Yes, that’s right. An important bill with major human rights implications, and we have one day to speak up about it. The consistency of this with our democratic norms is left as an exercise for the reader.
Still, we need to submit. While National is wholly committed to the spy deep state, its support partners and opposition parties aren’t. Every other party is extremely uncomfortable with these measures. And while the committee has a solid National majority and will rubberstamp whatever the Prime Minister wants, there’s a good chance that the bill will at least be toned down in order to secure a majority for the second reading. While I’d prefer to see it defeated (and the spies who asked for it sacked and their agencies disbanded), any improvement would be good.
I’ve just completed my submission on John Key’s Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill. In the past I’ve posted my submissions, but that has tended to lead to a bunch of people copy-pasting them, which has in turn reduced their impact (MP’s hate spam-submissions). So I’ll post it tomorrow, and instead do a quick guide on how to write your own. Remember, submissions are due tomorrow, so write fast!
Some points you may want to make:
- The government has not made a case for the inadequacy of the current passport regime. In particular, it hasn’t explained why a one-year cancellation / refusal is insufficient, or why going to court to get an extra year doesn’t work. Indeed, there’s no evidence at all that they’ve ever gone to court to extend a cancellation.
- The ability to cancel the passports of people overseas creates a risk of rendering people stateless and constitutes a de facto sentence of exile imposed by Ministerial fiat.
- The ability to suspend a passport for 10 days without evidence is (by definition) an arbitrary infringement of people’s freedom of movement, and makes all our international travel subject to Ministerial whim.
- The ability to use secret evidence in appeals against these actions violates the right to justice and undermines the credibility of the courts. They should have learned this from Ahmed Zaoui.
- Giving the police and SIS access to Customs data effectively circumvents the safeguards on their search powers, at least where the target of an investigation may be travelling overseas.
- Visual surveillance is highly intrusive, and given their past poor judgement and collection of irrelevant material, the SIS cannot be trusted with such powers.
- 48-hour emergency surveillance powers seem designed to circumvent existing safeguards, while permitting the SIS to retain anything “interesting” they find. There are other solutions, including designating alternative Ministers who can approve warrants (as is done for the GCSB). In cases of real emergancy, such as a threat to life, the police already have the necessary powers, and cases should be turned over to them.
- The short period permitted for submissions is ab abuse of the democratic process.
Once you’ve written it, you can submit through the online form here. Remember, you’ve now got less than 24 hours to do so, so be quick about it.