A Stress-Test for Democracy: Analysing the New Zealand Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic from a Constitutional Perspective
Kuwait International Law School Journal, Special Issue on COVID-19 and the law (2020)
61 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 25, 2020
This article explores the New Zealand Government’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic through a legal and constitutional lens. It adopts an essentially doctrinal analysis in describing the response but intertwines a comparative law thread, to draw selected comparisons with how other governments have responded. It offers some political, demographical and historical insights to provide background information for non-New Zealand readers. The article aims to provide a comprehensive view of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements and how they have impacted on the Government’s response to COVID-19 as well as a critical analysis of that response by assessing the effectiveness of various measures adopted by the New Zealand Government. The article consists of six sections. Section one provides an introduction to New Zealand’s constitutional framework including some demographic information for non-New Zealand readers. Section two describes the New Zealand Government’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Section three discusses the declaration of a national state of emergency. Section four examines the Parliamentary oversight mechanism known as the “Epidemic Response Committee”. Section five explores the role of the media and the importance of upholding the right to freedom of expression when responding to the pandemic. Finally, section six draws out some overall recommendations for New Zealand and other countries to consider when moving forward and preparing for the next pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19 coronavirus, New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements, freedom of expression and COVID-19, the role of the media and COVID-19, national state of emergency and COVID-19, the Epidemic Response Committee, parliamentary oversight of the executive, COVID-19 investigatory body
JEL Classification: K1, K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation