Media Release | Government’s rushed COVID-19 Bill denies New Zealanders a say in their own future
“New Zealanders deserve to have a say in their own future, and the Government’s use of urgency to pass the COVID-19 Response Bill without sufficient public consultation is a worrying example of how this Government is betting that public goodwill can be used to cover up its own disorganisation,” says Maxim Institute researcher Danielle van Dalen.
“Public accountability and transparency are cornerstone features of a free and fair democracy. The compressed timeline this Government has set out for the COVID-19 Response Bill opens New Zealand up to the dangers of bad law that has been hurriedly pushed through the parliamentary process, especially law that allows extraordinary powers for government that creates precedent for the way future governments can act,” says Miss van Dalen. “Parliamentary process exists in part to provide the Government the opportunity to find mistakes, hear from the people whose lives would be impacted, consider unintended consequences, and make amendments where necessary so that we are left with the best possible version of those laws.”
“The approach we’ve seen over the past few days has blatantly ignored the reason these processes exist. We recognise that these are unusual times, and that there is a need for some parliamentary processes to move faster than they normally would. However, it is unacceptable for the Government to claim they can’t allow even a day for submissions as they were responsible for setting the timeline for this legislation and choosing the date we would go into Level 2,” says Danielle van Dalen. “Their hands were not tied. This use of urgency and the refusal to allow time for public submission is either intentional, a sign of political opportunism, or simple procedural incompetence—the implications for any of these explanations should be deeply concerning to all New Zealanders.”
van Dalen finishes: “Maxim Institute calls on the Government to seek further consultation of concerned New Zealanders on the COVID-19 Response Bill before pushing it into law.”