Disinfo: New Zealand has evolved into a police state amid the COVID-19 fallout

Summary

New Zealand – the “land of the long white cloud” – has evolved into a police state overnight amid the fallout of Covid-19.

Disproof

This claim is a baseless conspiracy theory and recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the coronavirus crisis, attempting to portray democratic countries as failing to handle the pandemic and infringing on civil liberties. See similar cases that the COVID-19 outbreak is a pretext to gain control of the world's population, that COVID-19 is a political move to install hegemony, that the coronavirus is provoking the collapse of open society, and that democracy and freedom prevent Europe from fighting the virus effectively.

New Zealand announced a month-long shutdown on March 25 to combat the spread of the coronavirus, invoking a national level-four alert that means people are instructed to stay home, schools and universities are shut, all non-essential businesses close, and air travel and public transport are only to be used to transport essential workers and freight. Essential services such as supermarkets, doctor's offices and pharmacies will remain open. This approach follows that adopted by many other countries around the world to limit the spread of COVID-19, based on the social distancing recommendations advocated by the World Health Organisation and other health authorities.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for the clarity and compassion of her handling of New Zealand's response to the coronavirus. The government has set up an official website on COVID-19 that is available here. A detailed overview of the measures and lockdown conditions is available here. Information about COVID-19 from New Zealand's Ministry of Health is available here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 191
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 31/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Conspiracy theory, Police

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Environmentalists are overjoyed by the fear around COVID-19; they see it as an opportunity

Many hardline environmentalists are overjoyed at the atmosphere of fear that Covid-19 has created; for them, it is an instrument for realising the dream of a society that runs according to climate alarmists’ dogma.

Back in the 17th century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes anticipated the green politics of fear in his classic text, The Leviathan. Hobbes claimed that it is good when people are scared and frightened. Why? Because in their state of fear people will readily subject themselves to an absolutist ruler in exchange for his protection. One does not need a PhD in philosophy to understand that climate alarmist politics leads straight to the doorstep of the Leviathan.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory about the allegedly malicious intentions behind environmental activism, exploiting the coronavirus crisis in a bid delegitimise climate activism as hysteria and an effort to impose "absolutist rule" over society. Pro-Kremlin disinformation often engages in climate change denialism, suggesting for example that climate change is a Western hoax to prevent Russia's economic development and that climate activists want to destroy progress in the name of green faith.

This case is another example of how pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets exploit crisis situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic to spread disinformation about other topics and opportunistically adapt existing pro-Kremlin narratives to new contexts.

Western leaders delayed taking precautions against the coronavirus out of nervousness about their re-election chances

Many Western leaders believe their political survival is delicately poised in such a poisoned atmosphere and hence delayed taking preventive actions to stem community transmission of the coronavirus out of nervousness about their approval ratings and re-election chances.

Unlike Western democracies, whose political culture is shaped by asserting individualism, human rights and treating the state as an enemy of liberty, Asians mostly do not worry about violation of privacy or government abuses.

Disproof

Baseless speculation and conspiracy theory; no evidence given to support the claim that Western leaders have delayed taking precautions against the coronavirus due to nervousness about their approval rating and re-election chances. This case is also part of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign about the coronavirus crisis, one aim of which is to suggest that Western democracies and open societies are incapable of coping with the pandemic, as opposed to authoritarian or closed societies.

The article’s claim that societies which aren't concerned about government abuses are better at preventing and controlling epidemics do not reflect reality. Authoritarian regimes or closed societies, which tend to control and manipulate information and limit the freedom of doctors and scientists to engage in international cooperation, are often an obstacle to the timely detection and containment of epidemic outbreaks.

Coronavirus killed the Schengen area

European unity has become another victim of the coronavirus. The Schengen agreement is not valid. The free movement of people, goods and services will no longer resume. Coronavirus killed the Schengen area.

Disproof

Attempt to discredit the EU, consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the imminent collapse of the EU. Read similar case claiming that The Schengen zone has collapsed.

The coronavirus crisis does not signal the collapse of the Schengen Area. On the contrary – we are seeing how indispensable Schengen arrangements are to the European economy and way of life. In the current exceptional situation, many EU Member States introduced temporary border controls to slow the spread of coronavirus, but the Commission is ensuring that EU-wide supply chains continue to operate and that flow of goods and key services continues around the clock. The introduction of ‘green lanes’ will allow all freight vehicles to cross internal Schengen borders within 15 minutes. Learn more here.