13th May 2020
Hon David Parker
COVID-19 Public Health Response Bil - For urgent consideration
I write to you as this important Bill makes its passage through the House under urgency. I wish to
acknowledge the welcome flexibility that the Government is demonstrating in order to render this
legislation more proportionate and appropriate given its obvious limiting effect on human rights.
I also wish to note that Human Rights Commission has strongly and publicly commended the
government’s COVID efforts, while providing constructive comment in line with its statutory
In keeping with the Commission’s role, I wish to note that I continue to have grave concerns about
the Bill’s potential to breach New Zealand’s national and international human rights and Te Tiriti
One short simple amendment, recommended in our earlier written comments, would go a long way
to allay my concerns, viz: clause 4(c) of the Bill amends the purpose of the legislation as follows
[suggested amended wording is in bold]:
The purpose of this Act is to support a public health response to COVID-19 that—
(c) is co-ordinated, orderly, proportionate, and consistent with New Zealand’s domestic and
international human rights commitments and the Crown’s duties under Te Tiriti o
This type of purposive clause is used in other legislation that involves the balancing and limiting of
rights. A good example in recent years is the inclusion of the human rights commitments in s 3 of the
Intelligence and Security Act 2017 to balance the expanded surveillance powers that legislation
Crucially, the inclusion of the above wording in clause 4 of the Bill would not
be an obstacle to the
government’s effective and suitably robust measures. On the contrary, it wil help to ensure those
measures are reasonable, fair, non-discriminatory and proportionate.
In this way, the amendment wil help to ensure that the Government retains the trust, confidence
and support of the public.
Thank you for your urgent consideration.
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