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Parker gives Bridges a lesson in constitutional law

Written By: - Date published: 10:01 am, May 9th, 2020 - 175 comments
Categories: david parker, health, health and safety, law, law and "order", national, same old national, Simon Bridges, uncategorized - Tags: ,

This week Simon got really stroppy and threatened to summons the Solicitor General to the select committee and require him to hand over legal advice that the Government has received concerning the Health Act Covid 19 notices.

I previously wrote this post about Bridges’s behaviour. Short version, it was a stunt, that there is no way any lawyer would voluntarily divulge this sort of information and Bridges ought to know this. I also expressed the tentative view that the legal basis for the notice itself was not secure. Current litigation will provide an interesting challenge to the notice, at least the first one. I am not sure that the Health Act powers were optimised for an all country all areas prohibition.

Simon went on the offensive. Surely it was more important to dot every i and cross every t than to save the country from a pandemic that could have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of kiwis?

This tweet I thought expressed things perfectly.

Some independent commentators/right wing spin doctors thought otherwise.

They would have us believe that instead of using the extraordinary legislative powers the Government currently has to do pretty well whatever it wants the Government would instead engage in activity of dubious legality and risk being found out by not following legal advice. I mean really?

And it is a bit bizarre that the best the opposition and their cheerleaders can do is argue about legal niceities.

I mean have a look at the current position and think of how six weeks ago it could have developed.

And the debate about getting the nicieties of the law perfect deserves this response.

David Parker, who is one of the Government’s seriously capable ministers, gave this rather awkward Facebook live broadcast to rubbish the claim. He is not a social media native. His speech was not enthralling but its content was important and directly on point. What he lacked in pizzazz he more than made up in content.

Following are the essential passages.

On the attacks by Bridges and others he said:

… the tone of some of those attacks has the potential, and is sometimes intended, to undermine public confidence in the measures that we have all taken to stamp out Covid-19. Those measure are vital to saving many lives and important for our economy, but ultimately rely mainly on voluntary compliance and trust in the Police powers to enforce significant breaches  I feel it is proper for me as Attorney-General to make these comments. More so, because we have seen in other countries the impact of public confidence being undermined. I don’t want to see that happen.

On steps taken to date he said:

There is no vaccine, there is no cure, and the health advice was clear. If we wanted to avoid the awful loss of life we saw unfolding overseas, and to prevent our health system being overwhelmed, we should wash our hands, practice good hygiene but most of all we had to keep physically distant from one another.

The measures we took put the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history and closed our borders to overseas travellers in an unprecedented way. Yet together New Zealanders embraced the challenge and as a nation we’ve achieved an extraordinary feat, though we mourn the loss of 21 loved ones.

Our goal of stamping out the virus within our shores has seen the number of new cases dwindle to less than a handful. We had feared for our hospital system. As of yesterday just two Covid patients were in hospital and none was in intensive care. Looking overseas we can see that together we have saved thousands of lives.

He confidently asserted that the enforcement powers were legally based.

Let me say it again, as I have previously, that on the advice we have received from Crown Law there is no gap in the legality of the powers of enforcement under levels 3 and 4.

This issue is the subject of judicial determination and that will be resolved soon. The courts are where – quite rightly – disputes will be determined. 

In relation to Simon Bridges’ privilege stunt he said this:

I … want to highlight the dangerous route the Opposition is taking in targeting public servants. By summonsing to the Epidemic Response Committee the Solicitor General, the Police Commissioner and the Director-General of Health (when they would no doubt have agreed to a simple request to appear) in order to attempt to force the disclosure of privileged legal advice. By doing this the Committee is attacking not just fair process but the privileges of the Court. Legal privilege is not Parliament’s. Parliamentary has its own parliamentary privilege, and it is not for the Courts to remove that. Legal privilege is grounded in the common law. It is the Courts not Parliament that have care of legal privilege. We must both make efforts not to intrude on each other’s privileges. 

The current attack on that is an attack on comity – the constitutional separation of powers – between Parliament and the courts. That constitutional outrage is made worse in my view because it comes at a time when the Crown is facing legal action over the lockdown laws. I should put on record that the Chair of the committee The Honourable Simon Bridges was offered a confidential briefing on the advice and declined. [Own emphasis]

On the legality of the Director General’s orders he said this:

… at a high level the components which the government points to for the legality of the s 70 orders are:  The necessary preconditions (Ministerial authorisation, state of emergency, or epidemic notice) were established at the time each of the orders were made (as stated at the start of each order).  The orders were made by authorised medical officers of health, exercising their discretion personally and based on their expert assessments as to the measures necessary to prevent the outbreak and spread of COVID-19.  Those orders were explicitly made for that purpose.

Relevant public law considerations, including the public health assessments and analysis, were taken into account by the decision-makers before the s 70 powers were exercised. 

There has been some debate as to whether the Director-General could legitimately isolate or quarantine the entire nation under s 70(1)(f) of the Health Act. I consider that subsection is apt to cover a direction to all New Zealanders for isolation and quarantine, with exceptions as mentioned and is not limited to use only in relation to specified individuals. The provision is that persons can be isolated or quarantined (with no statutory pre-condition that they may have or carry the disease), so there is no stretch of language; and this is entirely consistent with the purpose of these powers – which is to prevent the outbreak or spread of infectious disease. 

In relation to Bill of Rights Act considerations he said:

Isolation and quarantine requirements, the general prohibition of outdoor public congregation and restricted access to premises, are all measures that limit our rights to freedom of movement, association and assembly.  To be lawful, they must be reasonable limits that are demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.  This means the measures must serve a sufficiently important objective, and be proportionate (in that they are rationally connected to the purpose, limit the rights no more than is reasonably necessary, and are in due proportion to the importance of the objective).

As I said earlier, there is no vaccine, no cure for this disease and the medical advice self-evidently based on real and recent overseas experience is that left unchecked the disease would cause the death of thousands of New Zealanders and cause serious economic harm.

The objective of the s 70 orders is legitimate and of significant public importance – preventing the spread of Covid-19, eradicating the disease, protecting public health and saving lives, and ensuring the sustainability of our health system.  Given the public health assessment of risks to New Zealand and need for strict compliance to control the spread, I considered and still consider the measures imposed are a necessary and proportionate response.  Preventing the spread of the virus could not be achieved in a less liberty-restricting way, acknowledging that the restrictions have been loosened and tailored as time has passed to reflect the nature and stage of the risk. I am mindful also that there have always been exceptions and exclusions available. 

In relation to legal professional privilege he said:

The purpose of legal professional privilege is to enable legal advice to be sought and given in confidence. The basic principles arise from the public interest requiring full and frank exchange of confidence between solicitor and client to enable the client to receive necessary legal advice.  It is a necessary corollary to the right of any person to obtain skilled advice about the law. People must be able to consult their lawyers in absolute confidence, as otherwise they might hold back information, in fear it may afterwards be disclosed and used to their prejudice. This is why the House of Lords has described legal professional privilege as much more than an ordinary rule of evidence; it is a fundamental condition on which the administration of justice as a whole rests.

So, given that there’s another institution in place that is going to examine the lockdown rules’ legality (the courts), and the institutional value in enabling the crown to receive full and frank legal advice, it probably would be best if the Epidemic Response Committee backed off here. It probably doesn’t need to inquire into this issue, and by doing so it may well do longer term harm to our processes of government.”

Of course legal professional privilege can be waived. On this Parker noted that this had occurred in the past but then said this:

This Select Committee is purporting to take power to themselves to waive privilege. (The committee I would add was set up with the leader of the Opposition as its chair and with a majority of Opposition MPs in a signal by the Government of its willingness to allow scrutiny at a time the House could not sit.)

We have been more open than many countries in this regard and this reflects well on our democracy.

Why did it just target the Crown? Imagine if the plaintiff in the habeas corpus case or other applicants were forced to disclose their legal advice.

Where there is litigation on foot, everyone, including the Government, must be entitled to retain their privilege and defend themselves in Court without any risk of prejudice arising by way of disclosure of privileged communications.

He also referred to a passage from the bible on Parliamentary Practice, McGee’s Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand where it says:

the House has acknowledged that a legal opinion is the property of the person who commissioned it, and that a select committee cannot expect the opinion to be furnished to it without the consent of the owner”.

And Parker wants the Privileges Committee to look at the issue:

In my opinion the current effort to turnover centuries of legal principle is not just unprincipled but may in fact be beyond the powers of the Select Committee. An important matter of comity with the courts, and a matter of constitutional principle is raised. I will be asking the Speaker of the House to refer the matter to the privileges committee to consider.

He also said that he was “not sure that even Parliament has the jurisdiction to do what the Select Committee is seeking to do.”

His concluding comment on the speculation that the Government had been told what what it was doing was illegal:

… recent speculation that our legal advice throws doubt on the legal basis is wrong. It appears to be based on draft views provided to agencies for feedback. That was not the considered advice of Crown Law, which was that there was no gap in enforcement powers.”

The whole episode resembled a learned professor lecturing a first year law student on why his superficial and maliciously motivated proposition was wrong. Take that Bridges.

Next week will be interesting. I am pretty confident Mallard would consider the request positively. The Privileges Committee would then have to gather. And as I noted previously it appears that Mallard has to sign any summons. He could just pocket veto the draft.

This whole event is concerning. In the United States of America constitutional norms are pushed to breaking point for political benefit. And a deeply compromised Supreme Court can be relied on to tilt the playing field in favour of its masters.

Which is why constitutional principles are so important. And why it is appalling that Bridges is willing to trash established notions such as legal professional privilege for political points.

175 comments on “Parker gives Bridges a lesson in constitutional law ”

  1. Yes, I too listened to David Parker. I agree, he’s no whizz kid on social media.

    I know diddly squat about constitutional law (or any other laws apart from avoiding speeding tickets) but I must say his explanation seemed coherent and comprehensive to me, (if a little dry – all lawyers seem the same!)

    As you say, just a stunt by Soimun!

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Bridge's whole approach to this crisis has been a clusterfuck of the highest order. He doesn't seem to have a plan or be able to think much beyond relentless negativity.

    I was watching an interview with Owen Jones on Novara Media (check out their site – https://novaramedia.com/ – I was telling "Ad" that this is my idea of a model for the multi-platform content model for a Standard of the future) and they talked about the pivotal 1945 British general election.UK Labour joined the government with Churchill for the war, then in 1945 campaigned not on attacking Churchill, but on winning the peace.

    It seems to me that if National had embraced the government response, then decided to campaign on winning the peace they'd be in a much better place right now. Instead, the phone is now off the hook for National, Bridges is now widely seen as a joke and their only support is from superannuated ZB talkback Taliban extremists, who seem oblivious to the reality that Jacinda just saved many of their lives.

    • Tricledrown 2.1

      Exclusive Brethren ZB traitors undermining the War we are conducting against covid 19. If this was a War Simple Soimin would be advocating we surrender.

  3. Tricledrown 3

    So Bridges was offered briefings but refused them so he can throw tantrums and waste govt officials time.bullying and intimidating people who have more important jobs to do wasting their time during the most serious emergency since world war 2.

    Making an even bigger Dick of himself .

  4. observer 4

    The irony is quite something.

    For 2 years National's chosen line of attack was that the government didn't act. We had a "part time" Prime Minister (in Simon Bridges' own words). The government had far too many working groups, far too much consulting.

    What NZ needed was a man (sic) of action, sleeves rolled up, taking tough decisions, getting things done. Not wasting time with pointy-heads in committees.

    Come on Jacinda, show leadership and make a decision, dammit!

    Well, they got their wish. And then some.

  5. Tricledrown 5

    No right Wingers defending simple Soimin.only extremist's.

    Now ACT is in serious trouble amid sexual harassment by many senior members.

    Simple soimin has no friends so his cheap stunts to gain cheap political points has left him in a very deep hole which no doubt he will dig deeper.

    [This is a potentially slanderous allegation and you have only two options: 1) back it up with specific details; 2) retract and apologise. I put you in Pre-Moderation until you comply – Incognito]

    • Sacha 5.1

      sexual harassment by many senior members

      Unless you have any evidence, that seems like a reckless claim. We can do better than that.

    • Incognito 5.2

      See my Moderation note @ 11:07 AM.

      • Sacha 5.2.1

        Please feel free to delete my comments along with the allegation.

      • weka 5.2.2

        can it be slanderous if it's this generalised? No-one was named or pointed to specifically.

        Trickldrown's comment is misleading (it's Young ACT, not ACT generally, we don't know how many people were involved). But YACT have accepted there is a problem.

        Ali Gammeter told RNZ she resigned from her role as vice president last night because she had been experiencing innapropriate behaviour for months and nothing was done.

        A Young Act statement admits the incidents were harmful, announces an investigation into what happened, and says those responsible will be held to account.


        • Chris T

          Not sure whether it is actually slanderous or not, but it is utter bollocks given what we know of the situation, and the lack of evidence to back up the claims.

          • weka

            I only know what I've read in that link, and YACT clearly say there is an issue.

            • Chris T

              Yes but not

              "ACT is in serious trouble amid sexual harassment by many senior members."

              If this was the same baseless accusation against senior Labour members, the poster would be biffed for a short while.

              • Incognito

                Prove it!

              • weka

                You need to make up your mind Chris 🙂 Are you saying it's untrue, or that it's defamation, or that there is no evidence, or that TS mods should do something because they would if the accusation was made towards Labour?

                Bear in mind that a mod has already been involved before you commented.

                Also, my memory of when Labour went through this was that the debate raged hotly on TS for quite some time, and lots of views were covered.

                If you are referring to your own ban during that time, you were banned for attempting to spread false facts.

                • Chris T

                  I don't have that big an opinion on it to be honest, as I don't particularly think banning in general is useful unless for something really bad.

                  Ignore me.

                  Missed your message to them by the way.

                  • weka

                    missed my message to who?

                    If you don't have a big opinion on it, then why bring it up?

                    • Chris T

                      Sorry. Was incognito, looking back at it.

                      No reason. Just personal experience of posting a lot tamer things.

                      [This is annoying! We engage with you in good faith and then you pull out after making some ambiguous assertions leaving us with the impression that we were just wasting our time with and on you. Assertions come with burden of proof but all you did, when prompted twice, is making some vague reference to “personal experience”. I can’t be bothered with your games [plural, because you also did it under another Post very recently] of innuendo and plausible deniability and you can take a week off – Incognito]

                    • Incognito []

                      See my Moderation note @ 2:56 PM.

        • Incognito

          I replied in the back-end 🙂

  6. Wayne 6

    These are not normal times, so the usual excuses not to release the SG advice doesn’t hold up. In this case the whole of the govt response, and thus how we have lived in the last 7 weeks, is dependent on that advice.

    It is the same situation as the UK govt ultimately having to release the advice to go to war in Iraq. The advice is central to the governance of the country, not in the same category as say advice for a government legal case.

    i think the government is on a losing path on this issue.

    • Sacha 6.1

      I think a court might test whether or not you are correct.

    • Dennis Frank 6.2

      I'm agnostic, but the legal moves seem like a good game of chess. May the best player win – provided we can see that natural justice has been done. And I use that term in the common (rather than legal) sense. The mallard may duck for cover…

      • Gabby 6.2.1

        I don't like my money being wasted on some 'game' you appear to think is being played for your entertainment.

        • Dennis Frank

          Understandable. Better tell all the other commenters that it's all about how you feel. They seem to be suffering from the misapprehension that legal matters are all about the law & parliament.

    • Peter 6.3

      Of course they're on a losing path. The loud voices will have it that every member of the Government lays down their tools and goes into talkfest mode and legalities and every word in every sentence on every page of released documents should be debated and questioned to the nth degree.

      At the moment the car is travelling down the road, whether that be moving smoothly, careening or heading in the right direction a matter of opinion. The fiercest critics want at the same time it keeps travelling, that the driver, the navigator, the mechanics and those working with them climb into the boot and investigate whether the plugs holding the mats down are doing their job, who put them in, who manufactured them, how long they are going to last …

      It is a stunt from Bridges and being him it isn't even a cunning one. He might be a train wreck but he is hoping like hell he creates a car crash.

      • Wayne 6.3.1

        It is not a stunt. It goes to the core advice that has set the rules for the governance of the country for the last 7 weeks. I would thought that even the partisans on The Standard would recognise that, and that this is not the usual stuff of party politics.

        Not one of you thought it appropriate that the UK Govt resisted releasing the UK Govt's legal advice to go to war in Iraq.

        It is the same principle here.

        No-one is asking the Govt to down tools. It is asking them to release the legal advice and for the relevant people to appear before the committee for an hour. Proper accountability I would have thought.

        By this obstinacy, the Govt is at risk of squandering the level of public support they have had.

        • KJT

          That should be for a court to decide.

          Not Bridges. Who if it turns out to be illegal then he is just as culpable.

          Own goal, I would have thought.

          • Wayne


            It is for Parliament (the Committee) to first ask the Executive, not the Courts.

            The Executive is primarily accountable to Parliament.

            The only way for the Courts to be involved is if the Parliament asked for a Declaratory Judgement on the issue. That could only happen if the Executive has refused to hand over the documents. It would effectively be a judicial review of the actions of the Executive in respect of whether, in these particular circumstances, legal professional privilege could be invoked by the Executive.

        • solkta

          core advice that has set the rules for the governance of the country for the last 7 weeks.

          No, the core advice that set the rules was medical advice. At worst the gummint is guilty of not wasting time and changing the law so that the necessary was nitpick level legal.

          • Wayne


            The government still has to act according to law, even in the most extreme of circumstances. That is the issue here. Not a nitpicking issue at all. In fact it goes to the foundation of constitutional government.

            • Chris

              Yes, but it's not the government's behaviour that's being questioned. It's the legal basis for it. In that sense it's important. Nobody's saying the government shouldn't have done what it has done because it lacked the legal authority. It's about making sure the government, any government, has the statutory ability to deal with these kinds of crises.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              Wayne, if this legal issue is of pressing importance to the health and welfare of NZers, do you think the Honourable Simon Bridges has chosen an optimal path for raising his concerns? IMHO his current political behaviour is the antithesis of constructive criticism. Rather, he gives every appearance of a politician well out of his depth, desperately flailing for a 'gotcha' life-ring while 'colleagues' and NZers in general can hardly believe his lack of self-awareness.

              Compare Bridge's demeanour to other opposition political party leaders around the world, and indeed our PM's skills to those of other leaders.

            • Incognito

              The legal advice may not have been as unequivocal as many seem to think it was. I doubt that it contained a definitive green or red light, legally speaking, perhaps a flashing orange light. In any case, it is non-binding advice and by itself does not determine the legality of the Government’s actions.

            • Macro

              The government still has to act according to law, even in the most extreme of circumstances. That is the issue here. Not a nitpicking issue at all. In fact it goes to the foundation of constitutional government.

              Except, of course, if it is a National Govt. As a couple of examples, I give you:

              in 2011:

              Elevating Property over Human Rights.


              in 2012

              The Electoral disqualification of Prisoners


              And these are not all the instances where the previous govt ran rough shod over the Rights of New Zealanders for no good purpose, apart from their political benefit.

              • KJT

                Not to mention the entire Nicky Hagar saga, the retrospective legalisation of security services breaking the law, the treatment of Kim Dot Comm, and the whole "nudge nudge wink wink" attitude to police illegal gathering of personal information.

        • Sacha

          for the relevant people to appear before the committee

          That attempt of a select committee to usurp legal privilege is being referred to parliament's Privileges Committee. The court case already underway can try summonsing those public servants instead.

        • mickysavage

          The Government has made its decision about releasing the advice. This post is also about Bridges thinking that he can trash parliamentary privilege by abusing the powers of the epidemic committee.

        • Peter

          This is not the usual stuff of party politics? Of course it is. Everything is party politics. It is impossible in this country to have a no-partisan, 'clean piece of paper discussion.' The intent of some to get around the table might be pure the environment is not. The wick to turn anything into something sinister is ready to be lit'

          As far as the rules and expectations for the governance of the country, the essence of those have not changed.

          The mob that didn't want talkfests when the government was elected now want a talkfest about what happened on February 24th, who said what, gave what advice, what conclusions were reached and why and what actions followed.

          I guess the UK Govt didn't release the legal advice it'd got about going to war in Iraq and immediately put the war on the back burner while enquiries and Royal Commissions were held.

          Maybe at 9.00am tomorrow morning Ardern can give the big 'STOP!' to everything and tell us to carry on as we were on January 4th while every piece of paper, bit of advice, discussion and law is gone over in case something untoward happened in an untoward way.

        • Gabby

          Fuck 'em wayn, what makes you think they acted illegally? Put up or.

          • Chris

            Wayne won't do that. His mo is to spray and walk away, crosby-textor style.

            • Incognito

              If I were Wayne, I wouldn’t waste my time on responding to some of the more inane comments coming from flippant or aggressive, biased, partisan, and tribal commenters. Wayne is selective in what he responds to and that’s his prerogative. I value his contributions to discourse more than some of those from self-proclaimed Lefties.

              • Andre

                Yup. His selectivity adds value to what he contributes here. It means it's not just more noise, it's an actual opinion and point of view. I'm pleasantly surprised at how frequently he responds to questions about his take on topics.

                • Incognito

                  Thanks for the support and endorsement of Wayne.

                  I think it takes special character to comment regularly here knowing that you might go ‘against the stream’. They cop a lot of flak and I, as a Moderator, set the bar quite high for them in order to try to lift the quality of discourse, with some moderate and intermittent success, I may add. Although I sometimes often strongly disagree with their views, I do put some effort into keeping them here on the site. In other words, and contrary to generally held belief in some quarters, I’m not in the habit of shutting down dissenting voices, counter-views, or debate in general. None of the people with power here does this, in my opinion!

                  Some commenters, let’s call them right-wingers without trying to sound disparaging, are just shite at putting up a decent argument and maybe they don’t give a shit; some come here to just troll. Unfortunately, the dividing line is not always very clear 🙁

                  • Descendant Of Smith

                    There are plenty of times though Wayne does the spray and walk away and doesn't respond when fairly questioned however. He's not as benign as you would make out.

                    • Incognito

                      I don’t think I painted him as an angel and indeed, he’s selective in his replies, which is his prerogative, as I said. Nevertheless, this site is richer (more diverse) for it.

        • Incognito

          The problem is that Bridges is using the ERC as his personal partisan political platform. Apparently, as the ERC’s Chair he has the sole discretion as to who appears before the ERC. Give that guy an inch and he thinks he’s a ruler. Bridges is not playing by the rules of our Democracy.

        • Wensleydale

          Bridges was given the option of a personal in-depth explanation of the legal advice the government received from Crown Law. He declined, of course, because it's all about rarking up the vested interests and the tinfoil hats who believe Jacinda wants to confiscate their children and redistribute their property portfolios. I don't believe for a moment Bridges is genuinely concerned about how the government went about implementing the lockdown, or what legal advice they used to justify it. This is just Simon trotting about on his latest hobby horse of manufactured outrage because he's about as popular as herpes in a brothel, and he knows it.

          • Chris

            The irony is that he could've mustered some real support by getting behind the government in all of this, shown he was above 'petty politics', that 'these extraordinary times demanded unity as a nation' etc, thrown in the odd 'constructive criticism' here and there but be seen essentially to work with the government 'for the good of the country'. He wouldn't have had to do it forever and he'd go back to "[trying] to hold the government to account" when things settled down a bit, but he blew it. It's good that he did, of course, but he really did blow an opportunity. It would be interesting to know what the advice he received was or whether he shunned that and did it his way. I think it's probably the latter.

    • Tricledrown 6.4

      You know when a child throws a tantrum in the supermarket nobody gives that child any attention as that's what they want.

    • Poission 6.5

      The irrelevance of legal point scoring in a fast moving epidemic (where fast and clear decision making is necessary).

      The simplicity of the action ie quarantine and isolation by lockdown,was the only available solution (and is still)

      The problem is that Bridges et al ( and a number of businesses) are awaking to their irrelevance in the future.

    • Chris 6.6

      Does that make you feel good?

    • mickysavage 6.7

      Why? The matter is before court. Why should the Crown potentially compromise its case by releasing legally privileged information?

  7. Anne 7

    While Bridges doesn't need to voice it because his political and media lackeys are doing it for him, but the intention is to undermine the government's entire Covid 19 response by way of questioning the legality of – and the necessity for – such a lengthy lockdown.

    The underlying message:

    With such a low number of cases and only 21 deaths, we know now that this illegal lockdown was a waste of time. It has done enormous damage to the economy and thousands of people have lost their jobs all in the name of government fear-mongering and incompetence.

    As you say ms – I mean really?

    • Poission 7.1

      There was a low number of cases due to the inconvenient fact,that the constraints worked.

      Five weeks was the minimum needed,and it could be argued that it should have been longer as only around 1% of parents allowed their children to return to school.


      • Anne 7.1.1

        “There was a low number of cases due to the inconvenient fact, that the constraints worked.”

        Yes. That is the point of my comment. Should have put the "message" in inverted commas.

    • observer 7.2

      There is of course a slight problem for National if they now want to claim the lockdown was a) wrong and b) illegal.

      Who said this?

      "In this House and in New Zealand we agree, there's no National or Labour, or Green or ACT or New Zealand First, just New Zealanders. And we should be going to level four lockdown this evening. And we are putting in all the economic resources and investments required to defeat this common enemy. …

      Some will say that the shutdown was an overreaction. I prefer that that was the case because it means people didn't die needlessly. But if the models and the charts and the workings that I have seen, that Jacinda Ardern's seen, that this House has seen are right or even actually half or a quarter right, and if we follow the international examples to date, broadly speaking, level four in shutting down is clearly right."

      March 25, speech in Parliament by … Simon Bridges.

      • KJT 7.2.1

        I doubt if some of the things National did with ECAN, and the like, would survive legal scrutiny.

        Anyway, the entire Parliament are on public record, including National, agreeing with the lockdown.

        In our, albeit only partly written constitution, Parliament is supreme.

      • Tricledrown 7.2.2

        Soimin We are all in this together ,I agree with jacinda,this is the right thing to do etc etc etc

    • KJT 7.3

      The parachute worked.

      So. Now we are supposed to argue about it's size or necessity.

      I think most people can see the lunacy of that.

      It will probably keep lawyers dancing on pin heads at our great expense, for years, though.

      • dv 7.3.1

        That reminded me of this joke.

        Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Pope Francis and a ten-year-old schoolboy are on a plane, that is going down. There are only four parachutes.

        Trump declares, "I'm the smartest person in the U.S.A., the country needs me." He grabs one and jumps.

        Johnson declares, "Britain can't survive Brexit without me," as he grabs one and jumps.

        The Pope declares, "More than a billion Catholics needs me," as he grabs one and jumps.

        Merkel looks at the boy and says, "You take the last one, you have a whole life ahead of you."

        The boys replies, "It's OK, there's two parachutes left, the smartest man in the U.S.A. took my backpack."

      • Incognito 7.3.2

        The parachute may be ok although we could still break a bone when we actually land and/or find ourselves in the middle of a minefield. This is far from over.

        • KJT

          Well. If some people have their way, the parachute will be removed long before we hit the ground.

  8. greywarshark 8

    Can someone give stats on how many lawyers there are in Parliament on both sides? It might be said they have a monopoly, playing polo with our polity.

    With laws first they make 'em, then they break 'em, then they argufy about them, then they villify about them, and the world is merely a giant courtroom and the citizens merely watchers. And then, the ultimate caution, just think how awful it is when there is no law, or no respect for the law (by the citizens). But then also when there is lipservice paid to the law, or, worse, dismissing it by advantagedleaders.

    And so the system creaks on until there is a need for action, outside the prescribed toing and froing of the law, swaying like a preying mantis as it seeks to blend with nature and prepare itself for a pounce. Then the all-powerful law system steps in to argue whether its self-satisfied dominance can be challenged even for a little while. Sudden emergencies can erupt, before there can be a top lawyer to pronounce on soundness contracted at $1000 a day possibly. The law can work against us. I enjoy reading Rumpole by John Mortimer, he dusts off the workings for the reader in a breezy manner.

  9. Reality 9

    If Simon Bridges at least appeared more statesmanlike and had some empathy, rather than the school playground bully, it would perhaps be acceptable to accede to his request. He has got carried away with having some power. He displays a really nasty personality.

  10. Observer Tokoroa 10

    Lets' hear it for Simon Bridges

    He has arrived at a state in which he now knows everything. !

    On top of that, he claims to be some sought of lawyer. Oh Yes.

  11. JustMe 11

    Ironically Bridges appears to be standing next to a statue of an animal that has an orifice at its rear end that passes alot of SHIT(aka Store High In Transit) when it needs to.

    But it does appear Bridges suffers by spewing SHIT verbally at times when he thinks he is more intelligent than others. And it's these times he really does give the NZ National Party a much needed bad name. So keep up making National and you look stupid Bridges because it ensures no-one would ever vote for a National MP who is all SHIT and nothing else.

    Bridges is regularly as an IBS trying to give the impression he knows everything and has an answer for everything. But every time he opens his mouth on the telly you well know why someone was clever enough to invent the TV remote control unit.

    David Lange once said that traffic round-abouts were designed to keep panel beaters in business. The tv remote control was equally invented to stop such Village Idiots as Simon Bridges from assaulting our ears with pointless babble and stupidity. I am sure we will forever be indebted to the inventor of the TV remote control no matter what political party the favorite and not so favorite hark from.

    National truly needs a leader like Simon Bridges to ensure no-one votes for it even at the next election. But when it finally sees the light of day it also needs to be rid of its deputy because the deputy is very much like its leader. There is need for a major head rolling throughout the entire NZ National Party starting from Bridges downwards.

    Bridges deems himself as living an enchanted life on the NZ Taxpayers. He passes his bills eg probably the latest travel costs from Tauranga to Wellington and back onto the NZ taxpayer to pay. Same would also apply to his accommodation costs. He would be no good as a leader of the local Scouts let alone as leader of a political party.

    I do get the impression that in one last attempt at feeble 'upmanship' Bridges in a fit of jealousy is trying to give the impression he cares about NZers when over the past so many weeks he didn't give a toss whilst he was traipsing up and down the N.I. in his VERY OWN 500km 'bubble'.

    Besides why didn't Bridges, if he was a genuine lawyer, make a fuss about the legal ramifications say 7 weeks ago instead of NOW? Is it because he had hoped the Coalition lock down be a failure and since Jacinda has proven to be more popular here in NZ and around the world then Simon Bridges can ever be is reason for him behaving like he is NOW????!!!! Bridges is behaving like a child having a temper tantrum. Oh so Donald Trump.

  12. Chris T 12

    While I agree Bridges is useless, I missed the bit where the oppositions job was to not question the government's actions in major situations, and apparently on here, fade into the background and just agree with everything Ardern says and does.

    I also don't get why people think the opposition is not entitled to see the advice provided to the govt in making them, to see the justification for these decisions.

    "Simon is a bully so doesn't deserve to" doesn't really cut it as a reason.

    • Gabby 12.1

      The opposition could be a tad more consistent now couldn't they. It's not a useful consistency always to screech nonononooo. They could maybe find some principles to base their actions on?

    • I Feel Love 12.2

      Except Bridges is useless at opposition, just coz the govt sez "sky is blue" doesn't mean the opposition party sez "no it's not!!!" esp when the opposition party is already on record as agreeing with said govt decision.

    • ianmac 12.3

      Chris. Do you think in a time of serious threat to NZers, that what we need is some person to undermine actions of the country's leadership? Is it wise to cast doubts in the minds of those who believe that the sacrifices we all made at this time were worth it? In an attack by any enemy does it help for the soldiery to argue with the leadership as the charge into battle? Or rather should we wait until the guns fall silent?

      Those who create doubt will not make the next stage a convincing success.

      • Chris T 12.3.1

        The Covid thing is fading out (with a bit of luck), and there is a pretty much now unwinnable election coming up for them, of course the opposition are going to throw anything they can to change this, in deperation.

        It will backfire obviously as their leader comes across as a prick, but Labour were just as desperate last time in opposition so threw in Ardern and it paid off in a massive way.

        It was what politicians do.

    • Incognito 12.4

      I also don't get why people think the opposition is not entitled to see the advice provided to the govt in making them, to see the justification for these decisions.

      Bridges turned down an offer to be briefed. It is in the OP. It would have taken the oxygen and spotlight away from him so he declined, of course.

      It is obvious that Bridges has been looking for a tiny hole or crack to pry open further. He thinks he’s found one but it may turn out he’s poked his finger into powerpoint and he’s in for an almighty shock.

  13. Ad 13

    Nope I'm on Bridges' side on this one. So far.

    I know he's a dork. I won't ever vote for him.

    But the state is exercising power far and above what it ordinarily does. It needs regular torching for it in a proper democracy.

    I know it's uncomfortable for them, but when public servants are exercising this much executive power, they deserve a roasting regularly. Don't just look at that sweet Director of Health. Look at the Police and NZ Defence Force brass behind him.

    The new problem with the state – even if we like its results like Hayden Donnell does – is that in a crisis it exercises power, and then it never gives it back.

    It's teriffic that our Prime Minister can sustain and expand the state's social license to deprive us of freedom. But that won't last.

    Already people are increasingly impatient and pushing the rules aside. Check out the traffic and the cafe queues today.

    The next step is if the Minister of Finance can sustain that social license with an absolutely massive and long term intervention into the economy. I'm not sure he will, and to do so he needs to be at least as good at it as Ardern.

    A Friday dump doesn't cut it.

    This lot need to open all layers of decisionmaking to public sunlight.

    • Poission 13.1

      In the US where decision making was late,missing,or wishy washy, the population looked at what was being reported,and made a heuristic response prior.


      • Ad 13.1.1

        There must be similar ridership data here from Hop Cards and rider apps.

        • Poission

          Good point,there was also some evidence in internal travel and accomodation,prior to the levels systems.

    • RedLogix 13.2

      The general principle in leadership is that the more urgently an decision needs to be taken, the fewer people you involve in making it.

      In a crisis time is of the essence. If NZ had delayed even by another week, we may well have been looking at the kind of outcome Italy got to.

      That is the justification for the concentration of executive power in an existential crisis like this. While I am no authority on the matter, at first glance it seems Parliament has already anticipated just these circumstances and enacted the necessary legislation.

      • Ad 13.2.1

        But now they need to demonstrate and keep demonstrating that they use these extreme powers only to the minimum needed to do the job. I don't see that yet.

        Even on Friday Ardern was just pleading for more time, more delays, more gradated steps.

        This kind of public mood turns on a dime.

        • Incognito

          This kind of public mood turns on a dime.

          This is what Bridges has been counting on and he’s doing his best to give a ‘helping hand’ to expedite it. With a little help from his friends, of course.

          The virus doesn’t give a shit and to really beat it, we would indeed more time, IMO.

        • Sacha

          they need to demonstrate and keep demonstrating that they use these extreme powers only to the minimum needed to do the job

          Who decides what that 'minimum' is? Libertarians? Marxists? Media blowhards?

    • Peter 13.3

      I guess a 'Friday dump' was terrible. They should have kept hold of the stuff for another three or four days and worn the bullets about not releasing them in the week prior.

      • Ad 13.3.1

        It's good tactics.

        Next week is budget budget budget.

        This stuff is fish and chip wrapper already.

        Let's see what Robertson is made of.

        • Chris T

          "It's good tactics. "

          From Ardern's most open and transparent govt ever.

          • In Vino

            She's right, probably. Can you name a previous Govt that was any more open? You realise that to qualify, she had only to be no less open than any previous Govt. So stop your dumb right-wing whinging.

            • Chris T

              OK. If you think Labour govt's haven't been open and transparent in the past, that is fine.

              Tend to disagree though.

              Clark was as pretty much straight up as you get in politics.

            • Chris T

              Actually apologies for that last post In Vino

              It was twisting your words and un-warranted.

          • Sacha

            The only person who said 'open and transparent' about this govt was Curran. Shortly before she was fired.

        • Paddington

          Ardern, Robertson, Parker are all good operators. They have to be, because what's next is seriously concerning.


          • solkta

            So Henry wants to reopen the tourism industry and start a marketing campaign while still under level 3. Imbecile really is the only word for him.

            • Pat

              anyone know the viewing figures for his show?

              • Paddington

                Well they can't be helped having Davis on. He's a sure fire cure for insomnia.

                • Pat

                  At least then Davis is useful

                  • Paddington

                    Well that's debatable. He's one of the reasons I rate Ardern, Robertson and Parker. They have to do all the heavy lifting for the likes of Davis, Curran, Whaitiri, Clark, Twyford and Lees-Galloway. Gee that's a longer list than I thought when I started the comment!

                    • Incognito

                      You seem a little behind with the times. Curran and Whaitiri don’t have ministerial responsibilities and portfolios anymore.

                    • Paddington

                      " Curran and Whaitiri don’t have ministerial responsibilities and portfolios anymore. "

                      They were idiots who still suck leadership oxygen.

                    • Incognito []

                      Nice backtrack there 😉

                    • Paddington

                      "Nice backtrack there "

                      It's not a backtrack. The better people in the government had to run cover for those idiots, and continue to have to hold up a standard for governing that they failed. The dearth of talent in this government makes me admire the PM even more.

                    • Incognito []

                      It’s ok, I understand where you’re coming from 😉

            • Paddington

              Henry made the Minister of Tourism look like a numpty. So if he's an imbecile, what does that make Davis?

    • Anne 13.4

      A Friday dump doesn't cut it.

      This lot need to open all layers of decision making to public sunlight.

      Which by all accounts they have done so. It doesn't matter that it happened on a Friday afternoon because in this case the Govt. knew every current affairs journalist and news outlet in the country would be slavering over every word looking for a 'gotcha' they could use to either praise or – more likely – condemn the government's actions. They even gave them a whole weekend during a lockdown phase that would ensure lots more people than usual saw their responses.

      I don't mind the "state" exercising intervention and control over the populace at a time like this. I praise them for doing so, and who gives a damn about the legal framework which, when originally passed into law, never envisaged a pandemic of this magnitude befalling us.

      And most important of all:

      Six weeks ago time was of the essence. Bumbling around trying to change what had become an outdated law would have cost lives!


      • Graeme 13.4.1

        Six weeks ago time was of the essence. Bumbling around trying to change what had become an outdated law would have cost lives!

        The Pandemic Plan was last reviewed and updated in 2017, under the last National government. I presume that process would have included a review of all the relevant legislation to check that it was fit for purpose.

    • Paddington 13.5

      Honestly, before your comment I thought everyone here was losing their marbles. After 5 weeks in a level four lockdown, we deserve more than this https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12330745.

      • In Vino 13.5.1

        I fear that we are losing our marbles. Too many of us – especially Hosking, etc, seem to think it is all over – we have won. It is not. The virus still hides undetected at all for two days, then infects other people for 14 days before symptoms become obvious.

        This makes it pretty well invincible. I fear that NZ, Australia etc, are in a very premature victory mood. What we have now is as good as it will get – we will always be two paces behind, trying to track down what seems like a few new infections.

        This Swede may well be right.


        The good news is that Hosking is wrong about economic damage. No significant country in the world is going to escape.

        And climate change is still a far greater threat to our species than Covid19 will ever be.

      • observer 13.5.2

        Instead of reading the op-ed about the e-mail, I suggest reading the e-mail itself.

        The description bears little relationship to the thing being described.

        • Paddington

          Not really.

          "Do not put minister up for any interviews on this," (In the case of many of the ministers I can almost forgive this one).

          "Instead we can dismiss."

          • observer

            Again, that is you copying from a report on the e-mail. Not the e-mail. That simply describes the proactive release of documents, standard practice. It even tells you when it will happen next (after May 29). Who ever gives advance notice of a secret conspiracy?

            But you can't link to the e-mail itself, or won't, because it undermines your point.

            Every government in the world wants to convey a positive message, and use the media to do it. It is literally somebody's job.

            Of course, some do it in the most disgusting way. You really need to read the e-mails from Key's office in "Dirty Politics". I'd help you but I can't link to a whole book.

            • Paddington

              Those are quotes from the email. That's why they are in quotation marks.

              'They were worse' is not an excuse.

              • Incognito

                Your selective quote has lost most context, that’s the point that observer made and you seem to have missed, twice, somehow!?

                Indeed, ‘they were worse’ is not an excuse.

                • Paddington

                  "Do not put minister up for any interviews on this," doesn't need any more context. Given the recent performances of the Health Minister (where is he by the way) and the Minsiter of Tourism, I actually understand the sentiment.

                  • Incognito

                    You’re conflating interpreting, understanding, and concluding.

                    The memo contained a veiled message to and for the recipients, as I said before.

                    • Paddington

                      Thinly veiled. Don't talk. The message is loud and clear.

                    • Incognito []

                      David Clark did get the message, but did you?


                    • Paddington

                      "David Clark did get the message…"

                      He got the message to deflect. And a few bucks reward to throw around. This is the Minster of Health who's sole claim to fame over recent weeks is breachig his own governments rules.

                    • Incognito []

                      At least you know where he was, which seemed to be a burning question for you.

                      I don’t think you got the message so we can be thankful that you are not a Minister of this Government; you would suck too much oxygen away.

                    • Paddington

                      "At least you know where he was, which seemed to be a burning question for you. "

                      Yep, he popped up to throw crumbs and pretend he wasn't being gagged. You can't be defending this guy, can you?

                      I know it’s the taxpayers union, but it is serously funny:

                      “For weeks now, Dr Clark has assiduously isolated himself completely from health policy, media, politics, constituents, the Epidemic Response select committee, mountain biking, being a Minister, daily press briefing sessions, and nighttime spear fishing from a homemade microlight aircraft (although the last one was a work in progress).”

                  • observer

                    "Given the recent performances of the Health Minister (where is he by the way?)"

                    Holding a press conference, putting out statements, answering questions.

                    Tip: the internet can also be used for finding things you don't know about, not just seeking out what you've already decided in your head.

    • Incognito 13.6

      I never thought the “Friday dump” was intended to sustain a social licence but rather to throw the bloodhounds off scent, particularly that yappy one, but Paul the Golden Retriever is still hot on the trail and all he hears is a dog whistle.

  14. mary_a 14

    Simon Bridges has been given some power. It seems he is unable to discuss the present situation rationally and intelligently with the medical professionals involved (namely Dr Ashley Bloomfield et al) and one or two government MPs, all working extremely hard trying to keep NZ safe and ticking over at this time of uncertainty.

    In order to assert his (perceived) superiority, Bridges considers it's his job now to make the present NZ CV19 decision makers appear inferior, in the (mistaken) belief it gives him some state of importance through his position chairing the ERC.

    From what I'm seeing, Bridges is conducting himself as though "his" committee is the Nuremberg trials and those called to be accountable are on trial! A well known sign of weakness and cowardice. And most definitely not the rational behaviour expected from a good strong leader during a challenging crisis (war?) such as we are facing now!

  15. RedLogix 15

    It feels as if Bridges never really stopped being a lawyer; like it's all he really knows how to do.

    Politics already has it's own well established bag of sleazy spin and fuckery, but overlaying them with the whole legal profession's game playing gimmicks just feels tiresome and untrustworthy.

  16. Ian 17

    Parker is an obnoxious opportunist.His performance towards the backbone and saviour of this country in Ashburton before the last election branded him forever. We will always remember him,as a drinking buddy of Winston and a turncoat.

    • solkta 17.1

      backbone and saviour of this country

      Who be that then?

    • Peter 17.2

      Give Parker some credit. He must be a pioneer politician if he is an 'obnoxious opportunist' in that role. No others have been that.

      Apparently he took a whole lot of 'vitriol, bitterness and hatred' to Ashburton.

      Maybe the town could erect a statue to him which the locals could deliver a good kicking to vent their spleen whenever they feel aggrieved. Maybe MP Jo Goodhew could start a Givealittle page to raise funds for it since she comes from a party which has never ever ever had obnoxious opportunists in is ranks.

    • Gabby 17.3

      Was he mean about China?

  17. Frida 18

    "threatened to summons the Solicitor-General to the select committee and require him to hand over legal advice…"

    The Solicitor-General is an extremely capable woman. Una Jagose. Other than that, I agree completely with your post.

  18. Paddington 19

    I rate Parker, but much of his response sounded like an attempt at groupthink. "How dare anyone question civil servants' (not a quote) that kind of bs. Barry Soper did a far better job, and burned Parker in the process, with this https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/opinion/barry-soper-police-response-raises-questions-about-whether-lockdown-was-legally-enforceable/.

    • Dennis Frank 19.1

      Soper: "Is it arrogance or sloppiness?" The latter seems more likely. However the hinge seems to be the difference between the draft Crown law opinion (which the cops deemed unenforceable) and the final version (withheld by Parker but presumably enforceable).

      So the Nat sniffer dogs have detected a discrepancy & are digging to discover what it means. Much ado about nothing, perhaps. Although if the cops did enforcement without authorisation those enforced could get a little stroppy about it…

      • Incognito 19.1.1

        Police had authorisation to enforce the rules. They didn’t just make it up. The question whether the authorisation was given on firm legal basis. The Government seems to think so. Legal brains think that there are questions to answer and clarify. The sniffer dogs don’t think (so) but just keep sniffing, barking, and scent marking.

        • observer

          Police action unlawful? I've no idea, but it sounds familiar …

          Example one

          Example two

          One from Clark's time, one from Key's. And there are plenty more.

          And obviously that is no justification whatsoever. But also obviously … there are no real consequences, for police or politicians. That's why it happens.

          And how did Barry Soper respond back then? By telling us how good PMs Clark and Key were, because they won elections. Ditto most other political commentators.

          Perfectly summed up by dear old John Armstrong …

          He's bad. Very bad. So … he's my politician of the year!

          • Pat

            there are plenty more indeed…i recall it was a reasonably common occurrence post quakes in Canterbury

        • Dennis Frank

          Yes. Your response prompted me to re-read the essay above. In relation to the concept of privilege (redolent of the residual patriarchy). And since the issue is being pitched at the mallard, the official stance:

          "The concept of parliamentary privilege is sometimes misunderstood to mean that politicians acquire personal privileges simply by being elected to Parliament. In fact, parliamentary privilege applies to Parliament as a whole rather than the individual members."

          So, with respect to ideology, it is a class-based system. Gender-equality is now implicit. Enforcement authorised by act of parliament, imposed consequently by cabinet, directed to the public service by ministers. This one then by order of the police commissioner implemented in operations.

          In that downward-cascading chain of causation, it isn't easy to see the weak link that the Nats see as a target. As chess players, not that good, it seems. My guess is that the final Crown law opinion is the target – but why? Parker: "Parliament has its own parliamentary privilege, and it is not for the Courts to remove that." Presumably the court decision will confirm that situation. Did the Nats not consult a legal authority before taking their initiative??

          • Incognito

            I didn’t follow all in and of your comment but Crown Law opinion and legal advice are what they say they are, and they are confidential until that is waved. The Nats are a stunt team with amazing acrobatic agility; their ‘legal challenge’ is akin the actions of that hapless habeas corpus duo – what a bunch of amateurs!

      • Craig H 19.1.2

        Surely if the basis for the police action was unlawful, it would have come out in court at the prosecutions?

      • Paddington 19.1.3

        "and the final version (withheld by Parker but presumably enforceable). "

        Soper responds to the 'draft' issue in the first few paragraphs. If the final version is 'presumably enforceable', whu hasn't it been released? Why release a draft?

        • Incognito

          IIRC, the Crown Law documents were leaked to Newstalk ZB, no less So, the question has to be “why leak a draft?”.

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