New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has joined Australia’s National Cabinet to contribute to the discussions about the Covid-19 response. Prime Minister Scott Morrison was delighted to invite his New Zealand counterpart to attend the meeting with all Australian states, territory premiers and chief ministers.
Curiously, Morrison suggested to Ardern a similar app to the controversial COVIDSafe app be developed for New Zealand. The app, which is used to trace Australian citizens, allows officials to de-encrypt contact information from the user’s phone on the basis of a positive Covid-19 result. According to Dr Vanessa Teague, the chief executive of Thinking CyberSecurity and an adjunct professor at the Australian National University, the “centralised” tracing app created by the Morrison government “inevitably means the authorities are getting a complete list of your contacts”.
Morrison will most likely not be interested to discuss how his National Cabinet “ludicrously delayed reopening of the economy to repair the very mess for which it is totally responsible”. By entirely trusting the “anointed” advice of carefully selected medical advisers, writes emeritus professor David Flint, Morrison’s National Cabinet has not just “failed to protect the vulnerable to the high degree necessary”, but it “went beyond the pale in imposing a draconian and wholly unnecessary lockdown”. By assessing the matter from an essentially constitutional law perspective, Professor Flint concludes:
In clear breach of the [Australian] constitution as originally intended, the National Cabinet imposed massive and unprecedented debt on the people, unlawfully suspending and destroying jobs, small business and much of the economic life of the nation as well as grotesquely limiting the people’s freedom with something approaching house arrest. The [Australian] people never agreed to this coup, this unconstitutional seizure of power … There was never an emergency which justified the use of such extreme powers.
As for New Zealand, on March 23, 2020, a month after the country recorded its first case of coronavirus, Prime Minister Ardern announced a draconian national lockdown when it only had 102 cases and zero deaths. While people can argue the NZ government were only trying to stamp out the virus, during this crisis it has been patently obvious that such lockdown was used to increase the arbitrary power and control of the State over the citizens. “Undoubtedly we now have a tightly-knit oligarchy running New Zealand”, writes NZ political commentator Amy Brooke. As noted by her,
Initially, most New Zealanders acquiesced to what has been assessed as ‘the most significant impact on human rights in living memory’, with government imposing lockdown level four. However, the estimated number of deaths of those unable to access hospitals for scheduled cancer, kidney, heart and other urgent surgery and care is apparently going to be far greater than from Covid-19. Reportedly, 20.000 operations and 60,000 specialist appointments have been cancelled. This does not include the mental stress and anxiety of some who may well commit suicide, forced into financial ruin, with business collapsing nationwide, the loss of jobs and savings being eaten away.
New Zealand has had no new cases of coronavirus more than a month after its strict lockdown began. Now that zero new cases of death by coronavirus have been registered in New Zealand, new legislation has been hastily passed in the country’s Parliament, allowing police to search homes without warrant and ignoring all concerns for basic rights and freedoms of citizens.
Passed by 63 votes to 57, the coronavirus legislation was apparently required for the enforcement of further restrictions, including social distancing and other draconian measures resulting in sweeping police powers. According to that country’s Attorney-General, David Parker, the new law has been designed specifically to stop the spread of COVID-19. Mr Parker says the legislation will ensure all the restrictions on gatherings and physical distancing are still fully enforceable.
Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, was not so impressed. He has expressed “deep concerns” about “the lack of scrutiny and rushed process for the Bill”. “This is a great failure of our democratic process. The new legislation … will result in sweeping police powers unseen in this country”, he said.
This is not the first time the Prime Minister of New Zealand has taken advantage of the “pandemic” to use her “extraordinary” powers to introduce legislation devoid of sufficient public consultation. For example, while the population was distracted with dealing with the “pandemic”, her government rushed to introduce “the most extreme abortion law in the world”.
Addressing the NZ Parliament on March 25th in order to justify the nation going “into an extreme lockdown”, Prime Minister Ardern contented that the job of her government and the job of every New Zealander is to save human lives. A State of National Emergency was said to be necessary in order to preserve such lives. For this particular purpose, she menacingly stated: “There will be no tolerance… We will not hesitate to use our enforcement powers if needed”.
Surely the preservation of human live does not apply to unwanted new born babies, in particular those who have survived a “failed abortion”. Interestingly enough, polling showed prior to the enactment of the new law that women in New Zealand strongly opposed any changes proposed in the new legislation, with only 2 per cent of them supporting abortion being available on-demand up to birth, and 93 per cent opposing sex-selective abortion.
Why did Scott Morrison invite such a controversial leader to join Australia’s National Cabinet, one who took full advantage of the coronavirus hysteria not only to undermine fundamental rights but also to rush the world’s most extreme abortion legislation? Of course, lockdown was always an easy option for such political leaders, freeing themselves to structure target isolation measures required to prevent all the many varieties of damage thus far inflicted by the ruinous effects of their heavy-handed response to the coronavirus.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am quite happy for both leaders to talk about things. However, I would be quite concerned if the Australian Prime Minister seriously believes that he has anything good to learn from a person who shows no regard for the fundamental rights of every human being, including unwanted babies who are left to die unassisted after a “failed” abortion. Of course, it is bad enough that the radical and illiberal actions of the Australian government have already provoked far more harm to our society than a predominantly mild infection has or ever will.
Dr Augusto Zimmermann PhD, LLM, LLB, DipEd, CertIntArb is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan College in Perth/WA, and Professor of Law (Adjunct) at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus. He is President of the Western Australian Legal Theory Association (WALTA), and former Law Reform Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, from 2012-2017.
 Melanie Dinjaski, ‘Coronavirus: NZ PM Jacinda Ardern to Join Australia’s National Cabinet Meeting’, 9News, May 4, 2020, at https://www.9news.com.au/world/coronavirus-jacinda-ardern-new-zealand-pm-to-join-australia-national-cabinet-meeting/5a9bf48a-ef12-479a-833a-03491b529118
 Michael McGowan, ‘Privacy Concerns Persist Over Australia’s Coronavirus Tracing App’, The Guardian, April 20, 2020, at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/20/privacy-concerns-persist-over-australias-coronavirus-tracing-app
 David Flint, ‘Professor Lockdown and the Hypocrisy of the Elites’, The Spectator Australia, 16 May 2020, at https://www.spectator.com.au/2020/05/professor-lockdown-and-the-hypocrisy-of-the-elites/
 Sophie Cousins, ‘New Zealand Eliminates COVID-19’, The LanceNet , May 9, 2020, at https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31097-7/fulltext
 Amy Brooke, ‘Covid-19 and the Creeping State’, The Spectator Australia, May 16, 2020, at https://www.spectator.com.au/2020/05/covid-19-and-the-creeping-state/
 Collette Devlin, ‘Coronavirus: New Covid-19 Law Gives Police Power to Conduct Warrantless Searches Amid Civil Liberty Concerns’, Stuff, May 14, 2020, at https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/121504938/coronavirus-new-covid19-law-gives-police-power-to-conduct-warrantless-searches-amid-civil-liberty-concerns
 ‘NZ PM Rushes World’s Most Extreme Abortion Legislation Into Law While Country Distracted With Pandemic’, Right to Life UK, March 18, 2020, at https://righttolife.org.uk/news/nz-pm-rushes-worlds-most-extreme-abortion-law-into-law-while-country-distracted-with-pandemic/
 NZ Herald, ‘Your Job is to Save Live – PM to NZers Ahead of Lockdown’, NewstalkZB, March 25, 2020, at https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/coronavirus-lockdown-jacinda-ardern-tells-public-your-job-is-to-save-lives/