State of emergency gives Government, police most power since 1950s but there are limits - expert

The state of emergency declared for the coronavirus pandemic in New Zealand means the Government, police and other authorities have new "powers" at their disposal. But they are still limited on a number of fronts, a law expert says.

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Law Professor Andrew Geddis says authorities have had many powers "unlocked" for the lockdown. Source: Breakfast

Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that by enacting the civil defense emergency management act - a move that can only be triggered in "extraordinary circumstances" - it shows the seriousness of the situation New Zealanders are in.

"It unlocks a number of powers for the police and for other authorities but the other thing that has happened is that there has been an epidemic notice put out under another legislation - the Epidemic Preparedness Act," Mr Geddis said.

"That gives the Government the power to basically change any legislation that it needs to in order to allow life to go on as it were.

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“Breaking the rules could kill someone close to you,” the Prime Minister warned yesterday. Source: Breakfast

"These powers in place tell us that this is an unprecedented situation."

Mr Geddis said the last time the Government has held such power over New Zealand was in 1951 during the waterfront dispute, but despite this, politicians and police still have limitations.

Watch the full interview above.