- Date published:
12:45 pm, April 9th, 2020 - 124 comments
Categories: accountability, campaigning, covid-19, election 2020, immigration, leadership, petition, Politics, same old national - Tags: overseas travel, populism, quarantine
A recent Colmar Brunton online poll showed tremendous public support for the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although 60% thought that the Government had hit the sweet spot, 34% wanted the Government to do more.
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about our border controls and more voices have grown louder for a tightening of checks at the border and mandatory quarantine.
This makes sense when we all make sacrifices, some more than others, to eliminate the virus from our nation’s soil or airways rather. Once it has been defeated, we must take appropriate measures to keep it out.
Clearly, many experts and non-experts alike are keen on tighter border controls especially if this means we can go out of lockdown and return to some level of normalcy. The Government is already planning for this and working out details (e.g. logistics) as this won’t be a small undertaking. But this takes time and this window can be exploited by cynical operators.
The Opposition (AKA the National Party) has the appropriate tools in the form of the Epidemic Response Committee (ERC), which they chair and have a majority representation on, to hold to account and pressure the Government to make the right decisions and tighten border controls, for example. If the public interest cannot be served through holding the Government to account through ERC, e.g. if the Government refuses to play ball (which it isn’t, in this case), or if MPs need to be ‘pressured’ before a vote takes place (which is not the case either AFAIK), then other means can pursued to make sure the voice of the people or a proportion thereof is heard and paid attention to by the politicians. People could write to their local MP, people could start a petition. Et cetera.
However, none of these alternatives means appears to be necessary, which begs the question why National launched a petition calling on the Government to require all people arriving in New Zealand to undergo at least 14 days of mandatory quarantine!? Have they read the articles in MSM and listened to experts appearing before ERC and decided to jump on the bandwagon too so that they can pretend and claim that they ‘pressured’ the Government in doing something that not only makes absolute sense but that it was going to do anyway?
Here is the description of petitions in our parliamentary system:
Petitions are addressed to the House of Representatives and ask that the House do something about a policy or law, or put right a local or private concern.
Given that ERC effectively is the House of Representatives under the current circumstances, it is as if they wrote a love letter to themselves and posted it in a self-addressed envelope with XXXXX.
It is political grandstanding at it most cynical. It is appealing to, not driving, the prevailing public mood and opinion. It is populism at its finest. It is in line with National’s petty attacks on Facebook and Social Media that subtly or overtly undermine our trust in the Government’s efforts to steer us through this unprecedented pandemic. Lest we forget that it is Election Year and the Opposition’s voice has been transformed from a bark to a pip-squeak due to the unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances. How convenient that National has collected over 40,000 signatures within the first 24 hours and harvested names and e-mail addresses (Mobile Phone number is optional) of people who might not even typically vote National. They can expect
propaganda material an e-mail from National in their inboxes.
Some were hoping – I was briefly among them – that our nation pulling together in these challenging times might lead to an end of partisan politics as we have grown accustomed to. This petition dashes these hopes in no uncertain ways, unfortunately. Once life in New Zealand returns to normality, with quarantine measures for all travellers coming into the country, the electioneering will take off like a rocket. We might still be in lockdown but the countdown has already started. In fact, it started 19 October 2017.
PS: It appears that National has voiced through Paula Bennett, Deputy Leader and Campaign Chair, that they want to delay the Election this year. Presumably, they want more time, as if three years is not long enough, and wait for the Government’s and especially the PM’s pandemic halos to diminish and disappear as happened after the Christchurch massacre, for example. Polls must be bad for National.
Addendum added 10 April @ 6:00 PM.
Should I petition Parliament?
Do you have other legal options?
Petitioning Parliament should be your last course of action. If you have other legal options, like going to an Ombudsman or to court, then your petition will not be accepted. This also applies when you have a statutory right of appeal or legal action pending.
Is it a new matter for Parliament?
If your petition is about the same subject as a petition that has already been looked at and reported on by a select committee in the current Parliament, it usually will not be accepted. It might be accepted if significant new evidence is now available. [my italics]