Lives and livelihoods must be the priorities for the region, not manufacturing an endless emergency.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Across the Pacific, leaders are holding fast to the old political maxim. Some, even, seem happy to have the Covid-19 crisis around.

Even in countries where there is no actual public health emergency, governments are using the threat of the virus as cover for overriding or diluting basic democratic principles.

Rather than pulling out all the stops to save their flailing economies, leaders are exploiting extraordinary emergency powers to secure themselves in positions of increasing impunity.

In June this year, Papua New Guinea’s government railroaded the National Pandemic Act 2020 through parliament. The provisions it contains make scant reference to actual public health issues.

But it begins with a list of constitutional rights and freedoms it may constrain, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and protection from arbitrary search and seizure.

It also removes checks and balances on government spending, raising concerns that funds given to the government will not receive necessary scrutiny.

Please click here to read the full “We can’t allow Pacific leaders to use coronavirus as a cover for authoritarianism” article published at Guardian, written by Griffith Asia Institute, adjunct researcher, Tess Newton Cain and Dan McGarry.