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John Key’s disdain for democracy

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, July 3rd, 2013 - 42 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, copyright, greens, john key, national/act government, russel norman, slippery, Spying, telecommunications, us politics - Tags: , ,

Yesterday, hearings began on on the Bill amending the regulations related to the GCSB and surveillance.  John Key showed complete disdain for the process by failing to ask questions and only intervening to hurry people along.  There are good reasons to amend the regulations governing surveillance because their are murky areas.  However, it is a threat to democratic rights and processes to extend GCSB’s powers to spy on New Zelanders, especially in the light of revelations about the extent of invasive spying by NZ’s Echelon partner, the US spy agencies.

Yesterday at the Parliamentary hearing, John Key showed his disdain for democratic process, and exposed the fact that he intends for the Bill to be passed in spite of extensive and valid opposition:

Mr Key chairs parliament’s intelligence and security committee which is hearing from the public on a bill that will make it legal for the Government Communications Security Bureau to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of other agencies.

The committee’s other members are Labour leader David Shearer, Greens co-leader Russel Norman, cabinet minister Tony Ryall and ACT leader John Banks.

On Tuesday, they heard arguments from the Law Society, Human Rights Foundation, Council of Trade Unions, and the Environment and Conservation Organisation, who discussed the public’s privacy expectations, whether the law should extend to companies and whether metadata can be considered private communication.

Mr Key didn’t ask a single question, instead acting only as a timekeeper who told submitters when their speaking time was up, Dr Norman says.

“He was kind of sitting there, grinding his teeth but not engaging … He was just simply going through the motions and waiting for the time to be up,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Russell Norman explained the problem and related issues in a clear and reaosnable way.  Listen to the full  RNZ interview here:


Yesterday in the NZ Herald, Paul G. Buchanan (“director of 36th Parallel Assessments, a geopolitical and strategic analysis consultancy“), provided a clear and knowledgeable assessment of the proposed Bill.

There is clearly a need to “tidy up” the legal framework governing GCSB activities on home soil because under the current act the role of the GCSB in domestic espionage is murky. But civil libertarians and privacy rights activists have legitimate reason to oppose the GCSB bill in its present form.

He argues against extending the GCSB powers in the terms of this Bill, which contains a dangerously vague definition of “threat to national security”, while providing poor oversight.  Added to this is the fact that the NZ intelligence agencies are over-stretched and It would enable

… mission-creep into common law enforcement and encroachments on individual and group privacy. For example, under the proposed legislation the GCSB could assist the Ministry of Primary Industries to spy on environmental activists on behalf of fishing, logging or mining interests if their protests were deemed injurious to the economic well-being of the nation, which can be construed as a threat to national security under current definition of the term.

Buchanan is also critical of the related Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill , which he describes as being “more draconian than similar legislation under the US Patriot Act.”

Buchanan concludes that it is necessary to have a,

…a full inquiry into the New Zealand intelligence community is needed before any reforms are made to its legal architecture […]

There is some anticipation of Kim Dotcom providing a direct face-to-face and well-informed challenge to the PM at today’s hearing.    Gordon Campbell provides some background and 5 possible Dotcom questions to the hearing (as outlined at the link). Campbell explains,

Given the rogue nature of the agency in question, Dotcom might usefully explore some of the GCSB’s existing activities as well as its proposed new powers.


What I’m getting at is that there are a few matters of substance at stake tomorrow, beyond the sheer personal drama of Dotcom’s confrontation with Key. And yes, it is weird that it should fall to a wealthy German to uphold the kind of freedoms that a previous generation of Kiwis fought to defend between 1939 and 1945. I hope the elderly supporters of Winston Peters get that irony.

On TV3 News last night, it was stated that they will be streaming the hearing live today, and that Kim Dotcom is likely to front at around 5pm.

Will there be fireworks, procedural diversions and/or useful clarifications?

Or will John Key continue to use his slippery, spin-laden, corporate-backed, MSM-enabled, Prime Ministerial power to continue to subvert democracy?

[Update] TV3 Livestream, starts 3.30pm. [h/t CnrJoe]

[update] Kim Dotcom told today’s GCSB hearing that Key knew about him prior to the GCSB spying on him.  TVNZ article:

John Key, sitting as the Parliament’s Secretive Intelligence and Security Committee’s was chairing the meeting today when discussions became heated between the Prime Minister and the internet mogul.

Dotcom told the committee he believed Mr Key knew about him before the GCSB spying, when Mr Key replied, “no I didn’t”.

Dotcom then jibed, “why are you turning red, Prime Minister?”

“Why are you sweating?” Mr Key responded.

Dotcom said it was hot and that he was wearing a scarf.

 TV3 video

Dominion Post: Thursday 4 July 2013, p1:

key dotcom


42 comments on “John Key’s disdain for democracy”

  1. Rosetinted 1

    There was an unpleasant message on interview with Veitch on Radionz this a.m. He considers that spying on us is the plan du jour, and will continue to be done to requirements and legislated for later again. This dates back to the lack of readiness in the USA for 9/11. Yet we have heard that there was then and since, so much information that they were drowning in it.

    7.08 Morning Report – Govt urged not to rush spy law because of Dotcom embarrassment.
    An academic specialising in security studies predicts there will be increasing intrusions on people’s privacy.
    Jim Veitch, a defence and security academic, told Morning Report, that if law and order breakdowns in the Middle East move to South East Asia, New Zealand will be have to be prepared to deal with it.

    Centre for Strategic Studies Senior Fellows – School of History …
    http://www.victoria.ac.nz › … › People of the Centre‎
    May 23, 2013 – He regularly lectures at the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College …. to various academic journals and collections in this subject area. … James (Jim) Veitch is Senior Lecturer, Security Studies at Massey …

    Also Newstalk ZB

    But our authorities may decide to target an individual , or act to repress discussion, meetings, free speech about the political system. Of course we have had SIS burgle Aziz Choudry’s home in 1996. They had perceived some danger or just unhelpful actions from him, so justified their home invastion.
    So we already have the security system, that can effectively operate outside government control, power and the paranoia set for the touch paper.

    So lie back and think of the USA foks, notable Brit Queen Mary said when she died the word Calais would be written on her heart . That may happen here in a modern form. The ultimate in spying would be to have a chip implanted so your sovereign power could check on you at will. Once you give up the idea that you are an individual with a soul and a place and life on this earth, it may be the least problematic way for an individual to manage his or her curtailed life, when the power structures of the world own the right to monitor citizens.

    Incidentally google is featuring Franz Kafka today. Coincidences!

    • Rosetinted 1.1

      Note micky savage comment at 8.15am No.8 Open Mike on Jim Veitch for more opinion on this interview.

    • Rogue Trooper 1.2

      Kafka featured on Wikipedia today also; it’s labyrinthine.

  2. izzy 2

    Veitch is a poseur and charlatan simply following his employer’s orders. He has fashioned himself first as a terrorism “expert” and now somehow as an intelligence expert but in fact his background is in religious studies (which he taught at Victoria U for several years). He has no background in counter-terorrism, military affairs, much less intelligence. What he did was parlay his interest in Islam after 9/11 into a media presence about Islamic extremism, then terrorism in general and now intelligence and military affairs. Massey hired him a few years ago to direct its Strategic Studies Department, which is funded by the NZDF. He regularly churns out bullshit posing as informed commentary, and his remarks to the Committee and to RNZ are nothing more than that.

    • Rosetinted 2.1

      I was most confused when I looked at Veitch’s present persona as I remember him discussing religious studies matters and sounding sensible and principled combined, now he just sounds pragmatic and embedded. You explain his primrose path well though.

    • Macro_adder 2.2

      Well summed up izzy. He is now simply a mouth piece for the Hawks… Sad.

  3. Bearded Git 3

    Audrey Young is very good here on Key’s pathetic timekeeping.


    • Veutoviper 3.1

      Was just about to put that link up as I was a little surprised at Young’s take on yesterday’s hearing. She is usually so pro-Key.

      This is also the only article I have seen that mentions that Penny Bright also appeared at the hearing.

      Bright started with a lecture about how Key does deals like the Sky City convention centre – “your deals over dinner, deals over the phone – that might be customary practice in how you do things as a foreign exchange dealer or the head of derivatives for Merrill Lynch but that is no way to run a country”.

      On the spy bill, she wanted him to open up all his trust accounts, bank accounts, Swiss bank accounts, tax havens. “Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, come on Prime Minister; you show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”

      Key looked like he really wanted to engage: “Okay Penny, thanks very much. Your time has expired.”

      I laughed at her direct approach – bold above is mine. Good on you, Penny.

    • Huginn 3.2

      So-o-o-o-o passive aggressive

  4. Rogue Trooper 4

    Thanks karol and Rosetinted; hope that you do not find yourselves “threats to national security”.
    As the paper by the School of Media Studies asserted, JohnKey is a ‘hollow cypher’.

  5. Rogue Trooper 5

    within every cloud.

  6. Macro_adder 7

    Key is acting like a dictator Napoleonesque in his attitude. When does he intent his coronation? And will he crown himself like his obvious idol?
    Unfortunately for Key – we are not yet a Republic.

    • Winston Smith 7.1

      Thats funny, I thought it was the left that wanted NZ to become a republic?

  7. Rosetinted 8

    There’s a hole in the bucket dear John dear John
    There’s a hole in the bucket and democracy’s leaking out.

    With what shall I fix it dear Liza dear Liza.
    With a straw dear John dear John, with a straw.

    With what shall I cut it dear Liza dear Liza.
    With an axe dear John dear John.
    What a waste of time dear Liza dear Liza
    It’s an old bucket – I’ll smash it with the axe.

    Then what will we do with our democracy dear John, dear John
    How can we look after our democracy dear John.

    Put the bits on a fire dear Liza dear Liza
    There’s lots of paper in the law library dear Liza dear Liza
    We’ll go digital dear Liza dear Liza
    And we won’t remember democracy at all.

    • Tim 8.1

      What’s the chorus line?
      My bet is that it’ll be to do with masses uprising, Mussolini-like icons being strung up from lamp post cross members, and a heap of egotists screaming “it wasn’t me, it wasn’t me”.

      Let it rip – the sooner the better

  8. McFlock 9

    John Key might be a totalitarian little sociopath, but the courts seem to be re-enacting (excuse the pun) the friction between the Barons and King John. The issue? Smoking in prisons.

    In order to legitimise the DoCorrections ban on smoking in prisons after it had been declared illegal (sound familiar?), the government passed legislation in February to legalise the illegal practices of a department (sound familiar?), including a declaration that the regulations can’t be challenged in court (sound familiar?).

    But Justice Brewer said there was a public interest in the unlawfulness of the Government’s amendments.

    “The effect, or utility, of this declaration is subject to the Corrections Amendment Act 2013,” he said.

    “I do not in this judgment decide the competing submissions of the parties on how the ouster provisions of the Amendment Act should be interpreted.”

    In other words, Brewer chose to rule only on the actual case rather than just washing his hands of the affair, and if the crown want to go back to court and argue it was a judgement without utility, no worries mate.

    Or in other other words, not being allowed to call john key a dick is a separate issue from whether john key is, in fact, a dick.

  9. I have never felt more embarrassed for a politician yesterday than I did
    for Russell Norman, he reminded me of that little snot face kid in class,
    who thinks he hard done by, and thinks hes making a point by being a
    smart ass, while the rest of the class just roles their eyes.

    Unfortunately there is always one of two people, who love that sort of thing.

    • Yoza 10.1

      Yeah, right on Brett. I’m sure practically nobody cares about Key introducing a Stasi style secret-police surveillance apparatus apart from the usual band of left-wing extremists like the New Zealand Law Society.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 10.2

      Brett, learn to spell roll.

      Oh and, “Lovely, name calling, your (sic) the coolest kid in the 6th grade.” 😆

    • the pigman 10.3

      If “one of two people” love it, why does the whole class “role” their eyes?

    • Suitably Clueless 10.4

      Is this is general? Or has the hated Dr Watermelon said something else intelligent and reasoned, if so, which particular incident are you referring too?

  10. MrSmith 11

    And so the revolution and freedom we thought the internet and technology would bring us has enslaved us and is and will sensor our freedoms, our freedom to speak freely and express our opinions, our freedom to start a revolution.

    We thought we were so smart didn’t we, but again we never gave much thought.

    In the past we were uncomfortable knowing that some will have to die so we can live, but now it seems know-one can die and we can’t live without being watched.

  11. fear all 12

    Why the hell is Jo blow Banks on the intelligence committee his party representation in parliament is 1 member ?
    Where is democratic representation -uno -votes
    What a crock of uno what Where’s the military reps in all this and the police or is that undisclosed for security reasons?
    A few questions when we are being asked to lay wide all our personal communication because of the demands of t TPP U THINK

  12. Molly 13

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who watches the watchmen?

    Finally reading Nicky Hager’s “Other people’s wars” alongside this debacle, and I thank Terry Pratchett for introducing me to the phrase above. Seems appropriate for both situations.

    Perhaps a one sentence submission for the GCSB select committee.

    • McFlock 13.1

      now you’re just being juvenal. 🙂

      • Molly 13.1.1

        Brought me back to earth with a Thud!

        • McFlock

          I must say that his general vibe of guarding/public safety is spot on with some of my own experiences back in the day – there was even one team where they tried getting a sunday graveyard shift poker game running. Chips & everything.

          Probably from his days as a journo on the police beat.

      • lprent 13.1.2

        Groan… Please – no Latin satire.. Was bad enough reading those decades ago.

  13. Richard Christie 14

    Why did Key lay a complaint over the cup of tea recording?

    Nothing to hide nothing to fear, privacy doesn’t come into it.

  14. Sable 15

    Strikes me this is bigger than people think. These kind of totalitarian measures are being put in place in Australia, the UK and even Ireland.

    Makes me wonder if this is not a bloodless (thus far) invasion enacted by a small group of powerful people. I think really we are to become part of the US “Empire” with a Police state put in place to crush dissenters.

  15. Descendant Of Sssmith 16

    The new Xbox one has a camera so sensitive it can monitor your pulse and heartbeat.

    I feel a Max Headroom moment.

    The series is set in a futuristic dystopia ruled by an oligarchy of television networks. Even the government functions primarily as a puppet state of the network executives, serving mainly to pass laws — such as banning off switches on televisions — that protect and consolidate the networks’ power. Television technology has advanced to the point that viewers’ physical movements and thoughts can be monitored through their television sets; however, almost all non-television technology has been discontinued or destroyed. The only real check on the power of the networks is Edison Carter, a crusading investigative journalist who regularly exposes the unethical practices of his own employer, and the team of allies both inside and outside the system who assist him in getting his reports to air and protecting him from the forces that wish to silence or kill him.


  16. Jenny 17

    A message aimed at President Obama.

    A message that John Key should heed.

    A message that other autocrats around the world who would set state agencies and spies and armed police and para-military against their own people would also do well to heed.

    A message that is for the people of the US and other Western democracies.

    A message that resonates with the people of Brazil, Egypt, Turkey and Greece beset as they are with elected dictatorships that on gaining office choose to ignore the popular will, in the interests of the powerful and privileged elites.

    “In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake.

    “We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.”

    Edward Snowden

    • Jenny 17.1

      The above quote, is destined to become one of “the quotes” of history. Because it encapsulates the general uneasy mood of the time. A time when the legitimacy of the elites and the direction in which the world is heading is being questioned by millions of people.

      The message is universal and repeatable.

      Only Slightly reworded, this message would not be out of place, even on, the lips of an unlikely folk hero like Kim Dotcom.

      “In the end the Key administration is not afraid of people like Kim Dotcom.

      “We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Key administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.”

      Kim Dotcom

      (With apologies to Edward Snowden)

  17. Huginn 18

    Hi Karol,
    Sorry about the re-post from Open mike, but I thought you might be interested.

    Peter George has raised a concern that the GCSB was used for gathering the communications and security data of Peter Dunne and Andrea Vance.

    ‘And also of extreme concern is what data [to the Henry Investigation] was provided by the GCSB. Appendix Three of the Henry report states that the GCSB provided “substantial assistance, particularly in the gathering of records”.

    That rings alarm bells. What “authority” did Key give the GCSB to gather data? Whatever it takes? And what data did the GCSB gather, and from where?’


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