I hope this newsletter finds you well,
If ever I was worried about an influential Green Party in our next Government during these extremely difficult times, it was summed up by Jan Logie, a Green List MP, in a speech last week. It was the first General Debate since Parliament was adjourned so I expected a speech about the need to focus on the environment in all our work to get the country going again, but no! The Greens have 3 proposals:
Firstly getting the fair pay agreement legislation in place “so that industries can set that standard of what is the foundation of fair conditions for all staff across an entire sector, such as supermarkets or security guards or cleaners, …where we’ve got that all sorted and it’s not part of the pressure on business to work out what they can afford and what they can’t; it takes that out of the equation” – Really! Shows no understanding of how business works.
Secondly “for Government – where we have the control of the money going towards somebody’s wages, whether they are contracted to provide security services for Work and Income or whether they are working for a Crown entity or in a community organisation whose primarily funded by Government – to commit to ensuring they are paying enough for all those staff to have a living wage. If we want the living wage, and we’re the ones that have got the money, then I think it’s on this Government for us to be able to do this and make sure that all those staff are properly recognised for the incredible work they are doing in their communities.” I’m not sure she quite knows where “Government” money comes from!
Thirdly – well she ran out of time so we wait with bated breath for this third part of the Green’s plan. Perhaps it will be about the environment?
‘Henry 8th’ law rammed through Parliament under urgency
On Monday at 6pm the Opposition was given a piece of legislation called the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill the Government wanted to put in place before the country entered Level 2 of the lockdown series. That gave no opportunity for any oversight from the public, human rights specialists, the Law Society or legal experts. It was to create a legal framework for 2 years to enable a response to COVID-19 outside of a State of National Emergency. We needed a legal framework to enable the prevention and to limit the risk of contagion – it is now clear that Level 3 and 4 restrictions did not have such a clear legal basis.
However, this piece of legislation went way too far and completely over-rode basic Human Rights.
- The Director-General of Health can make orders covering a Territorial Authority that are needed to prevent the spread of contagion which could relate to people’s actions – where they can stay, who they can mix with, physical distancing, medical examinations etc.
- The Minister of Health can make nationwide orders for the same.
- 2 year sunset clause (National proposed Parliament review the law every 3 months which was accepted)
- Enables police to stop vehicles, close roads and public places.
- Provides police and ‘enforcement officers’ with powers of entry, without a warrant, to enforce orders – any land, ship, aircraft, place or thing if they have reasonable grounds.
- Enables police and ‘enforcement officers’ to close businesses that are non-compliant for 24 hours
- Places ultimate powers in the PM (hence the term Henry 8th) to change any laws (none are excluded like Election Laws) at any time without any reference to Parliament if she is satisfied there is risk of an outbreak of COVID-19.
- The definition of enforcement officers was very broad, National did manage to get it tightened to be anybody employed by Government, or contracted by Government – but there is no recourse except a judicial review, we couldn’t get a right of appeal as part of the process.
Two basic rights were seriously affected;
- The PM last week indicated that safely managed funerals and Tangi could be held for up to 100 people. Monday she reversed that and reduced it to an inhumane 10 people. National tried to get the 100 reinstated and specified in the Bill but all 3 Government parties voted against that. We have started a petition to lift the maximum to 100 to cover funerals and Tangi – you can sign it here national.org.nz/restrictions_on_gatherings
- The basic right to worship was completely overlooked. In the cursory Bill of Rights examination, religious freedom wasn’t even mentioned. Religious worship is restricted to a maximum of 10 people. When queried the PM defended it because people go to church primarily for Fellowship! I’m not sure what else they might go to bars and nightclubs for! How demeaning – I know most people go to worship, and fellowship is a side benefit. But none of the governing parties have much time for religion – and it shows in this legislation!
The 2020 Budget produced some eye watering figures. But so far everyone has focused on Core Crown debt.
Table 2.1 on Page 28 of the BEFU https://budget.govt.nz/budget/pdfs/befu2020/befu20.pdf shows total borrowings reaching $317.3 billion at the end of the forecast period. That figure divided by a population of 5 million is $63,000 for every man, woman and child ($63,460 to be exact).
To clarify the difference between this and the $200bn debt number – the bigger is total public debt and includes debt ‘hidden’ in crown entities like Housing NZ. Money borrowed through that doesn’t count towards the more traditional measure of net core crown debt which is the $200bn number. Traditionally most crown borrowing came through core crown borrowing so it made sense to use this as a measure however Labour have made an art form of moving more and more debt to what we have loosely called off balance sheet debt so it shows up in total borrowings but not core crown debt. Bottom line is its all on the public credit card regardless of which entity borrows it. Scarily this number represents 85% of GDP even if Treasury’s ridiculously optimistic forecasts hold true.
Whakatane has created a whole new way to support and shop with your favourite local businesses! Whakatane Virtual Mall is an online website that allows you to shop retail, order takeaways and browse a selection of services. You can ‘click and collect’ your items or have them delivered, check it out at www.whakatanemall.co.nz A great way to support our local community!
While I hope you are enjoying the freedom of Level 2, we must remember to play it safe! For the most up to date information visit www.covid19.govt.nz