“Throughout the COVID-19 response the Government has taken a leaf from Steven Joyce’s book, with most of its policies being ‘pretty legal,’ now the hairdresser trial is illegal, and the traffic light system still has no legal basis,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“There is no legal basis for the hairdresser trial. The last update to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 12) came into effect two weeks ago on November 16. Nothing has been updated legally since then.
“If hairdressers can open illegally by Jacinda’s say-so from the podium, then we are now a podiumocracy, where the law is decided by decree rather than due process. If the law doesn’t matter anymore, and hairdressers can open illegally, then why not hospitality?
“The traffic light system is looking similarly lawless. The Government announced the traffic light system five weeks ago on October 22. There is still no legal basis for it. Metaphors about organising festivities in a brewery come to mind.
“At this point, all we have is a page on the website to tell us how the system will work, even though it comes into effect in less than four days. When will the Public Health Order that makes the traffic light system legal be published?
“People need to know exactly who will be covered under what requirements at what levels, who is responsible for checking and what are the penalties for not complying. That’s how the law normally works, you can’t dictate by announcement, at least not in a free and democratic society like New Zealand.
“When the Government mandated vaccination for healthcare workers, it took two weeks to publish the Public Health Order. For two weeks, people in the business didn’t know exactly who was covered, how to check status, or what the consequences were for not complying. The Order, that answered these questions, was only released one week before it came into effect.
“We now face the same uncertainty around the traffic light system. The Government’s disorganisation should not have to be picked up by businesses in the form of extra uncertainty. The Government should use the power Parliament has given it under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act to give business clarity.”