Thursday, April 02, 2020

We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey

Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush appeared before the Epidemic Response Committee today, who asked him for the rules police are using to enforce the lockdown. He refused:

Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough.


Bush was questioned about who made the guidelines and exactly when people would find themselves on the wrong side of the police.

"Absolutely agree - the country needs clarity," Bush said.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges said it felt a bit like the "undies, undies, togs" television ad as people didn't know how far they could go before it was inappropriate.

Bridges asked if the guidelines would be made publically available.

Bush replied that it was a "good idea" and said he'd take it away as an action point and consult Crown Law for advice.

And that's just not good enough. We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey - how else can we be expected to obey them? Instead, by keeping them secret, the police seem to be trying their hardest to give themselves space for the arbitrary exercise of power. And that is not going to encourage people to do the right thing.

Meanwhile, my OIA request for those rules, sent three days ago, hasn't even resulted in an acknowledgement yet (most agencies respond automatically, with a manual followup within a day). Which I guess shows how seriously they're taking oversight when they are exercising extraordinary powers.