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Posts Tagged ‘Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill’

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

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big-brother-is-watching-you

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Either Rodney Hide is taking the piss, or Karma has well and truly caught up with one of the National Government’s previous political flunkies;

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NZ Herald - Rodney Hide - ACT - Why am I under investigation - SIS - GCSB - surveillance - police state - nothing to hide nothing to fear

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In case the story mysteriously disappears, here is the full text, from the NZ Herald;

The state apparently has me under covert investigation.

It began two weeks ago. My Christchurch friends and colleagues were served, some at home, some at work. They were summonsed by a senior insolvency officer who explained they could be apprehended should they refuse. Such notices are a detention, an arrest without charge.

The guys are motor mechanics, engineers and motor engineers.

They turn up the following Wednesday as ordered, each at separate times. The deputy official assignee swears their oath.

They are interrogated by private investigators from a firm called InDepth Forensics, Hamilton.

I have the recordings.

On Thursday I email and ring the PI firm. “Why are you investigating me?” They hang up.

I email and leave messages for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment manager Mandy McDonald.

She won’t return my calls.

On Friday I go to the MBIE office in Christchurch. The boss can’t answer my questions: she doesn’t know what’s happening. She says she will speak to her solicitor and get back to me. She doesn’t.

I ring Minister Steven Joyce’s office. I make no progress.

I return to MBIE’s office on Monday. I’m refused an appointment. I’m told the deputy official assignee “only administered the oath”. But the deputy official assignee signed the recording as “interviewer”. I’m asked to leave. I refuse.

I wait quietly in the foyer for 2 hours.

Joyce’s staffer emails: But because the “Official Assignee [is] an independent body, and also under Hon [Paul] Goldsmith’s responsibilities, I do not think I can assist you further.”

Goldsmith is in Paris explaining how he’s making “it easier for businesses to increase productivity and innovate”.

I ring the Institute of Private Investigators. Useless. I email the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority. Ditto.

I complain to the Privacy Commissioner. I don’t hear back.

I provide a two-page summary for local MP Nicky Wagner. She rings. Finally someone is taking my complaint seriously.

On Tuesday I drop in a letter to the Christchurch MBIE. Now there’s security. The guard tells me he’s there to see his girlfriend. I tease him.

Keith’s still there an hour later. He admits he has been called because of me. He wants to know if I will be back.

Tuesday night. Wagner must have kicked butt. Mandy McDonald sends a clearly hurried email. She assures me I am not under investigation. It’s taken nearly a week.

But why the questioning under the detention powers?

The next day I get a letter from another MBIE staffer warning me that reporting the content of their examinations of my friends and colleagues would render me liable to a year in prison plus a $5000 fine. But, according to the email from McDonald, I’m reporting a non-investigation.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, Rodders. That’s what John Banks kept telling us. That’s what John Key kept telling us. So obviously, the extension to the powers of the GCSB, SIS, and other government departments – which was supported by ACT – should be a non-issue, right?

Really, Rodney, you’ve been part of the growth of the Surveillance State in this country and now you complain that you’re being surveilled?

Really?

Well, my little cherubic,  Right Wing mate, you oughtn’t. It was inevitable really. After all, in the early days of the USSR, the nascent totalitarian State’s security arm (Cheka/NKVD/KGB) devoured many of the high-ranking Communist Party officials. They fell foul to their own pernicious State power.

Welcome to reality.

When Dear Leader’s security thugs throw you in jail for whatever transgression you’ve incurred against the State, remember to remind your   cell-mates that you were partially responsible for the following laws increasing the power of the State;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Eventually, it all catches up with those in power – an intimate lesson Rodney has learned.

I bet he never thought it would happen to him?

Karma. I love that gal.

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References

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide – Why am I under investigation?

Additional

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Parliament: Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A: Kim Dotcom/GCSB special with Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher

Nigella Lawson, GCSB, Christchurch re-build, and Malcolm Burgess on Campbell Live

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Toru)

The “man ban”; animal testing; GCSB Bill; and compulsory miltary training

David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

An Open Message to the GCSB, SIS, NSA, and Uncle Tom Cobbly

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014

TV3 – Campbell Live’s GCSB Public Vote

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part tahi

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 April 2015.

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Letter to the editor – John Key should lead by example

17 October 2014 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Fri, Oct 17, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
THE  LISTENER

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Many young folk looking to become foreign fighters for the  IS may be impressionable. They are also perceptive.

They probably understand the vicious nature of this group – but when they look at the West, do they see much better? We may not engage in widespread destruction like IS – but the American Empire is noted for thumbing it’s nose at international law in it’s own way;

* An invasion of Iraq based on lies (non-existent “weapons of mass destruction”)

* torture techniques such as water-boarding

* abuse of prisoners, eg, Abu Ghraib

* detention without due legal process at Guantanamo Bay

* ‘extraordinary rendition’, the apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of a person, to avoid due process of the law

* and extra-judicial killings using “drone strikes”, with only Presidential over-sight.

We may not be quite as in-your-face as IS/ISIS/ISIL, but whether you’re a hapless prisoner about to be executed by “Jihadi John”, or a carload of “extremists” about to be blown to bits by an unmanned aerial vehicle armed with deadly missiles, the question asked by many young people must be,

“Explain to us how we are any better?”

We currently have the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, Search and Surveillance Act 2012, Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013,  and the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Act 2013. How much more does our esteemed Prime Minister need to control us?John Key can implement all the Soviet-style mass surveillance;  restrictions on travel; cancelling passports;  etc, he likes. He can fill our jails with political detainees. But in the end, if we give young people nothing better to believe in, it will all be pointless.

Leading by example will achieve much more than restricting our liberties, invading our privacy, and monitoring our communications as part of  creeping authoritarian legislation.
The eventual failure of the Soviet police apparatus and reliance on propaganda to suppress it’s populace should have  been a salient lesson for this government.

-Frank Macskasy

[Address & phone number supplied]

 

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References

Radio NZ: PM says NZ part of ‘broader’ coalition

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Online Voting – no longer a viable option post-2013

15 June 2014 6 comments

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There has been public debate recently on the prospect of employing online voting for local body and general elections. The suggestion is made to counter falling voting numbers, as the 2011 general election recorded the lowest voter turn-out (74.21%) since 1887.

But a recent ‘tweet’ by civil liberties advocate; professional techer; and co-founder of the blog, Tech Liberty, made this pertinent point about the wisdom of online voting;

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Thomas Beagle - GCSB - online voting - privacy - Twitter - tweet

 

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Thomas Beagle has raised an important point.

The safety and inviolability of privacy in our voting system is integral to democracy. If there were to be even a hint or whiff that this privacy had been violated – the damage it would cause our fragile democratic system might not be repairable for generations.

We have already had assault after assault on our freedoms and privacy – especially since 2008. A few examples in a Roll of Dishonour include;

For a party that advocates getting the State our of lives, National has been working over-time to snoop, pry, mis-use private information; leak information for political advantage; and to increase the surveillance powers of government agencies.

As Keith Holyoake, a former National Prime Minister said in 1959;

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National we will give you honest government

‘The National Party believes in a property-owning democracy. … We believe in the maximum degree of personal freedom and the maximum degree of individual choice for our people. We believe in the least interference necessary with individual rights, and the least possible degree of state interference.’

One suspects that the spirit of Holyoake would be in utter despair at what his party has become since he uttered those words.

Since National has been in office, we have had legislation enacted that has vastly increased State surveillance powers in a way few thought possible in our once fiercely privacy-protective society;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

On 1 October 2012, a new law came into effect,

“The Search and Surveillance Act, which was passed through Parliament in March, extends production and examination orders to the police and legalises some forms of surveillance.

It will let more government agencies carry out surveillance operations, allows judges to determine whether journalists can protect their sources, and changes the right to silence.”

Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

On 21 August 2013,

“… John Key introduced the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, which would extend the powers of the GCSB to enable it to collect information from all New Zealanders for the use of other government departments including the New Zealand Police, Defence Force and the Security Intelligence Service.Under the bill, the GCSB will have three main functions. Firstly, it will continue to collect foreign intelligence but it will not be allowed to spy on New Zealanders. Secondly, it will give the GCSB a legal mandate to assist the police, Defence Force and the Security Intelligence Service. Thirdly, it will extend the GCSB’s cyber-security functions to encompass protecting private-sector cyber systems.

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

“The technical Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill will compel telecommunication firms to assist intelligence agencies in intercepting and decrypting phone calls, texts and emails. ..

[…]

The bill has two parts – interception and network security. It replaces other legislation and is a partner to the Government Communications Security Bureau bill, passed earlier this year.

It compels telecommunications firms and online service providers to give “surveillance agencies” (the police, Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) and the GCSB) access to their clients’ communications.”

The rise of State power and increasing surveillance is simply unprecedented in our history.

We now have at least four state agencies that can pry into our lives; the Customs, Police, SIS, and GCSB.  Add WINZ, the IRD, Immigration, et al to the list, and it becomes apparent that this country has become a Westernised, consumer-driven, version of the former East Germany.

We even have our own Stasi-like para-military that raids villages out in the back-blocks, away from prying eyes of the public and media;

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Armed par-military police, during the 2007 Urewera raid.

Armed par-military police, during the 2007 Urewera raid.

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In five years we have become a quasi-police state.

In April 2013, the Kitteridge Report revealed that up to eightyeight New Zealanders had been illegally spied on by the GCSB.

A month later, in May 2013, not only was no one held to account and not  prosecuted;

“…it could not be established that any GCSB staff had the necessary criminal intent to illegally intercept private communications in this case, and GCSB staff cannot be criminally liable”.

– but a subsequent whitewash determined;

“The Inspector-General formed a view that there have been no breaches, although the law is unclear and the Inspector-General recommends amending it,” GCSB Director Ian Fletcher said in a statement.

Fletcher, Key, and other apologist for the GCSB’s law-breaking werelying. The law was not “unclear”. In fact, it was crystal clear that the Bureau could not spy on NZ citizens and permanent residents;

14  Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

The Dominion Post’s Tracy Watkins got it right  when she wrote;

“The GCSB’s interpretation of the law was so loose it managed to spy on 88 New Zealanders even though the law specifically stated it was not allowed to do so.”

Amidst the increased surveillance by the various State agencies; the illegal mis-use of information; ministerial leaks to sociopathic bloggers like Cameron Slater; and previous illegal spying by the GCSB – the prospect of on-line voting is no longer feasible.

It is simply not safe to entrust the sanctity of the privacy of voting to an internet that is now more like an open postcard to the Police, SIS, GCSB, and god-knows-who-else.

We would have absolutely no way of knowing who was accessing our voting.

And if a State agency was caught illegally accessing New Zealanders’ voting records?

The Prime Minister would simply dismiss any such illegality with this kind of sophistry;

“In addition, the Act governing the [online voting process] is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.

It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known.”

So why should we trust a man who has condoned previous acts of illegal state spying on individuals?

He’s done it before.

 

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References

Election Results: Party Votes and Turnout by Electorate

NZ History: Elizabeth Yates

Blog: Tech Liberty

Twitter: Thomas Beagle

Fairfax media: Paula Bennett accused of Muldoon-style bullying

TV3: Bennett accused of breaching privacy again

NZ Herald: GCSB report: 88 cases of possible illegal spying uncovered

Radio NZ: Key confessions over Whale Oil

Whaleoil: Know your Wharfies – Cecil Walker

Metro: Her Majesty

NZ Herald: Probe into email leak welcome, says Collins

Te Ara – Encyclopedia of NZ: National Party – Page 4 – Party principles

Legislation: Search and Surveillance Act 2012

NZ Herald: New police search and surveillance law in force

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Wikipedia: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Legislation: Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Fairfax media: Spying bill passes into law

TVNZ News: Spy agency could have illegally spied on dozens of Kiwis

Zdnet: NZ spy agency staff cleared in illegal spying probe

TVNZ News: GCSB cleared of illegal spying, though law ‘unclear’

Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 – Para 14

Dominion Post:  Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Additional

NZ Herald: GCSB spying illegal, but no charges laid

Other blogs

The Standard: Tape of ACC-Pullar meeting raises more questions

The Jackal: Judith Collins defamation fail

Tech Liberty: Submission – Telecommunications (Interception Capability & Security) Bill


 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 June 2014.

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A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part tahi

23 January 2014 27 comments

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An incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?*) coalition government will have much work to do – especially in it’s first three years.

In the six years that National has been in power, they have passed many odious and often repressive pieces of legislation. Labour and the Greens have already committed to repealing some of these laws and policies.

As a Labour-led coalition government addresses growing problems of child poverty; income inequality; a shortage of decent, affordable housing; and chronic unemployment (currently at 7.1% according to the 2013 Census), a legislative programme will demand a long list of progressive reforms.

In no particular order;

“The Hobbit Law”

Enacted on 29 October 2010, the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill/Act ( aka “The Hobbit Law”) was passed by National in just 48 hours. If Parliament was an Olympic event, Key and his cronies would’ve won a Gold Medal  for the breath-taking speed at which this Bill was rammed through the House under “Urgency”. The law effectively stole the rights of workers to be treated as employees (rather than “sub-contractors”) and negotiate collectively.

It was part of a package of corporate welfare for Warner Bros, which included a $67 million subsidy, courtesy of the taxpayer. That was despite the first installment of The HobbitAn Unexpected Journey making over US$1 billion, world-wide.

Never before in our history has a government yielded to such naked, open pressure to change our labour laws to suit a foreign corporation. The term “prostitute” doesn’t begin to cover the heinous nature of this sell-out by a New Zealand government to a trans-national corporation.

A year later, Labour announced it would repeal this odious piece of legislation. I expect them to keep their word. If only to send a clear message to firms wanting to do business in this country that our laws are not for sale.

Charter Schools

Sponsored by the one-man-band ACT Party, Charter Schools are private companies using tax-payer’s money to make a profit. No wonder Russell Norman likened John Key to Robert Muldoon – this is Muldoonism at it’s best/worst (depending on your point of view).

The Charter Schools policy was never put before the public during the 2011 general election, and there is no mandate for it. The ACT website’s Education Policy contained a vague, oblique reference to “reforming education towards a more market-like and entrepreneurial service” – but no specific regard to “Charter Schools”.

There are many things wrong with the Charter Schools policy – chief amongst them that they are not accountable under the Official Information Act; nor are registered teachers required; companies running Charter Schools need not hold any education experience; public scrutiny is weak to non-existent; and overseas evidence shows that Charter Schools are not a solution to education problems.

In fact, they may owe more to ideology than to any robust study and even Treasury – no bastion of progressive thought – has voiced criticism on the proposal,

However they also show Treasury is not convinced the benefits of introducing the schools will outweigh the costs and risks.

The papers express scepticism that increasing competition between schools will improve the education system.

The documents show both the Treasury and Ministry of Education opposed the Government’s plan to allow partnership schools to hire unregistered teachers.

Treasury told the Government that teacher registration is an indication of a minimum level of quality.

Labour has firmly stated that legislation enabling  Charter Schools will be repealed.

Excellent. As it should be. This is not about educational “excellence” nor parental “choice”. This was an ill-conceived, ideologically-driven, nutty policy from a small, dying political party that gained 23,889 (1.07%) popular votes at the last election. As such, the education of our children cannot be left to the idealogical whims of what is, in reality, a fringe group of right-wing, free-market zealots.

Terrorism Suppression Act

This was a legacy from the Clark-led Labour government and it was a knee-jerk, ill-conceived, poorly executed piece of repressive garbage that belongs more in Pinochet’s Chile or Ceausescu’s Romania, than in a social democracy such as New Zealand. The Act was a ‘nod’ to our so-called “allies” in Washington and London, post September 11, when paranoia about global terrorism was at it highest.

The law was used to facilitate the Urewera Raids in  2007 (along with raids in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North and Hamilton). Eighteen people were arrested.

None stood trial under the Act itself, and instead four individuals were eventually charged under more mundane firearms offenses. The Court threw out out “evidence” which had been illegally obtained.

The Terrorism Suppression Act itself was described by Solicitor General, David Collins, QC, as, “unnecessarily complex, incoherent and as a result almost impossible to apply to the domestic circumstances observed by the police in this case“.

Considering that the Urewera village of Rūātoki was held in lock-down by para-military garbed and armed police, with many innocent people including women and children confined for a lengthy period under armed guard, this was nothing less than a suspension of our rights as citizens, and a step towards a neo-fascist state (though one suspects there are some New Zealanders who would happily welcome such a regime) .  The only acts of terrorism on that day in October, seven years ago, was by the State and it’s frightening, menacing,  para-military which forced it’s way into people’s homes and threatened them with lethal weapons.

Thirty years previously, movie-maker Sam Donaldson presented us with Sleeping Dogs – a cinematic version of C.K. Stead’s novel, Smith’s Dream. The storyline was of a nightmarish, dystopian near-future, of New Zealand as a repressive police state, with all dissent brutally crushed.

That future arrived on 15 October 2007.

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armed paramilitary police

“We are from the government. We are here to help.”

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In December 2013, the Human Rights Commission published a report on the raids – called “Operation 8 by Police – which stated, in part, that  innocent people had been  exposed to unnecessary trauma. Earlier that same year, the  Independent Police Conduct Authority stated that  the police  had  illegally stopped vehicles, detaining people in their homes, and taking their photographs,

Three children under 10 had rifles with red laser lights pointed at them and were kept under armed guard in a shed for nine hours without food or water during the Urewera police raids in 2007.

“They smashed through our front gate and came running up towards us telling us to come out with our hands up,” Tu Temaungaroa Moko, now 14, said yesterday after the Independent Police Conduct Authority branded police actions during the raids unlawful, unjustified and unreasonable.

Tu was bundled into the back shed with his mother, Awhi Tia Koha, and brothers Te Ahoaho Hellman, now 15, and Taihakoa Rawiri Moko, now 9, and kept there by two armed police.

“We had tried to hide in the bedroom, we were scared stiff, we didn’t know what to do,” he said.

The armed police arrested their father, Moko Hellman, and searched the house.

“They tipped food on the floors, wrecked the furniture and pulled everything out of cupboards and shelves.”

All the search recovered was several rounds of .303 ammunition belonging to the boys’ grandfather, Tu said.

The IPCA report published yesterday says police had no right to block roads, search vehicles, detain and photograph locals, or detain residents while their homes were searched.

This was shocking, brutal,  and unacceptable behaviour by the State.

This law must go. It has no place in a civilised society that purports to respect civil rights and justice. There are adequate firearms laws enough with which to pursue and prosecute those who mis-use guns, or conspiracy laws to deal with more nefarious activities.

The Terrorism Suppression Act gives too much power to the State, and it’s para-military arm, and  events in 2007 demonstrated that such tyrannical laws can easily be mis-used.

This law was a product of a Labour government. It is an obscenity. It must be repealed by a new Labour government.

Search and Surveillance Act

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Act

Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Act

As if the Terrorism Suppression Act wasn’t sufficient power with which the State could coerce it’s citizenry, this National-led government found it necessary to implement more draconian laws. The  Search and Surveillance Act, Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Act, and the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Act all gave government extraordinary powers to monitor New Zealanders and to carry out searches on the flimsiest pretexts.

In 2012, National passed it’s Search and Surveillance Act, which as TV3 reported,

It gives police the right to search or keep people under surveillance without a warrant in urgent or emergency situations, changes the right to silence and empowers judges to decide whether journalists can protect their sources or not.

That Orwellian piece of legislation was followed up a year later with not one, but two, new laws allowing the State to further spy on New Zealanders.

As I wrote on 30 June last year, despite the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 being fairly clear on the issue, the Bureau still had the mistaken belief that they were somehow entitled to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

Either in ignorance, or another of his pathetic lies, John Key maintained this fiction,

In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.  It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known.”

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Despite the fact that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is actually quite clear – especially Section 14 which states –

Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

– the myth was perpetuated that the law is “unclear”.

The GCSB was never mandated to spy on New Zealanders. John Key’s National government changed all that with it’s one-seat majority in Parliament, and not only legitimised the Bureau’s spying on 88 New Zealanders – but has given it authority to spy on us all.

The GCSB Act was followed in quick succession by the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Act which, as

The TICS Bill is a replacement for the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004. This law forced communications providers (ISPs, telcos, data networks, etc) to provide “lawful intercept” capabilities so that the Police, SIS and GCSB could access communications once they had a suitable warrant. The new bill expands and clarifies these requirements.

[…]

The Bill specifies that the law applies to companies whether based in New Zealand or overseas. It then goes on to give the Minister the power to ban the resale of an off-shore telecommunications service in New Zealand if it does not provide interception capabilities. This could stop the resale of foreign-hosted VPNs, instant message services, email, etc.

[…]

Network operators must decrypt the intercepted communications if they have provided the encryption, but there is no obligation to do so if the encryption is provided by others.

What does this mean for providers such as Mega (file locker) or LastPass (password storage) who have a business model based on the fact that they supply a cloud product that uses encryption but have deliberately designed it so that they can not decrypt the files themselves? This gives users the assurance that they can trust them with their data. Will the government close them down unless they provide a backdoor into the system?

The TICS Act is insidious because it forces telcos to comply with politicians and spy agencies demands for access to our communications. In effect,any company such as Telecom, Vodaphone, Slingshot, Chorus, etc, which offers a telecommunication service becomes a spy-agent  for the State. Not content with the Police, SIS, and GCSB, private companies become extensions of the State to surveil the populace.

Orwell himself could not have dreamed of a more unbelievably cunning plan.

Little wonder that telcos, Apple, Google, etc, opposed this draconian piece of law-making,

Opponents may be facing an uphill battle against spy bill fatigue as TICS goes through the house.

But there are a couple of intriguing twists.

One is its provision for the ICT Minister to require service providers (such as Apple with iMessage, Microsoft with Skype and Google with Chat, Talk etc) to make communications on their services interceptable. Apple and Google have submitted against the legislation. Will they ramp up their opposition as TICS works its way through Parliament – especially given Vikram Kumar’s revelation that they could be forced to allow the GCSB back-door access, with the orders kept secret? And would the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google or Facebook actually decide to give New Zealand a swerve?

These three laws are inimical to an open, free, society that prides itself on respecting privacy and civil rights for its citizens.  Because, really, just how many bad people does New Zealand have, as enemies,  to warrant such hard-line laws that would be more at home in a nation at war with it’s neighbours?

All three should be repealed forthwith, by an incoming Labour-led government.

To be continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part rua

(* At this point in time, NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters,  has not indicated which bloc – Labour or National – he intends to coalesce with. As such, any involvement by NZ First in a progressive government cannot be counted upon.)

Continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part rua

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 January 2014.

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References

Statistics New Zealand: 2013 Census QuickStats

Fairfax media: Controversial Hobbit law passes

Radio NZ: Government defends Hobbit subsidies

Dominion Post: The Hobbit hits $1billion mark

Fairfax media: Nats criticise Labour’s ‘Hobbit’ law stance

NZ Herald:  Norman – Key ‘acting like Muldoon’

The Press: No mandate for charter schools

ACT Party: Education Policy

Stanford University: CREDO Report on Charter Schools

Radio NZ: Treasury papers reveal reservations on charter schools

Labour Party:  Charter school applicants put on notice

Wikipedia: 2011 Election Results

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

NZ History: 2007 ‘Anti-terror’ raids in Urewera

NZ Herald: Terrorism Act ‘unworkable’

Radio NZ: Mana ‘trampled’ by Te Urewera raids, says HRC report

Waikato Times: Police ‘unlawful, unjustified, unreasonable’ in Urewera raids

TV3: More surveillance powers for Govt and police

NBR: Govt proposes GCSB control over NZ communications in new TICS Bill

NBR: As GCSB Bill becomes law, focus turns to Telco Intercept Bill – which has a protectionist twist

Additional

NZ Herald: Banks wrongly held back charter school information

Fairfax media: Facts about Terrorism Suppression Act

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The real reason for the GCSB Bill.

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Campbell Live on 10 July was an exercise in outstanding journalism. Campbell looked at a sequence of events, around July 2011, and culminating in the raid on Kim Dotcom’s home in January 2012.

Before you go any further, click on the link and watch the video. It’s worth it.

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Campbell live GCSB 10 July 2013

Click to view

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Once you’ve watched the video – the next step follows.

In the above video, John Campbell opens with the comments,

In short, the GCSB bill allows the organisation to spy on New Zealanders and to pass what they learn on to foreign governments.

“If you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to hide” is a common response to criticism of such unprecedented power.

But the SIS can already spy on New Zealanders and so can the police.

The GCSB bill connects domestic spying to global spy networks, which, as we’ve recently learnt, are listening to almost everyone.

Now, the bill is being passed under urgency.

But why? Shouldn’t we get this right?

The Prime Minister is now trying to win support from either Peter Dunne or New Zealand First to get the bill through.

But whose bill is it, really? And who will we be spying for?”

Throughout the whole video, John Campbell is precise and thourough with his facts. He cannot be faulted for any inaccuracies that I could spot.

But he left out two extremely pertinent facts (unless he will be referring to this in a coming, follow-up story) – two pieces which complete the puzzle  of why National is promoting the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill so earnestly through Parliament.

We’ll come to the missing pieces shortly.

Four months ago, I published this blogpost,  The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour.

I wrote regarding Ian  Fletcher’s appointment as the new GCSB director;

On 4 April, Scoop Media wrote about the rationale behind Ian Fletcher’s appointment as GCSB director. Fletcher had no prior military of Intelligence experience. But he did have an extensive  background in intellectual property, commerce and “free” trade (see: The CV of a Spy Boss ) .

Fletcher’s appointment was announced  in September 2011, and was due to take up his new job in early 2012.

At the same time, police were planning their raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion, scheduled to take place  on January 20 2012.

Scoop wrote,

Suppose Dotcom’s arrest and extradition was the clincher in the deal that secured Warner Bros’ agreement to produce The Hobbit in New Zealand. But any link to John Key, who led the negotiations with Warner Bros, would tend to confirm Dotcom’s claim, supported by the strong connection between Hollywood and US vice-president Joe Biden, of political persecution. So the prime minister had to be protected by having total deniability, leading to the completely implausible claim of not knowing about the most prominent resident in his own electorate until the day before the raid.

Acknowledgement: Kim Dotcom Part Two

Conspiracy fantasy?

Remember that Key has had several top level meetings with Warner Bros executives,

October 2010

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No decision yet in Hobbit talks - Key

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – No decision yet in Hobbit talks – Key

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July 2011

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PM's 'special' movie studio meeting

Acknowledgement: Fairfax – PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting

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October 2012

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Key - Dotcom won't be discussed during Hollywood visit

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key: Dotcom won’t be discussed during Hollywood visit

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Four days later,
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Dotcom raised at PM's Hollywood dinner

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And those are only the meetings which we, The Masses, are aware of.

It’s interesting to note Chris Dodd, the CEO of  the Motion Picture Assiciation of America (MPAA) referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership Aggreement (TPPA) in the 5 October NZ Herald article above.

The TPPA has more to do with intellectual property rights than with “free” trade. (See: “Global Research –  The “Trans-Pacific Partnership”: Obama’s Secret Trade Deal; See: MFAT -Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations – Intellectual Property Stakeholder Update)

It’s also worthwhile noting that Ian Fletcher’s appointment coincided to the month with the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion.

  • Raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion:  20 January 2012.

And both men were involved in intellectual property rights – though from different angles,

  • Kim Dotcom – the man who Hollywood executives wanted brought down because of alleged copyright violations on his ‘megaupload’ website. (see: The MPAA on Dotcom)
  • Ian Fletcher – the man who had worked in the UK to protect oroporate interests in intellectual property rights. (see below)

When Ian Fletcher’s appointment was announced on 8 September 2011, Key himself proudly boasted of the new Director’s  career,

Announcing the appointment Prime Minister John Key said he has ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters.”

Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed

Fletcher’s ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters” seemed to matter for John Key for some reason?

Kim Dotcom was very high on the list of issues relating to “international economic and trade matters“; namely intellectual property rights.  Indeed, in March 2007, Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property.

On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,

“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”

Acknowledgement: Intellectual Property Office – New Chief Executive for the Patent Office

(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)

It has been widely commented that Ian Fletcher has no background in the military, nor Intelligence – yet was considered the one candidate who was eminently suitable for the role of Director of the GCSB.  Perhaps now we are starting to understand why Ian Fletcher’s appointment seemingly related to,

  • the Crown’s case against Kim Dotcom
  • Illegal downloads/Intellectual Property rights
  • MPAA concerns
  • Hollywood big business
  • Trans Pacific Partnership

And as Key himself admitted, the issue of Kim Dotcom had been raised by a Hollywood executive. Just what does our Prime Minister have to discuss with said executives? Who knows – it’s all done in secret, behind closed doors. We’re just expected to pay our taxes and shut up.

[…]

New Zealand is a small country. Secrets are notoriously difficult to keep. And even if the whole story behind the Fletcher-Dotcom-GCSB-TPPA thing has not been fully revealed – I think we’ve had a glimpse into the murky shadows of political perfidity to smell something rotten.

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3.

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Remember the connections and trails that John Campbell revealed on his 10 July show.

Remember the cast of characters involved, all around July 2011 and following months;

  • John Key meeting President Obama.
  • Attorney General Chris Finlayson met Attorney General Eric Holder, along with three AG’s from Canada, UK, and Australia
  • Holder was conducting a war on cyber “crime”
  • Ian Fletcher appointed as the new GCSB Director
  • Kim Dotcom was later charged with cyber crime

Remember also – and this was also pointed out by John Campbell – that Ian Fletcher had no Military or Intelligence experience.

But Fletcher did have experience with international economic, trade matters, and  Intellectual Property.

Key himself proudly boasted of the new Director’s  career,

Announcing the appointment Prime Minister John Key said he has ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters.”

Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed

As I wrote in April,

Fletcher’s ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters” seemed to matter for John Key for some reason?

Kim Dotcom was very high on the list of issues relating to “international economic and trade matters“; namely intellectual property rights.  Indeed, in March 2007, Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property.

On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,

“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”

Acknowledgement: Intellectual Property Office – New Chief Executive for the Patent Office

(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)

Perhaps now we are starting to understand why Ian Fletcher’s appointment seemingly related to,

  • the Crown’s case against Kim Dotcom

  • Illegal downloads/Intellectual Property rights

  • MPAA concerns

  • Hollywood big business

  • Trans Pacific Partnership

This was the first missing piece from Campbell’s investigative story; intellectual property.

Eric Holder’s “Cyber crime” in this instance relates to intellectual property, and as the highly publicised raid on Kim Dotcom showed – illegal downloads.

The final piece follows.

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4.

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National is placing considerable time, effort, money, and energy in pushing two Bills through Parliament;

  1. Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill
  2. Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Key’s rationale for the expansion of spying over all New Zealanders has consisted of purely bullshit excuses, relating to “weapons of mass destruction”, “terrorism”, and other fantasy scare-mongering. None of it is remotely  true.

The real rationale for pushing these two inter-related Bills is more prosaic.

The common description of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill (aka “GCSB Bill)  has been that this allows the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders.

This is correct.

Literally, correct. The Bill, alongside it’s barely acknowledged “sister-Bill” – the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill – is designed deliberately to mandate the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders.

Everyone.

Not just criminals.

Not just left-wing  radicals.

Not just Maori nationalists.

Not just anti-TPPA acctivists. Or environment campaigners. Or trade unionists.

In fact, those people aren’t the real targets at all.

The targets are all New Zealanders.

The final missing piece? The aim of the two Bills is to monitor for illegal downloads over the internet.

That is what all the activity in July 2011 was all about; the US and New Zealand (along with other members of the “Five Eyes” group) were collaborating on how to eliminate the billion dollar, global,  internet piracy problem.

As manufacturing is moved to low-wage societies such as China, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, etc, the big remaining wealth-producing sector in the West will be – intellectual property.

Which not only ties together the two spying bills and co-operation between the “Five Eyes” group – but the TPP Agreement as well.

Think about it; what is the point of the TPPA (an agreement focusing mainly on intellectual property) – if it cannot be enforced?!

There is no way to protect intellectual property and enforce copyright if corporations are unable to detect who is downloading illegally.

Enter: the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

John Campbell asked in his programme,

“But whose bill is it, really? And who will we be spying for?”

These two laws will be the means by which corporations will enforce their intellectual property rights.

And they’ll be watching over us all to make sure we all behave.

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Previous related blogpost

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 July 2013.

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= fs =

The “man ban”; animal testing; GCSB Bill; and compulsory miltary training

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The “man ban”…

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Labour’s hierarchy has  dumped the so-called “man ban” (hat-tip to right wing bloggers for mental short-hand term which is little more than  a  knee-jerk emotional response requiring no deep thinking).

As Labour leader David Shearer pointed out,

The distraction is turning our attention away from the issues that most New Zealanders are concerned about. They don’t want to know about what is happening in the Labour Party.

What they want to know is what we are doing on the issues that affect them. That’s power prices, home ownership and good jobs.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Labour backs away from man-ban plan

Indeed.

Looking back at the last couple of days, this has become a plaything for right-wing bloggers and the Topic Of The Day for lazy journos who can’t be bothered spending half a day researching on issues such as  “ministerial  release progress reports” which are little more than propaganda puff-pieces for National.

As Andrew Geddis pointed on on The Pundit,

My first thought is that the coverage of this issue is pretty revealing of the crappy state of political journalism in NZ. The media have essentially taken the narrative spin of a couple of explicitly pro-National blogsites (complete with the manufactured slogan of “man ban”) and replicated it verbatim – after searching out a few disaffected Labour-connected voices to underpin it. There’s been no attempt to set the issue in context (I’ve yet to see any discussion about the general issue of the ongoing, static under-representation of women in NZ’s Parliament), no attempt to look at overseas precedent (it took me 2 minutes on google to discover that “all-women short lists” are par for the course in the UK) and no attempt to compare Labour’s gender-representation record with that of anyone else.”

Acknowledgement: The Pundit – Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors

This was not handled correctly from Day One.

When it first came to my attention, my own response was a head shake; groan of despair; and a face-palm. (see previous blogpost: Facepalm #1: Labour) I could immediatly guess  the consequences; the response from the Right; and the frenzied headlines in my minds’ eye.

I was not disappointed.

Cameron, David, et al, had their fun. (Which is ironic considering that ACT is a Rich White Man’s Club that shafted it’s one successful female MP, and National has only 25% female MPs – the worst of the five main multi-MP parties.)

The greatest irony here is that encouraging a 50/50 male/female ration of  party candidates is nothing new to New Zealand politics. The old Alliance Party had a strict policy encouraging gender, geographical, race, etc, spread over it’s Party List rankings.

There was no grand announcement on this policy.

We Just Did It.

As such it never made headlines and people simply accepted that gender equality was an issue of plain Kiwi fairness and not this nebulous concept of “PC gone mad” – whatever that might be.

This is where Labour mis-calculated. They should simply have proceeded with the policy and not bothered with any media release.

By making a Big Deal about it, they simply fed the lazy mainstream media looking for Shock! Horror! headlines,  and voracious right-wing blogs which are always on the look out to deflect attention away from National’s problems (and they are legion, believe me).

My suggestion to Labour – Just Do It anyway.

And screw Cameron Slater, David Farrar, et al. Those two National sycophants won’t be voting Labour anyway, any time soon.

After Labour achieves 50% women MPs, it will then be up to National to play “catch up” – and right wing bloggers and commentators to explain why the Party of  Aspiration can’t do better than 25% female representation.

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Animal testing…

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The Greens have announced an attempt to amend the Psychoactive Substances Bill in Parliament  to stop animal testing for party pills.

This heinous aspect to the Bill would permit the exploitation of  animals to test party drugs to determine safety for human consumption.

In a recent blogpost, the NZ Herald was taken to task for mis-representing the Green position on animal testing (see: NZ Herald mis-represents Green Party spokesperson on synthetic ‘highs’). The journo responsible for that mis-reporting – Kurt Bayer –  has never responded to queries from this blogger as to whether the Herald would publish a correction to the errors in the story.

Even right wing, pro-business ACT MP, John Banks, has stated his opposition to using animals to test party drugs (see: Greens leading bid to stop animal testing for party pills).

Let me be totally blunt on this issue;

  1. If adults are foolish enough to ingest these “party” drugs or smoke synthetic cannabis – that is their decision. Let the consequences fall on their own heads if, after all the publicity, they still decide to use this crap.
  2. I’m all for testing. Go for it.
  3. But I see no reason to use animals to test substances that have no practical benefits, and are simply “fun drugs”.  It is obscene that National is even considering allowing  harm to come to animals simply to test these nasty drugs, which are  for “recreational” purposes.
  4. It is an indictment of our society that Parliament could even consider such an abuse of animals.

I hope National sees sense and deletes that part of the Bill.

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GCSB Bill – Key, Shearer, Dunne, & Peters

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Key is desperate to pass both the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill – both of which extend the powers of the State to access our communications;  surveil New Zealanders; and store vast amounts of information on us.

Once upon a time, if the State wanted more powers for the Police or spy agencies, they had to justify it with the public and seek consent.

Now, in 2013AD, it is the public that has to defend it’s right to privacy and why the various arms of the State should keep out of our lives.

It is hugely ironic that ACT, right ring bloggers, and other commentators support these two odious pieces of legislation.

Right wing parties such  ACT  usually advocate vigorously for reducing State involvement in our lives,

To this end the ACT Party upholds the following principles:

  • that individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent rights and responsibilities; and

  • that the proper purpose of government is to protect such rights and not to assume such responsibilities.

Acknowledgement: ACT Principles

The latest news is that Winston Peters and Peter Dunne – both with an eye on public opinion and the growing unease caused by these two Bills – are reviewing their support.

Peter Dunne

Mr Dunne says the review panel is a good start, but remains unconvinced that the bill in its current form provides enough protections to individuals and their private information. He says he doesn’t want to go into too much detail about other changes under negotiation.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – GCSB bill needs more changes – Dunne

Winston Peters

Mr Peters was not impressed with the changes Mr Key has agreed to by way of giving the oversight watchdog, the Inspector General of Security and Intelligence, a panel of two to act as a sounding board.

“The surveillance panel was right only if the law was right and the law is not right.

“This bill does not work.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald –Spy bill hits roadblock as Peters lays into Key’s changes

Both men must be considering one simple reality; as the implications of these two Bills grows in the  public’s  consciousness, do they really want to be associated with a growing Surveillance State; loss of privacy; and Big Brother?

These two Bills may be fast becoming  National’s “shower heads” moment.

The questions that demand answers are;

  • Do Winston  Peters and Peter Dunne want to be dragged down by National’s agenda on this issue?
  • Do they want to be tarred with the blackened brush of Big Brother?
  • Who stands for the rights of citizens?
  • And are Labour and the Greens prepared to turn the tide back?

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And compulsory military training

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I want to say goodbye - gunman's last wish

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – I want to say goodbye – gunman’s last wish

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This story undermines notions expressed by  folk with simplistic views that “a spot of military training” is all that’s needed to “buck up the ideas” of alienated young men and women.

Giving military training and putting guns into the hands of angry young men who feel resentful against society, is not a panacea for our social problems.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 July 2013.

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= fs =

Nigella Lawson, GCSB, Christchurch re-build, and Malcolm Burgess on Campbell Live

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Nigella Lawson

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Is that the applause of millions of women (and men!) I can hear as Nigella Lawson re-takes control of her life?

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Nigella Lawson moves out, blender and all

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Nigella Lawson moves out, blender and all

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If there’s any possible good that came out of this ghastly incident, it is that women (and a few men, perhaps) around the world have witnessed the stark reality that spousal abuse is not confined to just their lives. Even the rich and famous can be affected by this kind of violence.

On 18 March 2013, Judge Peter Boshier (Law Commissioner);  Jennifer Wademan (Barrister), and  Thomas Dewar Sziranyi Letts (Solicitor) presented a report entitled Domestic Violence and the Impact on Children’s Lives at the 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Sydney, Australia.

The contents of their speech was disturbing, as well as instructive;

For a country with just over 4 million people, New Zealand has a staggering 80,000 domestic violence cases a year. This level of abuse has resulted in over 200 women and children being killed as a result of domestic violence in 12 years and countless numbers of adults and children carryingthe physical and psychological effects of that violence with them through their lives. The cost inhuman and economic terms is horrific.

[…]

New Zealand has a history of high levels of domestic violence, in part, we believe, because we are open about the problems that face us. While international research estimates that up to 80% ofdomestic violence goes unreported, and certainly that has been our experience in practice, in 2012 New Zealand Police recorded almost 47,000 incidents of domestic disputes, and initiated almost 100,000 Family Violence investigations. Of these investigations, children were present in almost 60% of cases.  If we assume the average household has 2 children, then at least 65,000 children were affected by domestic violence, in one year, in a country as small as New Zealand. Tragically, a third of all deaths from domestic violence involve children.

Source: Ministry of Justice – Domestic Violence and the Impact on Children’s Lives

I have little doubt that Ms Lawson’s experience at the hands of her husband three weeks ago was a nasty, violent, and humiliating experience. I also strongly suspect that what went on behind the walls, closed doors, and curtained windows of their family home was most likely  no less violent.

If Charles Saatchi could almost throttle his wife, in public, in a fit of rage – god only knows what he got up to out of sight.

There may well be women in our own country, also  the victims of spousal abuse, who have seen Ms Lawson make the decisive move to leave her violent husband and seek refuge elsewhere. Abused women and their children may see Ms Lawson as having escaped – and this may encourage them to do likewise.

How many will be thinking,

If she can do it, then so can I!

Whether Nigella Lawson may appreciate it or not, she may well have saved the lives of women and children here in New Zealand and around the world.

The next time I see her on TV, I’ll see Ms Lawson in an entirely new light; a woman with inner strength and a survivor.

Let’s hope others do as well.

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I have a date…

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… with a Parliamentary Select Committee in a week’s time.

Yep, I sent in a submission to the Intelligence and Security Committee regarding the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. This is the Bill which will legitamise the Bureau’s spying on 4.4 million New Zealanders.

As the Clerk of the Committee, Lesley Ferguson wrote in an email to me,

Thank you for your submission on the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. A copy of your submission has been distributed to members of the Intelligence and Security Committee which is considering this bill.

 The Intelligence and Security Committee is to hear submissions orally. In accordance with your request to meet with the committee to give further evidence, a date and time of  Friday, 5 July 2013 from 10.20am to 10.40am has been allocated for you to appear before the committee to present your oral evidence.

 The committee will have read your written submission. It will therefore not be necessary to read your written submission to them. Instead, the committee will be expecting you to elaborate further on your written evidence.

 The venue for the hearing is Select Committee Meeting Room 2, Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Please ensure you are at the venue at least 15 minutes before your allotted time.

 Please provide me with the name(s) and designation(s) of those who will be presenting to the committee.

 Your submission is released publicly upon you giving oral evidence to the committee.  The committee intends that hearings will be conducted in public. You may however apply for any or all of your evidence to be heard in private or secret. The committee would require reasons before agreeing to such a request. Please contact me if you wish to make such an application.

 While the evidence you provide to the committee is covered by parliamentary privilege, please note that a Court ruling held that a person may be liable in defamation if that person makes a defamatory statement in a situation that is protected by parliamentary privilege (such as an oral presentation to a select committee) and later affirms that statement (without actually repeating it) on an occasion that is not protected by parliamentary privilege.

 

 Now all I have to do is figure out what the heck I want to say…

I have a couple of ideas.

Anyone else?

By the way – I wonder what the SIS and GCSB thought of my submission?

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The Christchurch re-build…

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… seems to have engendered a detente between the Mayor and Christchurch City Council on one side, and Gerry Brownlee and Central Government on the other. It’s probably a somewhat shakey detente – one liable to crack, splinter, and fall apart at even a low  political seismic event.

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Govt announces Christchurch rebuild funding

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – Govt announces Christchurch rebuild funding

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It was only a month ago that Key was pressuring Christchurch City Council to sell it’s strategic assets to finance part of the rebuild,

It is for the council to say ‘do you want the nice-to-haves.  Then they’ll ask how are you going to pay? That could be through rates or asset sales.

Key referred to  “partially floating assets, so the council remained in control but still raised money”, was “ incredibly logical .

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Asset sales could help pay for rebuild – Key

Mayor Bob Parker and the Christchurch City Council rightly rejected the idea. After all, why should Christchurch be asset-stripped simply because of events beyond it’s control?

At least National’s decision to partially privatise state assets was as a result of it’s own folly by giving away billions in tax cuts that the country could ill afford. Future generations will be the ones to pay for National’s short-sighted decisions.

If Christchurch needs extra cash to assist in it’s rebuild then I have a suggestion: bonds.

Like the War Bonds during World War 2,

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War Bonds

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But instead of Bonds for Destruction – these would be Bonds for Construction! Not Bonds to Bomb – but Bonds To Build!

If every New Zealander, on average, bought $100 worth of  Bonds To Build that would assist Christchurch to the tune of around $440 million.

The government could assist by diverting  student debt repayments from New Zealanders abroad, into Bonds To Build.

It might even help if National post-poned further partial SOE sales and instead encouraged “mums  and dads” investors to buy Bonds instead.

Imagine stirring up our latent patriotism as Kiwis; getting kids involved to save their “pennies” and with every dollar, they bought a Bond To Build! I’m imagining Campbell Live jumping onboard and going school to school to film children buying Bonds.

Perhaps it sounds ‘goofy’ – but if bonds were useful during wartime, then just maybe we could resurrect this old idea and put it to good use again.

I know our household would be “in”!

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Malcolm Burgess on Campbell Live

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On Wdednesday night, 26 June, TV3’s Third Degree presented evidence which was the clearest indication to date  that Robin Bain did indeed commit familiy annihilation, killing his wife and children, and then turning the rifle on himself.

The evidence was in the form of marks on Robin’s thumb and finger which have been recognised by forearms experts as gunpowder residue – caused when a rifle clip is reloaded, and thethumb or finger scraps against the top of the ammo-clip.

Pictures of Robin Bain’s hand, and the gunpowder residue marks are visible – when you know what to look for,

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Bain case - Two dark lines on thumb point to father as killer -  image

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robin_bain_hand_with_magazine_marks_circled__david_bain_case__2_3_4_N2

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The twin lines are the same width as the top of the ammo clip, resting to the left of  Robin Bain’s hand. Third Degree conducted tests with the rifle and found that similar marks were left on the thumbs/fingers when others re-loaded the rifle; twin streaks. Gunpowder residue.

The following evening (27 June), John Campbell interviewed Asst Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess,

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Campbell Live - David Bain - asst police commissioner malcolm burgess - new evidence - gunpowder residue

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Campbell Live – ‘It isn’t a powder smudge’ – Asst Police Commissioner

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Burgess’s responses to John Campbell’s questions were enlightening…

At 5:00, Burgess suggests that the marks are not gunpowder residue but cuts,

“ …one of the other alternatives that hasn’t been properly considered is that this is in fact a nick on Robin Bain’s thumb…”

John Campbell then pointed out that Police Pathologist, Dr Alex Dempster photographed and recorded every cut and abrasion on Robin Bain’s hands, and said, “he appears not to have photographed the cuts”.

Burgess couldn’t answer Campbell’s question, except postulating that “beyond perhaps observing that he would’ve clearly been  interested in fresh injuries   this indeed, if it is a nick or a cut,  does not appear to be a fresh injury”.

Campbell then pointed out that the distance between the two marks on Robin Bain’s thumb was “absolutely consistent with the distance – absolutely consistent with the distance in  the magazine [clip] – and  absolutely consistent with the kind of smudging that we see from the residue of  people who have  been loading magazines after discharging”.

Burgess steadfastly rejected the new evidence and said,

I’m not convinced that what we’re seeing is indeed what  was portrayed last night”.

Campbell then asked Burgess if the NZ Police would conduct similar tests to that carried out by the Third Degree team on 26 June. It was a fair question.

However Burgess’s response was luke-warm, at best,

Well, I guess we’re always open to look at exploring,  or I guess eliminating doubt, John, but that works from the principle that indeed what we’re seeing there is a powder smudge. I guess what we’re saying and what we’re suggesting by virtue of the fingerprint evidence is that perhaps that’s not indeed the case.  That’s it’s a cut, or a nick to the thumb, or some other mark there rather than a powder smudge.  So I think you’ve got to be a little careful which, what the basis of your hypothesis is before you start reaching [for] firm conclusions. We’re very happy, and indeed had we known this story was going to air in the form that it was , we would have been very happy to discuss the fingerprint evidence with Mr Bain’s team and see whether that enabled them to reach a [garbled] sustainable conclusion

When Campbell asked if the Police was not going to “stage any kind of test” to see if it was possible that the marks were gunpowder residue, Burgess replied,

Well I think the key for us is to try and  determine whether in fact  it’s an injury, whether in fact  the fingerprint evidence  can help us make that call – ”

Campbell, “How will you go about  determining that?

“ – and that therefore  in fact eliminates or tends to eliminate the possibility that it’s [gun]powder [residue].”

Burgess added near the end of the interview,

We’re interested in trying to establish the truth

No, he’s not.

He’s not trything to establish the truth whatsoever. His purpose is  solely to protect his backside and that of the NZ Police as a whole.

Every response from Burgess referred to “fingerprint evidence”. In Burgess’s  mind,  according to those  finger-print records taken by Police in 1994, the marks were  “cuts or nicks”, and not gunpowder residue.

He has already pre-judged this issue and come to a pre-determined conclusion: they are “cuts or nicks”, and nothing more.

Is it any wonder than police have stuffed up so many investigations, which have resulted in innocent people ending up in prison? How can an investigation be conducted with an open mind if officers like Burgess are pre-disposed to an outcome?

This is the kind of thinking that over-looks critical evidence.

This is the kind of thinking that sends innocent people to prison.

This is the kind of thinking  that misinterprets evidence.

For example, Robin Bain’s fingerprint file doesn’t show two cuts at all. It shows one mark on the lower part of his thumb that could be anything (which, remember, Police Pathologist, Alex Dempster, did not record as a cut or abrasion when he examined Robin Bain’s  hands),

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Campbell Live - David Bain - asst police commissioner malcolm burgess - new evidence - gunpowder residue - fingerprints

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So where is the second “nick or cut” on Robin Bain’s thumb-print? It isn’t there.

I won’t be waiting for the Police to review this new evidence. Burgess has made it abundantly clear that they have already dismissed the marks as “nicks or cuts”. Accepting the marks as gunpowder residue would mean the following;

  1. The clearest evidence yet that Police bungled the most basic aspects of the murder/suicide investigation,
  2. The best evidence to date (aside from the bloodied sockprints) that Robin Bain was the killer.
  3. An inability for the Police to consider new evidence where it threatens their image and reputation.

Of those three points, I find #3 the most disturbing.

With a supercilious smile and more than a hint of arroganance, Asst Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess  essentially told the public to “go get stuffed”; the NZ Police  will not countenance new evidence that may threaten their credibility or reputation.

This is ominous in a way that I can barely describe;  the Police are refusing to  look at new evidence impartially.

Does this mean  that their  first obligation is to themselves and their own reputation,  and not the law?

If so, they have become a law unto themselves.

If you doubt what I am telling you –  look at the video again.

Now tell me it doesn’t make you uneasy.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 June 2013.

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Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

30 June 2013 9 comments

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Big Brother Inc

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“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” – say  those who attempt to justify the  increasing surveillance power of State’s, multi-nationals, and internet “webcorps” like Facebook and Google.

I find that usually these people fall into three categories;

  1. the incredibly naive, who believe that their government loves them. Because Big Brother loves you.
  2. the incredibly fearful, who see terrorists under their beds, in the closet, out on the street behind a tree…
  3. the incredibly partisan – who identify so closely with  their  Party-of-choice, that that will give it wholehearted trust whilst  in office. But will then condemn an opposition Party’s use of State surveillance power once they win government.

The SIS was formed in 1956 – during the height of the Cold War. It was a perilous time in our history, when two super power blocs faced off against each other. Armed with colossal numbers of atomic weaponry, Planet Earth stood on the brink of thermonuclear annihilation. Cockroaches bided their time to inherit.

Twentyone years later, the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) was created in 1977 at the behest of  then Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon. Super power rivalry and  a volatile mix of Middle East tensions created an environment where intelligence-gathering became as vital as  actual military (if not more so).

Prime Ministers of the day promised, hand on heart, that each organisation would be carefully controlled and their activities monitored.

A year earlier, the police Wanganui Computer centre had opened, holding  information for the  New Zealand Police, Land Transport Safety Authority and the justice department,

‘Big Brother is watching’? The New Zealand government’s establishment of the country’s first centralised electronic database through the Wanganui Computer Act raised questions about the state’s ability to gather information on its citizens.

[…]Critics were unconvinced. Civil libertarians likened it to something from George Orwell’s 1984 and mounted numerous protests against the system. The ultimate protest occurred in November 1982, when 22-year-old anarchist Neil Roberts was apparently blown up by his own gelignite bomb as he tried to breach security at the computer centre.

Acknowledgement:  NZ On-Line History – Wanganui Computer legislation passed

By 1989, the Cold War was coming to an end and the “runner up” in the rivalry between superpowers- the Soviet Bloc –  fell apart. The Berlin Wall came down. The Iron Curtain parted. Eastern European nations jumped on the NATO bandwagon. And the  CCCP (USSR) now lives on only in history books and far-flung space probes on the Moon, Mars, Venus, and further out in deep space.

But you wouldn’t think it, as the West – including little old laid-back New Zealand – ratcheted up the power of the State. After the televised terror of 9/11, who could say ‘no’ to more and more surveillance; security; spying; and other governmental powers?

In October 2002, the Clark-led Labour government enacted the Terrorism Suppression Act  2002. The Police website referred to this legislation as,

The TSA establishes a legal framework for the suppression of terrorism. In particular, it is the mechanism by which New Zealand gives effect to the United Nations Security Council (“UNSC”) mandatory resolutions requiring UN member states to take certain steps to suppress terrorism. An important feature of this framework is the Prime Minister’s power under the TSA to designate individuals or groups as terrorist or associated entities. Designation can be on an “interim” (s 20 TSA) or “final” (s 22 TSA) basis.

Acknowledgement: NZ Police – New Zealand’s designated terrorist individuals and organisations

It should be noted that the definition of who/what is a terrorist entity was left up to individual governments to make,

Secondly, and by contrast, while UNSC Resolution 1373 obliges New Zealand (inter alia) to outlaw the financing of, participation in and recruitment to, terrorist entities, it does not specifically identify those entities. The Resolution effectively leaves it to Member States to identify the entities against which they should act.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Some 21 groups  around the world are currently listed as “terrorist” organisations.  One of those 21 organisations is the Kurdistan Workers Party/ Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (“PKK”), which is seeking a fully independent Kurdistan covering land in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The PKK is currently in negotiations with the Turkish government. If it is a “terrorist” organisation, then the Turks are negotiating with terrorists.

Perhaps the best known example of  “terrorist-come-statesman”  is Nelson Mandela who served as President of the  African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997.  The ANC was banned in 1960 and Mandela served 27 years in prison.

Once upon a time,  Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher dismissed the ANC as a terrorist organisation,

“The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation … Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land‘. ” – Margaret Thatcher, 1987

Now the ANC is the legitimate government of South Africa  and Nelson Mandela is revered as one of the greatest statesmen the 20th Century has ever produced.

Such is the difficulty with branding a group as “terrorist”.  It is a political statement – and that is the problem. One person’s  terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.

The government attempted to employ the Terrorism Suppression Act once, and once only –  subsequent to  the Urewera Raid on Monday, 15 October 2007. For the first time, something out of C.K. Stead’s “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs” crossed over from fantasy, into harsh reality,

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Urewera Raids

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Imagine welcoming a Time Traveler from New Zealand 1971 to 2007 with the above scene. Would s/he think that New Zealand had fallen under the harsh rule of a military-fascist dictatorship? That somewhere in the intervening time-period, a coup d’état had overthrown a democratically-elected government, and we were living under a Chilean-style regime?

However, the confusing nature of the law was such that charges were dropped against most of the 18 arrested. Only four proceeded to trial.

Eventually, none  were charged with “terrorism”, the Act iself being described by  Solicitor General Collins as “complex and incoherent”, and “almost impossible to apply to domestic circumstances”.

The Act, however, remains in force.

Since then, as if in some bizarre “Space Race” with Labour, the Key-led National Government decided to trump the Terrorism Suppression Act with the Search And Surveillance Act 2012.

As the NZ Herald reported on 1 October, last year,

The Search and Surveillance Act, which was passed through Parliament in March, extends production and examination orders to the police and legalises some forms of surveillance.

It will let more government agencies carry out surveillance operations, allows judges to determine whether journalists can protect their sources, and changes the right to silence.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – New police search and surveillance law in force

The report went on to state,

Police could complete some forms of surveillance and searches without warrants, but [Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm]  Burgess said the situations were pretty common sense.

“Either emergencies, where life might be at risk, or where the destruction of evidence might occur in very serious circumstances,” he said.

“My own interpretation is this is very common sense legislation which provides us reasonable means to carry out our functions.”

He did not see the changes as a massive expansion of police powers.

Acknowledgement: IBID

“He did not see the changes as a massive expansion of police powers“.

Well, Burgess would say that, wouldn’t he?

Does anyone remotely believe that Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm  Burgess would say the opposite, like this,

“Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm  Burgess saw the changes as a massive, unwarranted expansion of police powers, which would move New Zealand society further into the realms of a Surveillance Society where State power over-rode the right to privacy.

“We already have sufficient powers to catch burglars, drunk drivers, and drug pushers”, he said.”

Show me a senior police office who would say something like that, and I will show you a Little Green Man  from Mars. (He’s living in my basement and the little bugger has drunk most of my bourbon. Not that it has much effect on him…)

Eight months after the Search & Surveillance Bill was enacted, this bombshell hit the news;

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Illegal spying - 85 Kiwis watched - Fairfax Media - Andrea Vance - Kitteridge Report

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Illegal spying: 85 Kiwis watched

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Despite the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 being fairly clear on the issue, the Bureau still had the mistaken belief that they were somehow entitled to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

Either in ignorance, or another of his pathetic lies, John Key maintained this fiction,

In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.  It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known.”

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Despite the fact that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is actually quite clear – especially Section 14 which states –

Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

– the myth is perpetuated that the law is “unclear”.

So what does John Key and his National Ministers do? Do they, make the law more explicit that the GCSB “may not authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”?

No.

Instead National has amended the law – in effect  legalising the illegal “88 cases identified as having a question mark over them since 2003” (source) through a new  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

National is also enacting the new amendment  – under Urgency – which will give the GCSB the right to now spy on a person  who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Remember – there is no Cold War. That ended 24 years ago.

But you wouldn’t think so.

Instead, Key now makes references to other “threats” to New Zealand,

  • There are people within our country who have links to offshore terrorist groups.” –  John Key, 15 April 2013
  • …covert attempts to acquire New Zealand’s science and technology for programmes related to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems.” – John Key, 15 April 2013
  • This shows New Zealand’s public and private organisations are facing increasing risks of cyber intrusion which could compromise their operations and could result in the theft of valuable intellectual property.” – John Key, 7 May 2013

When asked to be specific about these claims, Key replied,

I cannot tell New Zealanders everything our intelligence agencies are doing, or what the details of their operations are.” (Source)

And as reported, Key was less than forthcoming about other matters relating to the GCSB’s activities,

He refused to say what the support was that the GCSB provided to the Defence Force, police and SIS.
“I’m not going to go into the details of what they do.”

He also refused to say whether information on New Zealanders was passed on to foreign agencies.

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

But he did admit that not one of those 88 New Zealanders spied on by the GCSB has been prosecuted for any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Not one, as Key admitted,

Police have conducted a thorough check of all their systems. Police advise that no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes have occurred as a result of the information supplied to NZSIS by GCSB  .”

If this had happened thirty or fourty  years ago, when New Zealanders were seemingly far more conciousness of the threat of growing Orwellian state power, there would have been mass protests in the streets.

New Zealanders seem to have either fallen into a deep trance, or have grown tired in resisting the remorseless advance of the State.

Is this the country that marched, en masse, to prevent a racist rugby team from touring, in 1981?

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anti tour marchers

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What happened to us?

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On top of becoming a Surveillance State, National is also winding back the rights of workers to negotiate with employers, and the right to strike,

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Employment reforms 'sinister' - Labour

Acknowledgement: Employment reforms ‘sinister’ – Labour

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In a series of  tweet-exchanges, National MP, Jamie-Lee Ross explained his purpose of the Bill,

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jamie lee ross - twitter conversation - 14 june 2013

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Jamie-Lee Ross is simply repeating the line from National’s spin-doctors. His repetition of “choice”, “freedom”, and “balance” is garbage of course.

You will most likely keep hearing Ross’s refrain, “restore a balance between employers and employees” more and more as the Bill progresses through the House.

The only “choice”, “freedom”, and “balance” is for employers to get rid of striking workers and replace them with a more compliant, subservient  workforce who will accept lower wages and lesser working conditions.

As CTU President, Helen Kelley explained on The Standard,

1. Notice for strikes.

Currently only those in essential industries must give notice to strike. The new law not only requires notice for all strikes but it also requires that these notices say when the strike will begin and end and there is a requirement for each employee to give notice when a strike will end early. This will prolong strikes and see workers lose wages when they are seeking to return to work. It is intended to create technical grounds for strikes to be ruled illegal.

2. A strike tax

The Bill provides for partial pay deductions for action that falls short of a strike. Firefighters for example, reluctant to take strike action, may take action such as not filling in fire reports, teachers may refuse extra curricula activities or workers may do other creative actions (librarians at universities once refused to process new books rather than shut the library during exam times). The Bill proposes that the employer can unilaterally decide the value of this work and deduct the amount of wages they consider to match this value. Workers can challenge the amount deducted in the Court, but this will take time and the pressure of wage deductions will be used to pressure workers to drop the action. Workers will still be completing their full hours but not getting paid the full amount. The Bill even excludes compliance with the minimum wage for this deduction (it will not matter if the deduction takes the worker below the minimum wage). For state workers that take this limited type of action – the State will benefit – full time work for part time pay – a strike tax.

3. Restrictions on the right to strike

The last change is the most serious one. Currently it is lawful to strike in pursuit of a collective agreement. Sixty days before the expiry of a collective agreement, the union can initiate bargaining and begin negotiations for a renewal. When this happens the expiring collective remains in force for a full year after expiry. This means workers retain coverage and new workers can gain coverage while renewal bargaining takes place.

There is a duty of good faith on the parties to the bargaining to conclude a collective agreement unless their are genuine reasons on reasonable grounds not to. It is not a genuine reason to simply object on ideological grounds to a collective.

40 days following initiation the parties can strike or lock out in order to put pressure on the other party to change their position in the bargaining – an essential element sometimes of getting a settlement. Without it, workers have no ability to shift an intransigent employer to get a reasonable offer – it is a recognised international right, and you have heard the EMA, Peter Dunne and others defend this right. Even Key says he is not too keen.

Acknowledgement: The Standard – Don’t be fooled by the spin regarding strike laws

Bill Newson, national secretary of the EPMU (Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union) summed it up with simple clarity,

“ The latest piece of legislation actually goes further than what applied in the 1990s.

It’s already very difficult, in an era of reasonably high unemployment and very low economic activity, for workers to test their employers for fairer wage outcomes.

It’s an answer to a problem we don’t have. We don’t have a problem with high wages, we don’t have a problem with industrial chaos .”

Acknowledgement: Employment reforms ‘sinister’ – Labour

This is a direct reaction to the industrial dispute at the Ports of Auckland which faced off  Maritime Union of NZ (MUNZ) against Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL). It is a dispute which MUNZ pursued (and won!) through legal channels such as the Employment  Court, and also won in the Court of Public Opinion.

Meanwhile, the employers, POAL, broke employment laws; negotiated in bad faith; leaked sensitive employee information to a foul-mouthed, deranged right-wing blogger; and spread dis-information to the media and public. It was a nasty, vicious, under-handed battle.

The country saw it for what it was, and understood that the POAL and it’s CEO, Tony Gibson, and Board were directly responsible.

Eventually, on 29 March last year, the Employment Court found in favour of the Maritime Union and forced POAL back to the bargaining table.  Make no mistake, this was a major defeat for the Right. A defeat that could not stand – Unions could not be allowed to stand in the way of efforts to make our labourforce more “flexible”.

Having lost the battle in both Courts and with the Public,  rightwing politicians and employers  are now wanting retribution. But more than that, the Right Wing want the law changed so that workers’ right to strike is severely curtailed. In fact, they want the right to strike to become a thing of the past.

No worker will dare strike if they risk losing their jobs to strike-breakers.

It is no coincidence that Jamie-Lee Ross is the author of this repressive legislation. Because Mr Ross was also involved on the fringes in  the ports of Auckland dispute.

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union-biting-the-hand-that-feeds

Acknowledgement: Scoop.co.nz – Union biting the hand that feeds

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So it seems that Jamie-Lee Ross has evidently been tasked with “reforming”  New Zealand’s current labour laws. By “reforming”, I mean to change the law in such a way that a Union could never again challenge – and defeat – an employer.

This is what Mr Ross’s Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill is all about.

I just wish Mr Ross was more upfront with the true intent of his Bill. It’s a strike-breaker. End of story.

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union badge

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And next on the Dark Agenda, curtailment of peoples’ right to protest that might interfere with corporate activity.

I refer, of course, to another National MP – Minister Simon Bridges – who enacted a new law through Parliament – one with heavy sanctions against protesters who “want to stop other people going about their lawful business and doing what they have a permit to do and they are legally entitled to do“ (see: Q+A – Transcript Simon Bridges Interview).

On 3 April, on TVNZ’s Q+A, there was this exchange between Bridges and Jessica Mutch,

JESSICA MUTCH I want to start off by asking you your predecessor in a speech, Phil Heatley, said, ‘I’m determined to ensure the mining sector is not hampered by unsafe protest actions by a small but vocal minority.’ You’ve been working on this since taking over. What are protesters in for?

SIMON BRIDGES So, that’s right. So we are acting, and so two offences are going to be put into the Crown Minerals Bill. Look, the first of those is truly criminal offence. Effectively, what it says is that it will be stopping people out there at deep sea, in rough waters, dangerous conditions, doing dangerous acts, damaging and interfering with legitimate business interests with ships, for example, seismic ships, and what they’re doing out there.

JESSICA What fines are we talking about there?

SIMON Well, for that one, 12 months’ imprisonment, or $1000 (please note: the minister meant $100,000 not $1000) or $50,000 fine, depending on whether you’re a body corporate or an individual. Then a lesser, more infringement offence, really, strict liability offence for entering within a specified area, probably up to 500 metres within that ship, again because of the dangers associated with doing that.

Acknowledgement: TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript Simon Bridges Interview

Notice that Bridges has dressed up increased suppression of dissent and protest as a “safety” issue. He refers to “ stopping people out there at deep sea, in rough waters, dangerous conditions, doing dangerous act” and because of the dangers associated with doing that [protesting]“.

National’s spin doctors have created the meme to be repeated ad nauseum; this is a “safety” issue and not a civil rights issue.

I think most New Zealanders are not taken in by that bit of daft fiction.

It is little wonder that East Coast locals and environmental activists joined together to protest against deep-sea drilling of their coast. The Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010 was a clear warning what the potential was for an environmental catastrophe – one that we are simply unprepared for, as the grounding of the MV Rena showed, eighteen months later.

For Simon Bridges to now threaten future protestors with heavy fines and prison sentences has the hallmarks of a nasty, brutish, authoritarian  government that is afraid of it’s own people.

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National’s increased surveillance powers could come in very handy for a left wing government. First of all, National’s stooge – Ian Fletcher – will have to be replaced by someone more “sympathetic” to a left-wing government.

Someone with strong left-wing credentials, and who is willing to crack down on right-wing subversive elements in New Zealand.

Subversive right wing groups that threaten the safety of New Zealand citizens – an which can now be more easily surveilled. Groups and individuals such as,

  • ACT
  • National Party
  • New Zealand Initiative (formerly Business Roundtable)
  • Family First
  • NBR
  • Karl Du Fresne
  • Michael Laws
  • Cameron Slater
  • David Farrar
  • Business NZ
  • Crosby Textor

And probably a few others  I’ve forgotten to list.

The new US-based company, Palantir, that has set up office in Wellington and is currently seeking an Embedded Analyst with the NZ  Government, could be useful to monitor and keep track of these subversives. They have a known track record for anti-social, and undermining economic activities in this country.

National also intends to strengthen data-sharing between government departments such as IRD, WINZ, etc (see: Govt considers new ‘big data’ hub). This will be handy to evaluate possible tax evasion for any of these groups.

Of course, if the GCSB/SIS can’t find anything illegal, we can always scrutinise their internet history. Check out what websites they’ve been visiting. Something, anything, dodgy. Preferably involving illegal sex acts. Then leak it to a friendly left-wing blogger to publish. (see: Port admits leaking worker’s details – union)

Yes, indeed, increasing powers and laws that allow a crack-down on dissent could prove very handy for the “far left” Labour-Green government that John Key warns us is coming.

No doubt the Righties will be screaming blue-murder about infringing their privacy. Their identities and comments will be noted. And added to their files. (see:  “The Spies Are Welcome To Mine”: A Fantasy)

There is no more privacy.

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Conclusion

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The rise of the Police surveillance state…

Crushing Union opposition…

Placing heavy restrictions on protest activity…

These are the hallmarks of a government that is exerting firm control  over society and willing to flex it’s “muscle” to have it’s own way. It is a phenomenon that seems to be occurring around the world, with even The Bastion Of Democracy, the USA, now a fully-fledged Surveillance State (but with capitalist trappings).

Through growing  surveillance,  National is watching those “persons of interest” who are likely to interfere with their agenda. Such people can be environmental activists, intellectuals, unionists,  civil rights advocates, left wing bloggers, et al. People who are vigilant on behalf of all New Zealanders – yes, even those on the Right.

Though Ross’s Bill, National will reduce Union power to such a degree that businesses and investors will no longer have to put up with disruption to their incomes and profits. Workers and their representatives will effectively be silenced.

And if anyone disrupts corporate activity such as deep-sea prospecting/drilling, then the State can crack down on protesters with harsh financial penalties and dire  threats of imprisonment.

This is a government, my fellow New Zealanders, that is no longer willing to tolerate dissent. Especially if it threatens their agenda.

Recently, at the Green Party conference, Russell Norman likened John Key to Robert Muldoon. Notoriously, Muldoon had little patience with those who crossed him or opposed his views.

Norman got it partly right. Actually,  this entire government is Muldoonist in the way it is building up Executive power. Power  with which to  intimidate  opposition. Key is merely the affable, smiling face of that intimidating government. He is the “likeable uncle” behind whom is the full power of the State, and an Executive willing to use it, regardless of consequences or notions of human rights.)

The questions now demanding an answer;

  1. Are National voters comfortable with the accumulation of power by the State?
  2. How will National voters view such extraordinary power being wielded by a left-wing government?
  3. Will an incoming Labour-Green-Mana government committ to reversing these autocratic laws?

There was mass-hysteria when the media got hold of the ridiculous  story that Labour was going to “interfere” with shower heads. Charges of “nanny state” flew like wool in a shearing shed (see: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state). Of course it was nothing more than a beat-up by National and it’s friendly media.

But it seemed to have stuck in the public consciousness, and Labour became synonymous with the so-called “Nanny State”.

Never mind Nanny. Big Brother is the one to watch out for. He’ll certainly be watching us.

Oh, how we Baby Boomers – who lived through the 1960s and 70s – have seemingly forgotten our distrust of the State.

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neil roberts - we have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity

Neil Roberts
1960 – 1982

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 June 2013.

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Bricks, Bouquets, Bain, and Winston Peters

30 June 2013 1 comment

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Brickbats

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There is an unpleasant tendency in our politics for parties to bash each other when they amend or dump a policy.

I’m not referring to breaking election pledges, such as National’s raising GST when Key promised that would not happen. That was clearly dishonest, and worthy of public condemnation.

I am referring to Parties putting forward a new policy outside of the Election period, and which the public has not had an opportunity to consider. These are policies that have not been tested, and are yet to be  subject to scrutiny, debate, and a verdict from the public.

Recent examples include Labour dropping their policy to remove GST from fresh food; National changing their policy on class-room sizes; and the Greens dumping their policy on Quantitative Easing.

National’s “u-turn”  on the Auckland rail-loop is another example. In this instance, the issue of the Rail Loop has been discussed and debated in the public arena. Eventually,  National Ministers realised that there was strong public support for this project and their own oppositional posture was no longer tenable. (No doubt this realisation was amply assisted by Focus Groups.)

So, yesterday, the Nats announced that they would be supporting the Rail Loop, with appropriate levels of funding,

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Govt to contribute to Auckland rail link

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Govt to contribute to Auckland rail link

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– and the response from Labour; other political opponents; and the media was to slam National for it’s “u turn”.

Now, I’ll emphasise the point here that I am no friend of right wing governments. That includes this National government.

But. When the Nats  change their policies to be more in line with New Zealanders’ expectations; and when they dump an unpopular policy which was based more on ideological clap-trap rather than common sense; and when they bow to public and political pressure to adopt more progressive policies – they should be encouraged and applauded.

Otherwise, if we’re not going to give  positive reinforcement to their policy changes, the Nats will simply refuse to countenance future backdowns when faced with public opposition.

After all,  where is the profit in listening to criticism and dropping a policy  if you’re going to be bollicked regardless?

In this respect, I think there is a fair degree of immaturity on this issue and it’s high time we did a bit of growing up. Schoolyard tit-for-tats is no way to do consenting adult politics.

Hat-tip: No Right Turn

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Bouquets

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Big Ups to National for reversing it’s opposition to the Auckland Rail Loop.  This will be of major benefit to Auckland; improve public transport; take pressure of roads; reduce petrol consumption (and petroleum imports); create new jobs; and boost the economy. There is no downside to this major infra-structure project.

My only criticism is that National has delayed the project by three years; planning to start in 2020, rather than 2017. I see no practical reason for this delay and will only push up the cost of the project.

If it’s worthy of support by central government then it’s worthy of being initiated ASAP.

This blogger looks forward to more progressive changes to National’s policies.

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The Bain Mystery: case closed

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Bain case - Two dark lines on thumb point to father as killer

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald: Bain case: Two dark lines on thumb point to father as killer

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Last night’s (26 June) Third Degree on TV3 was as dramatic as the programme promos made out. New evidence indicates fairly conclusively that the muderer of the Bain family in 1994 was indeed – Robin Bain.

Twin carbon-streaks on his thumb are a match with the rifle’s ammo-clip.

Along with the bloodied foot-prints tracked through the Bain residence, which were closer to Robin Bain’s foot-size than David’s, this is the evidence which conclusively identifies the killer as Robin Bain.

In the US, this kind of homocide is known as the “family annihilator”, where the most common perpetrator is the father/step father/boyfriend. In a remarkably similar case  in New Zealand in 1992, a  family annihilation was committed in a  manner eerily resembling the Bain killings;

On May 20, 1992, Brian Schlaepfer, 64, shot or stabbed the family, killing his wife Jocelyn, 55, his three sons, Peter, 39, Karl, 33, and Darrell, 31. Also slain were Peter’s wife Hazel, 42, and their son Aaron, 11.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Day of slaughter on family farm

It is time for Justice Minister Judith Collins to pull finger and  pay David Bain compensation. There is no logical reason to stall any longer.

Whoever is holding up this process in National’s caucus no longer has a rationale for their intransigence.

What’s it to be, Ms Collins – bouquets or brickbats?

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Winston Peters channels Orwell

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Peters blasts 'Orwellian' censorship over stand on migrants

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Peters blasts ‘Orwellian’ censorship over stand on migrants

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The irony of Winston Peters channelling George Orwell’s 1984 should not be lost on anyone.  Mr Peters points out that life under Orwell’s totalitarian regime of Big Brother involved absolute suppression of free speech.  The slightest murmur of dissent invited dreadful retaliation by The State.

But Mr Peters also forgot to mention that in 1984, Big Brother was able to maintain it’s iron grip over the people by means of total surveillance.

Quite simply,  in 1984 the State watched and listened to everything that people said. Everything. No one was exempt.

Which sounds remarkably like the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

This Bill seeks to expand the powers of the GCSB to be allowed to spy on all New Zealanders.

Winston Peters is considering supporting this Bill (see:  Peters open to compromise over GCSB bill).

So, what was it you were saying about George Orwell’s 1984, Mr Peters?

Vote the Bill down, Mr Peters, vote it down. Do it for free speech; do it for privacy, and do it to keep Big Brother out of our lives.

Bouquets or brickbats?, Mr Peters?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 June 2013.

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References

NZ Herald: Day of slaughter on family farm (19 May 2007)

TVNZ: Bain trial considers sockprint measurements (20 April 2009)

Fairfax media: Key ‘no GST rise’ video emerges (10 Feb 2010)

Fairfax media: Class-size backdown ‘to haunt National‘ (10 June 2012)

TV3:  Labour gone cold on GST-free food (25 March 2013)

NZ Herald: Greens ditch quantitative easing policy (19 June 2013

NZ Herald: Peters blasts ‘Orwellian’ censorship over stand on migrants (25 June 2013)

Radio NZ:  Govt to contribute to Auckland rail link (26 June 2013)

TVNZ:  Peters open to compromise over GCSB bill (26 June 2013)

NZ Herald: Bain case: Two dark lines on thumb point to father as killer (26 June 2013)

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Dodgy polls, dodgy dealings, and a spot of fear-mongering

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Dodgy Polls

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The lates Herald-Digipoll paints a depressing  picture for Labour. Or, does it?

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Further fall in polls dismissed by Labour - 26.6.2013

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Further fall in polls dismissed by Labour

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However, the poll is by no means as accurate as some would have us believe,

The real poll to watch is Roy Morgan, which calls cellphones as well as landlines.

The Herald-Digipoll should therefore be treated with a fair measure of scepticism.

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Dodgy dealings

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peter-francis-family-campaign-justice

Acknowledgement: Peter Francis: undermining family’s campaign for justice was my low point

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Anyone who believes that expansion of GCSB’s surveillance powers would target only “subversives” should read the above article from The Guardian. Read it in full.

And take note of who the UK Police labelled as “subversives”.

Never underestimate the willingness and  ability of state agencies to pry and interfere in our lives – especially  when those state agencies feel threatened.

The State does not “love” us.

The State is a multi-faceted entity that may help us one day – and spy or threaten us the next.

The story of former police officer  Peter Francis should serve as a clear warning to everyone that the power of the State can be easily mis-used, and is best kept on a short leash.

I am therefore incredulous that the GCSB – which broke the law by illegally spying on 88 New Zealanders, is now about to have that law-breaking legalised, and spying over us all, legitimised. This is practically rewarding criminal behaviour.

Now Winston Peters is flirting with the Nats by offering to support the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill – with “safeguards”.

“Safeguards”?!

Rubbish.

Peters is not in the least interested in safeguarding the rights of New Zealanders. He is interested only in destroying political opposition (the United Party) and safe-guarding his own interests and position at the next election as “king maker”.

I wonder if Me Peters will be willing to explain to his audiences why he is considering expanding the powers of the GCSB, thereby sending us further down the road of becoming a Surveillance State.

NZ First must vote down the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. Otherwise, he may regret having this stain on his political career.

Mr Peters, just say,

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Fearmongering

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When a politician starts to engage in naked fear-mongering to panic the masses into supporting whatever dodgy agenda they’re engaged in – it’s time to start worrying.

Evidently, according to John Key,  the entire country is in dire  need of “protection” from unseen, unknown  evil villains,

“By the way, very senior Labour members within that caucus understand completely the importance of national security and of keeping New Zealanders safe and the very question they might have to ask themselves if one day there was a equivalent of the Boston bombings in New Zealand would they be the very same members who would stand up and say they prevented New Zealanders from being kept as safe as they otherwise could be.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Spy bill: ‘This isn’t playtime’ – Key

That’s on top of Key’s other utterances.

On weapons of mass destruction,

“There have been covert attempts to acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald: PM’s hacking claims a distraction – Labour

On foreign terrorism (with domestic support),

“There are people within our country who have links to offshore terrorist groups.  Those links range from helping to fund terrorist groups through to an attraction to their extremist activities.”

And,

“While the terrorism threat in New Zealand has remained low, there are people within our country who have links to off-shore terrorist groups.”

Acknowledgement: TVNZ – Key reveals WMD cyber terrorism threat to NZ

I wonder if those “off-shore terrorist groups” comprise of Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, PETA,  et al?

On cyber espionage,

“And the many other threats to our national security have continued to intensify, these include cyber-attacks against Government and private organisations where information is at risk, and the intellectual property of some of our smartest and most innovative New Zealanders is at risk.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

But it’s all ok, according to Key, who resorts to the “You-Have-Nothing-To-Fear” rhetoric,

“With regards to the three main functions, the Act will be amended to make clear the GCSB can use its powers when undertaking activities in all of these areas, subject to controls and conditions.”

“Controls and Conditions”?!

We’ve already had “controls and conditions” under the current GCSB law, which stated quite clearly* that the Bureau was not legally permitted to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

Nevertheless, that still didn’t stop them  from spying on 88 New Zealanders and permanent residents.

Acknowledgement: NewstalkZB – Threats of cyber espionage and terrorism

“What actually happens with national security is protecting the interests of New Zealanders, and if people aren’t doing something wrong, then it’s very unlikely they would be falling within the remit of the GCSB’s activities.”

Acknowledgement: Otago Daily Times – Key goes on offensive over GCSB

Really? “If people aren’t doing something wrong, then it’s very unlikely they would be falling within the remit of the GCSB’s activities.”?!?!

The families spied on by Peter Francis and other UK police [see above: Dodgy dealings] might feel differently, Mr Prime Minister.

Fear-mongering – a despicable way to convince the public for the need to change a law.

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*Note

Section 14 of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 states;

14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

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Westpac, Peter Dunne, & Edward Snowden…

23 June 2013 7 comments

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Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

Acknowledgement: Huffington Post –  Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

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Are we  witnessing the first green buds of the Earth Spring?  All over the world, the winds of change are blowing harder and harder.

The Arab Spring was first, and people rose up against dictators in Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. In Syria, a similar popular uprising  turned into a bloody sectarian war, claiming nearly a hundred thousand lives. Dictator Assad will not give up power easily.

In the West, the Occupation movement flowered for a brief moment, but has become dormant again… for a while.

In Turkey and Brazil, people have come out onto the streets to oppose their  governments. Even democratically elected governments are feeling the brunt of popular discontent.

In the US, even as a once great symbol of freedom devolves into a police surveillance state, individuals are risking personal safety and rebelling.

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are two such men.

Manning was arrested in May 2010, and is currently facing a military trial (and we know how that will turn out).

Now, Edward Snowden is the latest whistleblower to be charged by an American system that is becoming more and more despotic.

When a government fears it’s own people, it is well past it’s Use By date.

Bradley and Snowden: history books will be kinder to them than the politicians who persecuted them.

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Dunne hasn't made up mind about GCSB bill

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ –  Dunne hasn’t made up mind about GCSB bill

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Edward Snowden made public information that revealed that US intelligence agencies were spying on citizens in countries around the world. He revealed that no one’s privacy  was safe.

Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the National led government is rushing a Bill through Parliament that would permit the GCSB to do precisely that; spy on New Zealanders.

We have moved from a nation that barely tolerated the State from prying into our lives – to one that is surveilling us; storing vast quantities of data on us; and now wants more power to spy on us.

There is barely a murmur in response.

Even the Right Wing – the political spectrum that is  (supposedly) the most intolerant and suspicious of  the growth of  State power – seems to be practically comatose. Though in reality that may be because National is proposing the law-change, and not Labour. If it were a Labour government…

Peter Dunne, fresh from  resigning his ministerial portfolios for allegely leaking the Kitteridge Report (or, more accurately, breaking an embargo, since it was one week away from being released anyway), has yesterday  announced that he might not support National’s  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

Whilst I’m not about to look a gift-moa in the mouth and happily support Dunne on this – it does raise a few questions.

Questions like… why?!?! Up till now he has been  the obedient lap-cat of the National Party, so why all of a sudden has the Coiffured One grown a pair, and practically thrown his lot in with the Snowdens and Mannings of this world?

Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog has been speculating on Dunne’s motivations in his part of the GCSB Affair in a series called The Dunne & Vance Theory.

Whatever is going on – I hope Dunne votes against the Bill. We don’t need to empower our spy agencies any more than they are already. We need to remember that the State is our servant – not the other way around.

We don’t need to be constantly surveilled, in case one of us happens to nick a pen or spray-paints ‘Key Sucks’ on the footpaths outside Parliament.

Up until the 21st century, the State pursued crooks after they committed wrong-doing. Now, the State seems intent on watching us all – in case someone, somewhere, is naughty.

Isn’t that… Big Brother?

I support Dunne on this dire issue. It is time to call a halt to the rise of the Surveillance State.

Dunne may well be the man to do it.

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Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

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I’ve always wondered…

Why have successive governments (Labour as well as National)  used Australian-owned Westpac Bank to hold government accounts – known as the ‘Master Banking Contract’?   The Master Banking Contract has been held by  Westpac for 23 years despite never  being tendered out.  It covers all government departments (except  Crown entities and  SOEs).

According to Alex Tarrant,

  • In the late 1980s, Treasury undertook an open tender to select one bank to provide the Crown’s domestic banking services. Westpac was selected to provide these services and a deed entered into in January 1989.
  • A new master agreement was signed in November 2004 and, since 2005, the Crown has negotiated ongoing contractual price reductions for contract services.
  • The contract covers only the core banking services associated with operating Government departments’ bank accounts for processing domestic receipt and payment transaction banking business in New Zealand.
  • An increasing array of banking services have developed over time that are not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac. Banking services that are not covered by the contract are regularly tendered by the departments concerned.
  • The contract applies only to Government departments, not Crown Entities or SOEs.
  • The Treasury regularly consults with key departments over pricing and service levels relating to the contract, including the possibility of conducting a future tender of the Crown’s banking arrangements.
  • The contract has not been re-tendered to date because the costs of doing so outweigh the expected benefits given the complexity of arrangements with departments and the price reductions negotiated under the existing contract.  Departments do, however, tender for a range of supplementary banking services not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac.
  • The fee arrangements between the Crown and Westpac are commercially sensitive and are not made public.

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Government considers future of Westpac’s key 21 year-old banking deal

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Here are two further points to consider,

  1. Last year Westpac NZ  reported   $707 million in after-tax profit  –  a 22 %  increase from 2011. (See: Westpac profit rises 22pc to $707m )
  2. In October 2009, the IRD won a lawsuit against Westpac which had been  taken to Court for tax avoidance. Not only did Westpace lose, but it ended up owing $961 million in back taxes and accrued interest. (See: Westpac loses massive tax case on all counts)

So, Mr Key or Mr English – just remind us again why the NZ Government still has a Master Contract for State banking, with a convicted tax avoider, that actively conspired to scam the tax-payer for nearly one billion dollars?!

How is that being a Good Corporate Citizen?

Perhaps we should just let the Russian Mafia tender for our banking services – the result would be the same.

So not only is Westpace making huge profits – $707 in 2012 alone – but they’re screwing us by not paying their share of tax, as the law demands.

Have I left anything out?

Screw the tender process.

Just give the Master Contract to Kiwi Bank. The benefits would be obvious to all but the most strident, dogmatic  right winger;

  1. No more tax avoidance – the Crown-appointed Board  (with Ministerial over-sight) would see to that,
  2. Kiwibank would make bigger profits and therefore pay a bigger dividend to the government,
  3. All profits remain in New Zealand and not shipped of overseas (to Australia in Westpac’s case)
  4. Less profits remitted overseas will help of balance of payments

Win/win/win/win.

I’m just gobsmacked that no politician – whether Labour or National – has ever seen the blindingly obvious nature of this commercial cock-up.

And strangely enough, it’s left-wing parties – Mana and the Greens – thay have to point this out to the more capitalist-minded Nats?!

Though the reasons why the Nats have stayed ‘sweet’ with Westpac seem to be less than commercially sensible and more to do with a good night out…

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Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

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Just to remind folks: New Zealand is the “least corrupt nation” on Earth. And government ministers are not corrupt, nor easily bought off by corporate parasites.

I can’t say otherwise.

Otherwise I’d be sued for telling the truth.

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Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/21/surveillance-laws-strikebreaking-subversive-groups/#sthash.ky4ZiKiZ.dpuf