Features Australia New Zealand

Covid-19 and the creeping state

Did the New Zealand government act illegally on lockdown laws?

16 May 2020

9:00 AM

16 May 2020

9:00 AM

Undoubtedly we now have a tightly-knit oligarchy running New Zealand, dominated by Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, attracting no more than a third of the votes in the last election. Described as short on real world experiences, Ardern is the darling of our overwhelmingly left-wing commentariat, even more so now the media are largely in the government’s pocket, an allegiance encouraged by a recent $50 million bailout to strikingly biased newspapers, television and radio. When media can dip their hands into the government’s pockets the results are predictable.

I remarked recently to a retired editor friend that photos of the National party leader in opposition, Simon Bridges, inevitably show him talking with his mouth contorted and looking up sideways. Bridges is never shown looking normal, or smiling – in contrast to the prime minister. ‘They’ve got it in for Bridges, all right,’ he remarked. Nor is there any media evaluation of the contradiction between the pro-death, ‘progressive’ Ms Ardern’s marked keenness to make it even easier to kill our unborn children before birth and widen the availability of euthanasia – while imposing nationwide lock-downs to prevent Covid-19 killing other New Zealanders.

Initially, most New Zealanders acquiesced to what has been assessed as ‘the most significant impact on human rights in living memory’, with government imposing lockdown level four. However, the estimated number of deaths of those unable to access hospitals for scheduled cancer, kidney, heart and other urgent surgery and care is apparently going to be far greater than from Covid-19. Reportedly, 20,000 operations and 60,000 specialist appointments have been cancelled. This does not include the mental stress and anxiety of some who may well commit suicide, forced into financial ruin with businesses collapsing nationwide, the loss of jobs and savings being eaten away. A country facing virtual financial ruin is now saying enough is enough. Growing  opinion is that there was no need for the government to strangle the economy as it has, given that the Australians, with similar results, are keeping theirs ticking over.

This is partly because of the scandal arising from leaked Crown Law advice from Bronagh McKenna to the government, including Attorney-General, David Parker, and the present and previous police commissioners, showing that apparently, for the first nine days of the lockdown, our government acted ultra vires – beyond its legal power. The summary stated precisely what powers the police had – advice ignored when told these did not include detaining individuals, entering property, or similarly enforcing the isolation campaign – power exercised by over-assertive police checking on non-essential items being bought in supermarkets; flagging down vehicles to ask where people were going; preventing individuals surfing; playing frisbee in a park or even sitting on a park bench. Crown Law’s advice was that search and surveillance practices would not assist in enforcing the isolation campaign.

However  the attorney-general and police commissioners apparently wanted this kept under wraps, possibly because anyone harassed or arrested by the police for non-compliance issues might now be able to claim damages. Ardern’s government is now accused of breaking its own laws and, by enforcing these illegal actions, behaving despotically. The argument is that the prime minister and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield must also have known the lockdown was illegal, but proceeded anyway. In parliament’s question time the prime minister admitted that she knew about the advice, but intimated it was draft only, constantly referring the issue to Parker, who refused to front up to media questioning. Their defence is that this draft paper was not the final advice, although evidence to the contrary is not forthcoming. The prime minister’s office directing all ministers not to give related interviews brings accusations of gagging and arrogance.

Other issues have arisen in relation to Miss Ardern’s constant exhortations to be kind, compassionate and put teddy bears in our front windows for a reason which escapes me. This compassion was not extended to the lonely, the ill and elderly dying in rest homes and hospitals. She is regarded as having acted far too exclusively on advice from the Ministry of Health and lacking genuine compassion or even understanding of those desperate to say farewell – I love you – and thank you for everything… to dying husbands, wives or parents.

For example, the quarantined Christchurch man pleading to see his dying wife one last time. With no illness symptoms and a letter of support from his GP, his exemption request was repeatedly denied, although he was willing to travel with personal protective equipment and undergo physical distancing. Most New Zealanders think this is outrageous – as with the woman forced to give birth in isolation, without her husband, or the mother allowed only a body bag glimpse of her dead teenage son. However, the feisty Oliver Christiansen, coming halfway around the world to see his dying father, and refused more than once, obtained a court decision making the Ministry of Health back down and  review their procedures, with Ardern belatedly invoking compassion – honoured in theory.

Questions have also been raised about her government’s racist bias in granting $NZ56 million to Maori interests to manage Covid-19 – but only $27 million to the usual accredited welfare agencies. Moreover, with no longer any full-blooded Maori in New Zealand, nor any scientifically-accepted definition, individuals of European descent with as little as 1/8, 1/16, or 1/32 Maori genetic inheritance can and do constantly claim disadvantage – or to manage these handouts. The police have also tolerated illegal roadblocks erected by various part-Maori groups, including gang members. One excuse proffered was that if these were challenged, a larger police presence would be required. So much for mob rule. With the public envisaging quite different action if others set up their own roadblocks, the reputation of our police force for impartiality has not been enhanced.

Wisdom in hindsight is easy. But other valid criticisms, including insufficient flu vaccine available in New Zealand, have been dismissed by the government, However, the huge concern is that we now have an economic catastrophe facing this country – masquerading as a health victory – with the worst of its consequences ahead.

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