Thursday, 16 April 2020

Public needs to see legal advice on lockdown


“New Zealanders deserve to the see the legal basis on which their civil liberties are being severely restricted”, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Today at the Epidemic Response Committee, the Attorney-General refused to allow the public to see the Crown Law legal advice on the lockdown.

“When New Zealand went into lockdown on 25 March, there was significant confusion about what individuals were allowed to do and what powers the Police had.

“It was not until more than a week later that the Director-General of Health and the Police Commissioner issued clear guidance and about the rules that citizens and Police officers were operating under.

“In the intervening period, New Zealanders were being arrested.

“The public needs to know that, during this period, Police were acting within the law and not simply operating on the basis of the Government’s public statements.

“We know Crown Law provided legal advice prior to the Director-General’s section 70 notice and the Police Commissioner’s operational guidelines for Alert Level 4. Former Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the Epidemic Response Committee as much.

“Attorney-General David Parker today told the Committee he would not release the Crown Law advice, even refusing to allow MPs to see it in private.

“The rule of law requires that rules are clear and publicly accessible. The Government has an opportunity to encourage respect for the law by being open and transparent.

“The Government has suspended civil liberties for at least a month. Police have extraordinary powers and a degree of discretion in how officers use them. New Zealanders need to see the legal basis on which the lockdown is operating.”