Monday, July 27, 2020

Reported back

The Finance and Expenditure Committee has reported back on its inquiry into the operation of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. As you'd expect, they find that the law was "necessary and appropriate", but would like to see a permanent replacement providing for health emergency powers as the Health Act is showing its age. They recommend a number of minor changes to be put in such legislation (which would be a long-term project, not something happening any time soon), including limits on who may be appointed as an enforcement officer, a Treaty clause, privacy protection and limits on entry into marae. On one of the big controversial issues - warrantless entry powers - they uphold the powers, on the basis of similar clauses in other laws (alternatively: old authoritarian legislation we haven't repealed yet). Though they do also say elsewhere they want better guidance on the "likely to contravene" standard which ultimately underlies those powers as it is is likely to allow police to order people to cease lawful activities (and to kick in their door to do so). But we're not going to see any immediate legislative change as a result; its all for that long-term bill.

The National Party has a minority report saying that the inquiry was a waste of time, but also should have been given to the Epidemic Response Committee where they had a majority. Its another example of their constant wrecking behaviour on this issue, which is turning the public off them.