web analytics

No Right Turn: Parliament and the pandemic

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, March 9th, 2020 - 23 comments
Categories: election 2020, Parliament - Tags: , ,

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn writes:

____________________________________________________________________________

Stuff reports that Parliament is prepared for the pandemic, with face-masks, hand-sanitiser, and plans for fewer sittings and/or fewer MPs physically present in the chamber to reduce contagion risk. All of which is sensible, but then there’s this bit:

Mallard believed the House should sit because if serious issues arose, Parliament would need the ability to legislate.

“I think there’s an accountability thing. Even if it’s only five ministers or five opposition, you have the questions asked and answered. I think this is something which is quite important … the public would expect an accountability mechanism still to be in place.”

He’s right, but there’s an implication here that parliament might not sit. Which would be illegal. If a pandemic is declared, Parliament must sit as soon as possible. This is both for the accountability reasons the Speaker mentions, and because in such circumstances the government gets to temporarily change (non-constitutional) laws by fiat, subject to disallowance by the House (this is basicly what they did for Christchurch following the earthquake, only with better oversight). Which makes that scrutiny even more important – and it is reassuring to see that Parliament is planning to provide it if the worst happens.

For obvious reasons, they can’t change the Electoral Act in this way. We have an election currently scheduled for September, so what happens if the pandemic threatens to stretch out that long? Parliament will have to legislate, assuming there are changes that can be made to make voting during plague easier and safer. Alternatively, the Prime Minister can delay the election until 21 November if required, just by changing her mind about the date – the announced date is just a promise, an intention, with no more force than that; 21 November is the last possible date we can legally have an election. But hopefully it won’t come to that.
____________________________________________________________________________

23 comments on “No Right Turn: Parliament and the pandemic ”

  1. Sacha 1

    Depending how long the pandemic takes to resolve, face-to-face campaigning and public meetings will be affected as well.

    • weka 1.1

      if covid-19 establishes here (likely) I can't see this being resolved by September given we are going into winter now.

      • Sacha 1.1.1

        Even if the election is put off until November, I agree. Online campaigning joy.

        • Poission 1.1.1.1

          millions of hackers globally grounded at home,what could go wrong?

          • Sacha 1.1.1.1.1

            Nats with a hefty warchest and online manipulation team already set up, what could go wrong. 🙂

  2. Paaparakauta 2

    Advertisements for electoral staff have been posted.

    Political perceptions will be shaped by management of covid-19. Chinese cases are apparently falling, but there is a lot of uncertainty.

    The question is – would you prefer Jacinda or Simon in this role ?

    It will be an interesting contest.

  3. Bill 3

    When Chinese cities were placed in lock-down, that was the time when NZ and elsewhere should have placed themselves in lock-down. That's how you avoid shit – isolate before it hits.

    But hey. Cruise ships are coming and leaving Dunedin on a daily basis and flooding the city with thousands of fat wallet tourists. Meanwhile, whole cruise ships have been quarantined elsewhere in the world, and Italy is shutting down entire regions of the country as though they're dealing with the source of coronavirus.

    Parliament can sit or not sit. If this is not another case of "much ado about nothing" like previous bird flu and swine flu scares, then be prepared for the same old litany of bureaucratic incompetence that always rides in behind emergency situations. (Christchurch, Chernobyl, New Orleans, Haiti etc….etc….etc).

    Mind you. At least the buggers have global warming covered. So that's something.

    • Rosemary McDonald 3.1

      "Cruise ships….flooding the city with fat wallets…"

      SNAFU then?

      (I do hope someone is measuring the effect of reduction in air travel. )

    • Paaparakauta 3.2

      It's tough dealing with the unknown and wise to have accurate risk assessment – but we are dealing with a moving target as this novel situation unfolds. We need cool heads, not alarmists.

    • swordfish 3.3

      .

      When Chinese cities were placed in lock-down, that was the time when NZ and elsewhere should have placed themselves in lock-down. That's how you avoid shit – isolate before it hits.

      Yep … and absolutely exhaustive (as opposed to purely symbolic) contact-tracing right at the very start.

      Eg … on the first official case of Covid-19 in NZ (from Iran via Bali) we;re told that:

      “The people who the public health service will be contacting are the people who were in the same row as this individual or the two rows ahead or behind.”

      What about the far larger number of passengers who used the same cabin toilet as her ??? What about airborne transmission ???

      • weka 3.3.1

        Do we think NZ health authorities are a. numpties who haven't thought about such things or b. people experienced and knowledgeable in contagious disease transmission who know what the likelihood of infection is given a range of factors (eg whether the infected person was sneezing/coughing on the flight, how far airborne virus will travel), and make risk assessments based on multiple factors including ones we don't know about?

        Not saying that mistakes can't be made, but I see the issue here as more one of not sharing information with the public adequately. We're also like to see issues in NZ because of successive governments having run down the health system, including the MoH.

  4. bwaghorn 4

    Would it be better to bring the election date forward so we have 3 years of solid government if this virus gets out of hand

    • Paaparakauta 4.1

      Too late. The electoral process is in motion. Have a look at

      https://elections.nz

      Covid-19 is already out of hand, "in the wild" as they say.

      In extremis, a cross-party delegation could petition the Governor General to postpone the election.

      The Chinese have apparently managed to get on top of it, but there could be many more twists and turns to this story.

  5. Ad 5

    All the MPs could be replaced by screens facing each other – welcome to democracy by Skype!

    • Sacha 5.1

      With reliable high-resolution video streaming, why not. And secure, in their case.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Equitable response to Omicron vital
    The Green Party supports the Government’s decision to move Aotearoa New Zealand to traffic light level Red at 11.59pm tonight, but says its success will depend on the support that is made available to the most vulnerable. ...
    19 hours ago
  • How we’re preparing for Omicron
    As countries around the world experience Omicron outbreaks, we’re taking steps now to ensure we’re as prepared as possible and our communities are protected. ...
    4 days ago
  • What’s Labour achieved so far?
    Quite a bit! This Government was elected to take on the toughest issues facing Aotearoa – and that’s what we’re doing. Since the start of the pandemic, protecting lives and livelihoods has been a priority, but we’ve also made progress on long-term challenges, to deliver a future the next generation ...
    1 week ago
  • Tackling the big issues in 2022
    This year, keeping Kiwis safe from COVID will remain a key priority of the Government – but we’re also pushing ahead on some of New Zealand’s biggest long-term challenges. In 2022, we’re working to get more Kiwis into homes, reduce emissions, lift children out of poverty, and ensure people get ...
    2 weeks ago

  • New Zealand to move to Red from 11.59pm today
    All of New Zealand will move to the Red setting of the Covid Protection Framework (CPF) at 11:59pm today as Omicron is potentially now transmitting in the community, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. “Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region are now confirmed as Omicron, and a further ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Mandatory boosters for key workforces progressing well
    More than 5,785 (82%) border workers eligible for a booster vaccination at 6 months have received it so far, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. “That’s a really strong uptake considering we announced the requirement the week before Christmas, but we need to continue this momentum,” Chris Hipkins said. “We ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • NZ to move to Red
    Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region have now been confirmed as the Omicron variant, and a further case from the same household was confirmed late yesterday. These cases are in a single family that flew to Auckland on 13 January to attend a wedding and other events ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • New Zealand to provide further help for Tonga
    Aotearoa New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from a volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. This brings Aotearoa New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million. “This support will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Quarterly benefit numbers show highest number of exits into work
    The Government’s strong focus on supporting more people into work is reflected in benefit figures released today which show a year-on-year fall of around 21,300 people receiving a main benefit in the December 2021 quarter, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said. “Our response to COVID has helped ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Northland to move to Orange, NZ prepared for Omicron 
    Northland to move to Orange Rest of New Zealand stays at Orange in preparedness for Omicron All of New Zealand to move into Red in the event of Omicron community outbreak – no use of lockdowns Govt planning well advanced – new case management, close contact definition and testing rules ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • RNZAF C-130 Hercules flight departs for Tonga as Navy vessels draw nearer to Tongatapu
    A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed Base Auckland Whenuapai for Tonga carrying aid supplies, as the New Zealand aid effort ramps up, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand prepared to send support to Tonga
    New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “Following the successful surveillance and reconnaissance flight of a New Zealand P-3K2 Orion on Monday, imagery and details have been sent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist people of Tonga
    The thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following yesterday’s undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami waves, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says. “Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga,” said Nanaia Mahuta. New Zealand has made an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Record high of new homes consented continues
    In the year ended November 2021, 48,522 new homes were consented, up 26 per cent from the November 2020 year. In November 2021, 4,688 new dwellings were consented. Auckland’s new homes consented numbers rose 25 per cent in the last year. Annual figures for the last nine months show more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Report trumpets scope for ice cream exports
    Latest research into our premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food. Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash has released a new report for the Food and Beverage Information Project. The project is run by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Honouring the legacy of legendary kaumātua Muriwai Ihakara
    Associate Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Kiri Allan expressed her great sadness and deepest condolences at the passing of esteemed kaumātua, Muriwai Ihakara. “Muriwai’s passing is not only a loss for the wider creative sector but for all of Aotearoa New Zealand. The country has lost a much beloved ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Have your say on proposed changes to make drinking water safer
    Associate Minister for the Environment Kiri Allan is urging all New Zealanders to give feedback on proposed changes aimed at making drinking water safer. “The current regulations are not fit for purpose and don’t offer enough protection, particularly for those whose water comes from smaller supplies,” Kiri Allan said. “This ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Planting the seeds for rewarding careers
    A boost in funding for a number of Jobs for Nature initiatives across Canterbury will provide sustainable employment opportunities for more than 70 people, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The six projects are diverse, ranging from establishing coastline trapping in Kaikōura, to setting up a native plant nursery, restoration planting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand congratulates Tonga's new Prime Minister on appointment
    Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta today congratulated Hon Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni on being appointed Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga. “Aotearoa New Zealand and Tonga have an enduring bond and the Kingdom is one of our closest neighbours in the Pacific. We look forward to working with Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • High-tech investment extends drought forecasting for farmers and growers
    The Government is investing in the development of a new forecasting tool that makes full use of innovative climate modelling to help farmers and growers prepare for dry conditions, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said.  The new approach, which will cost $200,000 and is being jointly funded through the Ministry for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Support for fire-hit Waiharara community
    The government will contribute $20,000 towards a Mayoral Relief Fund to support those most affected by the fires in Waiharara in the Far North, Minister for Emergency Management Kiri Allan says. “I have spoken to Far North Mayor John Carter about the effect the fires continue to have, on residents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Manawatū’s ‘oases of nature’ receive conservation boost
    The Government is throwing its support behind projects aimed at restoring a cluster of eco-islands and habitats in the Manawatū which were once home to kiwi and whio. “The projects, which stretch from the Ruahine Ranges to the Horowhenua coastline, will build on conservation efforts already underway and contribute ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago