Rushed Covid laws lack accountability

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 13, 2021

The lack of transparency and accountability the Government is operating under as New Zealand responds to Covid-19 cannot continue, says Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand (Transporting New Zealand) chief executive Nick Leggett.

Transporting New Zealand has submitted on the Covid-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill (No 2) which extends the Government’s existing powers until May 2023.

“We are concerned that this is the second time within a relatively short period that the Government has taken the approach of rushing through a broadening and expansion of ministerial powers as it grapples with a response to Covid-19,” Leggett said.

“They did the same with immigration powers in May this year, which we also objected to.

“As we said then, far-reaching ministerial powers should only be considered appropriate, or necessary, in a true emergency situation,” he said.

“The ‘state of emergency’ that filled the early months of the pandemic response early last year should be well over by now.

“Like the rest of the world, we should be given confidence in the strength of vaccination, Covid-19 treatments, rapid testing, vaccination certificates, face masks and other mitigating measures,” Legget said.

“This Bill however, suggests an unclear response or plan; the debacle that is MIQ for years to come; and a move away from the way the rest of the world is now headed.

“As the pandemic will be with us for years, there has to be a move back to normality, rather than fostering fear and exclusion for years to come,” he said.

“We believe, this Bill does not provide sufficiently for transparency and accountability of Ministers and their officials and nor has as the Ministry of Health’s consultation provided sufficient detail to justify these changes.

“We urge the Ministry of Health to seriously reflect on the real issues hampering the effectiveness of the Government’s response and seek to resolve those issues, rather than changing the law.

“In the absence of that, the Government is showing a lack of ambition and real commitment to New Zealand’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”