The New Zealand parliament fast-tracked the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill through legislation, giving parliament unrestrained access and permissions of enforcement without requiring warrants or any legal paperwork to invade homes, “enforce” parliamentary orders, or search and seize under grounds of “reasonable” suspicion of violating mandated safety measures in relation to health or related crises.
The New Zealand Herald did an article pointing out how the bill was voted in via a 63 yay to 57 nay vote.
What makes the bill so dangerous? Well, a quick glance through it over on the legislation.govt.nz site reveals some startling amendments that could end up being easily abused by parliament or appointed “enforcers”.
For instance, under “Enforcement”, section 20 “Power of Entry”, sub-sections 1 – 5 read…
“An enforcement officer may enter, without a warrant, any land, building, craft, vehicle, place, or thing if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person is failing to comply with any aspect of a section 11 order.
“However, subsection (1) does not apply to a private dwellinghouse or marae.
“A constable may enter a private dwellinghouse or marae without warrant only if they have reasonable grounds to believe that people have gathered there in contravention of a section 11 order and entry is necessary for the purpose of giving a direction under section 21.
“A constable exercising a power of entry under this section may use reasonable force in order to effect entry into or onto the land, building, craft, vehicle, place, or thing if, following a request, a person present refuses entry or does not allow entry within a reasonable time.
“Any constable who exercises a warrantless entry power under this section must provide a written report on the exercise of that power to the Commissioner or a Police employee designated to receive reports of that kind by the Commissioner, as soon as practicable after exercising the power.”
In plain ‘ole English, any appointed “enforcer” or constable can break into your home, do a search or carry out other tasks, and then only AFTER carrying out the act are they to right up a report about it.
Also, you’ll notice that there’s an exception to Maori households due to the Māori Council requesting to have the Maori people except from such authoritarian measures.
The article rightly points out that various sects have not been keen on supporting the bill, with the Humans Rights Commission expressing concern over the bill and lack of scrutiny that went into legislating the bill, while the National Party openly opposed the bill.
Barrister Gillian Dempsey also openly condemned the signing of the bill, calling it “totalitarian rule”.
New Zealand is now a police state: police may now enter homes without any warrant. Totalitarian rule reigns there now – provisions like this with no sunset clause are not often reigned in later. Who watches the watchers? https://t.co/vjmELFZmw6
— Gillian Dempsey (@catedempsey) May 14, 2020
A Change.org petition has already been spread around for the Kiwis to sign, and more than 44,000 people have already signed the petition in hopes of getting it repealed.
But we all know that petitions like this are fruitless endeavors in the face of authoritarian rule. With the bill already in place the government has already taken steps toward bringing into reality the dystopian futures featured in films like Equilibrium or Fortress.
(Thanks for the news tip Ebicentre)