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“Freedoms traded for security are rarely recovered”

10 August 2013 1 comment

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Firstly, let me point out and remind my readers (if any needed reminding), that I do not support ACT, nor it’s simplistic (and failed) neo-liberal market policies, nor it’s hardline policies toward those surviving on social welfare (many of whom are victims of said neo-liberalism’s failings).

Ok. Sorted.

Having got that preamble out of the way, I would like to extend a mighty big kudos to ACT on Campus who have come out opposing both  the  GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill – both of which are currently before Parliament.

In an article on Scoop Media today, Vice President Guy McCallum voiced these words of wisdom,

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Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

Source: Scoop Media – Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

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To requote Guy McCallum,

“It’s a well-meant offer, but neither he, nor John Key, nor the Labour Party (which launched this mess in the first place) can guarantee that the next person with keys to the Cabinet will be so just. They can’t guarantee that those at the top won’t give in to the obvious, inevitable temptations that come with this power – the power to watch you without you knowing and without having to tell you why.

It is incumbent upon all of our political leaders to oppose these bills. Not just because they will lead to the most obvious of places – state tyranny – but because politicians should be standing up to anyone who claims that such immoral and perverted powers are necessary.”

And backed up by ACT on Campus President Taylor Warwood ,

“We believe that the bills are an unnecessary expansion of state power. While Labour’s original legislation does need improving, people must be mindful that freedoms traded for security are rarely recovered.”

Both gentlemen are 100% spot on, and I believe that this is the grave mistake which many others on the Right have missed. The Right may support these two Bills – but only because “their man” is in power.

The Right may not be so happy if a left-wing Party comes to power and starts spying on them.

Mr McCallum and Mr Warwood understand this perfectly.

It’s a great shame that the wrong ACT members are in Parliament. We need more wisdom like this, rather than John Banks, who can stand up for the rights of animals (see previous blogpost:  Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs – part tahi) – but not for the rights of New Zealanders not to be spied on.

I have lived through the Muldoon years; the Lange years; the Bolger/Shipley years; the Clark years; and now through Key’s administration.

During that time I have seen the slow creep of State power increasing. Each time, the government of the day – and I point to both Labour and National on this score – has promised “just a little bit further to invade your privacy, but no more”.

But there is always “a little bit more”.  Each government seems to find the need for a bit more State power and more surveillance and a consequential loss of our privacy.

Which is why, when I appeared before the Parliamentary Intelligence Select Committee on 5 July, I directed my comments at David Shearer and Russell Norman.

I said to both men that State power has grown with each passing decade, and each time we were promised that our privacy would be protected and State intrusion minimised. I told them that the political pledges in the 1970s, to protect our privacy, as the then new Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 was being passed, were now worthless.

I told them that this must stop.

I told them in another few years, I’d be back, arguing against even more State surveillance and police powers being  demanded from Parliament.

And I asked them a simple question;

“When did it come to  pass that we went from the State having to justify  a new police or spy law – to citizens like me having to appear before a Select Committee to justify why I should be allowed to maintain my privacy? When did that happen?”

I then said to both men that should they come to power post-2014, that Parliament not only needed to review the entire spy apparatus in this country – but that it was time to wind back the clock. It was time to cut back on surveillance and extreme search powers, and to return privacy and civil rights to New Zealanders.

There is simply no justification for these powers. We do not have homegrown “terrorists”. Nor people building “weapons of mass destruction” in their basements.  So I certainly do not believe one word that escapes John Key’s mouth. Let’s be honest here; his ability to tell lies is now a joke amongst most of the public. We know he’s bullshitting us. And he probaby knows that we know.

But we’re polite and we play our little game of politeness.

But not this time. Not with something as critical as this to the our way of life.

Because unless we do, in another five or ten years, there will be yet  another addition to State surveillance,  State control, and Police powers.

And another five years later, more laws.

And five years after that…

Until, finally, in the name of “state security” and phantom bogeymen, we find ourselves living in a country that is alien to anything that young men and women died fighting for, 70-plus years ago.

When the liberal left and the liberal right find a commonality, it is no longer a political-partisan  matter. It is one that affects us all. Even those who naively assert that they have “nothing to hide”.

So I say to the members of Act on Campus – keep up the fight. It is possibly one of the most important you will ever face.

And I say to Mr Shearer and the Green co-leaders; don’t let us down.

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 August 2013.

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See also

The Daily Blog: It bloody well is not an imaginary problem when our government spies on our journalists!

The Critic: Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

The Pundit: Who’s to blame for the abuse on Andrea Vance?

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Interview: A Young NZer Acts to make a Difference

29 April 2012 10 comments

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This is another in a series of on-line interviews with Young New Zealanders who are the up-and-coming next generation of political activists and leaders.  We may or may not always agree with them – but these young people will be the ones who influence and form our society in years to come…

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Hayden Fitzgerald

Hayden Fitzgerald

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This online interview is with Hayden Fitzgerald, current President of ACT on Campus;  ACT Party Board Member for Central Region; and  ACT Candidate for Rangitikei in the 2011 Election.

Kia ora, Hayden, and thank you for giving us your time and answers to the following questions…

Q: You’re the current President of ACT on Campus and stood as a candidate in the last election;  how long have you been a member of ACT, and what attracted you to that Party – as opposed to, say, another Party?

I was originally a Green Party fan, switching to National as I studied more economics. I became dissatisfied with National’s failure to act upon the areas it identified as problems while in opposition so switched across to ACT early last year.

Q: What has been your personal best experience with ACT thus far?

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of representing ACT as the Candidate for Rangitikei.

Q: How do you feel about ACT’s numbers dropping from five to just one MP at the last election?

I think it’s really sad to see ACT’s numbers shrink so much but ACT’s campaign was far from perfect so I think it was predictable.

Q: If ACT goes the way of The Alliance, which other Party do you think would be the natural home for ACT supporters – National?

Personally I don’t think there is a natural other home for ACT supporters. A large majority would likely go to National but others wouldn’t. I think if ACT was to disappear another party similar would rise up to fill the gap before long.

Q: Do you think ACT can re-build its electoral support? Or do you feel that ACT is a “tarnished brand”, and a new liberal party is required with a fresh look to it?

There’s no doubt that the ACT brand is damaged but I think the support base can be rebuilt if the Party sticks to its core values. A complete rebranding of the Party could be something worth considering but the cost of doing so may not outweigh the cost of repairing the current brand. Which direction you think ACT should take here will differ depending on who you talk to!

Q: What are your thoughts on ACT’s recent leadership changes and what impact, if any, do you think they had on ACT’s support?

Referring to John Banks I think it was something that had to happen. Having your only MP as the leader of the Party is really the only practical option. I don’t think it has influenced the support base of the party much. The next three years will determine.

Q: If you had been casting a vote for ACT’s leadership, who would you have supported, Rodney Hide or Don Brash?

Don Brash

Q: Why is that? What are the qualities that you believe Don Brash had, but not Rodney Hide?

Fresh face; one would have thought he would have brought a lot of existing popularity with him.

Q: There have been suggestions that Heather Roy could have made a good leader of ACT. Do you agree with that? If she had been leader, do you think she could  have attracted a greater share of the womens’ vote?

I think Heather is a lovely lady who made a very good politician. I think that she could have contributed a lot as a leader of ACT and no doubt the women’s vote would have increased if she were leader. However, the same would be true of many others.

Q: Do you have a top three list of priorities that ACT should focus on, this Parliamentary term?

Choice, Personal Responsibility and Limited Government.

Q: Have you read or heard of Gareth Morgan’s “Big Kahuna”, and his proposal for a Universal Basic Income/negative tax for the first $11,000?

Yes. Personally I favour a tax free threshold of $30,000 and a flat 20% after that with GST kept at 15% and no company tax.

Q: But no negative tax (or Universal Basic Income as some call it)?

There would definitely have to be some form of “Universal Basic Income” in the way of a safety net. We just have to be careful not to create incentives not to work.

Q: Recently, US billionaire Warren Buffett highlighted how he paid tax at a much lower rate than his own staff, who, in many instances were paying roughly double the rate he was. What do say to people like Buffett who state that the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes? Or do you agree with him?

With a simpler tax system, as I identified above this sort of thing would not happen. This is also an American example. This doesn’t happen to the same extent here in New Zealand.

Q: New Zealand has a fairly free market economic regime compared to, say, the Scandinavian countries. Yet places like Finland and Denmark, notable social-democracies with strong welfare systems and state services, have a high PPP per capita income to New Zealand. Why aren’t we light years ahead of the Scandinavians – especially after 27 years of reforms?

I think it’s very hard to compare New Zealand’s economy to these as we’re so different.

Q: Oh, in what way? What do you think are major differences?

Different climate, population and distance from other countries. Truth is I don’t know much about these economies but I do have a friend who lives in Finland that isn’t too fond of the way things are run.

Q: What, if anything should we be doing different?

Simpler tax system, smaller Government.

Q:  State funding of private schools? Or should they be left to succeed or fail on their own merit?

I favour the voucher system, so parents can send their child to whichever school benefits their child the most, be it public or private.

Q: But would you allow a private school to fail and go into liquidation, if it got to that stage?

Yes; I don’t support Government bailouts.

Q: The minimum wage? Especially when Bill English said on Q+A that it was extremely difficult to live on the minumum wage for any long period of time?

The problem with minimum wages is that they harm the very people they’re supposed to help. I also question whether or not it is up to the Government to decide what an individual can and cannot work for; should it not be up to the individual to decide what a fair wage for them is? I also note that the current minimum wage equates to a lot more than being on social support. Under a simpler tax system with a high tax free threshold low income people would be a lot better off as they would pay no tax.

Q: In what way do you think a minimum-wage harms people?

Locks them out of employment; particularly young people. In theory there is no need for a minimum wage. The minimum wage is equivalent to the safety net that is provided; currently just under $5 an hour.

Q: The Auckland waterfront dispute? What are your thoughts on how Labour and National have responded to this issue? Or should they not intervene?

I don’t think the Politicians should intervene in these issues.

Q: The partial sale of some SOEs? Should New Zealanders be given first option to buy shares, or should the IPO be made available to any/all without any restrictions/criteria at all?

  I’m fine with all New Zealanders’ getting first option.

Q: The sale of productive farmland to overseas investors?

Foreign investment is extremely important to our economy. We also invest a large amount of money overseas. If we want to maintain our free trade agreements we cannot discriminate against foreign buyers. It also raises an issue around property rights; should you not be allowed to sell something you own to whomever you choose?

Q: Mining? Especially of conservation lands?

Cost vs. benefit analysis. I’m generally against mining of conservation lands but we must weigh up how much damage would be done to how easy it would be to repair it etc.

Q: Climate change?

I’m skeptical but willing to be persuaded.

Q: Deep sea oil drilling? Especially after the ‘Rena’ stranding? Are we adequately prepared?

The Rena was a boat whose Captain wasn’t following the rules; as such the company who own the ship and their insurers should be taken for the full cost of repair. I think our regulations around this could do with a review; whether or not much needs changed I don’t know enough to comment.

Q: Should Kiwisaver be compulsory? Should there be an opt-out option?

No. Kiwisaver performance is nowhere near good enough to warrant it being compulsory. Also raises issues around freedom. It would be unfair for the Government to force me to put my own money into Kiwisaver.

Q:  Roads or rail? Which should have priority?

That should be up to the market! Personally, I think both have a place though. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The proper market would allocate them accordingly.

Q: Free school meals – should they be introduced in all schools? Just low-decile shools? Or not at all?

Not at all. Could perhaps look at doing something based upon individual applications for those in genuine need but I think the real solution is better parental education.

Q: Republic or not?

Republic

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the worst aspect or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Continuation of wasteful spending that has resulted in high debt levels that my generation will have to pay back, particularly around ignoring the elephant in the room relating to our superannuation scheme.

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the best aspect, or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Mixed ownership model.

Q: How do you feel about our current media? Do you feel that the state has a role to play in public broadcasting – perhaps to set standards or broadcast material that, while informative, might not rate highly on a commercial level? Or should it be left totally to the Market to deliver quality broadcasting?

Lean toward it being left completely the market. If people want to watch it, regardless of what it is, the market will provide it. Likewise with broadcasting standards, if a tv channel is broadcasting obscene content then not many will watch it; no need for regulation.

Q:  And is TV3’s planned “The GC” ‘quality tv’?

Probably not something I’ll watch but none the less does seem like the kind of show that would have a broad appeal.

Q: If ACT was in government as the major coalition Party, and you were an MP offered a ministerial role, what portfolio would you want? And why?

Tough decision. Probably Finance, Small Business, Primary Industry or Social Development as these are areas that interest me.

Q: In your opinion, what is the single most critical problem affecting us as a society? How would you address that problem? And what time-frame would you give yourself?

Inflated Government. I would address this by cutting unnecessary regulations and laws like the RMA, cut Government Spending and taxes and shrink all areas of the Government except core services. This could all be done very quickly but I would like to see it happen over 5-10 years as to ease transitional unemployment as people shift from public sector to private sector employment.

Q: What, in your view, would constitute core services?

Defence, basic safety nets (including adequate access to health care for all), basic standards in education, stopping market dominance (via Commerce Commission), Law and order, negotiating with overseas countries (free trade etc.)

Q: Are your friends and family political? How do you relate to those friends and family who aren’t political?

Very few of my friends are political and none of my family are. I suppose I relate to them the same as anyone else does! (Politicians are people too ;))

Q: Can you share with us some of your most favourite things,

* food?

Subway (I dream about it!)

* place to live?

Anywhere in the bottom half of the South Island.

* movie and/or tv program?

American Pie (all of them)

* book?

“The Greatest Show on Earth” – Richard Dawkins

* prominent historical person you admire the most? And why?

Roger Douglas for having the balls to do what’s right.

Q: And your Last Word is on;

National and Labour are the biggest obstacles to the modernisation and eventual success of our economy. New Zealanders need to wake up and stop trying to vote themselves rich. The only way to prosperity is through choice, personal responsibility, individual freedom and limited Government.

Thank you, Hayden, for sharing with us!

Folks wishing to contact Hayden and ACT may do so at; president@actoncampus.org.nz, www.actoncampus.org.nz, www.act.org.nz

Facebook: ACT on Campus, ACT, Hayden Fitzgerald

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Disclaimer

This blog is not affiliated to ACT in any way, shape, or form.

Other Blogposts in a similar theme

Interview: A Young NZer’s Thirst to make a Difference

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

Citizen Meegan’s submission to Parliament – hand’s off our stuff!

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