Hipkins defends fast-tracked traffic light system

Chris Hipkins is defending the Government’s traffic light legislation which has come under recent criticism, for the speed of which it was pushed through Parliament.

It was announced on Monday that the country would move to the traffic light system, officially known as the Covid-19 Protection Framework, on December 2.

On Wednesday the legislation for the traffic light system was passed through Parliament.

It’s a process that can take months, but was pushed through in a matter of days, the speed of which was condemned by National’s Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop as “bad law making”.

In response to such criticism, the Covid-19 Response Minister told Breakfast on Thursday these were “extraordinary times”.

“I think when you’re doing extraordinary things in a pandemic which there’s no question we are, you need to build extra safeguards in place and this bill has those.

“Every order, every decision that gets made under this act gets subject to Parliamentary scrutiny, it’s reviewed by a Parliamentary select committee and it then has to be confirmed by a majority vote in the house of representatives.”

In a statement on Monday, Bishop said it usually takes four to six months for legislation to go through, and the Government was using its Parliamentary majority to "ram it through without any chance for public comment or scrutiny".

The new legislation will see different rules for people who are fully vaccinated, compared to people who have not had both their Covid-19 vaccinations, when the system comes into play from the end of next week.

Restrictions will be placed on businesses that open to unvaccinated customers as they pose a higher risk in a Covid environment. And different regions will go into Red, Orange or Green levels, dependent on the Covid risk, the pressure placed on the health care system and the area’s vaccination rate.

Hipkins said the bill itself has to be periodically renewed by Parliament through a majority vote in the house and the bill itself expires after a period of time.

“All of these things are extra safeguards put in place to recognise that these are extraordinary powers and these are extraordinary times.”