Government’s rushed covid laws lack accountability – Transport NZ

Press release

The lack of transparency and accountability the Government is operating under as New Zealand responds to Covid-19 cannot continue, says Transporting New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett.

Transporting New Zealand, which provides unified national representation for the four regional trucking associations that make the Road Transport Association NZ, has submitted on the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill (No 2) which extends the Government’s existing powers until May 2023.

Download its submission here.

“We are concerned that this is the second time within a relatively short period that the Government has taken the approach of rushing through a broadening and expansion of ministerial powers as it grapples with a response to Covid-19,” Leggett says.

Far-reaching ministerial powers should only be considered appropriate, or necessary, in a true emergency situation

“They did the same with immigration powers in May this year, which we also objected to.

“As we said then, far-reaching ministerial powers should only be considered appropriate, or necessary, in a true emergency situation.

“The ‘state of emergency’ that filled the early months of the pandemic response early last year should be well over by now.

Nick Leggett

“Like the rest of the world, we should be given confidence in the strength of vaccination, Covid-19 treatments, rapid testing, vaccination certificates, face masks and other mitigating measures.

“This Bill however, suggests an unclear response or plan; the debacle that is MIQ for years to come; and a move away from the way the rest of the world is now headed.

“As the pandemic will be with us for years, there has to be a move back to normality, rather than fostering fear and exclusion for years to come.

“We believe, this Bill does not provide sufficiently for transparency and accountability of Ministers and their officials and nor has as the Ministry of Health’s consultation provided sufficient detail to justify these changes.

“We urge the Ministry of Health to seriously reflect on the real issues hampering the effectiveness of the Government’s response and seek to resolve those issues, rather than changing the law.

“In the absence of that, the Government is showing a lack of ambition and real commitment to New Zealand’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Leggett says.

Transporting New Zealand has 1,500 members operating about 13,000 trucks. The road freight transport industry employs 32,868 people (2% of the workforce), has a gross annual turnover of $6 billion, and transports 93% of the total tonnes of freight moved in New Zealand.