A controversial law that gives police the power to potentially enter homes without a search warrant will be reviewed after public calls from academics
In a highly unusual move, Parliament today voted to send the law, which gives police powers to enforce the rules of different alert levels, to a select committee for consideration.
The Covid-19 Public Health Measures Act was rushed through on Wednesday in time for lockdown lifting.
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Both opposition parties, the Human Rights Commission, the Salvation Army and legal experts have criticised how quickly the law was rushed through without proper scrutiny.
Attorney-General David Parker sought to have the law sent immediately to a select committee for a post-enactment review and would report back on July 27.
That would be in time for the House to consider whether to refresh the law in 90 days, which is a feature of the legislation after an amendment introduced by National.
The post-enactment review was called for by legal experts and academics.
The National Party and Act both voted against the bill at its third reading saying it was an overreach of powers, distrusted New Zealanders and didn't allow for orders to have proper scrutiny.
The law sets up the legal framework for the alert levels rules but police can only use their enforcement powers under the act if the Minister of Health issues a Covid-19 alert level notice.
The orders might include, for example, the ability for police or "enforcement officers" to close certain premises or roads, ban certain types of travel or congregations, or require people to be physically distant or to stay at home in their bubbles if necessary.
It also would allow warrantless searches of private property if there was a reasonable belief that the alert level rules were being broken.
But the law was widely slammed for being rushed through its due process.
The Salvation Army said it was concerned about the lack of cultural and spiritual consideration and that the law didn't align with Te Tiriti o Waitangi or the rule of law.
The Human Rights Commission said it was deeply concerned about the law and called the lack of scrutiny a "great failure of our democratic process".
In the House today, National MP Gerry Brownlee moved that the law be sent to the Epidemic Response Committee rather than the Finance and Expenditure Committee but it was voted down.
The Finance and Expenditure Committee has a Government majority while the Epidemic Response Committee has an Opposition majority.
Brownlee said National would co-operate with the Governmemnt on the review as it would give the public more confidence about how things were unfolding when there were restrictions on civil liberties without many new cases.
Act Party leader David Seymour supported the law being reviewed and said: "The Government can't be trusted with anything other than eternal vigilance."