On Wednesday morning, Parliament passed the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. Because it was passed under urgency, the Act did not receive the usual select committee scrutiny. But today the government moved a motion to have it scrutinised by the Finance and Expenditure Committee, with a report-back date of 27 July – just a few days before the Act’s first 90-day renewal comes up for a vote.
This is a good move, and I’m glad to see it happen. However, under the circumstances I would have preferred to see it scrutinised by the (opposition-dominated) Epidemic Response Committee – both because of the Act’s subject matter, and because the committee’s membership will mean it will receive far better scrutiny than in the busy, government-dominated FEC. Still, the bill will be looked at, and hopefully the public will be given the opportunity for submissions we were denied when it mattered.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
The Finance and Expenditure Committee is holding an inquiry into the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 which was rushed through Parliament last week, and has called for submissions. Submissions are due by Sunday, 28 June 2020. You can either submit online through the form above, or by posting dead trees to:
Finance and Expenditure Committee
The Act provides a legal framework for necessary public health measures for the lockdown, but it also grants police some highly intrusive powers, without any in-built framework to protect human rights. These aspects have been opposed by both the Human Rights Commission and the NZ Council for Civil Liberties. Hopefully, this post-legislative scrutiny will provide a chance to correct any excesses.