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GCSB Bill – for shame

Written By: - Date published: 9:17 am, June 25th, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: john key, law, Spying - Tags: , , ,

The Law Society is not exactly a hotbed of leftie activism (more’s the pity!). So the supporters of this appallingly arrogant government should sit up and take notice when they speak out as clearly as this:

Law Society slams spy agency bill

The Law Society has made a stinging attack on proposed law changes governing the GCSB spy agency, saying they effectively transform it from a foreign intelligence agency to a domestic one without any justification being given. …

The Law Society submission, written by Rodney Harrison, QC, says: “It is difficult to identify the pressing and substantial concerns that the bill purports to remedy or address.”

The society recognised the critical role intelligence gathering played in ensuring the security of New Zealand but “extensive and pervasive amendments to the state’s power of surveillance should not be passed by Parliament lightly nor without the fullest extent of debate possible. The Law Society does not consider that sufficient justification has been provided for the proposed reforms”.

The bill allows for greater spying by the agency on New Zealanders in its beefed-up role in cyber security of both government and private sectors. …

“It seems that the underlying objective of the legislation is to give the GCSB powers it lacked previously: the power to conduct surveillance on New Zealand citizens and residents. No explanation or justification for the conferral of this power is given.”

After Peter Dunne’s (so far) principled stand, the Bill’s fate appears to rest in the erratic hands of Winston Peters:

Govt struggling to get support for GCSB bill

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) should stick to spying on foreigners.

Mr Dunne said he is worried about the blurring of the boundaries between the GCSB and the Security Intelligence Service, which is responsible for internal security. “I think that boundary needs to be clear and I don’t think the GCSB should under any circumstances have a role in any form of domestic security operation.” Mr Dunne says he will decide whether to support the legislation based on what changes are made before it is referred back to Parliament.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is more sympathetic to the legislation, but says not enough work has been done on the plan to ensure that the country has proper workable security measures to defend the security of New Zealanders. Despite the Government likely to need New Zealand First’s support to get the bill through Parliament, it has made no approach to the party about discussing changes that would make the legislation more acceptable.

Key’s position on all this is shameful. In this piece he claims (again) that the law is unclear:

Prime Minister John Key argues that the bill simply clarifies what the GCSB already does, but the Law Society does not accept that. … “And the bottom line is, that because of difficulties in interpretation in the law, we need to clarify that law, but this is something that has been going on for a very long period of time under previous governments.”

But on the 12th of June he said in Parliament that the law was “very clear”:

But what I can say, though, is that the Government Communications Security Bureau and the SIS have very clear rules under which circumstances they can gather information about New Zealanders.

Key is right when he says that the law is very clear about not spying on New Zelanders. He is lying when he says otherwise to try and cover up the previous actions of the GCSB, and “justify” increased new spying powers that we don’t want and don’t need. For shame.

34 comments on “GCSB Bill – for shame ”

  1. Macro 1

    But John wants to sign a deal with the States Rob! So we HAVE to change the law to be like them! Don’t worry it’s all good.

  2. karol 2

    Winston Peters will use this as a toe in the door to being a future Nat coalition partner – NZ First will ask for some concessions, enable the worst of the Bill to pass, and claim they are holding the government to account.

    • Bearded Git 2.1

      But Winnie hates Key-look at the body language.

      • Enough is Enough 2.1.1

        Winnie and Bolger hated each other and then jumped back into bed in 2006.

        If they have the numbers come election time they will do the deal.

        Winnie is shaping up as man who has the power to put Key back in for his coveted third term.

        It is our duty to New Zealand to ensure Key never doesn’t return. The way to do that is target Winston. Without NZfirst there is no National third term government

        • Enough is Enough

          that should have been 1996

          • Huginn

            1996 was unusual because it was the first government struck under MMP. MMP wasn’t well understood.

            Also pays to remember that Peters was still a National Party member & MP in 1993; some part of him was probably still tribal National when Bolger came around with a bottle of Scotch and a couple of glasses.

            And of course that Jim Bolger was more emotionally inteligent and therefore a smarter deal maker than anyone gives him credit for.

        • Penny Bright

          That’s EXACTLY what the 2008 campaign against NZ First and Winston Peters was all about.

          To stop NZ First reaching the 5% party threshold.

          And the result of that………………..?

          Penny Bright

        • Populuxe1

          And Bolger’s National was a very different party to Key’s. NZ First has grown into a profoundly anti-neoliberal party.

        • Draco T Bastard

          If Winnie does a deal over this he won’t be back in next term.

        • Murray Olsen

          I’d rather see Mana and Greens grow, and Labour get an effective leader, than target Winnie. Targeting Winnie, even if it did get Shearer in as ah, um, ah Prime um Minister, would do nothing to make the left stronger. It could even make us weaker.

    • Populuxe1 2.2

      Let it go, karol – saying it won’t make it so. Unless Key renationalises the assets, it’s not going to happen

    • Huginn 2.3

      I disagree with you on this one, Karol

      I think that Winston Peters is a great opposition politician and I think that this will inform his approach to the GCSB Bill.

  3. Ted 3

    Clearly Key is sidling up to Obama.
    No such allusions by this (Irish) MP:


  4. Mary 4

    “He needs to be called out on it.”

    Just don’t get Shearer to do it otherwise he’ll convince everyone there’s nothing wrong with the bill.

  5. fender 5

    Key must be planning to blackmail Dunne in order to secure Dunnes’ vote for this bill, because despite Dunne saying he’s not keen on it, Key is saying he is confident Dunne will vote for it. Emails, UF Party funding, cup of tea….Key holds all the cards.

  6. Would Prime Minister John Key, (Minister responsible for the GCSB); the Inspector-General Paul Neazor, the Director of the GCSB, Ian Fletcher ALL sign (or affirm) affidavits confirming that each of them had actually READ the current GCSB Act themselves?

    (I’ve asked this in my submission).

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption /anti-privatisation’ campaigner

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

  7. Rogue Trooper 7

    Winston will live another day to rue supporting this bill; oversight panel or not. Wotta dick, he is a freakin’ embarrassment to the politics of this country. And, and, where is all this dirt on Dunne and the Security / Intelligence committee he was going to dispense at his leisure? All mouth, no trousers, like the people who vote for him!

    • Populuxe1 7.1

      WInston hasn’t actually voted on the bill, so stop talking out your arse. Being on the oversight panel means that Winston has more of an idea of what’s going on than you apparently do, and he has said he won’t support it unless the courts are involved in the process. Stop telling lies.

      • Rogue Trooper 7.1.1

        Time will tell. Although, there is a lapse in the passing on of domestic skills such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting and maintaining one’s wardrobe. 😉 (hope this finds you well Populuxe 1) Oh, and Winston is quite transparent, despite what goes on in select committee.

  8. burt 8

    Is this the same Law Society who made such a bad call and showed their partisan stripes when they harshly criticised the EFA ?

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Advocating for fairness and the disadvantaged is now called being “partisan”, I take it.

  9. Rogue Trooper 9

    Now it’s a “safety” issue- Key
    “confident of Dunne’s support” . Jesus wept. Now, where is Pop?

  10. Anne 10

    “confident of Dunne’s support”.

    I take that as a threat to P Dunne… support the bill or else worse things are going to befall you.

    • burt 10.1

      Nationals Taito Field perhaps… Key has about another year or protecting him before throwing him to the wolves if that’s the case. Protect him long enough that there won’t be a by election…. Will be interesting to see if Key’s snivelling foot soldiers defend him for taking the minister at his word….

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    The last resort of scoundrels

    If we believe a spy agency that spies on foreigners is necessary, then the GCSB already has appropriate powers to perform that role. But there is simply no justification for greater spying on New Zealanders. And anyone who hides behind “public safety” to try and justify it is simply an authoritarian engaging in the last resort of scoundrels.

    That seems to be about right.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      Maybe NRT begs the next question with this: If we believe a spy agency that spies on foreigners is necessary.

      What then is the effective distinction between ‘foreigners’ and ‘nationals’? The mere act of possessing NZ citizenship and/or residency seems like an inadequate answer, assuming as it does that being a New Zealander means you will always have the best interests and public safety of the nation at heart.

      And who is to define ‘public safety’? Realistically if you are going to spy on non-New Zealanders, you might as well spy on the locals as well. Or not spy at all.

      And of course the big problem is when the Prime Minister is the sole person in charge of the spooks. It is only inevitable that such powers will be used against his/her political opponents. We can be reasonably sure they’ve been misused in such a way already.

      And in the old days before the net spying was a necessarily resource limited, labour intensive undertaking. Nowadays all digital communications are stored, searched, filtered and data mined. We’re all being spied on. Even this little comment on The Standard is being watched over by some machine or algorithm. Every EFTPOS transaction, every time you walk past a camera, every time you make a phone call, click a mouse, or fill out a form … it’s been stored somewhere.

      We are within a decade of the point where in order to be a citizen “in good standing”, every moment of your life, from birth to death, every thing you say, do, or place you go, whoever you meet, talk with, sleep with …every instant of your life… will be recorded on a secure government database. Any gap in the record, and attempt to spoof or fake the record will mean an automatic presumption that you are a threat to ‘public safety’. Privacy will be a crime.

      This is all quite inevitable. Technological progress will enable it, and the demand for ‘public safety’ will trump all other concerns. Any sporadic voices raised against this march will be silenced with the soothing words, “if you have nothing to hide, you will have nothing to worry about”.

      Might as well let this GCSB Act pass and get with the plan. What does amuse me is of course watching right-wingers who just a few short years ago, were screaming “Nanny State” and comparing Helen Clark to various dictators because it was being proposed to put in place some standards around light bulbs and shower heads … seem quite happy to cheer on their own team ramming into place the underpinnings of the total surveillance state.

      • xtasy 11.1.1

        Red Logix – excellent comment! Yes, it is already happening all around us, and affecting us, 24/7 that is, and too many only see things with a selective focus.

      • Rogue Trooper 11.1.2

        RL, better to be on the cards as a ‘notified’ Outlaw; NTHNTF!

  12. Anne 12

    John Key is now resorting to the unsavoury tactic of questioning people’s patriotism.

    Straight out of the Republican Party, USA. Key’s secret allegiance.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Straight out of the Republican Party, USA. Key’s secret allegiance.

      On this matter, there is absolutely no difference between the US Republicans and the US Democrats.

  13. xtasy 13

    Who needs a bill? We will have it all for free! The two faced serpent called John Keypone is ready to spit the poison and deliver. Calm down, shut up, they are already watching and tracking and tracing. Damned this thread is just on screen on GCSB now, better get off-line now. Take care, folks.

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