Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The APEC police state enabling bill

I've joked before about how hosting international summits effectively turns part of your country into a police state for the duration. Well, New Zealand is hosting APEC in 2021, with events throughout the year in Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland. And the government has put up a bill to give itself police-state powers for those events. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC 2021) Bill allows the government to put the army on the streets as "police" with full arrest and search powers, let foreign security staff bring pistols and automatic weapons into New Zealand and use them, arbitarily close buildings, roads and public places, require proof of identification ("papers, please") from anyone wanting to enter, jam WiFi and any other radio communications. Appeals against these decisions are strictly limited, with no appeal against closures, removals or most other decisions permitted. And of course the government will not compensate anyone for the disruption or any abuse of rights.

(Coincidentally, unless Winston explodes prematurely, this will all be happening smack-bang in the middle of an election campaign, with the potential to disrupt access to advance polling places. Oh joy).

But what about the Bill of Rights? The bill overrides it, along with every other Act. There's no BORA vet on the bill available yet, but I expect our supine Attorney-General will rubberstamp it in the name of "security", just like he did for control orders. But we've hosted such events in the past without this sort of statutory violence to our constitution and way of life, so you really have to ask why it is all necessary.

More generally, if the security requirements of hosting such meetings require this sort of sustained violation of of human rights, the price is not worth paying and we should not host them. If Jacinda Ardern wants to wear a silly jacket and hob-nob with the elite, she should do it somewhere else, somewhere which doesn't require her to impose a police state on New Zealanders for the duration. Because the elite's networking and photo opportunities are not worth a single compromise to our human rights, and anyone who tells you they are is simply pushing feudalism.