Coronavirus: New laws give Government more powers than during both world wars

24/03/2020

University of Waikato Professor of Law Al Gillespie explains to Peter WIlliams what laws will come into effect as we enter lockdown.

Peter begins the interview by asking does Alert Level 4 mean a State of Emergency as some callers have queried. Professor Gillespie clarifies that a State of Emergency would need to be declared.

"The government already has very strong powers under the Health Act and the police can do a lot of good work with keeping civil order without changes to the law."

"What you're going to see is two new laws coming in to operation that will give them even greater power than what they had before."

Peter asks is there a comparison to past laws and powers during similar pandemics like the Spanish flu, Professor Gillespie draws the distinction between the current pandemic and the past given how much the world has changed in that time and how much more we know about how prevalent the current outbreak is.

Professor explains to Peter that the laws that will soon be coming into operation "what you've got here, is the powers that the Government has are greater than what was used in World War One and World War Two."

Peter questions whether New Zealanders should be concerned with these new laws but Gillespie reassures Williams that, "there are a lot of checks and balances."

He explains that the powers available to Government are scaled to the severity of the pandemic in New Zealand.

Listen to the full interview above.