Governments have always used external threats (real or not) to expand their powers. Supposedly “small government” types seem the most keen to grab more powers, for some strange reason.
So now we’re going through another round. From RNZ this morning:
Law changes to tackle IS risk questioned
Experts are questioning whether new security measures being introduced by the Government to mitigate the threat of Islamic State outweigh the risks.
The Government … will also allow the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) to carry out video surveillance on private properties in cases of security concern. In emergencies they will be allowed to begin surveillance up to 48 hours before the issue of a warrant, with the approval of its director.
Mr Key said the changes will be subject to a sunset clause, but the proposed new legislation has raised concerns among academics.
Nigel Parsons, senior lecturer in the politics programme at Massey University, said it was easy to overstate the risks being posed to New Zealand. “Once civil liberties are gone, once powers of surveillance are increased, those powers are typically difficult to roll back and those liberties are difficult to reclaim,” he said.
Robert Ayson, professor of strategic studies at Victoria University, said there was a threat to New Zealand, but questioned whether it was being painted as more than it really was. “When you are talking about video surveillance before a warrant has been granted that starts to test whether we are willing to sacrifice our democratic values in order safeguard them.”
Given that we are not told what information our security services hold, and given their poor record on such matters in the past (Ahmed Zaoui, Urewera Raids), we the people have every reason to be suspicious of this latest round of “reds under the beds”.
Supporting terrorism is already illegal in NZ, and as Espiner asked Brownlee in his interview this morning (audio), if there is evidence that this is happening, have people have been arrested? Brownlee’s answer? No.
There is then no evidence available to the public of dangerous activity occurring in NZ, and no case for expanding – yet again – the surveillance powers of the state .