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This is/is not democracy

Written By: - Date published: 1:05 pm, August 12th, 2013 - 106 comments
Categories: activism, bill english, brand key, capitalism, class war, democracy under attack, democratic participation, greens, john key, same old national, slippery, spin, Spying - Tags:

The op ed pieces by columnists who most often are cheerleaders for John Key’s government, are telling.

They indicates where national is heading for their 2014 election campaign.

This is not democracy. …

As argued by John Armstrong, and in some ways supported by Audrey Young, it’s about spin and PR manipulation in order to keep both a significant section of the voting public, and National’s wealthy backers on side.  It’s about John Key aiming to win the election in whatever ruthless way he can.

Armstrong is most telling on this.  He argues that the Kiwisaver, first home buyer policy announced at last weekend’s conference, is Key’s attempt to regain the upper hand, albeit by doing something that is tinkering around the edges of the issue.  Armstrong argues that affordable housing is the only issue on which Labour has the upper-hand over National.  That’s curious, given how much National is also on the back foot re the GCSB Bill.

Armstrong goes on:

That National was announcing the alterations some 15 months before the country goes to the polls says a lot about John Key’s irritation at being trumped on any matter.

But then this was a conference which seemed fixated with planning for next year. National attributes its staggeringly high poll ratings for a party in its fifth year of government to it being on the majority side of public opinion, particularly on fundamental issues like education and law and order.

Armstrong concludes:

English’s speech provided a vital clue as to how National will fight next year’s election. It will go relentlessly on the offensive across all fronts and try to put its opponents constantly on the defensive. You can also bet you have not heard the last from National about help for first-home buyers.

Behind this focus on English, looms the shadow of Key’s ruthless competitive streak. Armstrong also has a superficial, if any, analysis of why Key continues to score highly in opinion polls.  But then, that would require him to face some home truths about how columnists like him skew media coverage in Key’s favour.

Curiously, while Armstrong inadvertently indicates ruthless, anti-democratic competitiveness, in apparent contradiction,  Audrey Young highlights the lack luster presentation of the weekend’s National Party conference:

Conference 2013 was meant to be the conference of good ideas, according to the National Party’s Bill English and Steven Joyce last week.

It wasn’t going to be saturated with tight party messaging with no room for spontaneity or creativity. That will be next year’s prescription, being an election year. This was to be the conference where delegates came up with fresh ideas to wow the electorate and create the momentum for a third term.

Yet, the “bright ideas” were restricted by the apparent requirement that no speaker overshadow Key’s speech.

And the conference was full of self-congratulation, with ministers dominating every session to spell out what they had done.

There were certainly no new ideas in ministers’ speeches. They operate under the strict understanding that they are not to say anything that might detract from the prime minister’s speech and coverage.

Grumblings about possible changes to snapper bag limits were restricted to the last few minutes of a workshop.

This is an indication of how much the Nats are reliant on the public image of their anti-democratic PM.  And the lack of democracy is exposed by Young’s attempt to mask this lack of party democracy by taking some comparative swipes at the Green Party:

Only nine policy remits were debated by rank-and-file members. At least National’s remit debates were open to the media, unlike the Green Party, who would rather hold debates on democratic reforms and other such policy in closed sessions.

The Greens’ exclusion of the largely right wing, Key cheer-leading, MSM political commentator is done to facilitate grass roots democracy, not stifle it.  In contrast, Young’s piece on the Nat conference, indicates how the Nats prefer a top-down, structure that stifles democratic debate.    No need to exclude journalists, as the Nat’s conference is one long piece of overly managed PR.  But even Nat apologist Young is not fully convinced:

The biggest idea was when the prime minister told the Nelson magazine Wild Tomato that if there was any policy he could change overnight, it would be to change the New Zealand flag to the silver fern.

He was happy to talk about Fonterra, even the GCSB through gritted teeth. But he did not want the flag story to fly when the media seized on it.

So, here Key is trying to divert public attention from some significant issues, while announcing a housing policy that benefits the already wealthy and their children (See Eddie’s post on it).

But, there is a very good example of democratic engagement with grassroots under way in relation to  opposition to the GCSB Bill and related amendments:

This is democracy!

Martyn Bradbury has posted on the great line up of speakers for next Monday’s public meeting about the GCSB Bill:

Here are the confirmed speakers for the night…

Dr Rodney Harrison QC (presented the Law Society submission on GCSB Bill)
Kim Dotcom (the most high profile victim of illegal GCSB spying)
Jon Stephenson (journalist and war correspondent)
Seeby Woodhouse (Founder of Orcon ISP and 2004 NZ Young Entrepreneur of the Year)
Helen Kelly (CTU President)
Professor Jane Kelsey (Law Faculty Auckland University)
Marama Davidson (Maori activist and blogger)
Russel Norman (Green Party Leader)
Hone Harawira (Mana Party Leader)

[Update:  Winston Peters added to list of speakers

and Nicky Hagar]

Be there, or if you can’t watch the live stream online at TDB Live.



[Update]  Gordon Campbell, on the latest addition of Werewolf – ‘Nanny National‘ – in which he lays out just how anti-democratic Key’s government has become/been:

… centre-right parties may campaign on a promise to reduce the clout of Big Government and the dinosaurs of commerce – but once elected, they seem happy to preside over the extensive growth of Big Government and the entrenchment of corporate power. It happened in the US under Ronald Reagan, and has been occurring here under John Key.


Clearly, there is compelling evidence that Big Government has become a far more threatening and intrusive presence in the lives of most New Zealanders under John Key, than it ever was under Helen Clark. When it comes to presiding over a nanny state – if that term is to mean an ever-expanding network of unchecked powers, wielded in the service of elites seen as being somehow more deserving – the Key government makes Helen Clark look like a piker.

The full detailed article is well worth a read – at the above link.

[Update]  Winston Peters has been added as a speaker at the Kill the Bill meeting on Monday evening.

[Update]  Nicky Hagar also speaking at the Auckland meeting on Monday.

106 comments on “This is/is not democracy ”

  1. Veutoviper 1

    I agree that the op ed bits today are quite telling – but even more so the comments on those Herald articles up so far. Almost all are derogatory to National and its policies etc. The usual ‘ Nat fans’ seem to be MIA, and my perception over recent months has been that there has been a slow trend against the current government and Key in the comments on Herald opinion articles.

    The great line* up of speakers for next Monday are great – but also telling in respect of the absence of anyone from Labour. I hope this changes, but not holding my breath.

    * Being pedantic, you might want to correct your ‘loine’ up! LOL

    • karol 1.1

      Thanks, veuto. Fixed. glad we have some good copy editors in our midst.

      Yes, the gloss appears to be wearing off the Nat bandwagon.

      • Rogue Trooper 1.1.1

        my turn, my turn! Wotta ’bout “online at (Draco The Bastard) Live”?
        Chocolate fish? (or a Strawberry Heart, only $1.99 / 200g at Pak ‘n’ Save).

  2. blue leopard 2

    @ Karol,

    It is really important for people to be ahead of National’s PR/spin game, and you are providing that type of insight, so I see this type of article as very very important.

    I was particularly taken with the fourth paragraph (“Armstrong is very telling on this….). I watched Q&A a few weeks ago and the National woman (can’t remember name, sorry) was also spinning the GCSB issue like that: “Its not a big issue; bigger issues are the snapper count” There were also some comments here saying the same thing.

    This may well be the case, however does sound like telling the people what to think. Jedi mind trick without the positive motivation:

    “You shall believe this”

    We need to be less susceptible to this type of approach; of opinion manipulation.

    Articles like this assist in toward that end

    Good work Karol

    • ak 2.1

      Too true blue. The tory game of repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes truth.

      Good example right here with Armstrong’s much-repeated and adopted “staggeringly high poll ratings” for the Natsies when the Nat/Labgre polling is actually roughly even.

      Same for “most popular PM” when “preferred” is the only thing ever measured. 97.5% of surveyed respondents prefer eating pig vomit to reading comments by King Kong, yet articles extolling the popularity of pig vomit remain thin on the sty.

      • Rogue Trooper 2.1.1

        sometimes a roll in the mud with laughter can remove those age and worry lines from the forehead faster than any other concealing cream currently available on the market; many white-coated experts testify to miraculous rejuvenating results, sometimes taking three days only, or less.
        Reference: Pork Industry Board NZ.

        • blue leopard

          News flash 2020

          NZ pork industry sued by international-overpriced-facecream-company for damaging profits. Clause 666 Under section Corporate Sacrilege from TPPA requires that profits of corporations mustn’t be damaged through the telling of truth. Porkies must be adhered to in circumstances that will lead to decline of profits.

          The TPPA was passed in 2014 secretly and unbeknownst to the voting population. The politicians who signed it are now claiming that they didn’t know this clause was in the document because they didn’t actually bother reading it prior to signing it. “This was not my job”, claimed right honourable Mr X, “its the bloody civil servants fault, that is their job, not mine.”


          • Rogue Trooper

            and from the Arts section of the same Daily:
            “For some years now, it has been considered gauche, even by ageing members of the Early Gen X cohort to break into “Tie Me Kangaroo Down”, or “Hello, Hello. I’m Back Again”, although some excerpts from “Doctorin’ The Tardis” are permitted if laced with suitable political-spin expletives, for example ‘Buggerin’ Devil Beasts from the Far-Left Swamp &%!!#’. “

          • emergency mike

            “The politicians who signed it are now claiming that they didn’t know this clause was in the document because they didn’t actually bother reading it prior to signing it.”

            You make da joke but this excuse actually worked in the real world for a guy called John Banks.

            • blue leopard

              @ Emergency Mike

              …and the director of the GCSB and Minister Goff who signed the document re the description of investigative journalists as the enemy in that GCSB document….

              (sorry poor description don’t remember details)


              “I didn’t know it was in there”

              Not really a decent excuse is it?


              a. Didn’t know because didn’t read. (Yet signed it)


              b. Lying

      • blue leopard 2.1.2

        @ Ak

        Absolutely agree…the polls. (groan)

        I have such a battle re the polls: prior to the election I thought they were hogwash, then they weren’t too far off re election results (i.e who would have believed Nat would be voted in again), so started thinking they must be somewhat reliable, now I am back to thinking there is something wrong with them, I don’t know what they are doing, yet do feel it is the same technique “You shall believe”.

        Perhaps it is just that they are accurately reflecting the effectiveness of the mindgames of PR Nat spin and I can’t stomach it.

        It is so true what you say; repetition is so one of them “fair, reasonable, balanced” Every Nat MP was saying that every time they spoke for more than a year leading up to the election. Have to watch for what they are using this time. I suspect Karol has located one: “this is not an issue”

        Just really want people to guard themselves from the hypnotic effects of what is being conducted on them.

        • Mike S

          I’m the same in regards to polls. I might be blinkered but I just find it hard to believe National and Key have 50%+ support. Everyone I know hates him! Even my dad who has voted National his entire life, is starting to question National’s policies and say negative comments about Key which is very unlike him.

          I’d really like to know how the polls are affected in regards to those without landlines. Pretty much everyone I know doesn’t have a landline so can’t be included in polls. They are almost all exclusively in the middle to lower income brackets and all of them vote labour or greens. All of the National supporters I know have landlines.

          • blue leopard

            @ Mike S
            Is a relief to hear your views.

            Yeah, re ‘no one I know likes Key’. A friend of mine said this is exactly what was like in Brit when Thatcher kept getting in. Just didn’t ever meet anyone who supported what she was doing.

            The only things I can come up with (would be interested in other ideas):

            One of the polls do include cellphones.

            I do remember one person commenting on the Standard saying that a relation of theirs gets rung regularly for the polls (i.e. they are not choosing new people they are ringing people they have already got stats off.) This is a major skew of stats if this is the case.

            Another thought I was having was what time do they ring? It might be that they do it at a certain time which leads them to get a certain political ‘type’. This is a major skew

            Another skew could be when people don’t answer.
            Another when they don’t take part (although I think they might state the number of these). These two effect accuracy.

            This does not account for the fact that the polls did indicate support for Nat and Nat got in. This is the trickiest conundrum for me. Is that because the polls are [reasonably] reflective of what stance people have, or is it that the polls are skewed and are effecting peoples’ choices. The amount of people staying at home can certainly come under this category.

            • karol

              A friend of mine said this is exactly what was like in Brit when Thatcher kept getting in. Just didn’t ever meet anyone who supported what she was doing.

              Yes, that’s exactly what it was like living in Thatcher’s England. Key’s regime is deja vu for me.

              I think I read somewhere that most polls include mobile phones these days.

              • KJT

                Well no one admitted to voting for Muldoon either. Someone must have, though.

                Maybe Key voters are too ashamed to admit they are voting to support their own greed against the majority of New Zealander’s.
                The wannabee aspirational types, who vote for Key, who believe, against all the odds, that they too may be rich, like him, one day.

              • Wayne

                Hi Karol. We have had this discussion in the past – about Mrs T.

                It will not surprise you to know that I know heaps of people who like John Key and vote for him. Mind you I know a fair number of people who vote for Labour, the Greens and NZF, and through my wife, also those who vote for either the Maori Party and Mana.

                But quite a lot of the Nat voters would say to me they were amazed that Labour did as well as they did because they did not meet anyone who voted Labour.

                Two reasons. One, people can often have limited social circles. Two, if people are too vocal or adamant about who they support, it chills others (friends) from saying who they support. Most people will sooner preserve a friendship or an acquaintance, rather than get into an argument. So they tend to discuss the things they have in common. After all for most people, politics is a rather secondary consideration.

                • karol

                  Yes, I agree, it does depend somewhat I who a person mixes with.

                  My family tend to lean right. Over the years we tend not to get too much into arguing over who we vote for – we pretty much know.

                  It also is influenced by choice of occupation – I’ve always avoided working in the profiteering private sector, I have mostly worked in education, and was a teacher all through the Thatcher years – broke my heart what she did to education.

                • Huginn

                  Agreed, Wayne.
                  I’m often astonished when I meet lovely, reasonable, agreeable people who don’t share my political views 🙂
                  Thank you for contributing to the conversation . . .

        • emergency mike

          “this is not an issue”

          Key’s been using that one for years. This variation is just the latest incarnation of “I’m not bovvered about it,” which later evolved into “I’m comfortable with it.”

          Same principle as the classic ‘Jedi mind trick’. You just say the thing that you want to be true, people believe you, then it is true. So when someone questions it, you can just call them a fruitloop. The same thinking is understood to be at work in the mind of the psychopath – lies are just the things you say to make the truth into what you want it be. “The reality is ….”

          • blue leopard

            @ Emergency Mike

            Ah! Excellent, thanks I can’t watch the You-tube (on dial-up, yet will make a point of watching when at internet café), yet very helpful information that you write. I hadn’t noticed that “its not an issue” has been in use for a long time ~ thanks

            I can’t hear enough of this sort of thing; think awareness of the tricks is the only way to remain unaffected by them.

            Along the lines you are speaking of. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the National Party Website – Welfare Reforms Page

            They have “You measure a society on how it treats its most vulnerable. You also measure it by how many vulnerable people it creates….” message displayed on it.

            Could they be more cynical?

            • emergency mike

              Jebus. I guess it’s lucky for National that as Paula Bennebash claimed with a carefree laugh not too long ago, “There is no measure for child poverty.”

              Indeed awareness is the key. I studied psychopathy for a while. It’s a constant source of amusement to them that they can just say stuff and people just believe it.

              Dr Robert Hare thinks that they even have a different concept of ‘lies vs truth’ than the rest of us. He found that some would even continue to lie about things that they knew that he knew were lies. This suggests that their faith in their ability impose their will on another’s mind is very strong. A psychopath will look you in the eye and tell you that black is white, and make you feel like an idiot if you doubt it.

              Hare also thinks that (sometimes) the shock and surprise that they show when confronted with proof of their own guilt might even be genuine. They believe their own lies, (that reality is what they say it is), that’s what makes them such good liars.

              One thing worth noting is that psychopaths will go to any lengths to protect the facade they present to the people they are trying to fool. Because their credibility is the very thing they abuse, once it’s gone, it’s over, they’ve got nothing. After they’re done indignantly denying everything, loudly blaming others, and playing the victim like it’s for the Oscar, they will calmly pick up their bags and leave. Looking for the next set of lives to ruin.

              When asked if they ever feel sorry for their victims, they often give more or less the same response, (once you get past the “Oh yeah, yeah definitely… That’s what I’m supposed to say right?” kind of stuff), – “If you’re stupid enough to get fooled by someone like me, then you deserve what you get.”

              • @ Emergency Mike,

                Your last point; I’ve observed that one; the more a person is fooled the more contempt grows for them in the liar.

                I hadn’t known that about getting a thrill out of fooling people, or quite a few of the other points


                …Oh boy, makes one wonder whether there is any way out of this mess we are in. I suspect psychopathy is believed to be something you are born with, if this is so, I do not believe the vast amount psychopathic behaviour around today comes under this category. I think psychopathic traits are being rewarded and people are developing them in themselves. Society needs to have some values in place that stops encouraging psychopathy.

                • emergency mike

                  “I hadn’t known that about getting a thrill out of fooling people, or quite a few of the other points”

                  Psychopaths crave power and control over others. That’s what gets them off. Money is a means to that end. Fooling others makes them feel superior, feeding their ego. This is their motivation. They like taking risks, excitement, they are bored easily. They also enjoy seeing the chaos and suffering they have caused in other’s lives. This is particularly hilarious to them.

                  As in all areas of psychology there is debate about nature vs nurture. Indeed some people do seem to be ‘born bad’, but the most out of control and violent ones usually come from abusive families.

                  “I think psychopathic traits are being rewarded and people are developing them in themselves.”

                  Absolutely. Only a small fraction of psychopaths are violent criminals. The rest are just living normal lives. Hare reckons that the areas that are most attractive to them are, wait for it, politics and high finance. Got a talent for stabbing people in the back to climb the ladder? Are you good at presenting a bullshit face to people to get what you want? Ruthless? No morals? Hey, our company/party could use a go-getter like you!

                  They have a talent for climbing the corporate ladder very quickly, once up there they spread their psychopathic values around. Create a culture of arseholeness. Normalize it. Reward it. This awesome leader takes the team for a big ol’ ride indeed. When everything turns to shit. He’ll pack his bags and fly away with a big hilarious grin.

    • Jason Rika 2.2

      It was ex-national party president Michelle Boag. She said the biggest upcoming issues were, “the snapper quota” and “dogs being used to test party pills.”

      • blue leopard 2.2.1

        @Jason Rika
        That’s the one! Thanks

      • Huginn 2.2.2

        So clever! They pre-conditioned the territory of contention with totally bogus issues.

      • Veutoviper 2.2.3

        Michell Boag, who also was instrumental in parachuting John Key into first returning to NZ, running for National and getting the leadership – along with IIRC John Slater (Cam’s father).

  3. King Kong 3

    having taken such an “anti” stance to the goings on at the National party conference, I imagine Karol will be handing in her membership immediately.

    • karol 3.1


      • Veutoviper 3.1.1

        LOL – DFTT, Karol – or is that ‘don’t feed the monkey’

        • Rogue Trooper

          All Exhibits Should Be Treated With Caution
          Do Not Put Fingers Through Fence!

      • RJL 3.1.2

        KK is attempting argue that as you are (presumably) not a National Party member (or even a National voter), then the conduct of the National Party conference is not a matter that you are allowed to have legitmate concerns about.

        KK is forgetting, of course, that National is the governing party of NZ, and has ambitions of remaining so in the future. So, of course, the conduct of the National Party affects us all. And, as Karol points out internal party conduct is indicative of National’s conduct in governance.

        • karol

          Thanks, RJL.

          According to this logic:

          then the conduct of the National Party conference is not a matter that you are allowed to have legitmate concerns about.

          According to this logic, right wing and/or non Labour and non Green Party members should not be attempting to comment on the conferences of those parties.

          Agreed on the Nats’ conference being indicative of their style of governance.

          Also, as I said in my post, the Nat Conference (as reported in the MSM) was one big PR stunt, attempting to influence voters.

          • RJL

            Also, as I said in my post, the Nat Conference (as reported in the MSM) was one big PR stunt, attempting to influence voters.

            Agreed. The National Conference is just a product launch.

            It is not an event where policy is seriously developed or debated, or where serious decisions are made. Which as you say, is indicative of the kind of machine that National has become.

            As BM (of all the people to make an incisive, cogent point!) noted, National is a product not a politcal party. http://thestandard.org.nz/armstrong-on-nationals-conference/#comment-677605 It stands for nothing apart from winning, and the purpose of winning, of course, is to benefit its backers (which are not the “consumers” who voted for it).

  4. Paul 4

    Why is Shearer not going?
    Looks weak Labour…

    • BM 4.1

      Shearer is for the GCSB Bill.

      Of course he won’t be going, all this anti stuff he’s been spouting is just bollocks.

      If we had a decent media they’d pick him up on it.

      • Paul 4.1.1


        • Jenny


          Shearer must never be Prime Minister and head of the GCSB and SIS. He is so Right Wing it would be a disaster for the left. He would probably set them to spy on his own caucus. As for stopping metadata spying on the rest of us. And investigating the illegal actions taken by the GCSB against 88 New Zealanders, you can forget about that.

  5. FYI

    12 August 2013

    ‘Open Letter/’ OIA request to NZ Prime Minister John Key – from Auckland Mayoral candidate Penny Bright:

    “Where is the EVIDENCE of power ‘blackouts’ in the days of the Electricity Division of the Ministry of Energy?”


    Dear Prime Minister,

    I note your following comments, made to the National Party’s annual conference, on Sunday 11 August 2013:


    PM’s full speech to National Party’s annual conference
    12:29 PM Sunday Aug 11, 2013


    Make no mistake, our opposition comes from the far left of politics.
    The Greens are leading Labour by the nose. It’s important that New Zealanders understand what a Green-dominated government would look like. They want to tax you more, rack up more debt and make you work two more years before you can retire.

    They want a government department to run the entire electricity system, just like it did in the old days when we had blackouts.

    ……………………………………. ”



    “We begin with a brief discussion of the origins of electricity in New Zealand, and how its provision quickly became the exclusive purview of government.

    The 1980s reforms of electricity are summarised, focusing on the corporatisation of ECNZ under the State-Owned Enterprises
    Act 1986, early reform objectives, and the 1989 Electricity Task Force Report.

    Any break-up of the monolithic ECNZ necessitated measures to encourage competition in generation, such as the separation of transmission from generation, and development of a wholesale electricity market.


    From Government Department to Corporation

    In the current context, the reforms of greatest significance began with the corporatisation of state trading enterprises under the 1986 State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Act.

    Motivating this shift towards operationally autonomous, profit-motivated and more transparently operating state trading activities was their sustained poor performance under existing arrangements.

    Up until this time (1986) the electricity sector in New Zealand was dominated by the Electricity Division of the Ministry of Energy, which was responsible for the operation, maintenance and development of all generation and transmission in New Zealand to ensure the reliability and quality of supply and to meet growth in electricity demand.

    Distribution and retailing services were local-government owned and operated by 61 electricity supply authorities (ESAs), including electric power boards and municipal electricity departments.

    Each had monopoly-service rights and obligations in licensed franchise areas, supplying energy over their lines networks purchased from the Electricity Division at prices (bundling energy and transmission charges) essentially determined by government.

    To enhance their bargaining/lobbying power, these organisations combined forces via the Electricity Supply Association of New Zealand (ESANZ). This basic set-up had persisted for much of the
    twentieth century

    Prime Minister, personally, i do not share the view that the performance of the (natural) monopoly of the essential public service of electricity supply, was ‘inefficient’ or ‘poor’ in the ‘old days’ of the Electricity Division of the Ministry of Energy, and local power boards.

    (I can remember those arguably ‘good old days’, when power bills were affordable, and I for one, could afford to have the heater on in winter, and a soak in a hot bath.

    Now I cannot, together with thousands of other New Zealanders.)

    What I have been unable to find, Prime Minister, is any reference to ‘blackouts’ back in the ‘old days’, when the Electricity Division of the Ministry of Energy did indeed ‘run’ the supply of electricity as a ‘Government Department’.

    There is evidence though, of electricity ‘blackouts’ which have occurred SINCE these electricity ‘reforms’ which started in the 1980s:


    Summary: Ministerial Inquiry into the Auckland Power Supply Failure
    4:00 AM Tuesday Jul 21, 1998

    Energy Minister Max Bradford today released the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into the Auckland Power Supply Failure.

    The Inquiry was announced by Mr Bradford on March 12 1998 following the power failure to Auckland’s central business district beginning on February 20 1998. The Inquiry was set up by the Government in order to examine what happened, why and what lessons could be drawn for the future. Issues of legal liability and compensation were not part of the terms of reference.

    Members of the Inquiry were Mr Hugh Rennie QC (Chairman), Mr Don Sollitt and Dr Keith Turner.

    Key findings

    The report is critical of Mercury’s, and its predecessor the Auckland Electric Power Board’s risk management and contingency planning, and its operations and asset management practices.

    Corporate governance is also identified as an issue. The Inquiry found that the governance structure of Mercury Energy did not cause the power supply to fail, but through its effect on governance an opportunity to prevent it was lost.



    Transpower Announces Reports on Auckland Power Outage in June; Recommends Building New Line by 2011
    Jul. 11, 2006tdworld.com | T&D World Magazine

    Two independent reports have been released examining last month’s major power outage in New Zealand. On June 12, a blackout caused chaos in Auckland, leaving about 750,000 without power and resulting in US$52 million lost in trade. Roads were gridlocked, phones lines were down and hospitals closed, according to a Reuters report.

    1) Prime Minister John Key, can you please provide the
    information upon which you were relying, in your
    above-mentioned speech,which confirms / substantiates that
    there were in fact ‘blackouts’in the days of the days of the
    Electricity Division of the Ministry of Energy, and before the 1986
    ‘electricity reforms’.

    2) Can you please provide the following particulars of any/ all
    these purported ‘blackouts’, in the days of the Electricity Division
    of the Ministry of Energy, before the 1986 ‘electricity reforms
    a) DATE(S)
    b) LOCATION (S)
    c) CAUSE (S)

    Thank you in anticipation of your prompt response to this request.

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption/anti-privatisation’ campaigner

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

  6. Huginn 6

    Libertarian Eric Crampton arguing that misgivings about the GCSB Bill lie at the core of Act’s values.

    Cashing in the chips
    There comes a point when you start wondering what the point of a small-l liberal party is if it won’t step up when it could really make a difference.

    Politics always involves compromises and trade-offs. Usually, no small party can really achieve much. You can get some policy concessions after the election, and especially for the kinds of policies that your partner kinda likes anyway but on which it doesn’t really want to lead the charge. After that, things are set. You know you don’t have the leverage to do much else, and reneging on your partner spoils your chances of getting minor gains in the next coalition arrangement.

    But sometimes an issue comes up that speaks to your party’s core values, that wasn’t anticipated at the time of the coalition arrangement, and that’s coming through on a very thin majority. Thin enough where a one-vote defection from the coalition could actually change the outcome.

    New Zealand is updating the legislation around its spy agency, the GCSB. At the same time, it’s considering legislation around telecommunications providers that would make it harder for New Zealanders to use strong encryption and impose burdens on New Zealand internet service providers to ensure that GCSB is able to hack into any communications channel.


    • emergency mike 6.1

      Dear Eric,

      You seem to have confused your ideological hopes for ACT with John Banks’ hopes for John Banks. Newsflash: your one and only MP is John Key’s willing pet monkey.

      • Huginn 6.1.1

        And don’t they know it.
        The Greens and the Left object to the GCSB Bill because they are it’s targets.
        But for ACT and the Libertarian Right the concerns raised by GCSB Bill are of philosophically existential importance.

        ACT was founded as a party of ideas. These ideas may not be very attractive to most Standardistas, but they are historically well founded. Friedrich Hayek developed many of these ideas and he primed them for this event when he started to raise his concerns about John Von Neumann’s work in the 1940’s.

        This is exactly what their fathers warned them about all those years ago.
        John Banks’ support for the GCSB Bill betrays everything the party is about. I’m surprised that it seems to have taken this long for them to get their heads around it.
        But I’m glad they are.

        • karol

          they are historically well founded.

          Ideas are not proof – where in history have Actoid libertarian policies actually work for the benefit of all?

          • Huginn

            By ‘historically well founded’ I mean that these ideas have a history. Ideas are real. They have consequences for real people.

            These ideas have been argued out over nearly a century.

            You, and I can take a position on these ideas and the positions we take are grounded in a historical conversation.

            That to me is proof of a good thing; a good thing to which the Libertarian Right also have a contribution to make.

            • blue leopard

              @ Huginn,

              Interesting views

              Do you think that perhaps Libertarian theory has been used in order to ‘justify’ certain approaches, when in actual fact this is not the real agenda?

              I do.

              Do you think that you might have been suckered in by the theory that is used to sucker people in to the Act Party, when really, this is not the theory or interests that they follow?

              I do.

              Act is all about big money interests. It has nothing to do with freedom, liberation, self empowerment or any such concepts. These things don’t eventuate from policies that Act would support; not unless you are very wealthy.

              John Banks hasn’t ‘betrayed what the party’s about’, he is following it to a T. What John Banks has done is betray your, in my view mistaken understanding as to what that party is all about

              • felix

                +1 bl. I’m actually astounded that anyone still buys the ACT=liberal mythology at all.

                The party is led by John. Freaking. Banks. If the penny didn’t drop when that happened there’s just no hope for them.

                Eric Crampton must have been going around with his eyes shut all his life to ask of John Banks “If you’re going to die in 2014 anyway, jump on this grenade while you’re doing it. Die in a blaze of liberal glory,”

                much lolz.

              • Huginn

                ACT is a sad, sad sock puppet for the National Party, for sure. But maybe that’s payback for all the time that the National Party was an ACT sock puppet.

                Karol has been asking where the Libertarian Right have got to on the GCSB Bill. I put the link to Eric Crampton’s post up to show where they’re going.

                As for ACT’s moneyed backers . . . I’m very interested in what Alan Gibbs, a well known student of Friedrich Hayek, is thinking about the GCSB Bill.

                • felix

                  I know exactly what he’s thinking. He’s thinking “FLAAATT TAAAAXXXX”

                • karol

                  Karol has been asking where the Libertarian Right have got to on the GCSB Bill.

                  Where did I ask that?

                  • Huginn

                    Not on this post.
                    A while ago you asked where the voices on the right were on the subject of the GCSB Bill.
                    At the time it struck me as being a very interesting question because there is nowhere for dissenters on the Right to go.

                • Murray Olsen

                  Hayek thought that slavery came from welfare payments or government actions to help the poor, not from setting up a police state run by the rich. After all, the sad Austrian freak said Allende was worse than Pinochet. Alan Gibbs probably thinks the Bill doesn’t go far enough, and oversight should be by whatever the Round Table turned into.

  7. Wayne 7

    Not one person in New Zealand will change their vote on the basis of the GCSB bill. Those against already vote Labour/Green etc. In any event the issue will be politically as dead as a dodo by November 2014.

    Not many people really believe (apart from Penny Bright) that they are actually at risk of being surveilled by SIS and GCSB.

    Now I do understand the importance of making this legislation pretty tight. But I also know that 88 people in 10 years is not that many, and the rate seems consistent between governments. Helen Clark thought she was always doing the right thing in signing the warrants. She saw the material that instigated the warrants and must have thought it was OK to authorise them. And in her video interview with Audrey Young (well worth seeing, 6 minutes long) she considered the actual form of surveillance under the warrant as a secondary matter. And do any of us really think she would sign a warrant against Penny Bright?

    And John Key has already told the nation, the type of warrants he signs. So unless you go to Yemen to get terrorist training, as opposed to not paying your rates, you are OK.

    Bu the way I was rather surprised that some commenters on this site seemed to think it was really bad to surveill people who had received terrorist training in Yemen. I would have thought that is exactly what the SIS should do. And if they need GCSB assistance, well that seems a good idea too.

    The problem that exists now is that SIS and GCSB already thought the 2003 Act allowed GCSB to support SIS warrants under the provision allowing GCSB assistance to other agencies. However that provision is not specific. As a general point, it is better to have specific legislation for such a power, with clear limits around the use of the power.

    Hence the current legislation, which has been improved in the Committee process and by Peter Dunne.

    • IrishBill 7.1

      Interesting thoughts, Wayne. Can’t say I agree with all of them. Would you like to do a guest post on the issue?

      • Wayne 7.1.1

        Irish Bill,

        I have thought about this, and my answer is yes. I would look at the issue both from the politics and the law. But in the post it would be clear which aspect I am dealing with and would try and avoid mixing them up.

        • lprent

          No problem. Just send it through to thestandardnz [at] gmail.com.

          It tends to be a bit sporadic about when one of us looks at them and puts them up. But if they’re well written, opinionated and cover an area or angle that hasn’t been covered by other authors we tend to throw them up for people to argue over.

          BTW: There are two guests posts in the mail at present that I haven’t looked at (due to having the flu over the weekend). Sorry people… I’ll get to them

        • IrishBill

          Hi Wayne,

          That’s great news. I’m a firm believer in having a plurality of opinion (although some I’ve moderated might disagree) and, although we probably disagree on many issues, I’ve a lot of respect for your experience and insight. Looking forward to the post.

    • emergency mike 7.2

      Nothing to hide nothing to fear. Wot about dem turrists? Would Helen spy on Penny? John Key has spoken. Trust John Key. Peter Dunne made it all gud.

      Party political broadcast ends.

      Fang you.

    • karol 7.3

      Wayne: It may only be a few that actually get the full surveillance, but it is the panopticon in practice. It acts as a dampener on democratic activity, with people self-censoring…. just in case.

      And the few that are willing to stand up and publicly speak truth to power are particularly important for democratic debate and process.

    • Anne 7.4

      There are a good few holes in your “statement” Wayne but I will have to leave it to others because I’m late for a date with some mates. Suffice to say:

      Not many people really believe….. that they are actually at risk of being surveilled by SIS and GCSB.

      Well they better hurry up and start believing because the GCSB is already doing it and you must know it. If you don’t then you were a gullible M.of D.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.5


      Lots of people have been surveilled by the SIS over the years. Keith Locke for example. Raging terrorist he is by all accounts.

      And Key’s comments about Yemen have been countered by various people, including a former CIA operative who called the claims “just frankly ludicrous” ( http://www.3news.co.nz/Keys-Yemen-claim-plausible/tabid/1607/articleID/308105/Default.aspx ).

      The only other quote about who the 88 included said it included people smugglers, and WMD researchers and money launderers. There has never been any definitive statement about what all the 88 were looked at for, only that it ‘included’ things like x,y,z.

      We know, for a fact, that the SIS and GCSB have pushed the boundaries of what they can do, We know, for a fact, that they have been less than competent. We are being asked to trust them without having the sort of full inquiry that Australia had a few years back. Frankly, why should we trust them?

      There are other things that are not being made explicit.

      We are told that the GCSB will assist the SIS the police and the military without being told what that assistance is. We are told only that ‘the GCSB has expensive gear that we would otherwise have to buy those other organisations’. That, frankly, tells us nothing. It doesn’t tell us what sort of level of intrusiveness we are allowing the state to turn on its citizens. The claim that we would provide these capabilities to the SIS et al in any case are unsupported nonsense. We simply cannot replace 5 Eyes domestically.

      There are just too many lies and too much bullshit being spouted for me to restore my trust in the SIS/GCSB. It looks like a patch up job to cover their failings which haven’t had a full and frank airing.

      Add to that the fact that this bill will pass with a one vote majority killing dead for all time the tradition of bipartisanship. And that sounds melodramatic, but again, it’s simply a fact. This will not only give future governments the new law, but will set the precedent for how security legislation can be passed.

      And why? What is the sticking point that stops it being bipartisan? Labour is asking for an inquiry such as was held in Australia. And Key refuses to have one, and has the bare faced cheek to claim that Labour is politicking while he runs around talking about ‘agendas’ and insinuating that opponents of this bill are disloyal to NZ. Fuck him, quite frankly. If that’s what he is reduced to, then he doesn’t have an argument.

      You can claim that kiwis don’t care, or what have you, but that too is just bullshit. It’s not really relevant whether or not people care. There are many constitutional issues and freedoms that people take for granted. They are things that politicians should care about anyway.

      • karol 7.5.1

        The only other quote about who the 88 included said it included people smugglers, and WMD researchers and money launderers. There has never been any definitive statement about what all the 88 were looked at for, only that it ‘included’ things like x,y,z.

        Judith Collins, tonight on Campbell Live, reckons the GCSB Bill is needed to investigate things like child pornography. Is this not something to be dealt with by the criminal justice system?

        And there’s also the argument that the state surveillance powers need to have adequate checks and balances. It’s ultimately under the control of the PM. Even if the current PM was to be trusted… (?)…. there’s always the problem of a future renegade government, given such un-checked powers, enabling them to carry out full scale fashizm.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Collins remains an idiot. Child porn is investigated by DIA.

          • Colonial Viper

            So now we’re all not just potential terrorists, but also all potential paedophiles. Great.

      • Wayne 7.5.2

        Pascal’s bookie,

        I am in Singapore at the moment so I have read the TV3 item you referenced. I actually think the PM and the former CIA guy were not actually in conflict. John Key did not suggest the people got training in NZ, but they retained in contact with people in Yemen. I suggest it is pretty important to know who that communication is with, and what is being said (or emailed).

        Similarly you have to look through what Sir Bruce has said and done. For instance he says SIS has enough power already, fair enough as far as it goes. But he was the Director of the GCSB when the bulk of the 88 times occurred. Presumably he knew what his organisation was doing. Were they assisting SIS, presumably the answer is “yes”. Were they assisting the police, we know the answer is “yes” because of Dotcom. In both cases there would be warrants. However does any of the 88 relate to GCSB doing their own independent jobs?

        One of the very unclear areas of the law, is that GCSB can surveill international persons and a warrant is not necessary. What if those persons are talking to New Zealanders – who are they in fact surveilling?

        I think the best answer would be to require a warrant whenever it is suspected a New Zealander might be on one end on the conversation.

        But as has been clear by public comment, GCSB does do things outside NZ, as in supporting our troops in the field. Now clearly a warrant is not required for that purpose.

        • Pascal's bookie

          These aren’t really all that tricky Wayne. They are issues that have been dealt with by intelligence agencies around the world since forever.

          Conservatives tend to agree that longstanding institutions should not be messed with for trivial reasons, and that when messing with them we should be cognizant of why they are set up the way they are.

          Now you tell me, why was the GCSB set up separately from the SIS? Why has nearly every country, particularly western democracies, had foreign intelligence gathering services clearly separated from domestic agencies?

          And by the way, Key has said all sorts of crazy crap about Yemen, that they were trained here first, went to Yemen, came back, aren’t back, there’s only two. He’s all over the place, and simply not credible to me. Now he only wants to talk about snapper.

          And the GCSB doesn’t work like a wire tap. It’s not just about picking up ends of conversations. It really truly isn’t. Much of the capabilities they have aren’t for targeting people, but words and data flows. From that you can identify people. With many false positives.

          • Wayne

            I take the point about data. By conversations, I also mean email, video, data, etc.

            Most countries split the sigint role (GCSB) from the humint role (SIS). They actually need people with different types of skills. There is obviously some crossover.

            • Pascal's bookie

              And they also, traditionally, split domestic from foreign. That has changed mostly in secret, and as it hs been exposed the claim has been that ‘well, it was just a loophole we need to fix’. Or that it was always legal, but no, you can’t see the reasoning.

              It is simply disgusting Wayne. The cold war wasn’t about tax rates you know.

              • Pascal's bookie

                And the point the GCSB and her sister orgs in 5 eyes is that they don’t operate by looking for a person and crabbing their signals (of whatever form), or at least, that’s not all they are capable of.

                They look at content searching for patterns that they consider suspicious, and then identify the people in that pattern. Think about what that means in terms of the data set that you are looking for patterns in.

                This is what I meant when I talked about the fact we are not being told what tools the GCSB will be providing to the Police, SIS, and military. Just being told they will offer ‘assistance’ is not enough. What exactly is it that we are authorising? When a judge signs a warrant for the police to look at someone’s comms, will that judge be (or has the judge been in the past) aware of exactly how intrusive we are allowing the state to be?

                What limits are being placed on the GCSB in terms of what assistance they can provide? All we are being told so far is that the GCSB will be letting others have access to their tools. that’s pretty fucking broad. 5 eyes sees a lot. It’s not a spear gun, it’s a drift net.

        • Puddleglum

          Hi Wayne,

          What surprises me is that the GCSB had any involvement in the Dotcom investigation. I can understand the police being involved.

          At worst, this was a case of piracy of copyright. And its impact was almost entirely on the private sector. And, mostly, not even the New Zealand private sector.

          What on earth does that have to do with New Zealand security? How many people was Dotcom planning to blow up?

          If there aren’t enough actual security threats to keep the GCSB busy (to the point where they have to start acting like security guards for private companies) then wind back their operations – don’t expand them.

          • Wayne

            It was to locate Dotcoms cell phone, though I imagine the Police now have this technology

    • Huginn 7.6

      ‘Not many people really believe….. that they are actually at risk of being surveilled by SIS and GCSB.,

      and you don’t think that the revelations of the last twelve months haven’t caused the Loyal Opposition (let alone the Government’s parliamentary allies) to alter the way that they manage data? Really?

    • Murray Olsen 7.7

      Thanks, Wayne. Without your enlightened contribution I may have taken the Law Society seriously. I was also in danger of beginning to have doubts about Dear Leader’s honesty. Thanks for putting me right on that one as well. It’s good to know I’ll be OK unless I go to Yemen and that the people I know who have been spied on by the SIS are all just paranoid liars.

      • Greywarbler 7.7.1

        Another thing that could be good from the GCSB is that people could feel that the government does care about them, and wants to be involved in their lives, even those that are being eavesdropped.

        NACT seems to want to put citizens at a distance, making it harder in this age of communication and connection to either see or talk to officials. Now wouldn’t it be a warm and loving thing if as you were having a phone or email conversation about your troubles with friend and family, an agent with a friendly code name like Bert or Beryl, would break in and give helpful advice or soothing consolation. Also you might be given special treatment and be provided with a through line to the agency you needed instead of making ten calls waiting an average of 8 minutes each time. It would be a bit like being teacher’s pet.

        • Murray Olsen

          Gee, I’d never thought of it that way. You’ve convinced Wayne.

        • Chooky

          @ Greywarbler…squawk , squawk

          To carry on with your story:…. A bit like the friendly ‘Man from Uncle’ or the song ‘Santa Claus is watching over you’ ……Better be good now!….

          Also who keeps watch on the ‘Man from Uncle’?….another ‘Man from Uncle’?

          …What say the GCSB and Five Eyes of the Devil Beast was infiltrated and controlled from a more secret , secret foreign secret service on the other side of the world? …. mean men out to take over the world and little old Kiwi New Ziland and Fonterra ..(.ha ha)

          aahhh paranoia ….better not go there…WHERE is Winnie !!!?

          • Greywarbler

            I get this picture of Maxwell Smart. He was a poster boy for spies and there was a nice woman one too. I fear the real thing looks a lot more decadent and dehumanised.

    • Jenny 7.8

      Wayne you are indulging in a lot of ridiculous sophistry. If they really are terrorists then they should be named and shamed.

      Maybe you would like to tell us Wayne; What possible reason do you think John Key has for hiding the identity of these so call Terrorists?

      Is he concerned for their civil liberties? He doesn’t seem that concerned about anyone else’s This tells me that the so called 88 New Zealand terrorists that are being illegally spied on. Aren’t terrorists at all.

    • Chooky 7.9

      @ Wayne

      Give us the names of the 88 spied upon and let NZers decide if it was justified…that is democracy…that is trust…otherwise we have no reason to trust you and the spies …and all NZers should oppose this bill

    • lprent 7.10

      I don’t have much of a problem with keeping an eye on people and groups. That is to be expected. It’d be nice if the paranoid gits in the police kept a better watch on some of the real right nutters out there – but I guess they have enough personal links into those anyway.

      What I have a problem with is how the frustrated gits at the police start executing fishing search warrants on spurious charges to try to find out if their paranoid suspicions are correct or not. Or when they push their informants and infiltrators to inflate “illegal” activity or even try to instigate it. Rob Gilchrist being a good example, reading his e-mail with his handlers was pretty good revelation in mutual paranoid stupidity and bad behaviour.

      To obtain a search warrant of any kind should require that the police actually have more evidence than some vague suspicions, highly unreliable evidence from informants, and a padded out with pile of copied out rubbish from the internet about “similar groups” overseas. In all of the search warrants that I’ve seen for activists over the last 8 years, that is *ALL* that was in them. It is about as convincing as the average star trek episode, and like those you can usually pick out the story line of the last thriller novel/film that the author had been reading/watching.

      Usually signed by a court registrar and showing no signs that a judge ever saw the thing. With applications that would invariably prove to be complete fictions. They are completely non-specific about what they expect to find, what charges are expected to be laid, what the police are collecting, and are technically defamatory. The only thing that you can be sure of is that the police will hold everything for at least a year and will usually return all computer systems laden with viruses (I’ve had to decontaminate a few).

      They will hold daft things like video tapes of coronation street and cheerfully hold them by putting a photo of them into the padded out evidence going to the court. By the look of it I think that the police seem to think that the quality of their case is related to how many inches thick their documents are. They literally put any old crap in there. Photo’s of common posters from Victoria park market for instance?

      They are just fishing warrants and have no relationship to being effective search warrants. Most of the time I think that the police find that the results from such warrants so freaking embarrassing that they lay strange charges out of a sense of embarrassment to try to fling the stupidity of them into the future. Which is why my niece got charged with intimidation by loitering, or why most of the operation 8 people got charged at all with those bloody stupid “terrorism” charges, or why some paranoid fool in the police invented all of the “danger” crap that is in the DotCom search warrant application and caused the armed offenders to be used.

      The courts seldom if ever examine the warrants until you’re a year or so into a case if you’re lucky. Even then you usually have to take it up the higher courts because the police defend their right to arbitrarily suck several years out of anyones life with to fulfill their paranoia and use the public purse to defend that. If they do get examined by higher courts then the warrants are usually found to not be particularly illegal. However because we don’t have a tainted tree system here, that usually doesn’t matter much. So there is no real downside for the police in producing crap search warrant applications.

      As far as I can tell all you’re talking about is how to make such fishing warrants easier for the police to obtain. But I guess also to allow them to use non-transparent *suppressed* evidence to help gain a conviction to justify them. It will probably make their conviction track record somewhat better if it is harder for defense lawyers effectively examine evidence and if it can all be hidden from the public. I really don’t care if it is the PM, the IG, a court registrar, or even a friendly district court judge signing the damn things. Most “warrants” are a legal abortion the way that they are currently being handled. All this bill looks like doing is to make them easier for the police to screw up with them in a bigger manner.

      The quality control on the issuing of warrants is so piss-poor that they’re actually worth examining in public and regardless of any suppression orders on them. I’m getting to the point of helping to make them pop up somewhere on the web in a manner that is hard to control, easy to search, and then start linking posts to them.

      They badly need public scrutiny since the legal system appears to prefer not to examine them too closely. Some analysis on the previous track records of the departments of the police who issue rubbish search warrant applications, the officers writing them, where they copy-pasted off the net, and the legal rubber stamp bunnies who authorize them wouldn’t go amiss either..

      This is literally how most of the activist community tends to view the petty harassment that you seem to want to enhance. Because in the end most of the time these surveillances lead absolutely nowhere. members and teams of the police seem to feel the need to try to justify all of the time and effort taken. So they issue fishing warrants of the types described above, with the ridiculous spinout effects that we keep seeing showing up in long expensive court cases.

      And you seem to agree with this crap? This is stupid… But so so evocative of our rather gutless and irritatingly ineffectual legal community who can’t seem to actually impose some common sense on the idiots in the police. Awarding full costs for the police fuckups would be a really good start.

  8. @ Wayne, (7)

    Yep, I agree, it is good to have tight legislation. I guess that is why the Nats are saying it – repetitively. How can anyone disagree with that?

    The rest of what you write, makes me despair. Are you for real?

    Can’t argue the details because I don’t know them, however I do know that it is not a good idea to place too much power in a secret organisation with few checks and balances in place

    I would rather risk being killed by a terrorist than have surveillence activities go American-style. I don’t want to live in a cotton-wool society. The people who are concerned about ‘security’ should wear a bomb proof outfit if they are that worried and leave our civil rights alone.

    How quickly we surrender our rights through thoughts such as “oh I won’t be affected, so its not a problem”

    Bloody hell, with attitudes like that around, perhaps we collectively deserve all thats coming to us.

    Does it not concern you that the NZ Law Society have expressed concern over this bill?

    Does it not concern you that the Human Rights Commission have too?

    You appear to be saying, “hey this is fine, our PMs have said this is what they have signed and so its o.k”

    Have you not noticed that our Dear Leader couldn’t tell the truth to save himself? Why do you trust him?

    Even if Clark and Key have acted o.k and are both speaking truthfully and openly (which I doubt) this does not mean that every PM is going be the same.

    Leaving power in very few hands is an incredibly stupid thing to do.

    Edit: Bugger, I can’t have pressed reply and this comment is in the wrong place. Please excuse me

  9. Wayne 9


    The reason not to name them is they have not committed a crime in NZ, or it is simply too difficult to bring the evidence of say training in Yemen into a court in NZ. It would be a prosecution under the Terrorism Supression Act, which requires a very high threshold. Therefore it is easier and more useful to surveil them under a SIS warrant, and work out the network, which of course might be shared with partners. That is classic intelligence work.

    But I am sure you have already worked this out? From previous posts you seem highly skeptical of the need for intelligence organisations.

    But listen to Helen Clarks interviews why intelligence is necessary in her role in UNDP. Of course not all plots can be stopped anymore than can all crime be stopped. But it seems to have cost a least 70 lives of her people, and others nearby. Clearly something that is worth trying to stop or reduce.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Hi Wayne,

      Regarding the “outsourcing” of communications surveillance activities which appears internationally to be a common way around any domestic restrictions on spying on ones own citizens…

      a) does New Zealand Government personnel have access to the communications information of New Zealand citizens as captured in bulk by foreign intelligence partners or foreign intelligence systems, and

      b) does accessing that communications information require any NZ issued warrant.

      I’m guessing “no” i.e. no such warrant is needed. So the details of what the SIS are allowed or not allowed to do locally with a warrant becomes mostly meaningless.

      • blue leopard 9.1.1

        @ Wayne

        “But it seems to have cost a least 70 lives of her people, and others nearby. Clearly something that is worth trying to stop or reduce.”

        I would sincerely hope that there was no one so ill informed in this country as to believe this above argument.

        If saving lives was the objective, then one would have thought that America would have been able to work out by now that aggressive invasions, the use of depleted uranium weapons and psych-ops in other countries kill lives and re weapon type: maims a people for generations.

        Such activity also leads to potential insecurity in their own and other western countries.

        So rather than America putting the pressure on this country to surrender democratic principles and our rights to privacy, I think it would be altogether more effective that America stops its aggressive behaviour and start respecting international rules, that have been set up to avoid just this sort of problem in the first place.

        70 lives are important, yet millions have been killed due to America’s behaviour and as I’ve said before, it really shows how very forgiving people are that there are not more real ‘terrorists’ around.

        • karol

          Well said, bl.

        • Rogue Trooper


        • Wayne

          Blue Leopard,

          Do you think Helen Clark is just making this up. She was pretty adamant her organisation UNDP would have benefitted from better intelligence on the risks to its staff, 70 of whom were killed in terrorists attacks. The UNDP is not some clone of the US.

          Actually I would think most people would think that Helen Clark is pretty clear sighted on this. In my experience she was and is always straight up and down on these things. She may not have convinced you, but she convinced me

          She has always had a clear sense of NZ’s interests. She supported action in Afghanistan, but was opposed to Iraq. Most people would say she was right on that.

          Now I realise Helen Clark does not speak for the Keith Locke’s of this world, who probably represent 5 to 10% of the NZ population. As I used to say in Parliament to my colleagues who really objected to Keith, “you could walk down any street in NZ and 1 in 20 would say that Keith’s world view was spot on”.

          I imagine a fair number of the commenters on this site would agree with Keith. But I think he is wrong.

          That is why the Greens are leading on this issue. There has never been a single piece of security legislation that the Greens supported. But of course that also means the Nats take no notice of what the Greens have to say on it. Though clearly the Nats are taking care in answering Russell Norman’s questions in Parliament.

          However, they will be more concerned what Winston or what DS has to say. But in truth DS has been quite measured, and that will have been noted. One of the difficult situations for Labour is its left wing and its activists. The national security issues that would be supported in govt, are not easy for Labour in opposition.

          In contrast the Nats are reasonably relaxed about supporting a Labour govt on these issues when the Nats are in opposition. The Nats simply do not have any people in the party who are virulently opposed to the US for instance.

          I suspect that the govt is not going to worry too much about Dr Harrison, who has well known and long standing views on these issues, but Sir Geoffery Palmers views will be noted more carefully, by that I mean has he said something that might indicate it would be prudent to change some part of the Bill.

          • karol

            Helen Clark, in this interview, says that, following Kitteridge, the GCSB Law needs changing to get rid of any “ambiguity”. She also stresses that citizen’s privacy be respected [implying that state surveillance agencies should respect residence & citizens’ privacy]. She also stresses that changes to the GCSB Law need to include “safeguards”.

            She does say intelligence is important in her current job to prevent violence, deaths etc. She also asks, in the light of 2013, “Are we giving the full protections to our citizens?”

            • Rogue Trooper

              H.C seemed to voice concerns on her Q & A interview.

              • Colonial Viper

                No doubt intelligence activities are crucial to HC being able to conduct her current role…thing is I doubt she is talking about spying and surveillance on her own UN staff and managers. That’s the difference.

                Key is empowering the GCSB to spy on anyone and everyone on the flimsiest of excuses, including your lawyer, your doctor, your psychologist, the MP who is supposed to represent you etc.

          • blue leopard


            Please point to any part of my comment that relayed Helen Clark is “making it up”.

            Whether she is or not is completely unrelated and irrelevant to my comment.

            Might I suggest that you respond to the point I was making?

            Here it is again:

            So rather than America putting the pressure on this country to surrender democratic principles and our rights to privacy, I think it would be altogether more effective that America stops its aggressive behaviour and start respecting international rules, that have been set up to avoid just this sort of problem in the first place.

            Also, it would be helpful if you wish me to comment on Keith Locke’s, the Green’s, Winston’s etc comments, that you supply links to them.

            • Wayne

              The Helen Clark point was the first topic of your post. Obviously, because of my interpretation of what she said, your response was that you hoped that there was “no one so ill informed as to believe the above argument.”

              The argument Helen Clark made was that she wished she had better intelligence on the bombings that killed the UNDP people. That way they might have been able to stop them.

              She was making the point in the context of why intelligence agencies are necessary and why they need certain powers. I guess they stop some, but obviously not all. In the same interview she was also said why it was necessary for her to sign the SIS warrants (apparentely mostly supported by GCSB surveillance). The whole point she was making was the need for intelligence agencies, with appropriate powers.

              Now she was not going to be drawn on the current legislation, but I would be surprised if she was in the same space as the Greens, more like David Shearer. And it is obvious to everyone that he is uncomfortable with the level of the debate on the issue, and “no” I will not provide a source on that, you can read the papers and watch TV as well as I can.

              As for ascribing all the worlds ills to the US, well that’s your view, not mine. I will however concede that Iraq was a disaster. Not that it was exactly great under Saddam. No real terrorism, but then he (or more accurately his security machine under his direction) did all the killing himself.

              But for instance you can’t blame the US for Syria, or the Balkans to mention two of the largest problems of the last 20 years. And I don’t hold the US responsible for Al Qeada’s attacks on Sept 11 and thereafter. But I guess many here do.

              • blue leopard

                @ Wayne,

                Thanks, I see where you were coming from now.

                What I was saying about that comment about 70 people is that it is disingenuous. (Not that it is untrue).

                There have been millions of people killed, probably billions, by American/Western interests, and without doing anything to address this wee issue of these on-going massacres, it simply doesn’t wash with me to start twittering on about 70 people.

                We are being asked to forgo important aspects of our social organization and protections, rights and principles, that protect us from concentrated power just so America & co can carry on activities that are actually creating the problem that they have to spy on people in the first place.

                The use of weaponry in Iraq that is damaging the genetic pool in Fallujah cuts me like a knife. I can’t believe that they would do that. I can’t believe that any decent society would condone that. I don’t believe any decent society would do that. This is not in keeping with any international laws. This has happened in my lifetime, and makes the books about all the other countries where America has been accused of dodgy behaviour all the more believable.

                The chapters of William Blum’s Book “Killing Hope” lists in chronological order the countries that have experienced American meddling. Not all of these are wars, some merely creating uprisings and killing the democratically elected leader (Chile) however ones like the Vietnam are included, where the amount of Vietnamese killed is unknown, yet known to be exponentially more than the Western fatalities.

                The Congo
                Dominican Republic
                Chile 1964-73
                Costa Rica
                Iraq 1990-91
                El Salvador

                William Blum gets his information from publicly available records.

                That is why I say I would hope there is no one so ill informed as to believe this above argument. 70 people? Is that what its all about? Really? Really?

                Wake up. Please

    • Jenny 9.2

      More ridiculous sophistry from Wayne. It is so touching the concern that John Key has shown for the civil liberties of “terrorists”.

      If they were terrorists, by naming them we could contain them.

      If they were out of the country. We could make sure they never return. Or cross our borders.
      We could, make sure that they don’t get any unwitting support from within New Zealand.
      We could, warn all our neighboring countries and friends to be on the look out for them.

      If after completing their terrorist training in Yemen, our kind and caring secret services has already let these “terrorists” back into the country. By outing them, like we should, they would become completely ostracised by all of New Zealand society, including their friends and families. Whether they had committed a crime in New Zealand or not. Making sure that they got no material support for anything they might be planning.

      If they are terrorists (which I doubt) allowing them to anonymously to cross our borders and then go freely where ever they like about the country without them being recognised endangers us all.

      So much for the GCSB and SIS concern for our security.

      By not naming the terrorists among us, the other and even more terrible danger that this policy of protecting the identity of terrorists does, is that it puts a whole community of innocent migrants and their families under suspicion. In fact this policy unfairly incites paranoia and xenophobia and suspicion against a whole section of our loyal and law abiding immigrant community. Endangering their lives and security by sowing the seeds of racism and dissension.

      Again, so much for the GCSB and SIS concern for our security.

    • muzza 9.3

      Wanye, in case you missed it, because your head is in the sand..

      The biggest terrorists on planet earth are the ones who own/control the following:

      1: Financial/Monetary System
      2: Military/Intelligence et al
      3: Governments
      4: Industry, all of them

      The second biggest terrorists groups on earth are the agents who occupy the upper ends of the organisations owned and controlled.

      Note – Non of the above owners/controlers, live in caves, or come from the Middle East!

  10. Jenny 10

    John Key’s unfairly blanketing of a whole section of New Zealand society with a vague accusation implying that some section of New Zealanders are harbouring terrorists in their midst. Is a cynical and dangerous ploy to get us to accept his extremely dangerous right wing program for mass surveillance of all of us.

    All New Zealanders must ask themselves. When before in history have we witnessed the scapegoating of a minority population to excuse the curtailing of civil liberties of a whole population?

    The real reason for the refusal of Key to name and shame the New Zealanders who have become terrorists, is because, it is a lie. If you are going to tell a lie as Goebbels said tell it big. John Key needs to be called on this lie. John Key needs to tell us who are the terrorists are that he claims are at large in New Zealand.

    If the list of 88 terrorists being illegally spied on is ever revealed. I think that it will be discovered that many of the people that are on this list, will be revealed as loyal and respected and productive New Zealanders. Indeed their loyalty to New Zealand may have moved them to oppose US interests that hurt New Zealand like the members of Cafca or Jane Kelsey and others who oppose the TPPA. And this is what has brought them to the illegal attention of the GCSB.

    I would go so far as to say that revealing this list of “New Zealand terrorists” would expose those named, not as terrorists and traitors, but as patriots.

    Also revealing an agency that serves the interests of a foreign power, namely the USA over New Zealand’s interests. Raising the question; Who are the real patriots? Who are the real traitors?

    Who gets to decide which communities get the label of terrorist? Is it those who stand up for New Zealand having an independent foreign policy? Or those who tug their forelock to the American superpower, the NSA, foreign oil companies, and Hollywood business moguls.

  11. Jenny 11

    Are these people terrorists?

    Let us find out.

    Come on David Shearer tell us, tell us that on becoming PM and head of the security services, you pledge that you will release to those who request it, whether they are one of the 88 New Zealanders who have been illegally spied on by the GCSB.

    Why are you, of all the opposition party leaders, the only one who refuses to stand in solidarity on the stage in the Auckland town hall?

    Will you try and slink in late and hide down the back or side of the hall as you did in Mt Albert?

    Will you even be there?

  12. Jenny 12

    Confirmed speakers for the night include;

    Russel Norman

    Winston Peters

    Hone Harawira

    Noticeable by his absence from this list of opposition party leaders is Labour Party leader David Shearer.

    Who does David Shearer stand in solidarity with?

    The rest of the opposition and the country?

    Or with John Key and Peter Dunne?

    • Bunji 12.1

      As I understand it there will definitely be a Labour person there – it’s just undecided whom.

      I’m not privy to any inner-workings, but from the outside I’d guess they’re deciding between Grant Robertson who’s lead the debate on this issue, or David Shearer because everyone else is putting their leaders up. But I could be wrong. Anyway, they missed getting their name on the poster, which wasn’t overly clever.

      • Jenny 12.1.1

        If Turei, or Norman, are up on the stage standing in solidarity with the other speakers. And they pledge that they will, on a change of government, be putting up such a bill. Then Shearer will have no choice but to be up there as well.

        If Shearer refuses to show. This will signal that David Shearer stands not with the speakers and the rest of New Zealand but with John Key and Peter Dunne.

        Not even David Shearer could be that stupid…..

        Jenny 11 August 2013 at 5:55am

        How much do you want to bet on that…

        Sable 11 August 2013 at 9:25am

        If the Green Party leaders decide to stand in solidarity with the speakers on the stage. Shearer will have no choice but to do the same.

        That I would bet on.

        Jenny 11 August 2013 at 1:13pm

        Just as well I didn’t put money on that bet.

        It seems that David Shearer is far more stupid and extremely right wing than even I supposed.

      • Jenny 12.1.2

        As I understand it there will definitely be a Labour person there – it’s just undecided whom.


        If Labour put up a second ranker with less authority. What message is this sending?

        The message it sends me; Is that David Shearer is either totally inept, or is deliberately refusing to be drawn, so that he can be free to use his authority as leader to ensure the GCSB legislation will be left untouched under his Premiership.

        Neither of these two awful options recommend David Shearer to be the leader of the Labour Party for one more minute.

        • Jenny

          Whoever replaces Shearer on the stage will be the new Labour Party Leader.

          As night follows day

          I just pray that it is David Cunliffe’s kindly face I see, and his sincere and intelligent delivery I hear.

          Here’s hoping anyway.

  13. Chooky 13

    @ Jenny

    David Shearer is not the choice of Labour Party members….nor has he been a long term MP……he was jetted in….this alone should arouse suspicion. The Labour Party is not a Corporation

    Bring in David Cunliffe at the next Labour Conference…the real Labour Party members’ democratic choice!

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