In response to the riot in Auckland and disturbances in other centres, the government pushed through two pieces of legislation that affected the rights of PSA members.
The Public Safety Conservation Bill was rushed through all three readings on April 19 1932. It empowered the Governor-General to proclaim a state of emergency and make any regulations necessary to prohibit any acts which would be ‘injurious to the public safety’. This could include threatened or actual strikes that interfered with the essentials of life, such as the supply and distribution of food, water or fuel.
The government also introduced a Finance Act. This include a clause (section 59) that authorised the dismissal without notice of any public servant 'guilty of conduct calculated to incite, procure or encourage grave acts of injustice, violence, lawlessness, or disorder, or that by public statements, or statements intended for publication, in New Zealand or elsewhere, he has sought to bring the government of New Zealand into disrepute’.
On behalf of the CSO, the PSA’s General Secretary F.W. Millar argued that such legislation was without precedent and autocratic. But on May 10 the Finance Act became law.
(Sources: Matthew Palmer, 'Constitution - The rise and bridling of executive power', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/constitution/page-8 ; Bert Roth, Remedy for Present Evils: A history of the New Zealand Public Service Association from 1890, New Zealand Public Service Association, 1987)