GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – The Law and Morality


A man is walking home late one night when he sees smoke and flames coming out of a window of a house.

He rushes up to the front door. It’s locked.

He throws his body against it and smashes it open. He shouts “Fire! Fire!”

He runs from room to room, wakes the sleeping residents and shepherds them all to safety.

A couple of days later he is served a summons to appear in court .

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It seems the landlord is upset about the damage to the front door and has laid a complaint about it.

Moreover he says that the man did not have permission to be on the property and was not invited into the house and so has charged him with willful damage and trespassing.

Did the man break the law? The Court will decide.

Did he do the morally right thing in rescuing the residents?

Yes, he did.

In Wellington a High Court trial has begun in a case brought by lawyer Andrew Borrowdale against the Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield and the Attorney-General claiming that initial parts of the official lockdown were illegal.

Yes, it’s important the government abides by its own laws and the Court will decide whether it did or not in the Borrowdale case.

Me ?

Whatever the three Judges decide I’m just grateful that Dr Bloomfield and the government acted quickly and decisively to save lives when faced with the sudden and terrible crisis of a pandemic.

The letter of the law and what is morally right, are sometimes two very different things.


Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Sadly, breaking the law is quite normal for government.

    I did a lot of work in connection with the abject failure of local government to abide by the requirements of the Local Government Act 2012, which required councils to plan for future conditions. None of them did (do) and they continue to behave as though resources are infinite, that the effects of CO2 emissions are negligible and that Ponzi financial arrangements are sustainable.

    Even more sadly, when the National Government rammed through the Local Government Act 2012 it removed all the welfare aspects of the Local Government Act 2002! So councils no longer had to consider the welfare of the communities they were supposedly serving, and could get on with the ‘real business’ of looting and polluting the environment, and making short-term money.

    We might consider the abject failure of local government or central government to plan for the substantial sea level rise that will occur of the coming decade or so.

    I believe it was Bill English who pronounced that the “science was wrong” or he “didn’t believe the science” when confronted with an independent report indicating many areas of NZ, particularly around Dunedin, would be under water in a few decades.

    Latest evidence indicates much faster meltdown that was forecast in lying Bill’s time.

    ‘Arctic sea ice could disappear completely within two months’ time

    Arctic sea ice fell by 3.239 million km² in extent in 25 days (i.e. from July 1 to 25, 2020). Melting will likely continue for another two months. If it continues on its current trajectory, the remaining 6.333 million km² of Arctic sea ice could disappear completely within two months’ time.

    Never mind the facts, gotta keep the Ponzi scheme going!

    Even now, as we proceed through the early stages of Abrupt Climate Change, councils concern themselves with dreaming up ways to squander fossil fuels and covert them into life-threatening emissions.

    If you really want to know how rotten the system is, consider the fact that air quality monitoring is done in locations remote from where the pollution actually is and where it impacts people. i.e. on the top of tall buildings, not at 1.5 metres above ground level near roads.

    “It’s all bullshit, and it’s bad for you.” -George Carlin.

    Now in the case you have highlighted, it is clear that rapid action was required to protect people living in NZ from the danger posed by Covid-19, and we should be thankful action was taken when it was (albeit a little late).

    The case taken by Andrew Borrowdale is perfectly valid insofar as politicians should comply with the law, even if ‘the law is an ass’.

    And if the law is an ass, as is so often the case, politicians should be rectifying the situation so it is not an ass.

    What we must never lose sight of is that all law are arbitrary, and many are designed to force us to act against our own best interests but in the best short-term] interests of the ‘owners’ of NZ, i.e. banks and corporations.

    • Your version of truth suffers from having lived in your own bubble for too long, Bryan Bruce has provided a more objective look at the situation.

      • Thanks for the comment.

        I would say your comment very much applies to you, since you clearly have not been out in the real world, nor opened the doors that I have, nor, apparently, have you done much research.

        Is it just another case of shoot the messenger when the messenger delivers news you don’t want to hear?

        Of course, in a free society you are entitled to your opinions -even if they are based on no evidence and are completely wrong.

        In a free society, you have the right to sabotage your own future.

        The moral question is whether you have the right to sabotage everyone else’s, as so many of our so-called community leaders (I could run you off a list of the one’s I’ve had direct dealings with, commencing with Maurice Williamson and Dick Quax, but it would take too long!) have done and still do.

    • Afewknowthetruth –

      “I believe it was Bill English who pronounced that the “science was wrong” or he “didn’t believe the science.”
      It was John Key, speaking to the BBC, I think, who when confronted with with the opinion of Mike Joy, dismissed it, saying that scientists were like lawyers and that he could just as easily find another one to give a different opinion.

      Key’s anti-intellectualism made him the darling of red necks and of media impressed by his money – simple as.

      However English, the boy from Dipton who made it to Dunedin then Wellington cloaked with the moral superiority of Catholicism, may have confused his journey with that of Ulysses, caused social harm, but broke no legal laws while doing so.

      Whether govt did in fact, technically transgressed the law with the lock down, may be of interest to some, but their intent in doing so was to carry out the job which we theoretically elect them to do, and which they are obliged to do, and that is, defence of the realm – i.e. us. In Criminal Law, intent is quite crucial -I assume this one is in Torts.

      Had there not been a lockdown, and had New Zealand been as smitten as some other countries, then I would argue that the govt had failed in its most fundamental legal obligation to the people.

  2. Question to the author. So you would have been perfectly fine if it was John Key, Bill English or Judith Collins forcing home isolation for the entire country, and having the police commissioner threatening public if they didn’t…even if it was illegal for them to do so?

  3. Andrew Borrowdale is one of those clever boy lawyers, obsessed with his own passion for spotting technicalities in a ham sandwich, trying to make a name for himself whilst wasting the country’s time and money.
    He should join the ACT Party.
    They worship worthies like him.

  4. Lawyer Andrew Borrowdale must have the short person and small willy syndrome. Why else would someone make such a pathetic complaint against the authorities for saving countless lives and also avoiding the chaos they’re experiencing overseas. Absolutely smells of the Natz dirty politics.


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