Written By: - Date published: 6:35 am, February 18th, 2015 - 440 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, david shearer, democratic participation, greens, john key, labour, Metiria Turei, national, Parliament, phil goff, Spying - Tags: andrew little, GCSB, Una Jagose
At a time when oversight of New Zealand’s spy agencies is needed more than ever, Labour’s betrayal of New Zealanders continues unabated.
Just before Christmas, Labour participated in a travesty of Parliamentary process to ensure the passing of legislation which gave New Zealand’s security intelligence agencies the right to “spy at will” on any or all New Zealanders without even the need to first obtain a warrant to do so. This time, Labour Leader Andrew Little has gone so far as to apparently break the law with reference to Section 7(1)(d) of the Intelligence And Security Committee Act 1996. That section appears to oblige the Leader of the Opposition to consult “with the leader of each party that is not in Government or in coalition with a Government party” in recommending members of the parliamentary committee, the ISC, which oversees the functioning and future of New Zealand’s spy agencies. Rather than consulting with the Greens and New Zealand First, Andrew Little instead left it up to the media to inform those parties that they had not been consulted and that no member from either party would be a member of the ISC.
This is a break from tradition, an insult, and a continuation of Labour’s contempt for democracy.
The result of Andrew Little’s “Captain’s Call” is that the only MPs which get to have a say on New Zealand’s spy agencies are from those same parties which have overseen – and excused – the abuse of power by the spy agencies. Not only that, those same parties are gearing up for a wide review of the spy agencies, a review which John Key has intimated is likely to deliver even more pervasive powers to the agencies. The message Andrew Little’s collaboration with the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key sends is that there is no intention by any of the responsible elected representatives to take even the slightest heed of any submission any New Zealander may make in the review of the security intelligence services unless that submission meets the needs of both political parties and the agencies themselves.
Andrew Little added insults to the injury by writing off previous ISC member and Co-Leader of the Greens, Russel Norman, on the flimsy excuse that Norman is stepping down from the Co-Leader position. Then, just to rub salt into the wound, Little went on to further state that Greens Co-Leader Metiria Turei lacked the “skills, understanding and experience” to even be considered, let alone consulted. Needless to say, Andrew Little’s new BFF, John Key, is cheering-on this nasty abuse from the Labour Leader. As well as “totally supporting” Andrew Little’s betrayal of New Zealanders, John Key also kinda gave the game away when he said “[a] range of opposition voices from the minor parties could railroad the [review of the spy agencies] process. I don’t think the committee was terribly constructive over the last few years, I think it was used less as a way of constructing the right outcomes for legislation, and more as a sort of political battleground”
As Pablo over at KiwiPolitico points out . . .
. . . In other words, Russell Norman took his membership on the ISC seriously and did not just follow along and play ball when it came to expanding state powers of search and surveillance under the Search and Surveillance Act of 2012 and GCSB Act of 2014.
That is a very big concern. Mr. Key believes that the “right” outcomes (which have had the effect of expanding state espionage powers while limiting its accountability or the institutional checks imposed on it) need to be produced by the ISC when it comes to the legal framework governing the intelligence community. Those who would oppose such outcomes are not suitable for membership, a view with which Andrew Little seems to agree.
This is so profoundly an undemocratic view on how intelligence oversight should work that I am at a loss for words to explain how it could come from the mouth of a Prime Minister in a liberal democracy and be tacitly seconded by the Leader of the Opposition–unless they have genuine contempt for democracy. That is a trait that W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard shared as well, but what does that say about the state of New Zealand democracy? . . .
. . . it says lots actually, but nothing good.
It would be interesting to know how details of Andrew Little’s nominations for the ISC came into the public domain right now. At a time when the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key is facing rare unified criticism for its backroom-SkyCity deal and uncomfortable information concerning John Key’s deep personal support for Mike Sabin is filtering into public consciousness, it just seems a little too cute. So too does the timing of news that Andrew Little has been ducking-and-diving for months seemingly in an attempt to avoid paying a bill for services rendered by a small-business in Andrew Little’s campaign for Leadership of the Labour Party. The Beehive Press Gallery chooks have just had a new handful of grains to go pecking after while larger matters of greater concern to the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key are left behind.
Still, politically speaking, Andrew Little’s move to shit over the Greens may provide some sort of short term pay off. By removing the only political party to seriously question the functioning of New Zealand’s security intelligence agencies, he distances Labour from political thought which the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key has been able to frame as coming from the “extreme left”. No more inconvenient questions about sustainability or human rights or New Zealand’s sovereignty to clutter the process or confuse the masses.
Rather, Labour appears to have abandoned both its founding principles and, ironically, to have deserted the application of any real “intelligence”. Instead, Labour has joined the Brash “mainstream” to take part in the all-consuming but ultimately futile game of continuously chasing MSM polls by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Its a slippery slope. Studious observers can see already that contempt for New Zealanders and cynicism is dripping from both Labour and the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key in equal measure. To keep up in the perpetual polls, the game of “Beehive Idol” will require more betrayal because it becomes far too risky to attempt anything new or anything which might startle the judges. Come 2017, when that contemptuous and cynical betrayal is even more apparent, why would the “lowest common denominator” Labour is apparently trying to reach bother voting for Andrew Little over John Key when the choice essentially comes down to choosing Pepsi or Coke? Might as well go for what you’re used to or, if it is a choice of either Pepsi or Coke, why bother voting at all? This won’t stop any adherents of the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key from voting, of course. With this in mind, what ever gains Labour makes for putting the boot into the Greens and, yet again, betraying New Zealanders, will be short term.
It might well be in Labour’s best interests to cut the crap now and go into coalition with the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key. It would be the honest thing to do and might even temper some of the back-logged neo-liberal excesses still to be rolled out. At least then New Zealander will know where the boundaries lie and who actually is working to oppose the implementation of the wider neo-liberal ideology. Recent leaders of the Labour Party – Andrew Little, Phil Goff and David Shearer – certainly aren’t.
Meanwhile, the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key’s Spy Czar, Christopher Finlayson, has appointed one of his underlings, Deputy Solicitor-General Una Jagose, as Acting Head of the GCSB. Don’t know much about Una but lets hope her concern for the rights of corporate tax payers is reflected in a similar concern for the rights of all New Zealanders. Seems doubtful, though. Her primary function at Crown Law lately has been mitigating any legal risk the government may put itself at. What a handy skill set to have in her new position. With the ISC and GCSB now firmly in his pocket, John Key can be ensured that whatever legal risk there is in spying on New Zealanders can be completely eliminated from any new legislation his “Five Eyes Club” has planned for us.