What on earth just happened?
The Government has backed down on some “extraordinary powers” in a Covid Level 2 law, including switching a two-year limit on the enforcement law to a shorter three-month limit.
It also tweaked references to police being able to enter marae without a warrant, and removed a requirement that only police operate roadblocks — a matter of controversy after community-led roadblocks were set up around the country during lockdown.
The law is required for the Government to enforce Covid-19 Alert Level 2 rules, such as social distancing and restriction on gatherings. The law would give police powers to enter a home without a warrant.
This Level 2 law being rammed through under urgency and with no select committee process whatsoever was supposed to be a response to the messy manner in which the original Lockdown 4 notice was implemented.
It looks very clearly now that the Lockdown 4 powers were ill fitting legislation that didn’t provide the scale required, that’s why the second public health notice was required.
With that recent history you would have thought that the Government would ensure all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed for this new piece of law for Level 2.
You would have thought.
The danger we are in now is sheer fatigue with MPs and public servants exhausted and making stupid errors, because this law provides some extraordinary powers and over reaches of Police power that should have been sorted before the law was written.
This matters because as we just saw today, the NZ Police were caught secretly trialling mass surveillance face recognition powers with no sign off from the Privacy Commissioner or their own Police Boss.
We are giving Police more vast powers when they can’t be trusted with their existing vast powers.
We are currently in a medically induced Police State, and we are in that medically induced Police State with the compliance and agreement of most Kiwis because we all universally get that the rights of the individual sometimes need impeding in extraordinary circumstances such as a pandemic.
There is an enormous good will here and the Government are bizarrely squandering it with self inflicted mutilations like this!
Allowing warrantless searches of our homes is an extraordinary power.
We all understand the need for Police to be able to enter a dwelling if they believe quarantine is being breached, but the intrusiveness of these powers goes well beyond what are currently required with no check or balance.
The Government are clearly rattled and have removed Marae from being specified and have put in a clause whereby a Marae’s committee must be contacted before a search, (but that’s still a warrantless search), and they’ve also dropped the 2 year sunset clause to a much more preferable 3 months.
Good will could still be built here if it is acknowledged that such extraordinary powers could only be used to ensure quarantine and that nothing else discovered during a warrantless search would be admissible evidence for anything else.
The trouble is this was supposed to be the clean up from the original legal mess.
Dumb, really dumb but forgivable given how tired and exhausted everyone is. That’s why law goes through select committee processes so it can be challenged from all sides and allows for better law as the outcome.
Ramming stuff through allows unforeseen outcomes and we are seeing Police try it on all over the place at the moment with laws passed for one purpose being exploited for other agendas.
The problem is that Jacinda & Grant can’t do everything and their Cabinet really needs to pick up the slack here because this cock up was totally preventable.
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