stay on the statute books beyond the period needed to respond to Covid-19.

Buried in the statement, we learn:

“The House has made some important changes to the original Bill and I thank Members including Opposition members for their input. I also thank those legal experts we consulted as we prepared this law.”

Parker didn’t spell out these changes, but here at Point of Order we were aware of a great clamour to increase the numbers of people who can attend a funeral and of howls of outrage and allegations of racism about whether the Police should be allowed to search marae.

Health Minister David Clark had the job of announcing as many as 50 people will be allowed at funerals, subject to “strict public health measures” being put in place.  This raised the number from 10.

Amendments to the Bill in response to voluble protestations seem to acknowledge a political anxiety to hold and/or win support at the upcoming general election rather than give effect to the advice of the epidemiologists whose expertise until now has been widely respected and accepted.

The government – obviously – does not want to hear the last rites read for it on election day.

Here’s …

Latest from the Beehive

New Zealand moves out of State of National Emergency

The State of National Emergency across New Zealand has been lifted and a National Transition Period is now in place as the country prepares to move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2, Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare has announced.

Hon Peeni Henare

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.

Hon David Parker

Pragmatic changes to Immigration Act to respond to COVID-19 passed

Parliament has today passed legislation to ensure that the Government can respond quickly, appropriately and efficiently to immigration issues arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway

New measures to protect New Zealand’s national interest during COVID-19 crisis

The Government is amending the Overseas Investment Act to protect key New Zealand assets from falling unnecessarily into foreign ownership as the economy recovers from the fallout of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Hon David Parker

Finance

Release

13 MAY 2020

Changes to NCEA address impact of COVID-19

A two-step process to changes to NCEA this year will help mitigate the impact of disruptions to teaching and learning as a result of COVID-19, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said today.

Hon Chris Hipkins

Up to 50 to be allowed at funerals – if strict public health measures are in place

The Government has emphasised the significant risk of COVID-19 spreading at funerals and tangihanga as it expands the number of people allowed to attend at COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

Hon Dr David Clark

Health

Latest from the Beehive

Release

13 MAY 2020

Pragmatic changes to Immigration Act to respond to COVID-19 passed

Parliament has today passed legislation to ensure that the Government can respond quickly, appropriately and efficiently to immigration issues arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway

Immigration

Release

13 MAY 2020

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.

Hon David Parker

Attorney-General

Release

13 MAY 2020

Up to 50 to be allowed at funerals – if strict public health measures are in place

The Government has emphasised the significant risk of COVID-19 spreading at funerals and tangihanga as it expands the number of people allowed to attend at COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

Hon Dr David Clark

Health

Release

13 MAY 2020

New measures to protect New Zealand’s national interest during COVID-19 crisis

The Government is amending the Overseas Investment Act to protect key New Zealand assets from falling unnecessarily into foreign ownership as the economy recovers from the fallout of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Hon David Parker

Finance

Release

13 MAY 2020

Changes to NCEA address impact of COVID-19

A two-step process to changes to NCEA this year will help mitigate the impact of disruptions to teaching and learning as a result of COVID-19, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said today.

Hon Chris Hipkins

Education

Release

13 MAY 2020

New Zealand moves out of State of National Emergency

The State of National Emergency across New Zealand has been lifted and a National Transition Period is now in place as the country prepares to move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2, Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare has announced.

Hon Peeni Henare

Civil Defence

Speech

13 MAY 2020

​​​​​​​Prime Minister’s pre-Budget speech

Tomorrow afternoon, Budget 2020 will be delivered within the most challenging economic conditions faced by any Government since the Great Depression.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

 

2 thoughts on “New law on Police powers is rushed through Parliament – but not so fast that changes to pacify protesters can’t be made

  1. I didn’t realise maraes were considered sovereign territories that NZ police could not, well, police.
    How does that work? Can I just declare my garden shed a marae and go cook some meth or something? Asking for a friend

    Like

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