COURT CASE WILL TEST LIMIT OF GOVT POWER
MONDAY 4 MAY 2020
In a time when the Christchurch shootings and the Covid-19 pandemic have allowed the Government to take the opportunity to increase its power, a case in the Wellington High Court today will test the Government’s right to ban property without evidence for the rationale, and without compensation.
The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners is seeking a Judicial Review of the actions of the Minister of Police in banning, confiscating and ordering the destruction of certain types of ammunition without evidence that it will improve New Zealanders' overall safety.
At the heart of the issue is whether the Minister of Police took the wrong information into account when determining what was ‘prohibited ammunition’. COLFO is also asking the Court to determine that the government should provide compensation for the banned ammunition.
Nicole McKee, spokesperson for COLFO, said extraordinary events within the past twelve months had revealed that there was little to stop the Government acting in arbitrary and excessive ways.
“It seems that this Government can act beyond the intent of law as long as they can cite extraordinary circumstances to discourage people challenging them.
“Firearm owners were the first to experience this, after the Christchurch attack encouraged the Government to give itself powers to deny citizens the use of their property. Decisions made under these powers were not scrutinised by Parliament, nor were the public or those affected consulted.”
The Arms (Prohibited Arms, Parts, and Magazines) Amendment Act 2019 made it an offence to possess, sell or supply prohibited ammunition.
Armed with that power, the government determined that prohibited ammunition included some types of ammunition that licenced firearm owners have been legitimately using, in some cases, bought directly from the government. As an example, these types of ammunition include ‘enhanced penetration’ that is ambiguously defined so many firearm owners may not even know they have it. Unlike firearms, the Government did not provide any compensation for banning this ammunition
There are three judicial review causes of action that COLFO is challenging:
- That there is a common law right to compensation when the government takes away personal property
- That the Minister failed to consider relevant matters, considered irrelevant matters and acted for an improper purpose when looking at what should be included as ‘prohibited ammunition’
- That the Minister in determining whether to provide compensation, considered irrelevant matters, failed to consider relevant matters and action for an improper purpose