Political circus continues as media fails to report on the passing on govt’s draconian legislation

Political circus continues as media fails to report on the passing on govt’s draconian legislation

I cannot even find a news report to tell me the status of this Bill, being passed under urgency, with no public consultation, no media oversight in a Parliament so dominated by the Labour Party that there is no effective opposition.

Summary Of Tyranny In Action. Are You Awake Yet New Zealand?

Voice for Freedom, via Telegram

🆘  Government passes legislation in less than 24 hours to seriously curb the freedoms of New Zealanders without conventional parliamentary scrutiny. https://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2021/0101/latest/whole.html

🆘   Traditionally (although not since Covid) legislation would pass through the House over the course of weeks or months, with public submissions on a bill and redrafting of portions being taken into account.

🆘  Opposition MPs, legal experts, and the Human Rights Commission all condemn the move as poor lawmaking.

🆘  Covid-19 Response Minister Hipkins says “in an ideal world” Parliament would fully scrutinise the legislation.

🆘  National Party’s Covid-19 response spokesman, MP Chris Bishop says the traffic light system and the bill behind it were developed “on the fly” and amounted to a shoddy “massive Government overreach”.

🆘  Dr Dean Knight, a Victoria University law professor, said “It is a constitutional disgrace that the legislation mandating this vaccination regime is being passed urgently this week”.

🆘  Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said anything less than robust scrutiny of the Government’s Covid-19 legislation was “highly problematic both constitutionally and in terms of the state’s human rights and Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations”.

🆘  The Government should commit to a full select committee inquiry into the law AFTER IT HAD PASSED, Hunt said.

🆘  The Ministry of Justice published its advice to Attorney-General David Parker on whether the Covid-19 legislation was consistent with the Bill of Rights Act, the law which protects the rights of New Zealanders. The advice had been prepared in “an extremely short time frame” with A PRIOR DRAFT of the bill, NOT the final version. However, the ministry’s lawyers had determined the proposed law was consistent with the Bill of Rights.

🆘  Amnesty International said “We are deeply concerned to see limited scrutiny on yet another piece of legislation with significant human rights implications”.

Read the Bill HERE

Disgraceful Government Secrecy On Vaccination Certificates As Legislation Rushed Through

 

On the eve of legislation to enable vaccination passes being rushed through Parliament under urgency, the Minister has said it will not publish the relevant policy papers until ‘late January 2022.’

The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties had today finally received a response (PDF) from the Government to its 9 October request for information about the introduction of vaccination certificates. The Minister for Covid-19 Response – also the Minister for Open Government – Chris Hipkins has refused to provide the information requested. The Council sought from the Minister:

  • The advice provided on the NZ Bill of Rights Act and Human Rights Act implications of vaccination certificates;
  • The advice received from the Privacy Commissioner on the topic;
  • The information shared by the government with the events and hospitality sector when it initiated consultation with them in early October; and
  • Details about the design of the vaccination certificate scheme.

The Minister’s response listed the following documents as being key to decision making on domestic vaccination certificates:

  1. Joint Briefing: Initial advice on the domestic use of COVID-19 vaccination certificates, dated 17 September 2021
  2. Joint Briefing: The domestic use of COVID-19 vaccination certificates in high risk settings, dated 24 September 2021
  3. Brief Insights Report – Details on different countries’ approaches to domestic COVID-19 vaccine passes, dated 1 October 2021
  4. Joint Briefing: COVID-19 vaccine certificates – settings for domestic use, dated 14 October 2021
  5. Cabinet Paper: COVID-19 vaccination certificates – implementation in domestic settings [no date given]

The Minister’s response continues:

“I have made the decision to proactively release all decision making documents relating to COVID-19 vaccination certificates, including the above, on the Unite against COVID-19 website (see: covid19.govt.nz). I intend to publish this information by late January 2022.”

The Council’s chairman, Thomas Beagle, described the Minister’s response as “a disgraceful affront to open government and Aotearoa New Zealand’s democracy. It is unacceptable that MPs and the public won’t be able to read these crucial policy documents before considering the legislation to impose the vaccination certificate system.”

Mr Beagle continued, “Ministers have continued to avoid setting out the issues involved in the public health/civil liberties trade-off that vaccination certificates will bring about. The failure to be open and straightforward with the public reflects poorly on a government that likes to boast about high levels of public trust, and how transparent it is.”

The Council notes that not only did the offices of the Prime Minister and Minister for Covid-19 Response miss the fact that the Council had made an OIA request to them (and so replied 3 weeks outside the legal time limit), but the eventual response also fails to comply with the law by not providing any of the OIA’s listed grounds for refusing the request.

The Council infers that the Minister’s intention to publish some of the requested information ‘by late January 2022’ is a refusal under section 18(d) of the OIA, that the information will soon be publicly available. The Council notes that not only does this not count as “soon”, it also notes that the Ombudsman’s guidance on this section says that when refusing under this section the Minister needs to consider:

“Whether, on an objective assessment, the requester needs the information before the planned publication date. Where there is a legitimate reason for urgency—for example, because the requester needs the information to be able to participate in a policy or decision making process on an informed basis—it may be unreasonable to delay release until the planned publication date.”

Mr Beagle said, “It is difficult to think of a situation where there is a greater legitimate reason for making the information available urgently. Section 4 of the OIA specifically says that its purpose is to enable people to effectively participate ‘in the making and administration of laws and policies’, and here we have a Minister – who claims to be a strong champion of open government – thumbing his nose at the law.”

The Council will be lodging an urgent complaint with the Ombudsman about the Minister’s refusal of its request, but holds little hope that the investigation will be completed in time to achieve the effect needed – enabling Members of Parliament to debate the legislation with the information before them.

As Mr Beagle noted when the Council wrote to the Prime Minister and Minister Hipkins, “The government has boasted of its ‘high trust model’ in responding to the pandemic so far. But the decision to require people to show a vaccination certificate to enter businesses, or attend an event, is a major shift away from this. The significant ramifications of the move make it even more important that the government publishes all relevant information immediately. Government secrecy is destructive to public trust in government, at a time when it is needed more than ever.”

References

  1. NZCCL’s letter to the PM and Minister for Covid-19 Response is available on its website at: https://nzccl.org.nz/letter-to-pm-and-minister-re-vaccination-certificates/
  2. The Minister for Covid-19’s response is available on the NZCCL website at https://nzccl.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/C19OIA2021033-Thomas-Beagle_OIA-response.pdf

NZ Moves Forward Into Traffic Lights On Dec 3

 

All of New Zealand will move into the Covid-19 Protection Framework at 11.59pm on Thursday 2 December, making Friday 3 December the first day the traffic light system will be operationalised.

“Cabinet has today provided New Zealanders certainty by confirming the whole country will move into the traffic light system on December 3 – 11 days from now,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Setting the date now gives people, communities and businesses time to prepare to move safely and smoothly into the new traffic light system.

“Decisions on what colour each region will move into will be confirmed on 29 November, giving regions time to drive up vaccination rates further.

“As previously said, Auckland will enter at Red. The settings for other regions will be based on factors like vaccination levels, but Cabinet has already confirmed that no region will start at Green while we are transitioning and managing a current outbreak.

“Later this week, we will release detailed sector guidance so business and other organisations can see how they will operate at each setting of the traffic light.

“While life will feel relatively normal under the new system, which is simpler and safer than the alert levels, it’s time to get prepared to move.

“The number one thing New Zealanders can do is get vaccinated, because the key difference between the two systems is that vaccine passes will shortly be required at places like bars, gyms and restaurants. So download your Vaccine Pass now.

“We’re preparing too, with a trial period for vaccine passes at hairdressers and barbers in Auckland from November 25 to ensure the transition into the new system goes as smoothly as possible the following week.

“Hairdressers have been chosen because by default the scale they operate at, with a limited number of customers at any given time, poses the least risk for the next stage of re-opening.

“Those businesses that participate in the trial must operate with vaccine passes, take bookings only, and all staff must be fully vaccinated.

“The hard truth is that Delta is here and not going away, but New Zealand is well set to tackle it because of our high vaccination rates and our latest safety measures including the traffic light system and Vaccine Pass.

“Our Covid management remains cautious to protect lives and livelihoods – this is the method that has served us so well.

“We’re fast approaching the next phase in our Covid response that delivers more freedoms and recognises the hard work Kiwis have done to get vaccinated,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Amnesty International is not exactly a great defender of human rights unless it concerns other countries such as Russia that the international elite takes exception to.

Amnesty International statement on COVID Legislation Bill

Amnesty International is urging the Government to rethink its approach to passing the COVID-19 Response (Vaccination) Legislation Bill due to serious concerns about the lack of opportunity for public consultation and scrutiny.

We have previously raised concerns about the lack of human rights scrutiny with the Government’s COVID-19 response, especially when introducing new legislation. Adequate scrutiny, particularly for mandatory measures, is essential for both enduring and effective people-centred solutions, as well as maintaining the rule of law.

“We are deeply concerned to see limited scrutiny of yet another piece of legislation with significant human rights implications.”  

Lisa Woods, Campaigns Director, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Amnesty International encourages the Government to place human rights at the centre of all aspects of its response. Rushing through law is not the way to ensure appropriate safeguards, especially when that legislation limits human rights.

We welcome the Government’s recognition of the need to pursue robust, crucial measures that urgently stop the spread of COVID-19. The Government has an obligation to protect the rights to health and life. However any limitations on human rights must meet the principles of legality, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality, and non-discrimination. Evidence of this must be transparent and open to the public.

The Government needs to ensure the Bill includes a range of safeguards, including a clear aim and justification, a specified and limited timeframe, and precise wording on how it will be implemented.

The NZ Parliament has passed this draconian Bill which allows Jacinda Adern and her government to do whatever they like and this is all the media wants to talk about.

How Collins crushed her own leadership

Another one bites the dust.

The expectation was Judith Collins would be rolled by the next election, but it was her own actions that precipitated a pre-Christmas bloodletting.

Judith Collins

Judith Collins Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Once her replacement is elected next week, it will be the fifth National Party leader in four years.

In a late night media release, Collins accused MP and former leader Simon Bridges of “an allegation of serious misconduct relating to [his] interaction with a caucus colleague”; she demoted him and stripped him of his portfolios.

The problem was the timing of the release and questions about her claim Bridges’ demotion had unanimous board support; furthermore some MPs felt it was a hit job on Bridges after he’d once again started to stir the leadership pot. Shocked and blindsided, they filed into Parliament this morning for a special caucus meeting that quickly turned into a vote of no confidence.

The incident in question happened about five years ago, during the lunch break at a caucus meeting at Premier House in Wellington.

Bridges says he was talking with a group of MPs, and at “some point” Jacqui Dean joined the conversation:

“We discussed our wives, our children,” Bridges told reporters,”I can remember talking about the fact I have two boys. And I wanted a girl.

“And I engaged in some old wives’ tales about that, and how to have a girl, and I entirely accept and am regretful of that day, because I acknowledge that some of what I said was clearly inappropriate.”

After being spoken to by then-deputy Prime Minister, Bill English, he apologised to Dean and considered the matter closed.

He was “surprised” by Collins’ “desperate move” and the “very brief, very poor process” where “he had not been informed of what the actual matter was”.

But speaking to reporters after the caucus meeting he seemed pretty chipper, emphasising his lack of confidence in Collins and eager to talk about the personal growth he’d experienced since losing the leadership himself – lining himself up for another shot?

“I want to consider that over the next day or two … I think today in particular I’m an older, possibly wiser guy than I was”.

So that’s a yes.

In a statement, Jacqui Dean says while Bridges’ comments were not about her they were not something she had wanted to hear and they had recently played on her mind.

As for Collins, she left out the front of Parliament today with just a brief goodbye, wishing everyone well and standing by her decision to issue the media release.

No media conference, but a departing tweet saying she knew she was putting her leadership on the line by disciplining Bridges, but it was important for her to back Dean, who’d been caused “ongoing distress”.

Does she regret issuing the statement?: “Never!”, as she jumped into a waiting taxi.

And here we are again, a vacancy in the National Party leadership.

The list of possible contenders becomes ever shorter; partly because it’s a much smaller caucus, partly because they’ve burned through so many in the last few years.

Realistically, Bridges and MP for Botany Chris Luxon are the ones to look out for. Former police officer Mark Mitchell has been loosely in the mix in past contests but has struggled to get the necessary support to get a bid over the line.

Bridges has been trying to rehabilitate himself since losing to Todd Muller last year: the hair, the yak, the book. He’s had time to learn the brutal lessons of being opposition leader, and his combative style might be a better fit in the 2021 political Covid environment.

As discontent with Collins grew, momentum was building behind Bridges but the potential level of support he has now is not yet clear.

While there are some in the caucus who feel he was robbed of contesting last year’s election and should be given another shot, these recent allegations will cast a shadow, and could make some MPs think twice about reinstalling him as leader.

Former Air New Zealand boss Chris Luxon came to Parliament with the dubious “honour” of being dubbed a future leader, and has rolled out his pre-set lines with a smile whenever it comes up (regularly). He has some experienced people advising him but is still a political novice, a virtual unknown, and could risk the same fate as Muller if thrown into the job too soon.

Shane Reti, former deputy to Collins, has not ruled out a tilt himself, but [her as interim leader sees his role now as “shepherding” the caucus through the coming week.

The vote will be held on Tuesday, which will give MPs time to digest the events of the past 24 hours, and consider the future leadership of the National Party.

Who cares?

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