National votes against Government's alert level 2 enforcement Bill

The National Party has voted against the first and second reading of an urgent Bill being passed through Parliament which would grant the Government powers to enforce the rules of coronavirus alert level 2.

The Bill is being treated as time-sensitive and needs to be in place for 11:59pm on Wednesday when the country enters level 2.

National voted against the bill at the first and second readings as did independent MP Jami-Lee Ross. 

It passed with support from Labour, NZ First, the Greens and the Act Party. The Bill now faces its third reading on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday afternoon the leader of the National Party Simon Bridges sounded the alarm over some elements of the Bill.

He questioned why people would be allowed to go to the movies, but not to mourn a loved one.

"There can be sports games with physical contact and yet at one of the most tragic defining points of life, a funeral, direct family members cannot attend them.

"That's not just not kind -  it's inhumane. We can do better than that," he said.

National MP Judith Collins backed Bridges, saying the Government is "rushing".

"The Government is rushing through legislation to give itself powers to put in place what it says is needed for Level 2 response to COVID -19," she posted on Facebook on Tuesday.

"Enforcement Officers - whoever they are- will have powers to enter premises and close down enterprises. Police will have the power to enter your home without a warrant. This is madness!

"The National Party must support the rule of law and not stand by and support the latest political decree."

And National MP Simeon Brown called it a "deeply troubling piece of legislation which goes against the rule of law".

"We must continue to fight against COVID-19 but we must do it in a proportionate and careful way which works alongside Kiwis who want to do the right thing."

However Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern defended the urgent Bill saying a pandemic was not the time for politics.

"There is no assertion here from the Government to do anything other than try and be open around pieces of legislation that we have to work at great pace on," she said on Tuesday.

"There is no politics in a pandemic response, but there is an issue around timing." 

Attorney-General David Parker said the Bill would ensure controls on gatherings of people and physical distancing are still enforceable, reports NZME.