No Right Turn has written in his cogent style on the police spy issue. With the kind permission of No Right Turn, I’ve quoted it in full below.
Because the police operate independently of the government at the operational level (as they should), the “mission” creep is always going to be a issue. Unfortunately the police themselves seem to have an apparent inability to look at and assess the need for their own operations in the political intelligence sphere. Instead they have been using peaceful activist groups as target practice and training exercises.
No Right Turn writes:-
When you ask people to name countries where the police infiltrate and spy on democratic protest groups, they will name places like China, Cuba, Iran and Burma. Now, we can add New Zealand to the list. In a piece in the Sunday Star-Times today, Nicky Hager and Anthony Hubbard expose a major police operation to spy on protestors under the guise of fighting “terrorism”. The groups targeted include Auckland Animal Action, GE-Free New Zealand, Peace Action Wellington, SAFE, and Greenpeace. These groups are the conscience of our society. While they engage in (occasionally disruptive) protest action, they are not in any sense of the word “terrorists”.
The problem here seems to be “mission creep”. In 2004, the government set up a police Special Investigation Group to investigate “national security-related crime including terrorism”. But the problem is that there isn’t any terrorism in New Zealand, and we are well off international terrorist networks. So the police did what bureaucracies do, and turned their attention to the closest thing they could find in order to justify their budget: protestors. And finding no evidence of crime, let alone terrorism, they then started collecting personal dirt instead – anything rather than admit that their task was basically pointless. It would be laughable, if it wasn’t so sinister. People’s lives and relationships have been ruined because of this, and it will impose a significant chilling effect which may prevent people from speaking out on issues that matter to them. But its quite clear that the police don’t care about freedom of expression or the right to protest; they don’t care about the Bill of Rights they supposedly exist to protect.
This has to stop, and it has to stop now. If the SIG can’t tell the difference between protestors and terrorists, and is engaging in this sort of anti-democratic activity, it needs to be shut down. I’m sure its members could be usefully employed collecting speeding tickets or something. But more, there needs to be a full investigation of the police’s activities to find out where else they’ve been spreading their anti-democratic tentacles. In the mid-70’s, the Ombudsman investigated the SIS over allegations that they had been spying on politicians and using the information for political gain; the same clearly needs to happen to the police. Until that happens, they will remain a clear and present danger to our democracy.