The Safety of the People Shall Be the Highest Law.


Salus populi suprema lex

The safety of the people shall be the highest law



SIMON BRIDGES and his supporters (witting and unwitting) aren’t quite chanting “Lock her up!” Not yet anyway. But they’re headed in that general direction. Faced with a prime ministerial performance that the rest of the world, and most of her own compatriots, have judged to be outstanding, the Right, in desperation, is attempting to criminalise Jacinda Ardern’s “Go Early – Go Hard” strategy against the Covid-19 Pandemic. Shown the way by a couple of liberal professors, Bridges and his media allies are demanding to know the legal basis for locking down New Zealand. If the Cabinet’s decision, made in haste under extreme conditions, is deemed to be ultra vires (beyond its powers) the way will be opened to endless and politically vexatious litigation.

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What these legal purists and panic-stricken politicians do not appear to understand is that if it is the people who are ultimately the fount of all legal authority, then those same people must also possess the power, in the interest of keeping themselves and their loved ones safe, to elevate that existential imperative above all other legal and juridical considerations. With an election looming, any political party foolish enough to attempt to punish Jacinda Ardern and her team for keeping New Zealanders safe will be punished severely at the ballot box. And, if the people are not the ultimate source of all legal authority, well then, who is? Law professors? Journalists? The National Party!

The declaration of a State of Emergency is, by its very nature, an exceptional occurrence. Among the most extreme of all the powers wielded by executive authority, it is reserved for those moments when the normal appurtenances of state power are no longer deemed sufficient to maintain public safety. That only those constitutionally sanctioned to do so can declare a State of Emergency is less important than whether or not the persons so empowered believe that such a declaration will be effective. The declaration of a State of Emergency which cannot be enforced is, in effect, a declaration of war by the State upon its own citizens. Or, to put it another way: the safety of the people can only be maintained by exceptional legal means if the people themselves feel sufficiently threatened to abandon legal norms.

But who, in these situations, falls within the definition of “the people”? Clearly, not everyone can be included if the threat is located within the borders of the state. A nation under foreign attack; responding to a natural disaster; or facing down a global pandemic; will have no difficulty in accepting emergency regulations. Declaring a State of Emergency in the context of a political and/or economic challenge to the smooth functioning of society, however, is a much riskier proposition. Interfering with the free movement of individuals and/or the free disposition of their property in such circumstances can only be made effective by excluding the challenger/s from the usual definition of “the people”. For emergency measures to succeed, such individuals or groups they must first be transformed into “the enemy within”.

This what happened during the last great extended State of Emergency in New Zealand history: the 1951 Waterfront Dispute. The National Party Prime Minister of the day, Sid Holland and his uncompromising Minister of Labour, William “Big Bill” Sullivan, were able to brand the Waterside Workers Union “wreckers” and curtail their rights because the dispute arose in a context that made the demonization of the watersiders and their allies considerably easier than it would have been at just about any other time.

The Cold War had just turned “hot” in Korea. The militant trade unions had walked out of the Federation of Labour and viciously attacked its leaders: a situation which played into the hands of the FOL’s Machiavellian “boss”, Fintain Patrick Walsh. Between 1946 and 1949, the Labour Party, itself, had quite deliberately isolated, vilified and, in at least one instance, deregistered, militant, communist-led trade unions. This vilification, especially of the Waterside Workers Union, had continued on the pages of the country’s newspapers (most effectively through Gordon Minhinnick’s cartoons in The NZ Herald). Holland and Sullivan could, therefore, rely upon Walsh, the FOL and the daily press to back any attack on the WWU. They could also, crucially, be relatively confident that the Labour Party would remain neutral in the ensuing industrial war.

Because it controlled one of the economy’s crucial choke-points, the wharfies’ union had always been vulnerable to a government determined to destroy its power. Any lengthy period of industrial action could be successfully portrayed as constituting a clear and present danger, not only to the country’s exporters and importers, but to the whole community. This was due to the fact that in the 1950s vast quantities of everyday items were still distributed around the country by ship. Holland was able to argue that shutting down New Zealand’s ports constituted a very real threat to the public safety. As a consequence, his invocation of the draconian Public Safety Conservation Act (1932) was held to be justifiable.

It was enough – just – for the majority of New Zealanders to accept the National Government’s comprehensive restriction of their civil liberties, and the harsh persecution of their fellow citizens, that Holland’s quasi-fascist Emergency Regulations permitted. Had the Korean War not been raging; had the FOL not been split; had Labour been less hostile to the trade union left; and had the public been less vulnerable to a protracted shut-down of New Zealand’s ports; then the National Government probably wouldn’t have risked declaring a State of Emergency. But, with all these factors working in its favour, and with its decisive victory in the Snap Election which Holland called to secure the electorate’s ex post facto endorsement of his treatment of the watersiders, the National Party was given ample proof that, for most Kiwis, the famous maxim of the Roman statesman, Cicero: Salus populi suprema lex; the safety of the people shall be the highest law; was indisputable

In the light of New Zealanders’ conscientious adherence to the “Unite Against Covid-19” rules, Cicero’s maxim continues to meet with their approval. Kiwi acceptance of draconian emergency measures cannot be guaranteed, however, in the absence of two crucial provisos: 1) An overwhelming majority of the people must believe that the threat to their safety is real. 2) They must also be convinced that only the imposition of extreme measures will avert a national catastrophe.

Neither of these provisos applied to the political crisis confronting New Zealand in 1981. Invoking the provisions of the Public Safety Conservation Act was a move the Rob Muldoon-led National Government was unwilling to make in relation to that year’s highly controversial Springbok Tour. It knew that there was insufficient support across the whole country for hard-line emergency measures to be enforced without the use of deadly force. Such was the temper of the country in 1981 that the killing of protesters by police or soldiers would only have made the disorder on the nation’s streets ten times worse.

New Zealand history thus confirms that its people are, indeed, the best judges of their own political security, and will make an exception to the rule of law only when they believe their own and their loved ones’ safety is genuinely imperilled.

The Jacinda Ardern-led Coalition Government is the first since 1951 which, confronted with a clear and present danger to the public’s safety, has felt confident enough of their broad support to promulgate a stringent emergency regime of indefinite duration. The New Zealand people’s subsequent willingness to “Unite Against Covid-19” constitutes a ringing endorsement of Cicero’s militant-democratic slogan.

As their own constitutional guardians, the people are uniquely positioned to recognise those (thankfully rare) moments when the only effective means of keeping themselves safe is by allowing their leaders to operate (temporarily) outside the black letters of the law. And woe betide anyone who tries to stop them!



  1. Taiwan acted on Covid 19 in January, we didn’t act until mid March. That’s what “Go hard, go early” looked like. We “Went hard, because we went late”

    Come on Chris, you know the Prime Minister keeps repeating this ‘slogan’ because she knows to “Tell a lie once, and it remains a lie. Tell a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth” that she’s even got you repeating it.

    • So you would have had us locked down in January BG.?
      and back up and running when exactly ? Feb – Before Covid19 arrived .
      Or maybe you would have been quarantining 10,000 a day starting in Jan – How BG?

        • Any suggestions of closing the boarders in either January or February was widely criticised as racist and xenophobic. It wasn’t until months of explaining that both extreme alt right and woke left was finally deradicalised and normal communication could resume.

    • Wow Taiwan, what were their circumstances?
      Were they equivalent to NZs?

      Or, which is quite plain to see are you anti a Labour government and be honest?
      All of your posts indicate that.

      • We have been told and told we went early. Taiwan acted in Jan, we acted in March?

        Can you explain that?

        BTW stick to subject

        • Jacinda didn’t wait till there was thousands of active infections and hundreds of deaths forcing her to get off her arse.

  2. Don’t you love it when the pointy heads come out of the universities and the lawyers stop thinking about money and dust off the old law books.
    Like a robbers dog a desperate National party will be all over this as their only hope to win the election.
    Meanwhile the virus mutates, millions of people around the world lose their jobs and governments print money as fast as the computers can create it.
    The real shit storm hasn’t even started. The world we created is not sustainable. No amount of shovel ready road projects or of warm affordable house building or of worthwhile native tree planting will stop the storm.

    • Peter Hitch: “Don’t you love it when the pointy heads come out of the universities and the lawyers stop thinking about money and dust off the old law books.”

      Don’t you love it when the lefties on this blogsite have hysterics at the very idea of anyone criticising the govt’s actions? I’m an old lefty from way back: this astonishes and disturbs me.

      The bizarre thing is that the law academics in question are, I judge from what I’ve seen and heard, both of a liberal bent. Left-wing, even. Yet here commenters are, jumping all over them for doing what their job REQUIRES of them: to be a critic and conscience of society. I’d be much more concerned, had they stayed silent.

      And it appears that the govt did indeed act outside the powers given to it under the law. This should worry everyone. Had it been the Natz in power, I’m in no doubt that everyone here would be screaming blue murder about it.

      And everyone should be worried about the legislation being pushed through the House under urgency today.

      “Meanwhile the virus mutates, millions of people around the world lose their jobs….”

      Viruses mutate: that’s biology and evolution for you. People are losing jobs because governments are imposing severe restrictions on economies. Not because of the virus per se.

      “No amount of shovel ready road projects or of warm affordable house building or of worthwhile native tree planting will stop the storm.”

      Sez who? The economic catastrophe facing us all is a direct result of how governments have responded to that bloody virus, rather than because of the virus itself.

      If you have a vision of some sort of brave new world which you’d like to see brought into being by government, stand as a political candidate and take your ideas to the upcoming election. Then we’ll see if the voting public agrees with you.

  3. Barry Sopers ‘scoop’ pulled from ZB and The Herald. Barry gets it wrong (again). The guy seems to have a problem with Govt trying to save lives. Malpress this morning bemoaning rules being made up as the situation changes? Not sure what he would prefer. I am rapt with new level 2 rules. Back to work next week for me with capacity to hire my sub contractors to help rather than stick to one man work . My friends in Canada, USA and UK not so lucky. Virus there still appears to be out of control. 3rd world infection rate yet to really kick off. Death toll climbing every day. The right wing says ‘but the law’. I’m hoping for courts to clear this up asap. I don’t think the majority of the great unwashed gives a toss either way. Sort of a ‘I saved your life but broke the law doing it?’

  4. The fact is that they got away with it, regardless of the legal niceties. I think it would be a distraction for National focus on this when there are far fatter, easier targets available.

  5. I would argue that ‘the people’ collectively decided to keep themselves safe in the face of Covid because they were persuaded to by the extremely effective communications (propaganda?) campaign run by the PM and the Ministry of Health. Like all good campaigns of this nature, it played heavily to ‘the peoples’ fears; and still does. By way of example it often uses worse case scenarios to make its point and brushes aside other more positive scenarios eg Italy vs Sweden; more locally, Victoria vs Western Australia. A fearful population under threat always willingly cedes power to ‘the government’.

    Putting aside the legal issues (which I see the government is seeking to rectify next week through legislation), there is a very real problem around all this for the government. As we move move to level 2, more and more of ‘the people’ will defy any efforts to control their behaviour by the government as they start to work out for themselves what is and is not fact vs scare mongering. At which point the government will lose control of the situation if it continues to try and coerce ‘the people’ to accept excessive control of their behaviour by ‘the authorities’

    • Some people just can’t follow rules.
      Think they know better than the experts.
      Usually have a conspiracy theory to peddle.

      • Yea those that dug tunnels under the wall, didn’t follow the rules of an authoritarian state either. Damn them hey!

      • GreenBus: “Some people just can’t follow rules.”

        Give your fellow citizens credit for common sense. They will not follow rules that they deem to be pointless and silly. The wisdom of the crowd and all that….

    • @Ocon People were already freaking out because of the media, and I would argue that forced the government to take the action when it did – more so than the actual medical advice.
      And yes governments often lie to their people and conspiracies are common enough but this is not one of those times. It doesn’t mean they got everything right and it’s obvious they were trying to keep quiet about the health system’s lack of readiness but there is no massive conspiracy here – not this time anyway.
      When level 2 comes people will be happy to have increased freedom and most will stick to the rules as they have through this whole thing – only a minority will think there is anything sinister going on.

    • The “facts” are, many, many people struggled for 9 years under an authoritarian National government.

      • It will take many more than the 2+years Labour has had to correct the “lack of readiness in the health system”, which was severely knee-capped by the National government for nine years, aided and abetted by a Heath Minister – who has since resigned and gone to run a private health conglomerate from which he now profits – by his own wilful neglect of the public health system.

        • Yes many more than 2 years. Govt income will have to increase yet the lower end of the income spectrum will also have to get more.
          Whether the people will follow though and support the new coalition Govt will dictate future direction.
          NACT trickle down bullshit still seems to stick with those who don’t like taxation including of course the off shore investors who run the show.
          Policy matters in Health, Education, undoing of privatisation of Govt and local body services, cutting immigration and visa perks.
          Those areas resonate with the lower income majority.

        • Verity Verdant: “….the health system”, which was severely knee-capped by the National government for nine years…”

          I used to work in the health system. The systematic underfunding goes back a long way: more than 30 years. The last lot simply continued what had gone before.

          I remember sitting in pre-election candidate meetings, at which Labour candidates were urged not to make any further structural changes in the health system, because we were all wrung out from the massive changes we’d been through, the previous several years. So what did the incoming Clark administration do? Change the system. Again….

          All those restructurings took resources of every sort away from clinical services, further damaged morale, and added to the problem of chronic underfunding.

          So here we are. Various statements made in the run-up to house arrest made it clear that the govt’s desire to protect us over-70s wasn’t driven by altruism but by self-interest. There was fear that we’d overwhelm services the govt knows full well are munted, hence the attempt to shut us all away. It was patronising and wrong-headed.

  6. “The safety of the people shall be the highest law”.
    Well, well, well.
    What Cicero was really saying, and what you are repeating here Chris, is that there shall be no law, and that governments may assume arbitrary powers with impunity. You have discovered the origins of fascism in the Roman Republic, as Mussolini did, and you now hail the likes of Cincinnatus and Cicero who explicitly rejected the concept of rule of law advanced by the plebians, believed that murder was a legitimate instrument of politics, and fought desperately to maintain the political dominance of the patrician classes in Rome.
    Your government had a number of choices.
    It could have said to the people “We need the nation to go into lockdown to keep the people safe, but we have no authority to enforce this. For the sake of the elderly and the infirm and for your own sakes, please do what we are requesting of you”.
    For us that would have been no problem. Our community had already promulgated a rahui to contain the spread of the virus. We would have gladly cooperated with a humble and honest New Zealand government request.
    Alternatively, the New Zealand government could have staged a coup, assumed extraordinary powers to which it had no constitutional right, and threatened the people with dire punishments if they failed to obey, while openly acknowledging that there was no legal basis for their actions which were however justified in the interests of public safety.
    It chose neither of the above options. Instead it chose to effect a coup, and threaten the people with fines or imprisonment, while pretending to be acting in accordance with the law.
    In doing so it has lost trust and respect.
    Your invocation of Cicero and Cincinnatus only serves to confirm that we are dealing a party, a government and a regime that inclines to fascism. “And”, you warn, ” woe betide anyone who tries to stop them!”
    Once again you appear to speak and give consent on behalf of “the people”. But by what authority?
    Let me speak for myself and my whanau. We do not accept duplicity in government. We hold to the rule of law and tikanga. We do not subscribe to the doctrines of fascism. We will not be intimidated by fascists, and we will not submit. Ka whawhai tonu matou, ake, ake, ake.
    Naku noa.

    • Well said Geoff.
      And I think the outcome of all of this will be even more draconian legislation giving the government more and more power over the people in the advent of any perceived threat in the future.
      We must be careful that any government in this country whatever their political persuasion does not abuse their position of power.

      • SOB
        Yeah like johnky selling off 49% of our energy giants to overseas investors for a song.
        The referendum showed clearly that Kiwis said no to the sales, but he just ignored that as he was a plant for the purpose of robbing Kiwis of their assets.

    • GF
      That’s a lot of repetitions of the word; “fascism”, in one comment! Really makes me wonder if we mean the same thing by it (personally, I reserve it for discussions of; Mussolini’s Italy, and; Franco’s Spain). Mussolini’s rebranding of Corporatism was inspired more by the Roman Empire than the Republic anyway.

      But Cicero was a Homo Novus Optimates Consul! Which is as unlikely as if; Winston Peters had been chosen by the National Party as successor to Muldoon, despite being Maori. Yes; he opposed the Populares, but that makes him more conservative than totalitarian. Later executed (following banishment) due to his opposition to the assumption of dictatorial power by the (2nd) Triumvirate, in support of the rule of (what was then) law. However, that law did support; a caste system, slavery, infanticide, and rampant militarism – most cultures did then. I forget what province he got governorship of after his time as Consul, I imagine he looted it pretty thoroughly though.

      But he did appreciate books and libraries. So I can overlook a lot of flaws for that. The fact that his words have survived the Millenia means that he does get quoted more than other contemporaries.

      • Forget now: “I forget what province he got governorship of after his time as Consul, I imagine he looted it pretty thoroughly though.”

        At the risk of being characterised as pointy-headed: it was Macedonia. And he gave the province to Antonius Hybrida, in exchange for Hybrida turning against Catiline. So: he didn’t loot it.

        Looting seems in any event not to have been his style: Cicero served as quaestor in western Sicily in 75 BC and demonstrated honesty and integrity in his dealings with the inhabitants. As a result, the grateful Sicilians became his clients, and he was asked by them to prosecute Gaius Verres, a governor of Sicily, who had badly plundered their homeland.” A quote there from Wiki, to refresh my memory. It’s long years since I studied this stuff.

        • Of course we are discussing affairs of a ruling class who had a large “slave” population supporting them. While Romans could expect a lifespan of 35-45 years with luck the slaves lived much shorter lives.

          • John W: “…the slaves lived much shorter lives.”

            Tiro, Cicero’s secretary and amanuensis, was a slave, but long outlived his master, living into his 100th year, according to St. Jerome.

            Tiro, who recorded speeches in the senate, invented a form of shorthand; it was used in the church for centuries and traces of it survive to the present.

            Moreover, he was an author of some note.

            Quite a legacy for a slave.

            • Agreed. Many slaves rose through the ranks depending on ability and opportunity. I mention the large slave base common to Roman society and the Greek city States, as discussion seldom reflects the matters of the ruling class being enjoyed or referenced to the slaves many of whom lived miserable lives in servitude at the whim of their masters.

              • John W: “….the slaves many of whom lived miserable lives in servitude at the whim of their masters.”

                True enough. Their lives were often Hobbesian, though there were always exceptions, of course.

                There was never anything morally justifiable in slavery; fortunately, it’s mostly vanished. Though not entirely, sadly.

                The contribution of slaves to the functioning of those societies was seldom recognised. (Though Cicero did, with regard to Tiro. But not enough to grant him manumission until 53BC.)

                The same could be said of the servants in class societies, such as that in the UK and in much of Europe at that time.

                I was struck by this when I read Edmund de Waal’s book “The Hare with Amber Eyes”. He gives a vivid account of what happened to the Jews of Vienna at Anschluss.

                Later, he notes the fact that the netsuke (among them, the eponymous hare) had been saved from the Nazis by a servant of the household, who gave them to his grandmother after the war. Except for describing how she’d gone about rescuing the netsuke, he makes no further mention of that servant, the risks she took, and her courage.

                Maybe it was edited out of the book, but I’d expected him to have attempted to follow up on her, find out what happened to her.

    • Well written.
      In terms of the government and the current “left” in NZ I wouldn’t accuse them of being fascist but definitely increasingly authoritarian.
      Dangerously they appear to be completely unaware of what they are becoming, being self appointed arbiters of moral rectitude they are beyond reproach.

    • Well Geoff the actions of the govt were propped up by the Health act and a declaration of emergency ostensibly.

      That has yet to be tested in court and until it has we can speculate with or without merit.
      It would be somewhat irresponsible to say they were wrong in taking the action they did but there was confusion about the best way that could have been done.
      The QE certainly played $31 billion straight into the hands of the banks.
      The money would have been better spent directly by govt and increased the money supply with a far greater distribution of cash instead of the money being ploughed into the financial markets to increase the price of assets.
      The reason the banks got the windfall looks very much like a bribe to allow the lockdown.

  7. Interesting re 1951, because the National Govt did in effect mount a war against the people of NZ. Providing support or sustenance to the striking watersiders was prohibited, and those who gave food to the starving wharfees and their families were to be prosecuted for committing a criminal offence. I don’t know whether this occurred, but the National Govt legally coerced a section of the population to “act” against another section of the population.

    My rusted memory says that the army was called in to do the watersiders’ work, and the basis for this was the theoretical economic threat to NZ in not getting our exports shipped off. But the National Govt had no compunction about jeopardising the health of the watersiders – not only big strong men, but families with hungry children, and threatened legal retribution to those concerned about their welfare.

    So the emergency ‘theoretically’, was, unlike the current emergency, presented as primarily an economic one, and the then National govt had no compunction about jeopardising the health and well being of NZ workers, just the way that tiresome Bridges and co are trying to do now, except that far more people are at risk now than were back in 1951, and they are people of every ilk, not just an easily demonised group, and it is patently obvious that so far, this govt has done a pretty good job – as the world can see.

    • We took food to local Wharfies families and gave the kids lunches to take to school. It was a community effort and the wharfies responded with helping out with gardens and whatever they could do to help in return.

      The most viscous govt in that era with the first PM to be born in NZ.

  8. Clearly not thinking of safety, nor growing water restrictions and growing pollution in NZ, with headlines like

    ‘Quite possible’ international students will be allowed into NZ before border opens

    (note overwhelming ‘angry’ Emogi’s on Facebook on Newshub, apparently people’s sacrifice is worth less than the NZ’s fake diploma/degree industry pushing through the scams).

    A quote from Martin Luther King on education

    “If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”

    —“The Purpose of Education” from Morehouse College student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, 1947

    Here is an example of NZ’s education rorts and the harm it is doing to NZ society and the NZ education system being used as a money maker for fraud.

    “Lovepreet Brar arrived in New Zealand from the Punjab on 13 November 2010, less than a month after his 18th birthday. He enrolled in a management diploma at ICL Graduate Business School for 1 one year diploma.

    The main attraction was what came with the education: the opportunity to work while studying, and a path to residency on the other side.

    Brar had one singular objective through all this: New Zealand residency. To become eligible he needed to tick a number of boxes, including English proficiency, a tertiary qualification, and a level of income – as well as a managerial title. So when his former boss at Layaway Depot contacted him to ask why he’d left, he levelled with him about what he needed for his ultimate goal. By the week’s end Brar was a store manager at Layaway Depot Otāhuhu.

    “I applied for my residency and I got my residency sorted in three months.”

    He then went on to make large amounts of money by drivers license frauds and became an Internet sensation after getting caught, before resisting deportation. One of his videos, titled Jail, shows Brar at a mansion surrounded by prestigious cars. He has a wound in his right arm but when the female character gives him first aid, armed with a knife, she appears to remove a bullet.”

    It’s easy to get people of poor character and skills into NZ via student visas, but seems a lot harder and very costly to get them to leave and clean up all their messes they leave behind on innocent people.

  9. Barry Soper admits his original ‘scoop’ was factually incorrect but doubles down anyway with no apology. A true National Party man right from his first question to Winston Peters on announcing the coalition Govt…’do you think she is up to it?’. Herald bothered by a possible censure from Press Council?…nah. ZB worried?..nah. Playing to their base. Misinformation, pessimism and paranoia from the right for the last 3 years has done so much harm to this country in their pursuit of victory at any cost. Credit where credit is due seems to be an unknown concept from those to the right in the media. This time last year it was ‘part time PM” it’s ‘too much PM’. Even my National friends are over it. They may not like Labour but they sure as hell dislike Simon Bridges more. Even Mark Richardson thinks (by extrapolation) that he can do a better job the Bridges.

    • Sean K: “This govt’s excuse has been people went along with it. Well faced with Police what choice did they really have?”

      Exactly. Thanks for that link: sums up the situation.

      Moreover, many people have had the shit scared out of them by hysterical and misleading reportage from overseas. These people appear to genuinely believe that the virus lurks behind every bush, waiting to get them and kill them horribly. It’s next door to impossible to change their perceptions, because the next bulletin of sky-is-falling news just reinforces their terror.

      Yet were the abjectly terrified to just look at the numbers of cases, the bar graphs showing the ages of those infected, those hospitalised, those dead, both here and in Australia, they ought to be reassured.

      Either there is no community spread of the virus, or there is, but nobody’s getting sick enough to go to the doctor. Either way, we have nothing to worry about.

      People just need to get a grip, for heaven’s sake!

  10. Does this sentiment of prognosis work in reverse? Taking the foot off the brake (too early) as it were?
    3 and half months out from the election? What ‘could’ go wrong?

    The strategic calculation of ‘wiggle room’ has been put in play I think.
    Leaving it too late would be a higher risk, if, it all turned to shit just before the election in the middle of winter versus, giving some time to all for a ‘pivot’, or a strategic retreat to L3 or L4? Or in a few weeks if it does turn to shite, and if it doesnt, all good.

    Hmmm …

    • Also to add to this, the Principle of Law should stand, ay? Well thats what the Pakeha say to Maori and have been for 170 years or more … you know, we’re sorry about it, but tough shit, the Law is the Law.
      What they should of done is write it up, the ‘new legislation’ and then signed it off in urgency in Cabinet whilst there wasnt a parliament per se.
      Then they could of informed Simple of what had happened overnight the next day at the Committee. Not rocket science!

      These neoliberals latte labourites just dont have the cunning or courage even. They’d rather choose to be called out and ‘rogered’ publicly for what was, the right thing to do!
      They just went about it the wrong way. Perception is everything in politics ay?

      • I’m guessing that the shutdown wasn’t legal. Just by the way that they’re going into lockdown mode themselves, by not talking to the media about it. The ‘Big Lie’ is in play.

        • Denny many of us are guessing but retrospective legislation may be invoked or the actions taken by govt may be found to be adequately backed by existing legislation along with declarations made just prior to lockdown.

          We will be guessing while some may want to act as judge and jury.
          This whole event is novel and existing legal opinion (whatever that may be ) may take on a new shift in justifying for the greater good.

  11. Who’d be PM, eh? You put in place a series of measures, under legal and medical advice, to save the lives of New Zealanders in the face of a global pandemic that has killed tens of thousands… and some carping ingrate wants to haul you over the coals for it. Next time she should just let everyone die. That way there’d be fewer graceless blowhards left alive to complain about it. Unbelievable. National and their scheming enablers can fuck off.

    • Who’d be PM alright. When they got in Ardern said there’d be working parties and discussions and enquiries and investigations. The loonies said, “STOP THE TALKING, DO SOMETHING, BE DECISIVE!”

      So a pandemic comes up and the big crime was being decisive. The message? “We should have sat round and talked, we should have been consulted, there should have been discussions. This is a dictatorship.”

      And now like eight and nine year old kids and clubs and huts “What were you talking about? What were you whispering? Ummmm, I’m telling Mum on you”. Then, “MUMMMMMM, Jacinda won’t tell us what they’ve been talking about.”

  12. Cindy is going down!,,..down down down, …Cindy’s going down,,,down down down….

    • Lay off the solvents, Ross. It’s playing merry hell with the few cognitive functions you have left.

      • mary-a – I think that Ross could be referring to PM Ardern going down down down in history as an outstanding leader in times of crisis, and acclaimed globally as such.

        I don’t know how long you have lived in New Zealand, but Pakeha men here can be inarticulate oafish clods; historian Jock Philipps has written a very good book about why they are this way. It is probably above Ross Mathews’ head, but with a bit of luck he may just pick up a few social graces before he leaves school.

        • @ Snow White, cheers for your response. Ha ha, Ross Mathews is obviously unable to put together intelligent and reasonable debate, relating to the post at hand. Instead he resorts to petulance and stupidity! Pathetic creature.

      • You are assuming a sense of humor and ability to laugh at self that simply doesn’t exist amongst the woke, Ross.
        In another time and place these people would have been the clergy, well off educated self appointed “elites” who will tell the peasantry how and what to think. The flow of instruction is one way.

        • KCCO
          Really? It’s others’ fault that RM flubbed his punchline? Cable Guy is an old irrelevant Hollywood movie (from the 1990s?), expecting anyone else to share his memory of it, with no preamble, was delusional.

          I did vaguely think of countering with lines from Springsteen’s stalker song. But didn’t, because reference humour is pretty weak even as an aside. As the substance of an entire comment; it’s just embarrassing. Did succeed in derailing the conversation for a while though.

          • I’m sure your chosen humour was much more cerebral and righteous, especially if you aren’t pakeha and male (honorable mention Snow White).
            Thanks for letting us all know you could have done it better but were too cool to do it.
            Is “wokesplaining “ a thing now?

            • KCCO
              More that I just didn’t think that RM was worth the effort. But you at least seem to be able to construct an intelligible argument (even if I may not agree with your assumptions).
              I really hope that “wokesplaining” is your own neologism! “Mansplaining”, “transplanting” & “womansplaining” are surely beating that straw-horse enough already. Not quite as tedious as the”-gate” suffix appended to any political scandal, but nearly.
              Still, I did recently hear someone use the “-splaining” suffix to characterise belittling statements made by their Ex. Which; while inadvertent, did get a slight smile from me (after the initial grimace).

              • I appreciate your good humour Forget Now. Hope you are safe and well where you are.

  13. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like to be truely free.”

    • Great quote from President Ronald Regan repeated by you Ross. And it is exactly what our Prime Minister believes in which is why she is leading the charge to protect the country from the fallout which is COVID-19. Unfortunately, there will always be intellectually barren individuals who choose to damn her no matter what she does for the good of the country, like the old fool on the TV 1 news last night who, when asked about moving down through the restriction levels, said “they’ve wrecked the economy”. Like really? Luckily, he is in the minority. What he doesn’t realise is that the restrictions likely saved him catching the virus and possibly his life because he was obviously in the vulnerable age bracket.

      Anyway, you haven’t answered the question from @mary_a – who are you referring to when you say Cindy?

      • Yes. They are an impressive bunch – all leaders in their field and all skeptical/downright critical of lockdown.
        What I would really like to know (and think the media is very remiss in not reporting) is the comparative statistics with previous ‘flu epidemics – 2017 for example. Even just the average monthly death toll in rest homes would introduce some perspective.
        The epidemiologists I linked to seem to think that this epidemic is not particularly unusual.
        Here is another, Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg – who has decades of experience with viruses, epidemics and their consequences – presenting his vision on the Corona ‘Crisis’. A malignant crisis that is entirely driven by misinformation and panic. :

        • Brewer if you do a bit of digging you may find out a bit more about many of these mouth pieces. Some of what is said is deeply flawed.
          The USA has dozens of them. Old information .

          Not one went into the reasons for the US not making public their pre December flue like cases where symptoms were close to or identical to covid19.
          The virology worlds is waiting to hear.

          • Try digging Professor Wrong about Everything:
            “Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College “stepped back” from the Sage group advising ministers when his lockdown-busting romantic trysts were exposed. Perhaps he should have been dropped for a more consequential misstep. Details of the model his team built to predict the epidemic are emerging and they are not pretty. In the respective words of four experienced modellers, the code is “deeply riddled” with bugs, “a fairly arbitrary Heath Robinson machine”, has “huge blocks of code – bad practice” and is “quite possibly the worst production code I have ever seen”.
            – from an article entitled “Is the chilling truth that the decision to impose lockdown was based on crude mathematical guesswork?”

            • Yup Brewer
              The modelling for impact of a lockdown is a subject for conjecture and will keep business and financier bent politicians busy for ages.
              But the point is missed.

              It was a virus being dealt with.

              The economics are unfortunate but when you have a society with the economics so entangled with massive financial systems and global banks supporting accrual of wealth by a few, then that problem is not to be blamed on a virus. It is an inherently dangerous aspect of capitalism.

              Society was totally unprepared in spite of the many attempts to create awareness and prepare, as well as modify our embedded transport system that can move a virus around the world in a day.

  14. “Grant Robertson avoids confirming NZ backing Taiwan for role at WHO”

    Why can’t Robertson or Jacinda for that matter just answer a straight question put to them?

    • I don’t see anything transparent about gagging people, au contraire, it’s pretty opaque.

      “Why can’t Robertson or Jacinda for that matter just answer a straight question put to them? ” Because only the devil and the Nats make policy on the hoof. Or hooves.

        • BG I didn’t say that I, “have no problem with gagging ministers.” You said it.

          This is an issue about which I currently have no opinion – and I may never have one either…

          It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – I shall gather autumn leaves – dust them with oil – arrange in the carved wooden dish which I bought in long ago Spain – gird my loins – plant some more spuds.


  15. OK so I’ve dropped a few hints and I have referenced a few studies (mainly out of Stanford University) that show that this virus is no more deadly than seasonal ‘flu.
    The origin of the panic is Imperial College London who did computer modeling that predicted a massive death toll.
    Leave aside the fact that the professor responsible, Ferguson, has been wrong about just about everything he predicted previously (Mad cow, Foot and Mouth, Swine ‘flu) and that he believes in his own spiel so utterly that he is happy to break quarantine in order to poddle his girlfriend. It now turns out that the very code used in his computer modeling is massively flawed:
    Don’t get me wrong. As someone in my seventies with other health problems, I fully believe that, should I contract this ‘flu I could well bid you all goodbye. I recommend Buffalo Springfield:

  16. Seems to me Adern and her govt acted on the information as it came to hand, so to do nothing would have gone against Cicero’s maxim anyway in not protecting the people. New Zealanders were not demonized as they were the watersiders back in 1951, that was a shameful treatment of fellow New Zealanders , whereas doing the best this govt could do against a virulent disease, – that’s something entirely different. No one was demonized. It was a cautious necessity. Its also a testament to the sturdy NZ character that relatively few went against these measures. We have a large youth population and its a credit to them also that in general they complied.

    That tells me they were all on the same cautious wavelength and in synch with the govt. Which also implies that the power of the law is in the peoples hands, and of their own free will , accepted these conditions. Which mitigates any notions of any forced loss of civil rights , but rather that of willing compliance for the greater good.

    It is not an unpopular govt that is using its police and military to inflict bodily harm on its own people like we see in some dictatorships, rather , – exactly the opposite , – and with the peoples blessings.

    Any talk of ‘legality’ should surely be weighed against the circumstances at the time and whether it meets with the general public’s approval,- which it did. A simple litmus test would be if this govt DIDN’T do a thing, – and many more had died,… would this have gone against Cicero’s maxim?

    And doing its expected duty of protecting its citizens? And especially with the general consent of its citizens? Personally , I think Adern and her COL govt have acted in a very Churchillian way , – and should be commended.

    I think in many ways, this is a govt we can be proud of. And while certainly not perfect, have shepherded us through a dangerous time and are still doing it.

  17. You know the National Party is going down the gurgler when so many desperate trolls try to push batshit crazy tropes on sites like this!
    Lovin’ it

  18. Haha, the same legislation that the Government used to isolate everyone to keep everyone safe, is the same legislation that the Opposition would have used to force everyone into herd immunity, sell off some more assets and provide tax cuts for the rich.

    • EJ
      Herd immunity – what for Civind19.
      It may not exist but a lot more data on that has to be viewed in hindsight some years down the track

      The last few rounds of tax cuts are what has run down the Health system and many social and environmental policies.

  19. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like to be truely free.”

    Well, Ross Mathews, it is a great quote because of:

    A. the utter hypocrisy of it.

    and because

    B. It us so appropriate to the calamitous times we live in which are to some extent attributable to the incompetent fool who led the ‘free world’ down the path of self-defeating accelerating environmental destruction fueled by the overconsumption of practically everything but especially coal and oi.

    Ronald Reagan overturned the be-honest-with-the-people philosophy of Jimmy Carter (who publicly pointed out America was overly dependent on fossil fuels and needed to implement a nationwide policy of energy conservation and carbon-reduction) and lied to the populace about energy and the environment.

    Ronal Reagan was a great proponent of long-standing US foreign policy of ‘if you disagree you get annihilated’ and was up to his neck in illegal (by international law) interventions throughout the world which resulted in the murder of tens of thousands by agents of the US.

    He was a great proponent of the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. One of the greatest freedoms Reagan promoted was the freedom of corporations to loot and pollute the commons.

    ‘Soon after taking office as president, Reagan began implementing sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed “Reaganomics”, advocated tax rate reduction to spur economic growth, economic deregulation, and reduction in government spending. In his first term, he survived an assassination attempt, spurred the War on Drugs, invaded Grenada, and fought public sector labor unions. Over his two terms, the economy saw a reduction of inflation from 12.5% to 4.4% and an average real GDP annual growth of 3.4%. Reagan enacted cuts in domestic discretionary spending, cut taxes, and increased military spending, which contributed to increased federal debt overall. Foreign affairs dominated his second term, including the bombing of Libya, the Iran–Iraq War, the Iran–Contra affair, and the ongoing Cold War. In June 1987, four years after he publicly described the Soviet Union as an “evil empire”

    He and his partner in crime, Margaret Thatcher, instituted policies that put much of the world on the path to faster consumption of resources and faster polluting of the commons than was already taking place, i.e. a path of quite rapid self-destruction.

    Reagans partner in crime, Margaret Thatcher had the audacity to pronounce TINA -There Is NO Alternative -one of the biggest lies in history, since there were dozens of alternatives, many of which would have generated far better outcomes for humanity than the ‘get fossil fuels out of the ground and burn them as quickly as possible’ policies promoted by Reagan and Thatcher.

    As well as her ridiculous ‘strength-through-depletion] energy policies which entailed getting North Sea oil from under the waters of the North Sea as quickly as possible and burning it (leading to the early peaking in extraction around the year 2000), Thatcher was a great proponent of use of military force to clobber those who challenged Britain’s occupation of distant island territories like the Malvinas -still subject to claim by Argentina but still held by Britain on the basis of occupancy is 9/10 of the law.

    Back to that original quote: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”
    it is abundantly clear to anyone who ACTUALLY LOOKS AT THE EVIDENCE that the freedom given to corporations to loot-and-pollute, the freedom given to banks to continue to expand their mathematically doomed Ponzi schemes, and the freedom given to opportunists to game the system will ensure that children alive today will be the last to witness rampant consumerism so vocally promoted by Reagan, and could well be the generation that witnesses the great die-off that leads to extinction.

    One thing is abundantly clear: the operators of the system -primarily governments acting as agents for banks and corporations- will put a price on everything and know the value of nothing, and will continue to implement policies that make our collective predicament worse whilst doing next-to-nothing to prepare for the ACTUAL conditions that will prevail in the very near future.

    We see that in the words and actions of Jacinda Adern, who is attempting to reopen the economy cautiously (back to some form of loot-and-pollute business-as-usual) and is prepared to sacrifice her own progeny’s future on the alter of commerce.

    ‘The Safety of the People Shall Be the Highest Law’

    I think not. Especially when it comes to the children of this nation.

    The conversion of fossil fuels into waste, the preservation (albeit short term) of banking Ponzi schemes, the preservation (albeit short term) of business confidence, the preservation of the myth of progress, and the maintenance of unjustified confidence in the system and the ability of politicians to mange nature are the highest law.

    • Add to that list the consumption of Non Renewable Natural Resources which lock step with harvested energy use.
      We have used about 2/3rds to 3/4 of what NRNR were available at say 1800, and we are consuming them at a record rate, but not for much longer.
      As industrial activity slows as it is then declines, you wont know what has hit NZ. Just as we ignored the certainty of a pandemic we are ignoring making food secure for Kiwis a few years ahead.

  20. Watch out for those political backstabbers!

    Chris writes: …the Right, in desperation, is attempting to criminalise Jacinda Ardern’s “Go Early – Go Hard” strategy against the Covid-19 Pandemic. Shown the way by a couple of liberal professors, Bridges and his media allies are demanding to know the legal basis for locking down New Zealand.

    Liberal should be a good word. It sounds good, open, thoughtful in a positive way – its derivation shows that it is connected with the Latin word for free. It has been used since 1375. Have we learned much in practicality from all the wisdom about everything derived since that date?

    Words such as liberal, liberty, libertarian and libertine all trace their history to the Latin liber, which means “free”. One of the first recorded instances of the word liberal occurs in 1375, when it was used to describe the liberal arts in the context of an education desirable for a free-born man. Liberalism – Wikipedia

  21. Everything that we do in NZ must be wise because under neolib ideas the wisdom of the masses squeezes out the essence of truth and good outcomes! Hah.

    It just means endless arguments from people whose thinking slides along narrow, concreted tubes similar to very tiny sewers. Our proud country’s shield is headed – Nitpickers and Argufiers Galore – guaranteed liberal arguments – for free. That’s what ‘liberal’ means in NZ. But there is actually a figurative and literal cost. No wonder nothing progressive can be done. As Sir Humphrey said ‘Anything is possible, but nothing must be done for the first time.’

  22. The premise of Trotter’s piece is wrong. The Safety of the People Shall Be the Highest Law?

    The highest law is not the safety of the people. I read fairly widely and know exactly what the highest law is.

    The Highest Law is that National Should Be the Government. There are consequent laws, e.g. the further away from the Highest Law things are, as indicated by political polls, the more hysteria, lunacy and nastiness will prevail. And further consequentials to that, e.g. the rants, desperation will be flowing on places like Kiwiblog making them even more pitiful cesspits than before.

  23. The pearly words of Kikero, entirely inaccurate at the time, but ever after at least the equal of the oppressions of power. Which in his day confined him to immensely resented chain-link adherence to the power moves of the big balls players, Pompey and Keser. Idealistic republicanism immediately sprung up in Augustus’s autocracy on the basis of him and Cato and his rediscovered words were a/the major spark of the Renaissance. The Roman Republic via him was the major inspiration of Jefferson’s American one (dozens of American towns with the name Cicero) carrying lofty ideals and oligarchic reality with it.

    My conclusion from that dear last human person for 1500 years’s influence is the people must lead. We wouldn’t be having an argument about climate change, 10 years out from not being able to do anything, if that were so.

  24. I dont often subscribe to Christ Trotters views but in this case as he points out the declaration of a State of emergency gives a Government power to act to save the people even from themselves. At least that would be my understanding of the state of affairs. When I read that Sbridges was in on this Law Professors suit it became clear how desperate he and his cronies are. It sickens me to read the BS. The Trump Regime declared a state of emergency and did absolutely nothing. The results are glaringly obvious. And thanks to the Ardern Government response NZ has been spared the severity of this disease that other countries have not, including Sweden, who apparently value the economy over the value of human life. And I say this as an older individual resident in NorCal. Still ensconced in ‘shelter in place’ since mid March. And we aint going anywhere anytime soon. So Thank you Chris Trotter for pointing out the obvious. Cheers and stay safe.

  25. From the link provided by you:

    ‘About The UK Column

    ‘The UK Column story began with local residents in Devonport, the historic Royal Navy dockyard area of the city of Plymouth in South West England.
    Fighting against corruption within Plymouth City Council, and motivated by the increasing interference in their community by government backed ’Quangos’, as well as the political charity Common Purpose, local people were unable to get their concerns published by the local press.’

    There is, without a shadow of doubt, corruption, incompetence, power-grabbing and empire-building within city and district councils -both in the UK and in NZ (and practically every other place that has councils). I’ve seen it over and over again, as have many others who have had intimate dealings with such organisations And we have witnessed the non-reporting of that corruption and incompetence by the local press as a matter of policy.

    However, that, in itself, does determine the merits of lockdown versus non-lockdown approaches to containment of pandemics.

    I will remind everyone that long before the true nature of communicable disease was understood (bacteria and viruses) people had worked out that the way to protect themselves and their communities was to go into lockdown.

    In some cases entire cities went into lockdown and banned anyone from entering.

    In the case of small communities, travellers were challenged at the ‘border’ and instructed to go away. In many cases, when infection had been identified within a town or village dwellings were marked crosses or other such markings to identify those deemed to dangerous to associate with, and in some cases doors and windows were nailed shut, causing the many occupants to die of disease isolated, alone and untended for several days before death.

    The merits of lockdown, isolation, the wearing of protective masks and unusual hygiene with respect to Covid-19 (and other coronaviruses) are abundantly clear, with those nations with the most stringent rules having the lowest transmission rates and lowest death tolls.

    Sweden, which proudly extolled the virtues of not imposing lockdown, is now paying a very high price for its deeply flawed strategy. And as for the US, well that us well on its way to becoming a ‘basket case’, with only those states/cities with the most stringent lockdown and social-distancing measures having any semblance of control of the pandemic, whilst those states/cities determined to ‘remain open’ are ticking time bombs that will explode over the coming weeks.

    The answer to the question of ‘who controls the British government’ is the same as the answer to who controls the NZ government or who controls the US government: banks, corporations and opportunists. Those same banks, corporations and opportunists to a large extent control the governments’ response to the pandemic; the more fascistic the society, i.e. the US, the greater the level of control by the banks, corporations and opportunists and the less say [on any matter] the general populace have.

    And, of course, due to the traitorous actions of politicians in the not-too-distant past and the failure of politicians in recent times to address the matter, the greater portion of NZ banks and a large portion of the corporation are overseas-owned and see NZ largely in terms of maximizing the profits can be extracted without ‘killing the host’.

  26. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

    H.L. Mencken

    • Brewer
      Seriously? A Mencken quote? The Nietzschean arsehole who got Ayn Rand published and didn’t believe in mathematics that you couldn’t do on your fingers. Sure; “Scopes Monkey Trial”, but his understanding of evolution, and race in particular, was not really founded in science.

      He claimed that democracy (especially one which allowed; Jews, negroes, women & other “inferiors” the vote) was untenable, and that society should instead be ruled by the naturally superior. That’s who you are voluntarily quoting on TDB as a comment on a Trotter piece?

        • Brewer
          I believe that historical context is important.

          Does it not at all change the value of the quote for you that the; “hobgoblins” were Nazi Germany? And the; “clamoring for safety” was coded opposition to the USA’s entry into WWII (specifically FDR’s lend/ lease strategy – which was admittedly of questionable legality).

          You could have left the quote unattributed if you weren’t yourself appealing to authority (which can be seen as a positive ad hominem; in that it ascribes virtue “to the man”, rather than the more negative usage of that phrase). But I am sure you will refrain from referring to Godwin in any reply; as you are so very shy of ad hominem arguments.

          • In the context of a discussion of the efficacy of lockdown and the reasoning behind it, tell me what point you are trying to make?

  27. If we had closed our borders earlier then there would have been screams but recovery would have been a lot swifter and lockdown at a lower level.

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