COVID-19 in NZ: Is the State of Emergency Legal?

On 23 March the NZ government declared a Level 3 State of Emergency, to be quickly upgraded on the 25 March to Level 4, which meant the suspension of civil liberties, and of virtually all social activity and all ‘non-essential’ commercial activity.  It is questionable whether the imposition of the lockdown can be legally justified, or its continuation.

How the government and its officers see the threat

At the regular press briefings we are told (repeatedly):

Ashley Bloomfield (Director-General of Health) ‘As we have seen around the world, Covid-19 CAN be a deadly disease – particularly for older people, and those with underlying pre-existing health issues.’ (Bloomfield’s emphasis)

Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister): ‘our older NZers, and those with underlying health issues, are BY FAR at the most risk.’ […] (Ardern’s emphasis)

Caroline McElnay (Director of Public Health): ‘As we have said previously, this can be a very serious disease, particularly for elderly people and also for those with underlying health conditions’.

So we have been in lockdown, with enormous implications for people’s jobs, welfare and civil liberties, for something that ‘can be serious for older people, and those with underlying pre-existing health issues’.  In other words, for something which sounds  suspiciously like seasonal flu, and not necessarily a severe one.  The very frail have always been vulnerable both to seasonal viruses, or infections, or anything that taxes an already compromised immune system – there is no indication that we are dealing with anything different from other years.

Who is ‘dying from Covid-19’?

As at 6 May 2020, there have been 20 ‘Covid-19 related’ [sic] deaths in New Zealand.  The 20 deaths comprised:

  • 5 people in their 90s
  • 5 in their 80s
  • 7 in their 70s
  • 3 in their 60s

The average age of the diseased, then, is roughly 80 years.  14 were resident in care homes, 11 in the high-security dementia wing of the Rosewood Care Home who were transferred to Burwood Hospital in Christchurch. 

There are almost no cases where Covid-19 is the sole factor. With one exception, multiple underlying health issues were associated with all cases.  Covid-19 was at most only a contributing factor to their deaths, and in fact there remains a question whether Covid-19 played any part at all.  It is likely, moreover, that a traumatic move to strange surroundings accompanied by the cruel deprivation of emotional support from friends and family would have been a significant contributing factor in many cases.

The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashleigh Bloomfield, has made it clear in the Press Briefings that deaths are attributed to COVID-19 where there is any doubt.

This report given by Ashley Bloomfield at a ‘Daily COVID-19 media conference’ is typical (4:00 mins):

‘Sadly today, I have another Covid-19 related death to report. This is associated with the cluster at the Rosewood rest home and hospital. The person who passed away was a woman in her 60s; she had underlying health conditions and was considered a probable case of covid-19 due to her clinical presentation and past exposure history despite testing negative. […] a staff member was comforting her when she passed away.’ (My emphasis)

But if we hadn’t suspended civil liberties …

To date, there have been no deaths from care workers, or travellers from abroad  assumed to have infected the deceased, or their fellow travellers, or the crew of the Voyager of the Sea where Bob James is alleged to have contracted the disease, or from Marist College, where there is a ‘cluster’ of cases.  If Covid-19 is so dangerous, why not?

Oh yes, but overseas …

Numbers are hugely inflated in some countries by attributing, as in New Zealand, ALL deaths to COVID-19 where the patient tests positive or shows symptoms,  eg  the UK, the US.

The example of high mortality in countries like Italy is not what it seems:

  • A key study from Italy found that 99% of those who have died had other illnesses and almost half had three or more co-morbidities.
  • Northern Italy is the most polluted region of Europe, with high rates of pneumonia every year.
  • Italy has the highest antibiotic resistance in Europe. In fact, data from the Italian authorities show that around 80% of the deceased were treated with antibiotics, indicating bacterial superinfections (the deaths would still be recorded as being due to coronavirus).

A study in Nature Medicine comes to a similar conclusion even for the Chinese city of Wuhan. The initially significantly higher values for Wuhan were obtained because many people with only mild or no symptoms were not recorded.

The research

The New Zealand government is ignoring the countless virology and epidemiology specialists who have been saying that COVID-19 is no more than seasonal flu and the best course of action is to protect the vulnerable and let the healthy, especially children, acquire natural immunity, see Professor Alexander Kekulé , and Dr Knut Wittkowski.  Their view is born out by research that shows there has not been a single case of a child infecting an adult with COVID-19.

Epidemiological studies show that:

  • The virus is widespread but usually asymptomatic, ie generally not dangerous –50% to 80% of test-positive individuals remain symptom-free. Even among the 70 to 79 year old persons about 60% remain symptom-free, many more show only mild symptoms.
  • Lethality is far lower than previously claimed:

‘The lethality of covid19 (IFR) is between 0.1% and 0.36% (i.e. in the range of a severe influenza). In people over 70 years of age with no serious preconditions, the mortality rate is expected to be less than 1%. For people over 80 years of age, the mortality rate is between 3% and 15%, depending on whether deaths so far were mainly with or from by the disease. In contrast to influenza, child mortality is close to zero.’ (The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), University of Oxford, my emphasis)

The basis for the government’s lockdown decision

‘You are locked in your house right now because of some buffoon at Imperial College’, Mark Windows

The NZ government was influenced by the hysterical fear campaign conducted by the corporate media, in combination with alarmist projections from institutions such as Imperial College, London and the University of Otago Covid-19 Research Group, which have failed to stand up to either analysis or reality.   One analysis of the projections of Imperial College (which already had form for costly alarmism) concluded that they had exaggerated the risk by 131 times.  Otago University’s Covid-19 projections have likewise  been demolished , e.g by economist Ian Harrison, who specialises in risk modelling.

The government can also point to the World Health Organisation’s (rather slow) declaration of a pandemic on March 11, but the WHO has declared pandemics before without such drastic measures being imposed.

The Costs

‘[The lockdown measures] are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous […].  The life expectancy of millions is being shortened. The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences on medical care are profound.’ (Dr Sucharit Bhakdi, specialist in microbiology, emeritus professor at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and one of the most cited research scientists in German history.)

The costs are of course immeasurable, from the assault on normal business activity and the lives damaged by the consequent loss of employment, to the social costs of isolation,  the general breakdown to the health system, the dangerous undermining of civil liberties.  The long term economic consequences are unfathomable.  If we look at one easily understood example:

‘The money squandered on saving us from the common cold, optimistically estimated at $1 billion a day, has been [in the first three weeks of lockdown]:

– More than our entire health budget for the year
– 42 times what we spend on cancer every year
– Our entire education budget for 1.5 years.
– Roughly 10,500km worth of median barriers (Auckland to Wellington 16 times)
– 10 times the entire NZ Police’s budget (maintenance of law and order)
– 525 times what was allocated as a boost by the government to the Suicide Prevention (remembering suicide claimed 668 lives)
– Almost 15 brand new, modern hospitals’. (Alex Davis,
$21 billion: We Have Lost All Sense of Proportion With Covid-19′)

Well then, cui bono?

COVID-19 is a project of Bill Gates, who is the second biggest funder of the World Health Organisation after the United States, and generously funds the medical research institutes which are supporting the pandemic narrative. His dream for many years has been universal mandatory vaccination, and universal micro-chipping of humans.

The wealthy are making a killing out of crashing the global economy, and will be able to profitably fill the gap left by the destruction of small business; vaccine manufacturers are hoping for mandatory mass vaccination programmes with them having total indemnity; the manufactured crisis is being used to argue for increased powers to the United Nations.

Is the state of emergency legally justified?

COVID-19 was notified as a quarantinable disease, 11 March 2020

The Epidemic Preparedness Act at section 5, provides that:

With the agreement of the Minister of Health, the Prime Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, declare that he or she is satisfied that the effects of an outbreak of a stated quarantinable disease (within the meaning of the Health Act 1956) are likely to disrupt or continue to disrupt essential governmental and business activity in New Zealand (or stated parts of New Zealand) significantly.

It is clear that the major disruption to government and business activity has been caused by the state of emergency.  However the Prime Minister has not applied Section (3) (c) which provides that she can lift the notification of a quarantinable disease at any time simply by a notice in the Gazette.

On 18 March 2020, Covid-19 was de-classified by the UK authorities, in the light of more information coming to hand. This meant that Covid19 was no longer regarded as a highly infectious disease.  The decision made no impact on subsequent actions by the UK and the NZ authorities.

The notification of Covid19 was followed by the Prime Minister’s declaration on 23 March of a ‘state of emergency’ under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act (CDEM).

Under Section 66 of the CDEM, declaration of a national state of emergency requires a finding that:

(a) an emergency has occurred or may occur; and

(b) the emergency is, or is likely to be, of such extent, magnitude, or severity that the civil defence emergency management necessary or desirable in respect of it is, or is likely to be, beyond the resources of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups whose areas may be affected by the emergency.

The stated purpose of the COVID-19 declaration is “Because of the unprecedented nature of this global pandemic, and to ensure the government has all the powers it needs to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact”.

There has been no evidence in New Zealand of an emergency of such extent, magnitude, or severity that it is beyond the capacity of NZ civil defence forces. There is no reason for civil defence emergency management groups to be involved in the response to the situation, let alone ‘beyond the resources’.  Furthermore, any stress on the health system has been caused solely by the lockdown.

Each such declaration automatically lapses after 7 days, indicating a clear intent that these civil defence emergency powers be short-lived and reserved for exceptional situations. The Prime Minister’s decisions to serially roll over the Covid-declaration week after week in the absence of an epidemic, is surely open to challenge.

The purpose of CDEM must be to:

(a) improve and promote the sustainable management of hazards (as that term is defined in this Act) in a way that contributes to the social, economic, cultural, and environmental well-being and safety of the public and also to the protection of property; and

(b) encourage and enable communities to achieve acceptable levels of risk (as that term is defined in this Act), including, without limitation:

This requires a balanced risk assessment, with consideration of social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being, public safety and protection of property. It required acceptance of some risk. (Sue Grey, ‘When the “Cure” is more disruptive than the Virus’)

There is no evidence whatsoever that the government has made any kind of risk assessment, balancing the thin evidence of Covid-19 threat against the undoubted damage to the economy, the health system, and human welfare, including the cruel treatment meted out to the very people the government claims to care about, those in care homes.

Neither the legislation, nor the threat presented by Covid-19 in New Zealand, appear to justify the draconian and immensely harmful measures taken by the government.

The government is undeterred: it is now expected that the state of emergency will continue in some form all year.  The New Zealand International Film Society, normally held around the country July-August, has been cancelled, to be replaced by an on-line version.  New Zealand’s biggest Agricultural Show, the Canterbury A & P Show, to be held in November, has been cancelled for first time since WWII.

Even more concerning, the NZ government is granting itself special powers for 12 months to deal with immigration issues arising out of the (manufactured) Covid-19 crisis.  In other words, the state of emergency could continue in some form for at least another year – is the idea to roll it over until a vaccine is developed?  And if so, will this vaccine be compulsory, or at least required in order to move freely and assemble?

There is uncertainty, therefore, about the implications for the general election to be held in September – if the election goes ahead, will meetings be held, or will campaigning be conducted on line?  This would prevent any physical leafletting of the audience by candidates or activists.

The way forward

Action against the state of emergency has been impossible: rights of assembly have been removed, and even leafletting problematic.  While there have been sizable demonstrations against the lockdowns in the US and in Europe, many New Zealanders seem happy to go along with whatever the government decides, believing implicitly that power ennobles and absolute power ennobles absolutely.  Sue Grey’s view, however, is that ‘New Zealanders are increasingly questioning our government decisions, and its single focus on a virus to the detriment of our other health considerations, our lifestyle, economy and freedoms’.

Legal Action against the state of emergency

While a first attempt to take legal action against the lockdown has failed, there is now a new challenge which alleges that Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director-General of Education, has used powers that he doesn’t actually have.  It is likely there will be other lawsuits.  Even if they were to succeed, however, enormous harm, much irreversible, will have been done.

See also:

Facts About Covid, a regularly updated compilation of research relating to the ‘Covid crisis’, by a Swiss doctor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “COVID-19 in NZ: Is the State of Emergency Legal?

Leave a Reply to Linden Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s