You may wonder what message the government’s disregard for the law sends the public. Retrospective legislation affecting something that was done yesterday because it was legal, but is retrospectively made illegal (or vice-versa) is an extremely problematic concept. But the Jacinda government is ambivalent about the Rule of Law — which protects people from arbitrary government.
The government, yet again, has been caught out playing fast and loose with the law during their haphazard pandemic response. First, it was the lockdowns that were illegal, and now it is the vaccine rollout:
The Health Minister is making an urgent law change after a High Court judgment ruled it was “reasonably arguable” the Government’s provisional approval of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is “problematic”.
The case – Nga Kaitiaki Tuku Ihu Medical Action Society Incorporated v The Minister of Health – was in the High Court at Wellington last week.
In a decision released today, Judge Rebecca Ellis said: “it is reasonably arguable that the decision to provisionally approve the vaccine for much wider use is problematic” and went beyond the powers of section 23 of the Medicines Act.
Doing so could undermine public confidence in the vaccine and waste vaccine stock that already in New Zealand.
What Ellis said could be problematic was the vaccine being granted for a limited number of New Zealanders – namely those aged over 16.
“While I acknowledge that this is a more “limited” class of persons than “all New Zealanders”, a class of that size seems well beyond what is contemplated by a straightforward, purposive, reading of the section,” she said.
However, Ellis declined to grant interim orders stopping the vaccine rollout – sought by the plaintiff – on the basis the repercussions “are too great, by some very considerable margin”.
In response, Health Minister Andrew Little said the Government was making an urgent “technical amendment to modernise the law”.
Little said section 23 had been used over 40 years by successive governments to grant early access to approved medicines when there was public good.
“The law has for some time now, lacked clarity over how it can be applied,” Little said.NZ Herald
Andrew Little used to mock Steven Joyce for his “pretty legal” claim. Now his Government has been caught breaking the law yet again.
Never mind, a cute little rushed retrospective legislation should fix it all up.
When this case was taken, the media and commenters labelled these people as cranks and conspiracy theorists. Some times, you know, the cranks are right.