Duncan Garner: New Zealand needs new pandemic laws, responses

OPINION: It turns out the police may not have actually had any extra powers to police the lockdown, or very many powers at all to stop our freedom of movement, close our shops, monitor who comes and goes, and this Government will want to update that I'm sure in a formal review.

But it seems like police managed the impossible without any of the legal tools they should have had.

Imagine if the truly obnoxious thugs had wanted to test it during lockdown.

It would not have been pretty.

The police managed extraordinary results not because of the law, but in spite of it.

They did it by stopping everyone three times a day I suppose.

They had a huge presence and carefully, carefully dealt with us in a sensitive way. 

But ultimately they appeared to cling desperately to a 50-year-old health notice.

It would have helped police if you were committing a genuine offence but at times it felt like the police were just keen to find out what you were up to and couldn't really do much more than that.

If they had no powers, it brings to question the very alert level system itself and this will need to be sorted urgently on the off chance we are forced to go back to level 4 - heaven forbid. 

Could shop owners say stick it? 

Could the public refuse to move level again?

The police got thrown this at short notice, and sure there was the odd over-zealous cop, but ultimately they figured it out.

But now, and urgently, we need new pandemic laws and responses.

We banned people from hospitals, from roads and shops, and no one can really tell us if police had the powers to enforce it.

Without a big new legal framework, we simply won't be able to go back to alert level 4.

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.