Cape Reinga closure “cultural mumbo jumbo” as authorities puihi foot

Cape Reinga has remained closed (with a gate across the road) since lockdown, with some local Māori saying the area needs to be blessed and cleansed due to Covid-19, because after death people’s spirits travel there to depart to the afterlife.

Tourists are being blocked from visiting Cape Reinga by local Iw, with the puihi footing support of DOC and compliance of NZTA.

Earlier this week National MP Matt King tried visiting the Cape with his wife and parents and a man threatened to “knock him out” if he tried to get past the gate.

NZ First MP Shane Jones has called the claims ‘rubbish” and “cultural mumbo jumbo”.

On Wednesday (1 News):  National MP in confrontation with members of local iwi after being refused access to Cape Reinga

Dozens of tourists are being turned away from Cape Reinga by local iwi, despite tourism and hospitality in the region trying to encourage visitors to the area.

Northland MP Matt King made a video of a confrontation that took place with iwi as he tried to access the location.

“It’s my customary rights and I’m prepared to knock you out if you pass that gate,” a person blocking access says in the video.

Mr King talked to 1 NEWS about his experience.

“This is not about Covid-19, they gave me a range of reasons as to why the road was blocked. One was that DOC was doing maintenance up there, then they said it was their land.

“Northland is a beautiful place with beautiful people in it and we’ve got a lot to offer and I just want to see the roadblocks taken down and us just getting back to business”.

Ngāti Kuri says that is what it wants too, but first the sacred site must be cleansed. Māori tradition holds that after death spirits travel there to depart.

“There is a responsibility and obligation and opportunity to move us through to Level 1 by having an appropriate opening so spirits can move toward te rerenga wairua,” Harry Burkhardt of Ngāti Kuri says.

NZTA say its working with the iwi and the Department of Conservation who are restricting access until facilities are cleaned.

“Working with” appears to be allowing the road block to continue as long as those involved from Ngāti Kuri choose.

DOC fully supports Ngāti Kuri’s management of the area and says it’s working to undertake physical safety checks at the site, including walking trails, campgrounds and facilities.

A reopening ceremony will take place on May 29.

Also from NZ Herald:  `This isn’t about Covid 19′

Northland MP Matt King set off for Cape Rēinga, with his wife and parents, on Tuesday, but he didn’t get there. State Highway 1 was blocked several kilometres south of the cape, and the four people manning it had no intention of letting him past.

“I got them to admit that it was about Māori land. They told me they owned the land, and they weren’t going to let me past.”

One of those manning the gate, he said, had threatened to knock him out, while another said one phone call would bring 500 reinforcements to the gate, and that they would “eat me alive”.

A police officer was present, but did not intervene, and left when King did, following him south. (Police have given an undertaking that officers will be present at every Covid-19 checkpoint).

“He said he had been told not to take action, so he was in an impossible position, but his role had been to keep the peace. If he hadn’t been there it could have become quite ugly.”

King said he had been contacted by numerous people, including tour operators, who were concerned and upset by the road closure.

Most of them were afraid to speak publicly, so he was speaking for them.

Shane Jones never seems afraid to speak, even when criticising Māori.

Saturday (1 News): Shane Jones calls iwi’s reason for barring access to Cape Reinga ‘cultural mumbo jumbo’

“Cape Reinga has been hijacked by Ngāti Kuri and their cultural mumbo jumbo,” says Shane Jones.

“This notion that the spirits need to slumber post Covid is rubbish, this notion that the spirits are travelling to Cape Reinga to hibernate.”

The MP is of Te Aupouri and Ngai Takoto descent and says the Cape belongs to the nation and has significance to all Māori tribes.

“It’s a place of national significance that’s being tainted by people that don’t know what they’re talking about and who have no mandate.“

Jones says the iwi organisation overseeing the closure is like, “children without books, they haven’t learnt anything.”

The closure coincides with Northland industry leaders calling for people to come and visit the region.

Police wouldn’t comment on the road block instead referring the matter to the New Zealand Transport Authority which says it’s working with the Iwi and the Department of Conservation who are supporting the restricted access.

Authorities puihi foot around the issue.

If Matt King had referred to the road block as ‘rubbish’ and the need to let spirits slumber as ‘mumbo jumbo’ he would likely have been condemned by some Māori. These days it seems that only Māori  can be critical of Māori actions and cultural beliefs.

Ngāti Kuri have said they  will reopen the road with a ceremony on May 29.

Public Health Response Act belatedly referred to select committee for review

The Government has belatedly decided to allow a select committee in Parliament to scrutinise the controversial Public Health Response Act

One of the controversial things about the Bill/Actt  that was rushed through Parliament under urgency this week was that it affected civil liberties, giving police greater powers to enter homes, and that it hadn’t been subject to the full scrutiny of Parliament.

NZ Herald: Human Rights Commission ‘deeply concerned’ about Public Health Response Bill

The Human Rights Commission says it’s “deeply concerned” about the lack of scrutiny and rushed process for the Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill.

The bill, which set up the legal framework for future alert levels, was rushed through most of its legislative stages under urgency, with the support of Labour, NZ First, the Greens and Act.

But the Human Rights Commission says that despite the Government knowing for weeks that New Zealand will be moving to alert level 2, it has not allowed enough time for careful public democratic consideration of the alert level 2 legislation.

“There has been no input from ordinary New Zealanders, which is deeply regrettable,” said chief human rights commissioner Paul Hunt.

“This is a great failure of our democratic process. The new legislation, if passed in its current state, will result in sweeping police powers unseen in this country for many years.”

The Human Rights Commission is “strongly of the view” that the legislation must include a provision to ensure those making decisions, and exercising powers, under the new law, will do so in accordance with national and international human rights commitments and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“Given our concerns expressed to the Attorney General yesterday about the two-year sunset clause in the bill, we are pleased to see that Parliament will be changing this to 90 days,” Hunt said.

“However, given that the legislation encroaches on the civil liberties of New Zealanders we have serious concerns about whether the powers are proportionate.”

The Government has reacted to criticism and pressure and decided to allow a select committee to review the Act (albeit after it has been in force).

Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, which set a sound legal framework ahead of the move to Alert level 2, has been referred to a parliamentary select committee for review.

Attorney-General David Parker said the review of the operation of the COVID-19 specific law would be reported back to the House by July 27, in time for the House to consider whether to renew the Act in line with the 90-day review specified in the law.

“That will allow the House to take into account the advice of the committee before it makes the decision whether to continue with the law for another 90 days – or longer if the House decides,” David Parker said.

The Police can only use their enforcement powers under the Act if the Government has authorised a COVID-19 Alert Level notice.

The post-enactment review, which has been recommended by legal experts and academics, will be conducted by the Finance and Expenditure Committee, which will have MPs from all parties in Parliament on it.

David Parker reiterated that the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act ensures controls on gatherings of people and physical distancing are still enforceable. The new Act narrows the Police powers compared with those which applied under Level 3 and Level 4.

This is better than no review, but the Government should have made time for proper process before dumping the bill on Parliament under urgency last week.

Pandemics and their ends

When will the Covid-19 pandemic end? It depends on what sort of end.

A social end to a pandemic is when people grow tired of panic mode and learn to live with a disease. There are signs of reaching this point in New Zealand now, but that doesn’t rule out a resurgence at some time in the future.

A medical end can be difficult to determine, and only after it has ended. Id it ends at all, some diseases just carry on, like the common flu.

MSN/New York Times: How Pandemics End

According to historians, pandemics typically have two types of endings: the medical, which occurs when the incidence and death rates plummet, and the social, when the epidemic of fear about the disease wanes.

Endings “are very, very messy,” said Dora Vargha, a historian at the University of Exeter. “Looking back, we have a weak narrative. For whom does the epidemic end, and who gets to say?”

Will that happen with Covid-19?

One possibility, historians say, is that the coronavirus pandemic could end socially before it ends medically. People may grow so tired of the restrictions that they declare the pandemic over, even as the virus continues to smolder in the population and before a vaccine or effective treatment is found.

“I think there is this sort of social psychological issue of exhaustion and frustration,” the Yale historian Naomi Rogers said. “We may be in a moment when people are just saying: ‘That’s enough. I deserve to be able to return to my regular life.’”

It is happening already; in some states, governors have lifted restrictions, allowing hair salons, nail salons and gyms to reopen, in defiance of warnings by public health officials that such steps are premature. As the economic catastrophe wreaked by the lockdowns grows, more and more people may be ready to say “enough.”

To extent that has been happening in New Zealand over the last two weeks. Reports of a rush back to shopping yesterday, the start of the first weekend since we lowered to Level 2 restrictions that allowed all shops to re-open, suggest a getting back to normal. I drove through town yesterday and traffic was a busier than a normal Saturday, And I went for a trip right along the west side of Otago Harbour. It was quiet mid-morning but it was busier than normal by the middle of the day.

“There is this sort of conflict now,” Dr. Rogers said. Public health officials have a medical end in sight, but some members of the public see a social end.

The challenge, Dr. Brandt said, is that there will be no sudden victory. Trying to define the end of the epidemic “will be a long and difficult process.”

Many attempts are being made to have a vaccine ready by the end of the year, but it’s like to be months away at least. The Covid-19 virus is certain to continue, even if the fears subside.


Pandemics from history

Bubonic Plague

Historians describe three great waves of plague, said Mary Fissell, a historian at Johns Hopkins: the Plague of Justinian, in the sixth century; the medieval epidemic, in the 14th century; and a pandemic that struck in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The medieval pandemic began in 1331 in China. The illness, along with a civil war that was raging at the time, killed half the population of China. From there, the plague moved along trade routes to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In the years between 1347 and 1351, it killed at least a third of the European population. Half of the population of Siena, Italy, died.

That pandemic ended, but the plague recurred.

One of the worst outbreaks began in China in 1855 and spread worldwide, killing more than 12 million in India alone.

It is not clear what made the bubonic plague die down.

Smallpox

Among the diseases to have achieved a medical end is smallpox. But it is exceptional for several reasons: There is an effective vaccine, which gives lifelong protection; the virus, Variola minor, has no animal host, so eliminating the disease in humans meant total elimination; and its symptoms are so unusual that infection is obvious, allowing for effective quarantines and contact tracing.

But while it still raged, smallpox was horrific. Epidemic after epidemic swept the world, for at least 3,000 years.

It is thought to have been present in India as early as 1500 BCE, China 1122 BCE and Egypt 1145 BCE.

In 18th-century Europe it is estimated 400,000 people per year died from the disease, and one-third of the cases resulted in blindness.

It is estimated to have killed up to 300-500 million people in the 20th century. Two million died from smallpox in 1967.

The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977.

1918 (Spanish) Flu

This raced around the world at the end of Word War 1, killing 50-100 million people.

After sweeping through the world, that flu faded away, evolving into a variant of the more benign flu that comes around every year.

There were about 9,000 deaths in New Zealand, 2.500 of them Māori.

Hong Kong Flu

In the Hong Kong flu of 1968, one million people died worldwide, including 100,000 in the United States, mostly people older than 65. That virus still circulates as a seasonal flu, and its initial path of destruction — and the fear that went with it — is rarely recalled.

Swine flu

This was a variant strain of the 1918 Spanish flu. It is estimated to have caused somewhere between 150,000 and 575,000 deaths, and it is estimated that 700-1500 million were infected. Fortunately most people were only mildly affected.

Ebola

In 2014 more than 11,000 people in West Africa had died from Ebola, a highly infectious viral disease that was often fatal.

Covid-19

This has spread around the world and in about five months over 308,000 people have died, but this total is likely to grow quite a bit yet – the death toll has doubled over the last month.

In New Zealand the last of 21 deaths was on 6 May, and cases have just about stopped – the peak daily cases were from 24 March and had dropped to 29 by 11 April.

Virtually shutting down the borders has stopped the re-introduction of Covid. But how long will we keep our borders closed? While we may socially think the health problem is over some significant restrictions could persist for months.

We are no longer shut in our homes but we remain shut in our country.

But we have the benefit of modern health care and modern science.

A $20 billion target for election lobbyists

On of the most unusual features of the budget announced yesterday was twenty billion dollars in the $50 billion Covid Recovery Fund “remaining for future investment”.

Investments totalling $13.9 billion have already been made from the fund to fight the virus and cushion the blow. Cabinet has agreed a further $15.9 billion of investments to continue the immediate response and kickstart the economy, leaving $20.2 billion remaining for future investment.

This is a huge amount sitting waiting for spending decisions to be made, on top of already large amounts of expenditure..

It hasn’t taken long for political lobbyists to see this as an an opportunity.

Yesterday the government announced their budget for 2020 and what we learned is that the Finance Minister has set aside $20 billion in the Covid-19 recovery fund that is yet to be allocated.

With an election coming up, those of us wanting something different out of yesterday’s budget have a clear window of opportunity to demand it.

In the last seven weeks, we’ve been challenged to reflect on our values, how we care for one another, and what’s important. The $20 billion left in the Covid-19 recovery fund is an opportunity to take what we’ve learned and use it to reshape our economy, democracy, the way we care for our environment, and the way we care for each other.

Let’s create this vision together, then work collectively to bring it to life:

  1. We will combine the power and wisdom of thousands of ActionStation members to choose the big ideas via this survey.
  2. We’ll launch the results as a people-powered community vision called The People’s Regeneration Plan .
  3. Together we will campaign to build the pressure and people power needed to make our vision a reality.

Now is the time for the ActionStation community to collectively decide what type of Aotearoa we want to build beyond this crisis, and that’s why we need to be clear about what we’re asking for.

ActionStation isn’t looking at Covid specific initiatives, but rather seem to see it as an opportunity to promote their political wish list.

A screenshot of the survey responses. A link to an accessible survey is provided below.

I didn’t think that was the sort of thing the Covid Recovery Fund was intended for but others obviously see it differently.

Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill ‘appears to be consistent’ with Bill of Rights Act – MoJ

The Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill is currently progressing through Parliament under urgency.

The Ministry of Health advice is that the Bill ‘appears to be consistent’ with the Bill of Rights Act.

We have considered whether the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill (‘the Bill’) is consistent with the rights and freedoms affirmed in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (‘the Bill of Rights Act’).

We have not yet received a final version of the Bill. This advice has been prepared in relation to the latest version of the Bill (PCO 22923/4.2). We will provide you with further advice if the final version includes amendments that affect the conclusions in this advice.

We have concluded that the Bill appears to be consistent with the rights and freedoms affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act.

It seems that Andrew Little is Acting Attorney General because the Attorney General, David Parker, introduced the Bill and someone else had to advise him on it.

Click to access COVID-19-Public-Health-Response-Bill.pdf

Government release of documents relating to Covid-19 decisions

The Government have done a Friday data dump of documents they call Proactive Release, despite having being asked for information that informed their Covid-19 decision making for weeks.

At least it’s out there now – or at least everything they haven’t withheld.


Details of this release

This release includes the papers, minutes, and key advice for the decisions the Government has made relating to COVID-19 up to 17 April. Where a final decision has been made after 17 April this will be released in a further update.

A small number of documents and some parts of the released documents would not be appropriate to release and, if requested, would be withheld under the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act). Where this is the case, the relevant sections of the Act that would apply have been identified. Where information has been withheld, no public interest has been identified that would outweigh the reasons for withholding it.

Some information has been withheld in full, from this release in relation to the relevant section(s) of the Act:

  • Section 9(2)(f)(iv) — confidential advice
  • Section 9(2)(ba)(ii) — information provided to the Government under an obligation of confidence
  • Section 6(a) — international relations
  • Section 9(2)(j) — commercial negotiations.

Covid-19 genome mutations used for tracking

For those who wanted some science…

Genome sequencing has been used to identify mutations of the Covid-19 virus, and while there is no evidence any known mutations have changed the characteristics of Covid-19 yet, it has provided a useful way of tracking the spread of the virus.

This phylogeny tree from Nextstrain, with each shade representing a different country and each branch a separate mutation, shows how mutations tend to be linked to a specific geographic location. Each dot represents a genome from the GISAID database.

Newsroom – The NZ strains: How the virus got here

On average, the virus is thought to undergo about 23.92 mutations a year, or two every month. This figure can help us backdate its emergence. If there is an average of 10 mutations from the supposed index case, then the virus likely entered the human population around five months ago – or early December.

Even the two most divergent strains have just 35 mutations, representing about 0.12 percent of the genome. By comparison, SARS, which is significantly deadlier but still very similar to Covid-19, is 21 percent distinct from SARS-CoV-2.

While the mutations may not make the virus more deadly or more transmissible, understanding where in the virus these mutations occur could help with efforts to create an antiviral medication.

One interesting example, in March a father and son arrived in New Zealand from the US and both tested positive, but they had different mutations that made it extremely unlikely they caught the virus from the same source.

“A Wellington man in his 30s and his father in his 70s have tested positive on their return from the United States. The man in his 30s became unwell on the flight and his father became unwell the day after they arrived,” Bloomfield said.

These two men, however, did not infect one another. Instead, they were likely infected in separate circumstances, each with one of the two strains detailed above. One of the viruses had five mutations that the other did not, making it extremely unlikely that one man had infected the other.”

Here the ESR has now sequenced 171 of the more than 600 cases referred to them, and has just received a new sequencer that wil double their testing capacity to 100 genomes a week. Their aim is to sequence all New Zealand cases.

This map charts the progress of the strains that made up the eight New Zealand cases on Nextstrain.

Our aim is to sequence every positive case in New Zealand,” Geoghegan said.

“Fortunately, that seems like a very realistic goal because we haven’t had that many cases. We’re in a really unique position to be able to do that. That will really provide us with an amazing dataset and a great case study, especially for international collaborations, to be able to understand how the virus spread here, what happened after we closed our borders, what happened after we went into Level 4 lockdown and as we begin to lift those lockdown restrictions, what happens to the transmission of the virus?”

Since New Zealand is a closed population, such studies could help researchers understand how the virus changes, without having to deal with the pressures of managing an active outbreak.

For example, an examination of different clusters in New Zealand could show cluster-specific mutations, allowing health officials to link closed cases with unknown origins to where they came from. Similarly, if a new case emerges out of nowhere, sequencing the genome of the patient’s virus could link it to another extant case or, through ruling out genomic connections to any of New Zealand’s cases, declare it an imported case.

A lengthy article but worth reading in you like a bit more depth and more science.

It’s incredible how science is now capable of sequencing RNA like this (as they do with DNA).

A bit more science: DNA vs. RNA – 5 Key Differences and Comparison

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) are perhaps the most important molecules in cell biology, responsible for the storage and reading of genetic information that underpins all life. They are both linear polymers, consisting of sugars, phosphates and bases, but there are some key differences which separate the two. These distinctions enable the two molecules to work together and fulfil their essential roles. Here, we look at 5 key differences between DNA and RNA.

DNA vs. RNA – 5 Key Differences and Comparison

A better looking challenge of Covid lockdown legality

Andrew Borrowdale has filed for a judicial review of the Director-General of Health’s powers behind the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions on Tuesday.

He is reported as someone “who has worked on drafting laws for the Government at the Parliamentary Counsel Office” but is also the author of books on commercial law and The Spinoff refers to him as “top lawyer and former parliamentary counsel”.

If successful it may make little difference for most of us, especially if we move to a Level 2 lockdown next week, but it should ensure decent scrutiny of the laws used to lock us down. And there is a possibility damages from those arrested under the lockdown law and businesses forced to close down could become an issue.,

Two associates challenged what they claimed was detention under the lockdown in the High Court but the judge dismissed that, saying the men weren’t held in detention and agreeing with counsel for the respondents (Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield and Sarah Stuart-Black) that a habeas corpus writ was the wrong approach:

I accept the respondents have established any detention effected by the order is lawful (for reasons given). I am also satisfied the arguments A relies on are not suitable for determination on an application for a writ of habeas corpus. In fact, s 14(1A) of the Act permits the Court to refuse an application for the issue of the writ if satisfied the application is not the appropriate procedure for considering an applicant’s allegations. This is such a case.

The appropriate procedure is an application for judicial review.

See A v Ardern [2020] NZHC 796 (23 April 2020)and B v Ardern [2020] NZHC 814 (24 April 2020).

Despite this guidance A and B appealed, but the Court of Appeal confirmed that ruling – Court of Appeal rejects habeas corpus lockdown arguments but “questions needed answers”:

Even if A and B are detained we would, if it were necessary to do so, decline to issue a writ of habeas corpus without requiring the Crown to justify the legality of their detention because habeas corpus is not the appropriate procedure for considering their allegations.

An expedited application for judicial review seeking declarations in the High Court is the only appropriate procedure in the circumstances of this case.

The judgment also noted:

As has been noted by the Regulations Review Committee  regarding notices issued under s 70 of the Health Act 1956 (20 April 2020) – and two of New Zealand’s leading public law academics, there are unresolved questions about the lawfulness of the notices issued under s 70 of the Health Act.

References:

There has been one successful challenge via judicial review, but this was on very narrow grounds challenging the Ministry of health refusing an exemption from quarantine – see Court rules man under Covid quarantine can visit dying fatherJudgment here.

The new action: Legal challenge over coronavirus lockdown

Borrowdale told Stuff that the “bringing the application is not in any way intended to impugn Dr Bloomfield personally or to decry his admirable work”.

He’s asked for a court to declare that some of the powers triggering the lockdown were outside the law, and for the court to order those actions be quashed.

The main issue at stake is whether Bloomfield used powers that were in excess of the ones given to him by the Health Act.

Bloomfield used section 70 of the Health Act to issue notices, which set out some of the rules that we know as the level 4 lockdown.

Borrowdale alleges that the notices overstep the powers that are given to Bloomfield by the Health Act.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said “The Ministry is satisfied that the section 70 powers have been exercised lawfully.

“It would be inappropriate for the Ministry to comment further where the matter is before the courts”.

Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said the case was asking the High Court to make a “determinative ruling on whether the Health Act gave the director-general the power to issue the notices that it did”.

Geddis said police had then arrested and charged people with breaching the order.

“If the health act didn’t give the director-general that power, then all of those people who have been charged with those offences shouldn’t have been,” he said.

Those people could potentially claim damages under the Bill of Rights.

So a successful review could have significant repercussions.

Bloomfield’s notices also forced all business to close, with rare exceptions. But Borrowdale claimed the powers in the Health Act don’t allow Bloomfield to carte blanche close businesses and public spaces.

He argued that while the Act allows the director-general to close all premises of “any stated kind or description,” Bloomfield exceeded this, closing everything down without specifying the specific kinds of premises like the Act requires.

Working out which businesses could be deemed “essential” was delegated to MBIE officials, which Borrowdale argued was also an overstep, as the Health Act doesn’t give those officials the right to decide which business may open or stay shut.

The choosing of which businesses had to close has been very contentious, and if there is a successful challenge too this there could potentially be some large claims of damages.

He made the same point about the order that forbids people from congregating in outdoor places. The order says all such gatherings are banned, but the Health Act, Borrowdale claims, would require Bloomfield to actually state the kinds of gatherings that are banned.

I don’t see that damages would be possible to claim here but unless the law is rectified this could make ongoing lockdown restrictions outside the law.

The other issue at play is whether the Health Act actually gives the director-general the power to confine all New Zealanders to their homes.

Borrowdale argued that it actually should be read as meaning that only certain people can be quarantined and placed in isolation.

He says that the Act doesn’t allow Bloomfield to act for the entire country at once, but rather it forces him to look at the needs of each health district separately.

If Borrowdale is correct it would involve a lot more work for the Director general of Health in defining what can be restricted and locked down, unless the Government gets a quick law change through to make wide or blanket restrictions legal.

As with the other legal challenges I expect this one will be heard urgently, but here is no indication yet when that will be.

This action looks far better considered and targeted than the writ by A and B, which included an attempt at a political attack, and should add to clarification of the laws around lockdowns.

Roger Douglas says the Government should use the Covid-19 crisis to attack economic privilege and reduce inequality

“There is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis”

Stuff:  Sir Roger Douglas says house building and spending cuts key to fixing Covid-19 shock

Former Labour Finance Minister Sir Roger Douglas says the Government should use the coronavirus crisis to attack economic privilege and reduce inequality.

But, unlike his contemporary Labour colleagues, Douglas said this should be achieved by reducing stimulus spending, including on things like the wage subsidy and infrastructure building.

The Government’s current policies, in particular the wage subsidy were “unfairly advantaging big business and the professional elite”, he said.

Douglas said this money would be better directed “towards assisting the newly unemployed – namely workers, their families, and small business owners”.

Douglas told Stuff his paper was about reducing handouts to big businesses and dealing with entrenched inequality and poverty.

The theme of the paper was better targeted spending and debt reduction.

The most radical proposal was to “identify, and eliminate, unnecessary spending, privilege, and waste” from the Government budget totaling $15 billion.

This would mean cutting or reprioritising 18 per cent of the last budget. That’s roughly the amount spent of superannuation each year.

Douglas was particularly critical of the way that large businesses with healthy balance sheets had been claiming the wage subsidy, which has now paid out more than $10b.

“Why haven’t they been required to fend for themselves and their businesses?

“Why, when the good times suddenly come to an end, have they gone cap in hand to the Government?”

Douglas said it was an example of “the old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis”.

Douglas said the key to getting housing right was “making a large quantity [of houses] available”.

The Government had to go into section development, while making sure land was released for building by reforming planning laws. There was plenty of land out there, but not enough capital to develop it.

Low-income people could be helped into housing through a shared-equity scheme, where the Government would take on part of their mortgage.

I’m not sure whether Grant Robertson or the Government will be looking to Douglas for advice.

Last year Robertson was even asked whether he would follow Douglas’s example and resign after presiding over a budget that was leaked.

Robertson responded, “In my life, I have made it my ambition not to follow what Roger Douglas does”.

Court of Appeal rejects habeas corpus lockdown arguments but “questions needed answers”

The Court of Appeal has ruled out an appeal by two mean claiming they were detained under lockdown, saying the men had gone about it the wrong way, but suggested “extraordinarily complex questions needed answers” and could be dealt via urgent hearings .

On 17 April the High Court rejected two writs for habeas corpus, finding that two associated persons were not detained illegally under the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown. See:

On Friday the Court of Appeal also found that the two men, now in Level 3 lockdown, did not amount to detention.

My guess is that the two applicants are not up to dealing with extraordinarily complex legal questions. It didn’t help that they included lame political arguments, like the lockdown was put in place to help Jacinda Ardern’s re-election.

Stuff:  Lockdown legal appeal gains traction

That headline is odd – it isn’t yet clear how the appeal may get traction.

Two people who sued Jacinda Ardern, claiming the coronavirus lockdown was an illegal detention, have lost their case but gained support for their concerns about the legal basis for the lockdown.

The Court of Appeal on Friday decided the men’s circumstances now, in lockdown level 3, did not amount to detention.

But the three judges said the case had raised issues that that could be examined in separate proceedings, perhaps in an urgent hearing.

The two laymen arguing the case had gone about it the wrong way, the court said.

The pair used an ancient legal process called habeas corpus to challenge what was alleged was an unlawful detention.

What the two men were really trying to do was challenge the reasons for making the lockdown order, and habeas corpus wasn’t the right process to do that, the judge said.

Success would have meant the entire population would have been released from the restrictions.

A finding of no legal restrictions could have a very risky impact on dealing with Covid-19, and I would expect the Government to try to urgently find a legal way to continue some restrictions.

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Stephen Kos, said extraordinarily complex questions needed answers. He referred to an article academics Andrew Geddis and Claudia Geiringer wrote on The Spinoff and a report of Parliament’s regulations review committee looking at government powers in emergencies, which he said was “hardly approving”.

The two laymen arguing the case had gone about it the wrong way, the court said. Its full reasons are expected next week.

…the three judges said the case had raised issues that that could be examined in separate proceedings, perhaps in an urgent hearing.

Perhaps the court’s full reasons will explain how the questions can be dealt with from here.


Some more detail from NZ Herald: Duo’s appeal dismissed in lawsuit against Jacinda Ardern over lockdown ‘detention’

Court of Appeal president Justice Stephen Kós quizzed both men on whether they were able to exercise outside and visit a supermarket, which they had, before making an oral ruling on behalf of himself, Justice Christine French and Justice David Collins.

He said the panel of judges were satisfied “that in the circumstances they are not detained for the purposes of the Habeas Corpus Act 2001”.

“This is the case which the lawfulness of the Crown’s actions call to be determined not in a habeas corpus matter but more appropriately in the context of a judicial review proceeding in the High Court,” Justice Kós said.

The conclusions of the Court of Appeal, the judge added, were also without prejudice in the determination of the lawfulness of the Crown’s actions in any potential judicial review.

During their case, A and B have made claims that modelling predicting up to 80,000 Kiwi deaths and the growing economic cost, when compared with the relatively low number of Covid-19 related deaths, was part of wider political conspiracy.

“The Prime Minister made the wrong decision … all for her political gain,” one of the men said in the High Court.

It was also alleged Ardern had conspired with Sir Stephen Tindall to ruin the economy and the United Nations Secretary-General should have been consulted.

The High Court judge who originally rejected their writ also said that a judicial review was the correct legal process to challenge the lockdown restrictions.

Justice Kós also dismissed the two men’s bids for continued name suppression, saying the public has a right to know who sued the Prime Minister.

He extended the current suppression order until next Friday to allow the men, known only as A and B, to seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

It could become farcical if people could anonymously sue the Prime Minister.