Not how a democracy works

Written By: - Date published: 9:56 am, August 16th, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: Spying - Tags:

Key and his cronies have a long history of passing laws that give themselves sweeping powers and promising (honestly, truly) that they won’t use them. How many times has King Brownlee found himself in court for abusing his dictatorial powers, despite the ouster clauses in his enabling Act? Now, Key, says he won’t actually use the powers he’s getting the the GCSB Bill.

In a scene reminiscent of Fitzgerald v Muldoon, Key has purported to alter the law by press statement, telling the Herald (exclusively! for fuck’s sake) that how he will use the powers he gets in the GCSB Bill will be completely different to how those powers are stated in the law itself. ‘Don’t worry that you’re give me unnecessarily broad powers’ he says ‘I won’t use them’.

Except that’s not how a democracy works. The law in a democracy should give the government only the powers it definitely needs to have for the pubic interest and nothing more. It shouldn’t have a grab-bag of powers that it doesn’t need on a ‘we won’t use them, but just in case’ basis.

Why? Because sooner or later, that ‘just in case’ circumstance comes along from the perspective of the government of the day. Maybe it’s an opposition group that’s giving the government trouble, maybe it’s a segment of the population that’s deemed ‘undesirable’.

You don’t create the conditions for excessive government power and autocratic rule and then trust the government never to use them. Sooner or later, when you give a government excessive powers, you get excessive government action.

34 comments on “Not how a democracy works”

  1. Anne 1

    Key has purported to alter the law by press statement, telling the Herald (exclusively! for fuck’s sake) that how he will use the powers he gets in the GCSB Bill will be completely different to how those powers are stated in the law itself. ‘Don’t worry that you’re give me unnecessarily broad powers’ he says ‘I won’t use them’.

    I have yet to read the Herald (prefer to read the hard copy) but if this a correct resume of what he said then… this is almost beyond words. Translated it means:

    ” You’re (us for god’s sake) gonna put a whole lot of powers in this bill so that if I wanna get gen on anyone I don’t like then I can cos that’s going to be my new right as PM. But hey fellas I’m not gonna do it (well, not in this term anyway mumble, mumble) so youse got nothing to worry about – nothing to worry about at all.”

    Where is Labour? Why are they not shouting from the rooftops. This is serious banana republic stuff – Robert Mugabe-ism. A few press releases written in what I term “formalese” does not cut it Labour.
    That is why the media so often ignore your releases. In situations like this nothing less than a bit of “mongrelese” and maybe a swear word or two will cut it. Get to it will you!

    • Sable 1.1

      Because Labour are every bit as bad as National, that’s why. Clarke came out in support of Keys spy law and I see they voted down the Greens legislation to clean up our rivers. People need to get past their tribalism and start voting for a political party that actually represents their interests and those of their families. HINT: not National or Labour.

      • Anne 1.1.1

        I’ve responded to this claim of yours before Sable. CLARK DID NOT COME OUT IN SUPPORT OF KEY’S BILL. All she said was… it was necessary to have good laws surrounding the intelligence services and that our security agencies perform a very necessary function – that was the substance of her reply to a question by Audrey Young on Q&A. She passed no judgement on the current legislation being rushed through parliament which was the diplomatic thing to do.

        If we found ourselves in this exact situation under a Clark government there would have been a “full and independent inquiry” already up and running by now.

        • Even if she had, it would not be a good reason for anyone who supports Labour to support the bill, and it would not be a statement of current Labour Party policy.

          Also, I should point out that the fact that the GCSB were illegally spying on kiwis under Clark doesn’t necessarily make her responsible for it, although it certainly makes her negligent if she didn’t take efforts to ensure it wasn’t happening.

          • Anne 1.1.1.1.1

            Hi Matthew,
            My understanding of the Urewera raids under Labour’s watch is that the then minister of police, Annette King – and presumably Helen Clark – were told about the impending raids less than 24 hrs before they actually occurred. They were told the raid was legal, and I imagine they had little choice but to accept that their officials were correct so gave the go ahead. I recall Annette King commenting recently she was given few operational details (which would be correct because ministers are not responsible for operational minutia) and she was ‘taken aback’ by some of the police actions. I guess that was a polite way of saying she was appalled at what happened.

            • Wayne 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Which is pretty much the same as John Key and the Kim Dotcom raid. This is what Police independence means.

              Even if Ministers are appalled there is nothing they can do about it. They simply cannot direct the Police, who jealously protect their independence (as they should). But it could be argued they sometimes get carried away since they have (seemingly) few internal checks.

              Instead Police actions can only get challenged in the Courts as happened in both Urewera and KDC. And I also guess the IPCA can also act.

              And you don’t have to be as rich as Croesus. If the issues are big enough, Legal Aid comes to the rescue, as it did in the Urewera cases and with Zaoui.

              And I also guess the Court of public opinion is a check, but how strong is that in any particular case?

              • Colonial Viper

                Which is pretty much the same as John Key and the Kim Dotcom raid. This is what Police independence means.

                Even if Ministers are appalled there is nothing they can do about it.

                Shit, the cops got on to the Key/Banks/Ambrose teapot tapes quick smart. No burglaries to solve that week?

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.2

          She passed no judgement on the current legislation being rushed through parliament which was the diplomatic thing to do.

          Sometimes the “diplomatic thing to do” is the wrong thing to do. This was one of those times.

          • Anne 1.1.1.2.1

            Can’t agree with you there DTB.

            Helen Clark would leave herself open to accusations that she was interfering with the running of the country… and given her role as a top United Nations official she would be laying herself open to even more criticism. This might seem a bit paranoid but you only have to look at the vicious allegations she faced in the past to appreciate she has to be particularly careful – far more than almost anyone else in her position.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.2.1.1

              Helen Clark would leave herself open to accusations that she was interfering with the running of the country…

              But they would have only been accusations, ones easily ridiculed.

              …and given her role as a top United Nations official she would be laying herself open to even more criticism.

              I’m sure that the UN Declaration of Human Rights has something about privacy in it so it seems strange to me that a person employed by the UN can’t say something about laws that transgress that privacy.

              This might seem a bit paranoid but you only have to look at the vicious allegations she faced in the past to appreciate she has to be particularly careful – far more than almost anyone else in her position.

              Comes with the job.

        • Murray Olsen 1.1.1.3

          Anne, a similar situation was the Ahmed Zouai case and the faulty advice given by the SIS. I don’t share your faith in Clark government inquiries, or was this different enough to not be relevant?

          • Anne 1.1.1.3.1

            @ Murray Olsen
            It didn’t enter my mind at time of typing that comment. I’ve said previously that was a very curious case indeed. But my recollection is that it was part of a court case not an ‘inquiry’.
            All I can do is repeat what I said about it on Open Mike 10 August:

            A read of Paul Buchanan’s latest post on Kiwipolitico is enlighting. The SIS director at the time of the Zaoui case was Richard Wood who was a well known Francophile, and Buchanan links the persecution of Zaoui very much with this particular predilection.

            http://www.kiwipolitico.com/

            After reading that link it does seem that the SIS Director was under the influence of the French and that explains the conviction on the part of the SIS – and subsequently the Clark government – that he was a suspect character.

            • Anne 1.1.1.3.1.1

              The Edit function is having a hissy fit so I add an addendum to the above:

              I’m not trying to defend the Clark govt. – just pointing out what appears to be a plausible explanation as to why the Zaoui debacle proceeded the way it did.

            • Murray Olsen 1.1.1.3.1.2

              Given that France is the only nation that has committed an act of war on our territory, I have to wonder about the wisdom of having a francophile as SIS director. Do we only spy on people that don’t attack us?

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        People need to get past their tribalism and start voting for a political party that actually represents their interests and those of their families. HINT: not National or Labour.

        QFT

        Both National and Labour work in support of business and the rich and against the needs of everyone else.

  2. tracey 2

    Include the creation of an auckland super city. Sold as being best for auckland to run itself free of govt but turns out it was so govt cld impose on one council instead of 8.

    • Greywarbler 2.1

      tracey + 100

      edit – awaiting moderation!

      [lprent: So don’t write things that akismet thinks look like a spammer 🙂 Umm I see that you had another one as well. Guess it doesn’t like your IP. ]

      • Greywarbler 2.1.1

        lprent
        No worries. I’ll talk to my people and see what can be done about my IP and you two have a restful warm weekend.

  3. blue leopard 4

    Excellent post Eddie

    This is such an important point.

    I think that democratic countries really do need to be taught civics in schools. There are some principles that we need to understand because these principles protect us and when adhered to keep our society functioning healthily and unless we understand them, it is very evident that some manipulative fuckwit can come along and fool people into thinking that they don’t matter. They do matter and this is why I like your post. You have spelt out one of them in very simple terms

    • framu 4.1

      agreed – its a really important part/compliment of world history

      im constantly amazed by peoples failure to notice similarities to an issue today and where the same type of thinking has ended up previously

      • blue leopard 4.1.1

        @ Framu,

        Yes, same here re historical repetitions.

        The thing is, most of what we know is what we are told by others. The only time I know to draw such parallels is from someone pointing it out to me, or having read an informative book, watched a documentary etc.

        Because not everyone ‘digs’ political/historical conversations, informative books, documentaries etc, it seems rather important that some foundational knowledge is imparted in school.

        I would consider this type of information far more applicable and causing a direct and important impact on people’s lives than some of the other never-to-be used information I (for one) was taught in school.

  4. aerobubble 5

    Key says let him into your home, he won’t
    look in your underwear draw, and he promises
    that any future PM won’t either. Now that’s
    the lie, he can’t promise for future PMs.
    Everyone knows someone who makes promises
    for others, who aren’t available, its called
    a scam. Making a promise you can’t deliver on
    is the basis of every scam going. Lucky this
    isnt a national security issue, oops, it is.

    John Key keep out of my smelly pants!

    • Greywarbler 5.1

      aerobubble
      You know how the RWNJs respond to that sort of appeal. They would say if you only kept your underpants clean and didn’t allow them to smell, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about. It would be all your fault for bringing the armed squad of civic protectors down on you in farce.

      • aerobubble 5.1.1

        I would like to refer you to the government ministry of standards, of what constitutes smelly. My smelly pants could be very attractive to a Prime Minister like Key who seems quite enamored will smell distractions.

  5. Murray Olsen 6

    Spy agencies, and law enforcement in general, have historically gone beyond their allotted powers. They will do what the law allows, plus 10% or more, while pushing for more powers by telling lies about how hamstrung they are. Some politicians realise this, and write laws which take it into account. I have never heard of any historical case where spy agencies have used less than the powers allotted to them. Maybe on Planet Key?

  6. BrucetheMoose 7

    Brownlee is the perfect exemplar of what happens when you his type and this lot unbridled powers. Instead of using them wisely and for beneficial purposes, he has abused and misused them, all under the guise of a major natural disaster.
    Despite being the Minister of EQC, he has let this imperative government entity continually fail in it’s duty to make sure those relying on it’s services and financial assistance get the support they so desperately. Instead of using his position to discipline the insurance companies who are waging a campaign of attrition and submission upon their claimants, Brownlee won’t lift a finger to, not even utter a word against them. He would rather let these people suffer on many levels instead of acting against the perpetrators.
    He has instigated rulings that violate fundamental property rights in the residential red zones and commercial property owners in the CBD, again using these decisions and the disaster to not only deliberately undermine their right to own, but also severely undermine values in order for the government to acquire cheaply. This after he stated that the extreme powers regarding compulsory land acquisition would be used sparingly when the CERA legislation was first announced.
    Brownlee has already been taken to the high court and ruled against his decisions over rezoning certain areas of the Canterbury region for new residential development. Now two other legal actions are taking course at the moment by those severely affected financially by the red zoning process. Fowler Developments for a small relatively undamaged subdivision caught in the red zone, and Quake Outcasts, a group of various property owners desperately fighting for their financial survival due to Brownlee’s disgraceful rulings affecting their properties values. To learn more about this go to –
    http://sbitnz-web.sharepoint.com/Pages/default.aspx
    https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/Crowd/Details/1230
    There certainly is no democracy for these people.

    • Yep, brucethemoose.

      When a government gathers together such powers in one place it’s usually to fight a powerful foe (e.g., in a war). Yet, it’s hard to see any evidence that Brownlee has been using all the ‘grunt’ invested in his role to wield against other powerful agents like the insurers and reinsurers.

      Instead, there’s lots of evidence that those powers have been used mainly to push the relatively powerless domestic population around for various purposes, as you describe.

  7. hellonearthis 8

    LOL “pubic interest” I didn’t know my pubic area has interest.

  8. I agree with Matthew 9

    Look why not go with the law change, welcome it and when we the ‘left’ eventually win (might be a few years away yet) use it powers to take out the bastards. Use it on those right wing ,journos, bloggers and anyone else who takes our fancy or any one else whose views don’t conform . Use it to take our country back.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      oh god lets support a fascist state, because one day it’ll be run by our fascists?

      No thanks

      • I agree with Matthew 9.1.1

        woosh

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1

          If you have an argument to make or a debate point to lay out…feel free.

          Mine is clear. Governments must be limited and must not be permitted to abuse their powers over the citizens, regardless of how “worthy” you feel those citizens are of being fucked over.

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