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Morning Briefing May 14: Level 2 legal framework causes controversy

As the country wakes up to life at Alert Level 2, there’s unease about the legal framework that’s been put in place to enforce it.

Jacinda Ardern Source: Getty

The Covid-19 Public Health Response Act passed under urgency last night, giving the Government and police sweeping powers to implement Level 2 restrictions.

Among other things, the new law allows police to enter homes without a warrant in order to shut down large gatherings. 

Both National and ACT voted against the legislation, while the Human Rights Commission says it’s “deeply concerned” about the bill.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says the Government hasn’t allowed enough time "for careful public democratic consideration of this Level 2 legislation". He says there are also concerns over disproportionate powers.

Meanwhile, Māori communities are concerned that police may be able to search marae without a warrant.

After backlash from Māori leaders, the Government removed a reference to marae from the legislation.

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the reference was to ensure marae had the same protection as private dwellings.

Attorney-General David Parker says despite claims by critics, police powers will be narrower than they have been for the past seven weeks.

The Act will automatically expire in 90 days unless Parliament agrees to extend it.

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Budget all about jobs

Many businesses who have struggled through lockdown are finally able to open their doors again today – and they’re hoping for more Government support when it delivers its Budget this afternoon.

In her pre-Budget speech yesterday, Prime Minister Ardern said the focus is now on the jobs and incomes of businesses and New Zealanders.

Ms Ardern says Budget 2020 will be delivered within “the most challenging economic conditions faces by any government since the Great Depression”, but she says the economy can get moving again quickly “if we make the right choices”.

Some are hoping those choices include long-term sustainability.

With the global lockdown having a positive impact on the climate, there are growing calls for the Government to not just deal with the crisis at hand, but to also look at keeping those environmental gains

And economist Cameron Bagrie has told the Covid-19 select committee the Budget numbers “are going to be absolutely terrible”.

He says that means tough decisions, including raising the retirement age at some stage. 

A 1 NEWS special will air on TVNZ 1 from 2pm today with all the Budget details. 

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank is pulling more levers to try and keep the economy stable.

It’s nearly doubling its bonds scheme, effectively pumping billions of dollars into the economy, and says very low interest rates are locked in.

Govt backtracks over funerals

The public outcry over restrictions on funerals and tangihanga has seen the Government increase the number of people allowed to attend such gatherings from 10 to 50.

Health Minister David Clark announced the change of heart yesterday afternoon, just hours after the Government revealed there were again no new cases of Covid-19 recorded.

Funeral services will still have to adhere to strict public health measures, including physical distancing and no congregations for food and drink afterwards. 

National Party leader Simon Bridges says he’s pleased to see some progress on the funeral issue, but says the Government backtrack "smacks of incoherent, inconsistent policy on the hoof".

DHB apologises to nurses

Three nurses at Waitākere Hospital likely contracted Covid-19 on a stressful day when a patient died and others were sick and confused, Waitematā DHB says.

A report has been released after an urgent review of the three nurses who caught the disease while caring for rest home patients at the hospital.

The review describes very stressful nursing conditions and ill-fitting PPE. The DHB has apologised to the nurses, saying better systems were needed. 

Relief for NCEA students

The Government has announced changes to secondary qualifications due to the lockdown. These include delays to end-of-year exams and extended portfolio submission dates.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the changes are about easing the disruption to students’ learning after being out of school for five weeks.

Further changes are likely once the education sector has discussed its issues. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education says there’s no room on school buses for physical distancing with services resuming again under Level 2. It’s blaming a shortage of both drivers and buses.

High-profile gathering 'not a party'

An Auckland bar owner is hitting back at criticism over reportedly hosting a 100-person party, denying it's a party at all.

HeadQuarters’ Leo Molloy has been in the news over reported plans to hold a high-profile party this weekend, but he’s told 1 NEWS in a fiery interview that he’s “done nothing wrong”.

Mr Molloy insists the gathering of around 85 guests is a dinner, not a party.

He’s also lashed out at the Prime Minister for “changing the rules” on gatherings, calling them “bulls***".

Other news of note this morning:

The Government is speeding up changes to foreign investor rules as the economy recovers from the fallout of Covid-19.

Air New Zealand will today begin flying its 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft between Christchurch and Auckland to help transport cargo from the South Island.

Samoa has dismissed the idea of a Pacific travel bubble because New Zealand refuses to pre-test passengers.

A Hamilton-based Lotto player is celebrating this morning after taking home $10.3 million in last night’s draw.

Today marks the 25-year anniversary of Team New Zealand lifting the America's Cup for the first time.

And dog friends will be allowed to reunite with their buddies under Level 2 today, but the Director-General of Health says they need to stick to the same rules as humans.

And finally...

Contestants from TVNZ show Survive The 80s. Source: Seven Sharp

Shot just before lockdown, Survive The 80s is a new TV show that sends a bunch of Kiwi 20-somethings back to the days of Muldoon and landlines to see if they can handle life in a time that taste forgot.

Seven Sharp’s Jeremy Wells goes behind the scenes to speak to the contestants and the makers of the show – and winds up revealing he still knows all the words to the Gloss theme tune.