Submission: Covid-19 Public Health Response Act

After complaints that the government rushed through the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act with barely 16 hours for a selected group to make submissions (see ours), the government has now sent it to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee for post-enactment consultation.

The worth of this novel approach is yet to be seen. It is our hope that the law can be amended both for the purposes of responding to Covid-19, as well as providing a better basis for response in any future pandemics or similar emergencies.

We have taken the opportunity to both make an oral submission to the Committee and to further expand on our initial rushed response. In this we:

  • Welcomed the move from using very wide-ranging emergency powers to a law focused on responding to the current pandemic, with the powers moving from unelected officials to elected politicians with parliamentary oversight.
  • Pointed out a number of problems where the law was still too expansive, or gave powers without the protections contained in the NZ Bill of Rights and other NZ laws.
  • Noted the attempts to provide for oversight but pointed out the many shortcomings and omissions.

Our full submission is attached along with our detailed recommendations to improve the law.