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GCSB- Questions?

Written By: - Date published: 2:31 pm, August 20th, 2013 - 58 comments
Categories: accountability, david shearer, democratic participation, internet, john key, Spying, winston peters - Tags:

This afternoon in Question Time, John Key has refused to answer Russel Norman’s supplementary to Question One, asking if the GCSB has received any funding from the US.

Key says it’s not in the country’s interest to answer.

This question follows revelations in the UK Guardian that the US spy agency, NSA has provided secret funds to the UK branch of echelon – the GCHQ:

The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQover the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes.

[…]

Ministers have denied that GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work”, but in the documents GCHQ describes Britain’s surveillance laws and regulatory regime as a “selling point” for the Americans.

The papers are the latest to emerge from the cache leaked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has railed at the reach of the US and UK intelligence agencies.

Snowden warned about the relationship between the NSA and GCHQ, saying the organisations have been jointly responsible for developing techniques that allow the mass harvesting and analysis of internet traffic. “It’s not just a US problem,” he said. “They are worse than the US.”

Also during the same question, John Key did his slippery contortions around apparently contradictory statements:

1) Content of New Zealanders’ emails won’t be accessed

2) “In principle” it is possible for the content of New Zealanders’ emails to be accessed by the GCSB.

I will update with full transcripts when they become available.

Now Shearer is questioning Key on the same points.

And then Key goes into attacking the opposition – divert, attack, prevaricate – standard Key MO.

[Update] Question One video from this afternoon’s Question Time:

Question Three – asked by David Shearer

[Update]: Question time Qu 1 transcript:

1. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister responsible for the GCSB: Will the Government Communications Security Bureau be able to access the content of any New Zealander’s communications under the cybersecurity provisions of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Minister responsible for the GCSB) I am advised that a combination of the provisions in the bill, specifically sections 8A, 15A, and 15C, means that the answer is no, not in the first instance. However, approval will be considered for the GCSB to access content if a specific and serious cyber-intrusion has been detected against a New Zealander. In those circumstances, the Commissioner of Security Warrants and I will need to be convinced that the action is necessary, falls within the function of protection, and will be limited to content that is related to the cyber-attack. The cyber-security function of bill clearly states that it is to protect the security and integrity of communications. It is not for spying or putting people under surveillance.

Dr Russel Norman : So is it correct to paraphrase the Prime Minister’s answer as: “No, it cannot access the content of New Zealanders’ communications, but, yes, it can access the content of the communications under certain circumstances.”, and how are those two answers compatible?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In principle, yes, but it is worth remembering that in the event that content was looked at, it would require another warrant. It would be highly specific, it would be for the purposes of protection, and it would almost certainly be with the agreement of the New Zealander.

Dr Russel Norman : As he has now admitted that in principle, yes, the GCSB will be able to access the content of New Zealanders’ emails, did he tell New Zealand on Campbell Live last week that “they would not have access”—

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would just ask you to consider the supplementary question that is being asked, because it makes a strong assertion at the beginning of what we hope will become a question. That is outside the Standing Orders, and I think it is not appropriate for a matter like this to have such gross misrepresentation allowed in the House.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : I will hear from Dr Russel Norman.

Dr Russel Norman : As I am sure you have realised, the difficulty is that the answer to the primary question originally was “no”, but then the Prime Minister went on and said: “But, in principle, yes.” The problem that we are dealing with is that the Minister’s answer is incoherent, so we are trying to deal with that.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! No, well, I certainly do not think that last point of order was helpful. If I go back to the very first answer to the supplementary question, the member’s interpretation of that answer is incorrect, and I think that is the point that Mr Brownlee is now raising about the continued paraphrasing of the answer in the opinion of the member. I do not agree with the way that it has been paraphrased. I ask the member to continue asking supplementary questions but to bring them within the Standing Orders.

Dr Russel Norman : Why did he tell New Zealanders on Campbell Live last week, his sole substantial television interview on this issue, that the GCSB would not have access to the content of their emails—to quote the Prime Minister—when he has just told us, just now, that in principle, under certain circumstances, it would?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, the member should stand corrected, because it is not my only television appearance on the matter. Secondly, the answer is correct that I gave on Campbell Live : no, it is not possible, but it would be possible to go and get a further warrant and do some work if required.

Dr Russel Norman : OK. Then is the Prime Minister prepared to consider an amendment to make it abundantly clear to everybody, including those of us in the Opposition who struggle to understand these things, that the bill will not allow access by the GCSB to the content of the communications?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : It is not necessary. It is already in the law. In fact, the function of cyber-security is clearly to protect, not spy. If the member wants to know what spying looks like, which is the claim he is making, he needs to go and look at section 8B, where the GCSB work is all about gathering intelligence, and the capabilities, intentions, and activities of people. Of course, that is in relation to foreigners. The member should tell me where he can see those provisions in the cyber-security. He cannot. The truth is that no one on that side of the House understood the legislation. That is why they spend so much time filibustering and wasting time instead of understanding the law. The people who look like fools are on that side of the House—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The answer is quite sufficient.

Louise Upston : Has the Prime Minister seen any reports about the importance of security legislation like the GCSB legislation?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have. I have seen a report stating that “… the security of the realm should transcend party politics.” and: “… I recognise the support that members of the Opposition are giving to the passage of this bill.” That statement came from none other than David Cunliffe during the debates in 2003 on the GCSB. They are the leadership qualities the Labour Party—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is not in order. [Interruption ] Order! I have an interruption coming from Grant Robertson. Does the member want to take a point of order?

Dr Russel Norman : Does the GCSB receive funding directly or indirectly from the Government of the United States?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : It is not in my interest or the national interest for me to answer that question. I do not think any Minister responsible for the GCSB would do so.

Hon Trevor Mallard : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is a long-term tradition in this House that a member’s interests—and the Prime Minister has said it is not in his interests to answer the question. He can say it is not in the national interest, but we know it is not in his interests already.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The Prime Minister, I think, stumbled over the first words as he started that answer. He said that it is not in the country’s interest for him to continue to answer that question, and that is a perfectly satisfactory answer.

Dr Russel Norman : Does that mean that the Prime Minister will not deny that the GCSB has received funding from the Government of the United States?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No. It means that it is not in the national interest for me to discuss those matters.

Louise Upston : Can the Prime Minister outline for the House the increasing threat that the National Cyber Security Centre has reported on?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I can. The National Cyber Security Centre reported that in 2011 it had 90 incidents lodged with it. These constitute serious incidents that do damage or compromise the target or company involved. In 2012 that number increased from 90 to 134. The number this year is already standing at 204, and we are not even near the end of the year. These attacks are steeply rising and putting at risk our Government and our private sector security. The GCSB has a vital role to play in combating this, and that is why it is crucial the legislation is passed by the House.

Dr Russel Norman : Does the Prime Minister believe it is right or, indeed, lawful for the GCSB to receive funding from a foreign Government without informing this Parliament?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, the member should be very careful about jumping to any conclusions. It is not in the national interest for me to discuss those kinds of matters. But what is really interesting is that 24 hours before we finally pass the GCSB legislation, that member does not even have a question on the matter.

Louise Upston : Has the Prime Minister seen any other reports relating to the process under which the GCSB legislation is passed?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have. I have seen the criticism from Sir Geoffrey Palmer of the process the bill has gone through. I have also seen a report that the State-Owned Enterprises Bill, which was passed in Sir Geoffrey’s name in 1986, had all of its final stages after the select committee stage taken in one day, including Sir Geoffrey’s reading the third reading on a Saturday. That was a bill that completely redefined the Government’s role in business and corporatised Government State-owned enterprises and set them up to be privatised, including the sale, under Labour, of New Zealand Steel, Petrocorp, the Post Office, Air New Zealand, State Insurance, and Telecom. If he wants to know about process, clearly he is an expert in the matter. [Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Dr Russel Norman : Does the Prime Minister believe in the basic principles of parliamentary responsibility for the Government’s finances—that is, Parliament must know when the Government receives funding—if so, how can an agency like the GCSB receive money from a foreign Government without Parliament knowing?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not saying it is, or it is not.

And that last point is important: funding of the GCSB by the NSA would undermine  New Zealand’s democracy and sovereignty.  Such funding needs to be transparent.

Question Three transcript.

58 comments on “GCSB- Questions? ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Ve akse ze qvestions greenman!

    How dare a leader of the NZ parliamentary opposition enquire whether Uncle Sam has been sloshing the dosh to our local runners for the NSA. Someone has to pay for the ‘big balls’ at Waihopai one supposes Russell.

    It will be hilarious in many respects if the nats do go out next election. Some of these new surveillance powers could be turned on people that definitely have stuff to hide–corporates, bankers and the military before being “disconfigured” for good.

  2. gobsmacked 2

    Norman skewered Key (as usual).

    Shearer let Key escape (as usual).

    Seriosuly, is there nobody in Labour who can think on their feet? Norman created the openings, but the Greens have a limited number of questions, Labour have heaps. I was shouting questions at the radio*, while Shearer was playing with … a fish.

    (*e.g. Louise Upston asked a patsy which got a detailed answer – immediately after Key had said he couldn’t answer Shearer’s Q on the same issue, citing “national interest”. Crying out for somebody to point out the contradiction).

    • gobsmacked 2.1

      Another example: Quote Key directly and immediately back at him …

      “So they can’t read NZers’ e-mails, but if necessary they could?” Which is what he said.

      Listen and attack, FFS.

  3. Anne 3

    John Key indulged in the most blatant lying today we have yet seen from him. I recall David Shearer publicly declaring he had asked the PM for a meeting to discuss the GCSB bill with a view to a bipartisan approach being taken. Does anyone else remember that? In answer to a question by Shearer, Key declared he asked for the meeting, and he proceeded to make up a load of bullshit around David Shearer and what he was supposed to have said at the meeting. I know enough about Shearer to know he would never have behaved in such a way. It’s the classic situation where the bully and the [psychopath] can claim what he likes… knowing he can get away with it because there were no witnesses – or at least no-one who will dare contradict him.

    • gobsmacked 3.1

      The liar gets away with it because Shearer lets him.

      If anything happens that hasn’t been prepared in advance, Shearer can’t cope. Key knows this so he just bullies his way through. He won’t get called on it by Shearer at the time, but there will eventually be a press release from Shearer’s office when it’s too late. Hopeless.

    • Linz 3.2

      I saw that. Shearer didn’t come out of it very well at all. Key made him look stupid and devious. Key is a really slippery son of a bitch, and much as I think Shearer’s a good guy, he’s no match for Key. I also saw Trevor Mallard introducing Shearer’s ammendment or something. Jeeeeeeeeeeeesus! Is this the best Labour can do at the very time when we really need a really strong, coherent opposition? Is there no hope? I think I’ll go off to a cave somewhere and become a Zen Buddhist monk.

    • leftbutnotdeluded 3.3

      Calling Key a psychopath is covering up a fail of epic proportions once again Shearer has let Labour and the left down he should fuck off ASAP !

    • Wayne 3.4

      Anne,

      Remember the answer was about a specific meeting, not meetings in general.

      Now I know you always want to characterise the PM as not telling the truth.

      But you need to think of the circumstances of how this sort of meeting would take place. It was after the Intelligence Committee meeting. The PM is not going to be the one to offer the meeting, it will be the other way round.

      And it has not really been contradicted by DS (from what I can read of the event from Singapore).

      • Anne 3.4.1

        Remember the answer was about a specific meeting, not meetings in general.

        What are you talking about. I made it clear it was a specific meeting.

        Now I know you always want to characterise the PM as not telling the truth.

        Don’t patronise me Wayne. I was not born yesterday either chronologically or in terms of experience and knowledge. Your beloved PM is a pathological liar. I have come across such individuals before.

        But you need to think of the circumstances of how this sort of meeting would take place. It was after the Intelligence Committee meeting. The PM is not going to be the one to offer the meeting, it will be the other way round.

        Patronising again. Someone correct me if I heard incorrectly, but Shearer said he asked for the meeting in an attempt to obtain a cross party agreement. Your beloved PM claims he initiated the meeting not the other way around. I’m sure you’re correct. Key is not going to be the one to offer the meeting in those circumstances so that serves to confirm he was lying.

        • Wayne 3.4.1.1

          Actually Anne, you are right that the PM did say he asked DS to go up to his office (now that I have read the transcript of Q3). Which I had not done when I made my prior comment. Kind of goes to show that one should not make assumptions without first viewing the evidence.

          So I don’t think you have any evidence that the PM is a liar. He was not contradicted by DS. And Grant Robertson would not know what happened, not withstanding his interjection. Your assertion is therefore just that.

          • North 3.4.1.1.1

            So you DO agree with Anne’s assertion then Wayne. Key DID NOT ask for the meeting and when he tells Parliament he DID he IS NOT reporting the truth of it, as Anne asserted. Beats me how a glib minimalising retreat by you somehow exculpates Key. To the contrary your initial point plus glib retreat conclusively inculpates him in the very misrepresentation Anne points to.

            Anyway, now that we’ve dealt with the reality of the matter, congratulations on the magnificent non-sequitur in your final paragraph. “So, Anne, ……you are right, …….but you are wrong. The Prime Minister the Right Honourable John Key misrepresents…….but he does not lie.”

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.4.1.1.1.1

              Psychopaths don’t have friends, they have enablers and victims. The latter are usually drawn from the ranks of the former. Poor Wayne.

          • karol 3.4.1.1.2

            Shearer raised the meeting in the House because he was pointing out that Key had done nothing to work towards a cross-party consensus on the GCSB Bill – something required for such an important and controversial state operation. So the crucial point is about who initiated the meeting.

            Key tried his attack and divert strategy, with his ad hominem about how Shearer tried to keep the meeting quiet.

            This is how Andrea Vance is reporting it this morning (in an article focused on a Fairfax poll showing the general public is concerned about the Bill):

            Mr Key accused Labour leader David Shearer of creeping up Beehive stairs to his office to keep secret a meeting about the law change.

            “We sat down and had about a 30-minute discussion where Mr Shearer said ‘keep this confidential. If you come out and say we’ve done it that won’t look good and I don’t want you shouting it about the House’.”

            Mr Shearer does not deny the meeting, or trying to hush it up, but he insisted that it was not initiated by Mr Key.

            “This is the Government’s bill, the Government did not do anything to try and initiate a sit-down with other parties in order to get broader consensus across the House,” he said.

            • Tracey 3.4.1.1.2.1

              ““We sat down and had about a 30-minute discussion where Mr Shearer said ‘keep this confidential. If you come out and say we’ve done it that won’t look good and I don’t want you shouting it about the House’.””

              Mr Key can remember all those words, in order, word for word??? My his memory is suddenly improving.

          • Tracey 3.4.1.1.3

            Wayne wrote

            “you are right that the PM did say he asked DS to go up to his office (now that I have read the transcript of Q3).”

            See how much better it is when you fire shots at somebody after you know something about it?

  4. amirite 4

    Shame that the latest poll has lulled labour into a false sense of security in regard to Shearer’s leadership. If Labour is going to lose the next election, it’ll be most likely Shearer’s fault.

    • Mary 4.1

      Yes, we run the risk of Shearer limping along to the next election with everyone hoping “he’ll come right” but he never will. Key et al know this and are happy Shearer stays. Shearer needs to fall on his sword for the sake of rigourous opposition and for the good of the country.

      • JonL 4.1.1

        All the members of my greater family say theywon’t vote Labour while he and his crew are in charge…….Shearer – currently national’s greatest asset!

        • yeshe 4.1.1.1

          Listen to David Cunliffe from the House today, about 5 pm .. capable of oratory and quick thinking. He, and only he, in Labour, can bring down Key from his slimy summit.

      • Don't worry be happy 4.1.2

        And Fran ( ye of the Dark Arts and all) for the love of God don’t let Shearer work with animals in front of a camera…even dead fish look positively charismatic and courageous by comparison.

  5. gobsmacked 5

    Today’s political strategy question …

    There is a packed meeting in Auckland. There is a wide range of voices on the issue. There is extensive media coverage. It is fundamentally important. There is a bill going through Parliament this very week.

    Do you …

    a) attack and attack and attack on that issue?

    b) do this?

    https://twitter.com/MutchJessica/status/369651315170746368/photo/1

    Answers to: Labour leader’s office, ASAP.

    It’s Key’s job to divert and distract. So incredibly, Shearer is doing it for him. (Watch the TV news tonight, I guarantee it.)

    • Mary 5.1

      David Carter is stomping on the opposition and giving the government free reign even more than usual today. It’s disgusting.

      • Linz 5.1.1

        That’s no excuse, Mary. Labour are letting us down.

        • Mary 5.1.1.1

          I agree completely and what Carter’s doing was still appalling.

          • Anne 5.1.1.1.1

            There’s one aspect you are all ignoring. When you have a prime minister who lies through his teeth all the time and a Speaker who is as biased as hell and lets him get clean away with it plus a lily livered media pack (with one or two exceptions) then you have little choice but to shut up and say nothing. As has been expressed many times here… explaining is losing. It wouldn’t matter who was the opposition leader – be it Cunliffe or whoever – the same thing would happen albeit perhaps for different reasons.

            • Linz 5.1.1.1.1.1

              I have to disagree, Anne. If you know you have a lying son of a bitch for a PM, you never, ever, ever create a situation where it’s his word against yours. You never have a meeting with him in private. Big Mistake. If you go and see him, you take a whole heap of aids and witnesses wired up if necessary with recording devices. You expect him to lie every time and you get ready for it. If necessary, find a tame psychopath and run everything past him to identify any possible pitfalls.
              I agree the speaker is bent and the questions don’t stick. Most frustrating, but you don’t ask questions to get answers in the House anymore. You ask questions that will get coverage on TV. And you don’t use props for god’s sake. Whose stupid idea was that?
              Use the media creatively. If the MSM is right-wing, use the Internet.
              Find someone who can make people laugh at the government’s expence. Ridicule is a great weapon. At the moment it’s all turned on Shearer. Study David Lange very, very carefully.
              We’ve tried Shearer. It’s been disastrous. Time to set loose Cunliffe. He can’t possibly do worse.
              One more thing, to the ABCs in the Labour Party, remember this: most of the Conservatives hated Churchill in 1939 – 40, no doubt with good reason, but he was the man for the hour. At present, we’ve got a Neville Chamberlain; we need a Churchill. Time to try out Cunliffe. If he doesn’t do it, I’ll definitely become a Zen Buddhist monk.

              • Anne

                I have to disagree, Anne. If you know you have a lying son of a bitch for a PM, you never, ever, ever create a situation where it’s his word against yours.

                Yes, you’re right Linz. Once again Shearer’s lack of political experience. I foresaw it from day 1 as did many others who comment here regularly, but of course we were not listened to… because the ABCers knew so much better than we did.

              • yeshe

                1000% linz. It’s time.

  6. grumpy 6

    Great from about the 6.25 mark.

    • tinfoilhat 6.1

      Labour – useless bunch of has beens and hacks !

      Vote Green !

    • BM 6.2

      Defiantly the best part of that vid.

      What a sneaky two faced shit Shearer is, as well as a complete idiot, unreal.

      • Tracey 6.2.1

        On the strength of a couple of instances? You must be REALLY PISSED OFF at the Pm then for the number of times he has been caught in lies, oh sorry, “misleading” NZers. I’ve tried to find your posts where you express this sentiment, but can’t.

    • infused 6.3

      holy cow. shearer went full retard.

  7. wyndham 7

    Russel Norman had Key on the ropes today at question time.

    Along comes Shearer waving dead snapper about (in the House of Representatives) thus giving Key the best let-out possible. Naturally, he demolished Shearer but more importantly, got himself off the hook. (So to speak.)

    Prior to that Key, who had all the facts at his fingertips, was able to destroy Shearer’s attempt at suggesting the National Party had not attempted to contact Labour over “security matters”.

    I cringe. I despair. Shearer has to go. Please!

    • Linz 7.1

      Russel Norman has every right to be furious.

    • chris73 7.2

      No, for the sake of NZ Shearer has to stay

    • yeshe 7.3

      He can stay, but not as leader … Cunliffe, come in please, your time is up ….

      • Craig Glen Eden 7.3.1

        Shearer was terrible today in question time just a bloody disaster. His speech at the GCSB meeting was also the worst of the night. The content was ok but his delivery is shit. Brian Edwards has no show of getting Shearer in any state to take on Key. Shearer has to go and those that are keeping him there are enabling National. That video with the Billy brag song sums it up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUArGWZ3A7w

        • Huginn 7.3.1.1

          Shearer’s speach at the GCSB meeting was good and to the point. The delivery was straight forward.

          Russell Norman was incandescent.

          Winston Peters interesting too, for his assurance that Key is lying about Kim Dotcom and that this will come out.

  8. tracey 8

    its not hard to see why lockwood had to go.

  9. Richard Christie 9

    Key keeps accusing others of not understanding *the law* (i.e. his Bill) yet his bill is not yet law.

    • felix 9.1

      Yeah I noticed that too.

      Also when he accuses others of not understanding, he seems really gleeful. He’s not really putting them down for being stupid, he’s bigging himself up for being so tricky.

      His bill is convoluted and full of concealments and trapdoors, and he’s super stoked about it.

      • karol 9.1.1

        His bill is convoluted and full of concealments and trapdoors,

        Yes. I’ve tried reading and making sense of the Bill and it is just thoroughly confusing – all those reference to other clauses. And some of them don’t say what the referring point claims they say.

        Terrible Bill. The amendments need to be scrapped and a more explicit and straightforward set of amendments created.

        In the end I rely more on how it’s interpreted by some expert legal people.

    • You_Fool 9.2

      When he says that he is talking about the current law, which is reasonably clear.

  10. Tanz 10

    maybe there is info we don’t know about. Key’s hands could be tied, what are we not being told.

  11. infused 11

    It’s a rather stupid question, since we are part of 5 eyes, of course we get funding.

    • felix 11.1

      Pretty stupid answer then, eh?

      • North 11.1.1

        And in the matter of sovereignty principle, Key’s beholdeness to foreign spy agencies, on account of which New Zealanders are offered up by our prime representative, does not concern you Infused ? You, the very type to whom the word Comintern and variants was always blood curdling ?

    • Tracey 11.2

      then being honest does no harm. But as he said it’s not in his interests to say.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 11.2.1

        The chance of a shooting war between the USA and China is fairly close to zero. Conflict between them is confined mostly to trade and cyber-space. In this context, New Zealand fully participates in the conflict, not as a result of foreign policy decisions made by Parliament, but as a consequence of secret activity that is barely discussed let alone ratified.

        Whether this undermines our security or enhances it is debatable, but I doubt it bodes well for trade with China.

        • Colonial Viper 11.2.1.1

          The chance of a shooting war between the USA and China is fairly close to zero.

          Yes that is quite correct. Also consider financial potshots: China boycotting US Treasuries or pushing ahead with increased convertibility of the Yuan.

          Then there are the chances of a US armed Japan and a newly equipped Chinese PLAN making hostile military manuoevers against each other. The classic proxy conflict.

          They pretty much do that month to month now anyway eg over the Senkaku islands.

          Or a US armed Taiwan with US patriot missiles and a Chinese missile command running military exercises clearly aimed at sending ‘messages’ to each other?

          And US expansion of Pacific bases and the addition of a further carrier group to the Pacific. That’s more none-to-subtle messaging there.

  12. Colonial Viper 12

    Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor, speaks about the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner, the destruction of The Guardian’s hard drives, and the surveillance security state

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