Bill Ralston usually gets stirred by posters at The Standard for what he says. I’ve generally liked him after seeing him give some politicians a degree of ribbing at the annual foreign policy conference in Dunedin in the mid-80’s. I really liked his most recent blog “Wimpy response to out-of-line cops”.
The latest Hager/Hubbard story about the police spying on community groups and other activists is a good one, however. I’ve waited a few days to see what action the government would take and how the other media followed the story.
I needn’t have bothered. The government seems to have simply shrugged and the rest of the media contented themselves with merely noting it had occurred.
This story is much more important than that and should not be allowed to fade quietly away.
I’m pretty sure that it won’t. The air of disquiet about the implication of the police actions seems to spread across wide areas of society, and across the political spectrum.
It is worrying in the extreme that the SIG was monitoring the activities of at least one political party, the Greens.
There is no risk of serious criminal offending by these groups. There is no threat to the security of the state or the people of New Zealand. These folk are going about their lawful, if noisy, business exercising their democratic rights.
Where was the indignation from the government at this appalling waste of public money and police resources? Where is their anger at this heavy handed Iron Curtain approach to people voicing their legitimate dissent as part of the political process?
John Key tut-tutted that the police should only be investigating groups that posed a ‘real or credible risk to the safety and security of communities’. He is right but what is he doing to stop them abusing their powers? Nothing.
I suspect that Bill is being a bit impatient here. This issue about the use and abuse of police powers will continue to rumble for a long time yet. It is a problem that I’ve been thinking seriously about for some time now. Now we’re not likely to have an election for a few years, it seems like a good time to start following it up. At present the police seem to need to have a mirror set up to look at their own actions from the outside.
I really did like his last few paragraphs.
Broad’s assurances are patently ridiculous and anyone with half a brain could see that most of the individuals and groups targeted posed no risk to anyone but their macrobiotic sandal-wearing selves.
The police were patently out of line and yet nothing is to be done about it. It exposes the dangers inherent in John Key’s lack of real political principles. Key’s wimpish, tepid response shows how he and this government are most probably going to be snowed by the public service over the next three years.
Frankly, the media’s coverage of the fallout from the affair was equally tepid and wimpy. Few thundering editorials, fewer still hard probes of what else the SIG might have been up to.
So much for the Fourth Estate and its eagle-eyed guardianship of our civil rights.
Ouch, even the posters here usually don’t hit quite so many targets in one sitting.