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John Key threatens Human Rights Commission funding

Written By: - Date published: 3:03 pm, July 12th, 2013 - 76 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Politics - Tags: ,

John Key morphing to muldoon

John Key does not seem to have a very high opinion of law.  He thinks that legal opinions are something that can shopped around for and if he does not like an opinion he just needs to go out and get another one.

The Human Rights Commission has found this out today.  It reported to the Government that the GCSB bill poses an unacceptable risk to rights of privacy.  In a press release Chief David Rutherford is quoted as saying:

“The Commission is concerned that the proposed Bills are wide-reaching without sufficient safeguards against abuse of power. There is inadequate oversight and inadequate provision for ensuring transparency and accountability. The Commission notes media reports that these issues are matters of discussion between some of the leaders of political parties in New Zealand.

“The Commission recognises that some level of surveillance is inevitable and justifiable from a human rights perspective in a democratic society. However, surveillance can be subject to human rights principles, protecting human rights and limiting them only when proportionate and justified and in accordance with the law.

“The right to privacy is fundamental in a democracy and reinforces other fundamental rights, such as rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The proposed restrictions on the right to privacy are too general to be proportionate to the Bills’ objectives.

“We note that the Bills were introduced before the recent media exposure of the extent of mass surveillance by some States party to the Five Eyes arrangement. Public trust in Government intelligence agencies is at risk if surveillance activities aren’t being conducted appropriately and seen to be so.

“It is in the interests of our intelligence agencies to have appropriate transparency and accountability mechanisms in place to maintain public trust. We believe much of the public’s concerns could be alleviated if there was satisfactory oversight of surveillance powers and we propose an independent cross-party select committee to oversee intelligence agencies”.

One of the Commission’s statutory powers functions is to report to the Prime Minister on “the implications of any proposed legislation (including subordinate legislation) or proposed policy of the Government that the Commission considers may affect human rights”.  It can do this at any time.  When doing so it is not making a submission on a bill but exercising an important role of providing independent advice directly to the Prime Minister.

John Key has dismissed the Commission’s report and told the organisation to “pull its socks up” for not making a submission on time.  He has made a veiled threat about the HRC’s funding.  The Otago Daily Times contains the following:

“I think the Human Rights Commission actually should take a step back and ask themselves the question why they didn’t put a submission in on time. They are funded by the government and they were the only people that actually couldn’t make the deadline.”

He dismissed the commission’s concerns that there would be a lack of and oversight and accountability, and that the public’s trust in intelligence agencies would be further eroded.

“Actually the bill narrows the GCSB’s scope in its current form, it doesn’t extend it,” he said.

“I actually don’t think it was a very good submission at all and they need to pull their socks up. If they’re going to continue to be a government-funded organisation they should meet the deadline should everyone else.”

If Key’s understanding of the statutory powers that the Human Rights Commission has are indicative of his understanding of the GCSB bill our rights are in big trouble.

UPDATE:  I/S also covers this issue and eerily compares Key’s actions to that of Rob Muldoon.

UPDATE2:  David Rutherford has been interviewed on Checkpoint and stated that Key knew it was a Statutory Report and not a submission on the bill.  The link is here.  HT Bearded Git.

76 comments on “John Key threatens Human Rights Commission funding ”

  1. handle 1

    Key’s childish bullying is par for the course. He thinks rules do not apply to him. You have to wonder how he was brought up.

    • karol 1.1

      Ah, sounds like laws of the rugby field – whatever you can get away with without the ref (or the TV cameras) noticing.

      • Saarbo 1.1.1

        Yes, when he gets cornered he will fight dirty, I come across a few like him in my days in the Corporates, these people will do anything to win, not concerned about anything except for their themselves and their ego.

        The thing about Key is he’s not held accountable by the MSM so he has no fear…they are providing him with more power than he should have. Ugly.

        • North 1.1.1.1

          Put aside domestic political banter and fun.

          Unquestionably this raises fundamental concern as to where New Zealand’s democracy and New Zealand’s citizens, already repeatedly molested by a runaway train of an executive, can be heading.

          It’s appalling that a prime minister should maintain and blithely express that the Human Rights Commission, a statutorily established institution part of the fabric of our governance, is an errant wing of his personal feifdom, misbehaving its way to “correction”. An institution which according to barely veiled threat of funding starvation might well, at personal whim, be rendered nugatory.

          “Give me no grief ……..or else !”

          No, of course it won’t happen quite like that. What will happen is those statutorily charged with seeing to the Commission’s statutory functions will be publicly defamed and abused as have many already. Followed by the appoinment of a Fletcher or a Devoy. Net result ? The same.

          Let’s pray like hell that the CEO of SkyCity or the founder of Blue Chip or Sir Botox Bloody Banks or some Merrill Lynch tennis buddy aren’t contemplating a new and handsomely remunerative career path !

          Going for gold !

          Ceaucescu.

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            “Unquestionably this raises fundamental concern as to where New Zealand’s democracy and New Zealand’s citizens, already repeatedly molested by a runaway train of an executive, can be heading.”

            Completely agree North. We’re now at the point where NACT are saying fuck of NZ, we will do what we want. NZ is being governed, it’s owned.

            How long until the sleepy hobbits rise?

        • georgecom 1.1.1.2

          Yes, he gets dirty. He doesn’t like people disagreeing with him and then the “nice man John Key” veil slips and the nasty stuff starts.

          In addition, rather than discuss the contents of the report which he doesn’t like, Key makes up a reason to attack the author of the report. The man gets rucked rather than the ball played.

          How many times can people remember Key getting snipey when opposed?

          I can think of the union opposition to him in 2010 when he gopt all petulent and cost us $20 million over the hobbit dispute.

      • Bob 1.1.2

        SPOILT BRAT, He was thrown up!!

  2. Waffler 2

    Key doesn’t like our current human rights and is shopping around for some more.

  3. emergency mike 3

    Anyone else concerned that our PM is talking about the Human Rights Commision as if they are his opponent instead of an advisory asset?

    Or that he is having a go at them about not putting in a submission instead of addressing their criticisms?

    Or the pure doublespeak of “Actually the bill narrows the GCSB’s scope in its current form, it doesn’t extend it”?

    Or the ‘If they’re going to continue to be a government-funded organisation…’ just casually put on the table.

    “The commission also recommended:…

    * Human rights training for all members of New Zealand’s intelligence services.”

    lawls.

  4. Rogue Trooper 4

    “if you’re a dreamer come in
    if you’re a dreamer, a wisher, a liar
    A hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer
    If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire
    for we have some flax-golden tales to spin
    Come in!
    Come in!
    Shel Silverstein
    (better Grab Your Socks).

  5. Veutoviper 5

    “If Key’s understanding of the statutory powers that the Human Rights Commission has are indicative of his understanding of the GCSB bill our rights are in big trouble.”

    Absolutely agree, MS – but Key does not bother with the processes etc of the law if it does not suit his case.

    Similarly,some of the MSM have ignored, or are ignorant, of the fact that the HRC report is not a submission, but a direct report to the PM as provided for in the HRC legislation.

    The Herald mentions this, as does Andrea Vance’s article on Stuff

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10897315

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8911648/Spy-agencies-probe-needed-Human-Rights-Commission

    However, neither TV3 news and RNZ news mention this, thereby leaving their reports to give the impression that the HRC missed the submission deadline in line with Key’s remarks.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/GCSB-oversight-inadequate-HRC-says/tabid/1607/articleID/304736/Default.aspx

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/214344/key-hits-back-at-human-rights-commission-over-gcsb-bill

    Pedantry aside, as I commented on the “Long Reach” post under the 8 thread, IMO the very unsubtle threat in Key’s statement re government funding is a further indication that the continuation of organisations such as the HRC are possibly under threat from this government, as indicated by recent appointments such as Dame Devoy.

    PS – I/S on NRT is also worth reading on this subject

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-human-rights-commission-on-spy-bill.html

    • Veutoviper 5.1

      The link to the Stuff article included in my comment at 5 above is still working, as is the link to the RNZ news one.

      The RNZ News one has now been updated to include the fact that the HRC report is a report under their legislation – and not a late submission as Key has said.

      EDIT – this was supposed to have been a reply to 8 below.

      • coolas 5.1.1

        Well put.

        Key’s chiding HRC for not ‘submitting’ in time, displays his ignorance of roles and processes, and his ‘funding’ threat is bullying, corporate style: ‘Careful, or we’ll call in the loan.’

        This odious man is slowly poisoning the body politic by devaluing the institutions that safeguard our freedoms. Devoy’s appointment as RRC was designed to diminish the role. She’s a total airhead: ‘Watching Winston’ but thinks Ads stereotyping PI’s is acceptable.

        The GCSB bill is a dangerous erosion of the right to privacy. And why the fuck aren’t the MSM doing their job here.

        Yep, well said, thanks for the links

  6. Tanz 6

    The hand of government – John Key. Can’t we take on Switzerland’s type of government, where there is no one person in charge? Key has too much power, and when things do not go his way, he simply changes laws or withdraws funding etc. Imagine working for him – I bet he is not the smiley faced cheery bloke he tries to be in public;

  7. Tanz 7

    The hand of government – John Key. Can’t we take on Switzerland’s type of government, where there is no one person in charge? Key has too much power, and when things do not go his way, he simply changes laws or withdraws funding etc. Imagine working for him – I bet he is not the smiley faced cheery bloke he tries to be in public;

  8. Appleboy 8

    After hearing this story about 2.00pm on national Radio, I just noticed it has disappeared on the 4pm news. It has also disappeared off stuff from what I can see. What on earth is happening? Someone pulled this story, and instead the 4pm news carried a story on john key and an ASEAN trade announcement.

    p.s Just found the story on Stuff – written by Andrea Vance, and upped at 1.30pm. At 4.00 – gone! There with a search, but nowhere near the front page .

    Seriously – what the*&^^%%$#@

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Remember the ‘throat cutting’ moment?

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        Although it’s still up on Granny Herald oddly enough:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10897315

        • muzza 8.1.1.1

          In case it disappears from digital – scuze the paste, I hope this get left for the record.

          Human Rights Commission: GCSB bill ‘inadequate’ – National – NZ Herald News

          The Government’s controversial legislation extending the GCSB’s powers to spy on New Zealanders lacks sufficient checks against abuse of power or adequate transparency and accountability, the Human Rights Commission says.

          But Prime Minister John Key has hit back, saying the commission’s report is a poor piece of work that was submitted late, and it needed to do better if it was to continue to receive taxpayer funding.

          The commission this morning released a report to Mr Key on the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill and broader human rights matters regarding surveillance.

          “The Commission is concerned that the proposed bills are wide-reaching without sufficient safeguards against abuse of power. There is inadequate oversight and inadequate provision for ensuring transparency and accountability”, chief commissioner David Rutherford said.

          Mr Rutherford said the commission had employed its rarely used ability to issue a report directly to the Prime Minister, “due to the seriousness of the proposed bills’ measures and the need for proper oversight of the surveillance activities of intelligence agencies”.

          With recent media exposure of the extent of mass surveillance by some of the GCSB’s (Government Communications Security Bureau) partners in the Five Eyes international intelligence sharing arrangement, public trust in intelligence agencies was at risk if surveillance activities weren’t seen to conducted appropriately.

          “We believe much of the public’s concerns could be alleviated if there was satisfactory oversight of surveillance powers and we propose an independent cross-party select committee to oversee intelligence agencies,” the commission said.

          But Mr Key dismissed the commission’s concerns and criticised the quality of their work.

          “I think the Human Rights Commission actually should take a step back and ask themselves the question why they failed to put a submission in on time. They are funded by the Government and they were the only people that couldn’t actually make the deadline.”

          “Actually the bill narrows the GCSB’s scope in its current form, it doesn’t extend it,” he said.

          “I actually don’t think it was a very good submission at all, and they need to pull their socks up. If they’re going to continue to be a government-funded organisation they should meet the deadlines like everyone else did.”

          Commission spokesman Gilbert Wong said Mr Rutherford’s report was not a submission, but the Prime Minister’s comments pointed to another misgiving the commission had about the legislation.

          The commission could have made a submission, “but there was quite a short period for people to prepare their submissions … we did seek an extension but that wasn’t granted.”

          “Our position is that the details of how to do so and when this was to occur were not readily available, and the time for making submissions on such important and technical legislation was unreasonably short.”

          The commission was exercising its statutory ability to directly report to the Prime Minister for only the fourth time since 1993, “because of the seriousness of the proposed bills and to allow for more time to consider the bill’s impact.”

          “It’s not something we use lightly but we feel this is something important.”

          Labour Leader David Shearer welcomed the fact the commission had “underlined what we have always wanted, which is a full and independent inquiry”.

          The need for that was now urgent, given the speed with which the legislation was being advanced, and “because I think it will restore public confidence in our intelligence agencies, which at the moment is pretty low.”

          Mr Shearer also said it was “pretty worrying” that with the commission having come out with a view Mr Key didn’t like, “there’s then a threat about having its funding pulled”.

          The commission also recommended:

          * Stronger accountability and oversight mechanisms, including Parliamentary oversight from a cross-party select committee, in addition to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

          * Amending the bills in line with the submissions of the New Zealand Law Society and the Legislation Advisory Committee.

          * Taking into account the submissions of internet New Zealand, particularly as they relate to human rights.

          * Human rights training for all members of New Zealand’s intelligence services.

    • Veutoviper 8.2

      See my comment at 5.1 above which was supposed to have been a reply to you but somehow ended up as a reply to myself!

  9. Peter 9

    Surely even Key’s most ardent supporters have figured out by now that people do not figure in his thinking. At most he thinks of them as voters, a necessary evil.

  10. Mary 10

    Decimating the HRC must be on the agenda. Key was on the look out for an excuse to issue the promise via a warning but jumped the gun. The announcement’s on its way. What a prick.

  11. Colonial Viper 11

    Key was made to sound like a dickhead on National Radio. Hey National Radio, you better stick to your guns, because if you let the HRC get bullied by Emperor Key, you might not be right next on the list, but you will definitely be on there.

  12. Bearded Git 12

    Mary Wilson has just crucified Key’s reaction to the HRC report (not submission!) by talking to David Rutherford of the HRC on Checkpoint. Well worth a listen.

    • emergency mike 13.1

      Wilson: “So he [John Key] would have been well aware of your explanation that this is a particular report, it’s not a submission in the sense of the other submissions?”

      Rutherford: “Correct.”

      Translation: John Key is making shit up, again. One more for Blip’s list.

    • North 13.2

      Go Mary Wilson ! You telegenic by chance ?

      Campbell……..where are you ?

      Potty Boy Gower………whadya gotta say about this one ? No anger summoned up mine Potty ?

      Seems ShonKey Python either doesn’t know his arse from his elbow (distinction submission/statutory report) or, (defame/abuse) he’s falsely badmouthing the Commission. Advisedly so. In other words, fucking lying !

      Potty Boy……..my shiny new flat screen implores that you not derail its expectation of its owner predeceasing. Give no hint of personal anger over the Commission’s alleged tardiness.

      Hang on…….(gulp)…….”owner”…….that’s me.

  13. Appleboy 14

    The Human Rights Commission should issue a press release saying to key “you know we know”…..

    seriously, what about some bright spark here creating a parody press release from the Human Rights Commission with “Mr Key…you know we know….”

  14. Appleboy 15

    Isn’t it amazing. Instead of acknowledging a report by the Human Rights Commission, lies outright and criticises them for making a late submission when he knows damn well it’s a report not a submission.

    It’s staggering. The arrogance is riding so high he can’t even see how his comments appear, let alone see the risk of being exposed for lying AND making threats to a politically independent body.

    Can’t wait to hear how Farrar and Whaleoil spin this own goal???????

    • Anne 15.1

      Can’t wait to hear how Farrar and Whaleoil spin this own goal????

      Both have ignored it thus far. Farrar is still blathering on about the 2nd Labour coup that never was… courtesy of Duncan Garner. Whaleoil is desperately trying to pin something – anything – on to Labour.

      • RedLogix 15.1.1

        Neither of them need to say anything. The MSM will let the news cycle roll and this too will drop down the memory hole.

        • karol 15.1.1.1

          Yeah, TV3 News tonight is more concerned with crime and sports.

          • Bearded Git 15.1.1.1.1

            The female reporter on TV3 tonight, when referring to the HRC, said something like “meanwhile those submitters that did get their submissions in on time” implying that the HRC was both a submitter and incompetent. Wrong on both counts. Not really good enough.

      • Rogue Trooper 15.1.2

        That would be Duncan Garner, schlock Jockeying for position.

    • emergency mike 15.2

      Yep if we had an efficient opposition Mr Key would be apologizing to the HRC within 24 hours. My money’s on Key pulling another brain fade over this one if anyone actually bothers to call him out: “Report? Submission? I’m only a kiwi-jokey-blokey-kiwi bloke after all! Anyone could get that mixed up, lot on my plate ‘n all.”

      He could even make a funny funny joke about it and sheepishly pull his own socks up for Paddy’s camera. Good times.

    • yeshe 15.3

      Key is each day, more and more, an out of control disparaging megalomaniac; maybe he is on stress meds of some kind. certainly makes me think so. Can you help us out here, Bronagh ??

  15. North 16

    David Shearer – “The Prime Minister is not telling the truth !”

    Nah – too simple !

    • Anne 16.1

      Too weak. Given the facts of the case David Shearer would have been perfectly safe in calling him a liar, but even in that circumstance he still didn’t have the nous to do it.

      -1 for David Shearer.

      • Anne 16.1.1

        Actually I take that -1 back. Just seen the TV1 news clip. Shearer delivered the soundbite well “He is out of line” which is all he was given time to say.

  16. vto 17

    Key is makng a habit of being a schoolboy. I think it suits him.

  17. tc 18

    Key can and does as he pleases with his media mates never calling him to account along with an opposition imploding. Its why he does because of the shit hes gotten away with so far makes him believe he is politically untouchable.

    • Anne 18.1

      Problem is tc it’s not actually working any more. Campbell Live has called him out on it and he knows there’s lots more to come. The pressure is getting to him at last. Hence the school boy paddies. Can’t hack not getting his own way. Diddums to Key!

      • RedLogix 18.1.1

        I wonder Anne. How many times has Key pulled this kind of shit already … the grotesque tea-pot saga leaps to mind … and it didn’t dent his popularity one jot? As the Herald cartoonist so aptly captured it yesterday, it’s become a one boat race.

        • Rogue Trooper 18.1.1.1

          single sculls

        • Anne 18.1.1.2

          I think Redlogix (or should it be hope) that the cumulative effect is starting to set in and Mr & Mrs Punter are beginning to wonder “what’s going on?” I seem to remember the teapot saga did dent Key’s popularity a bit but not enough to cause the Nats to lose the election. I agree it’s going to take time because lets be honest…the punters a very thick when it comes to politics.

          • Rogue Trooper 18.1.1.2.1

            however, been thinking, with this online opinion sampling direct to MSM, Campbell Live, etc, people may feel they have discharged their political duty, cos’ the garbage just keeps on coming from National, Dunne and Banks (dogs not withstanding).

  18. Yes 19

    There is nothing wrong with the proposed bill.

    • mickysavage 19.1

      Can’t you do better than this Yes? The response against Key’s ill informed threat where he accuses the HRC of not understanding the law but then clearly showing that he does not understand the law is pretty overwhelming. Can’t you mount a better argument than this?

    • North 19.2

      Yes above…….hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

      Such a powerful promotion of the bill…….hahahahahahahahahahaha !

  19. North 20

    11,000 respondents Campbell Live. 85% “No” to GCSB Bill……..15% “Yes”.

    “I disagree ! Look, I’ll take you to Langley, Virginia, USA. Everyone there agrees with me, Warners in Hollywood too, akshilly”.

    (Langley, Virginia, USA – headquarters of the CIA).

    Prime Poncey Shonk Minster Circus, sorry for my tardiness with this “submission/report/comment/oh fuck what is it ? whatever”.

    Anyway it’s all Norman Kirk’s fault. And that bloody Bill Sutch. Always knew those too were up to no good. Forgive me Mine Emperor, My Fibbing Facileness. If there must be a cut let it be to my bennie not my throat…….pleeease.

  20. aj 21

    As much Joyce’s grubby mitts over this as anyone else. Peas in a pod though.

  21. SukieDamson 22

    Either our PM is clueless or a liar.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2561932/the-human-rights-commission-says-pm-wrong,-and-he-knows-it

    Take your pick.

  22. AmaKiwi 23

    I can’t wait until Key gets pumped off. Then Judith “Crusher” Collins will be our PM.

    They are very different. Key wants to beat his opponents. Collins wants to destroy them.

    “A Brighter Future.”

    Yeah, right.

    • Colonial Viper 23.1

      Not a chance in hell Labour will stand back and give the wickedness of Crusher Collins a chance at being PM in 2014. The red team will take National down like a sack of potatoes tossed off the back of a truck.

      Uh, uh, probably, ur, I think, ummmm right?

  23. Jackal 24

    In light of recent events, I think The Standard should allow the word F@SCIST to be used without moderation.

  24. BrucetheMoose 25

    In typical Key fashion, he attacks and ridicules those who challenge him and his policies, calling the opinions raised by the HRC as “poor”, yet doesn’t back up his claims. In typical fashion, the wimpy media/journalists fail to challenge his comments. All the television media want nowadays is emotive story bites with no substance. Grow some journalistic teeth and ask WHY for cripes sake!

    • the pigman 25.1

      .. and miss that future opportunity to become Simon Bridges’ press secretary? Eckshully no..

      • North 25.1.1

        Pigman @ 25.1……….you got it in one.

        Potty Gower Judy bound ?

        Now that’s a picture !

  25. Veutoviper 26

    The HRC’s excellent press release on their report issued at 10.55am yesterday is well worth reading.

    It makes it very clear as to why they did a report – not a submission in the first two paragraphs.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1307/S00135/human-rights-commission-report-on-security-and-intelligence.htm

    And for a satirical take – Scott at his best.

    http://www.imperatorfish.com/2013/07/human-rights-commission-to-be-put-out.html

    PS – hats off to the TS for the Feeds column. It is an great source for keeping up with other blogs etc

    EDIT – Adam Bennett in the Herald is “on the case” this morning – “Watchdog repel’s PM’s attack”.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10897564

  26. Kia Ora

    Mr Key would not be pleased to note that in investigating my complaint to the Human Rights Commission about the Crown Mineral Amendments (Crown Land and Permitting)Bill, the Human Rights Commission found Mr Simon Bridges’ amendments to have breached human rights law.

    Rob

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