Where did our Rights go?
Today the High Court ruled that whilst vaccine mandates can create bullying, harassment, and vilification of the unvaccinated and their family members, they do not breach the NZ Bill of Rights. This means that Justice Matthew Palmer believed that vaccine mandates do not violate the provisions of the NZ Bill of Rights including
“Right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation” or
“Freedom of thought conscience or religion” or
“Freedom from discrimination” or
“Right to refuse to undergo medical treatment” or
“Rights of minorities”.
In ruling against the plaintiffs Justice Palmer appealed to section 5 of the NZ Bill of Rights which says:
“the rights and freedoms expressed in this Bill of Rights may be subject to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.
You might join me in thinking that Section 5 is chilling in the way that it asserts the ability of parliament to overrule our rights and implies that the majority may impose its views on the minority.
How did this happen? Before 2004, NZers had the right to appeal to the Privy Council in the UK. The UK judicial process has essential guarantees built into its constitution known as Common Law. Common Law dates back to the 13th century and to the confrontation between the rebel Barons and King John which resulted in the Magna Carta Libertatum (Great Charter of Freedoms) being signed at Runnymede. Common Law is perpetuated when justices invoke ancient principles of fairness and rights in their interpretation of the law. Lord Chief Justice Denning, Master of the Rolls, and famous advocate of individual justice defined the effect of Common Law as
“what right thinking men consider to be fair between man and man and in these days between man and the state” (please forgive his gender bias in an earlier age)
Helen Clarke decided that our right of appeal to the Privy Council was archaic and should be replaced by a NZ institution—the Supreme Court. That seems OK, but in so doing she quietly replaced the central role of Common Law in the judicial process with the ‘supremacy of Parliament’. Parliament now has the right to do almost anything it wishes, even extending to the amendment of legislation with retrospective effect. The NZ courts have consistently taken the view that their role is not to interfere with but rather support the intent of Parliament. The NZ Bill of Rights Act of 1990 thereby has no teeth, it is advisory only and its provisions are regularly ignored or overruled by the courts.
Jacinda Ardern and her government, riding on an absolute parliamentary majority, have today exploited parliament’s supremacy to the full. Crown lawyers have sought and succeeded in painting the imposition of medical risk as a democratic and social good in times of emergency. Concerns raised by scientific research publications did not play a part in today’s judgement, the law does not require science be followed only the intention of parliament.
Can we be forgiven for drawing a parallel between 12th November 2021 and and 31st March 1933 when the German government passed an innocent-sounding law called the Temporary Law for Coordination (Gleichschaltung)? This proceeded along two related paths: synchronisation of all government institutions and mobilization of all citizens for the National Socialist cause. This law paved the way for the creation of all subsequent instruments of mass control and exploitation in the Nazi state.
This situation can only be avoided by the repeal of Section 5 of the NZ Bill of Rights.