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The Rise and Rise of Daddy State: MSD blackmails NGOs for private data

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Nanny State takes a Shower

What do showers have to do with this issue?

Wait and see.

Spying, Spooks, and Silly Journos

Nearly five years ago, the highly controversial Search and Surveillance Act 2012 was passed by National. As reported at the time;

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.

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

Yes, indeed. Police surveillance and seizure powers were being massively extended. But according to the Police Commissioner, citizens could rely on the Police using “pretty common sense” to use them.

Then-Justice Minister, Judith Collins offered this excuse for the extension of police powers;

The new Search and Surveillance Act 2012 brings “order, certainty, clarity and consistency” to messy, unclear and outdated search and surveillance laws.

(Interestingly, the fact that Collins felt the need to use irony-quotation-marks, in her Beehive statement, to enclose the phrase order, certainty, clarity and consistency is revealing.)

This is the same Judith Collins who, in 2009, passed personal phone numbers of a civil servant to far-right blogger, Cameron “Whaleoil” Slater.

A year later,  the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill  was being hotly debated throughout the country.

Essentially, the Bill (since passed into law), would allow the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens which up to then had been the sole province of the NZ SIS.

National’s  ‘spinned message’ – constantly parroted by Dear  Leader Key – was;

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

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The advice we have recently received from the Solicitor-General is that there are difficulties interpreting the legislation and there is a risk some longstanding practices of providing assistance to other agencies would not be found to be lawful.

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It is absolutely critical the GCSB has a clear legal framework to operate within.”

In fact, the law was clear with it’s wording and intent and Section 14 of the Act (since altered to reflect the Amendment) stated with crystal clarity;

14Interceptions 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.

Some journalists were too lazy to fact-check Key’s lies;

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Journalists who failed to realise that Key was being disingenuous, and simply parroted the government’s official spin, did immense damage to public understanding of the issues involved.

Others, like Audrey Young and Tracy Watkins were sufficiently experienced and knowledgeable to recognise a government ‘stitch-up’ when they saw it;

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“ The GCSB Act 2003 expressly forbids it from spying on the communications of New Zealanders.  But, by a series of snakes and ladders through the stated functions and objectives of the act, it convinced itself it was allowed to help the SIS and police spy on New Zealanders.” – Audrey Young, 26 June 2013

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“ 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.” – Tracy Watkins, 3 August 2013

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National ignored strong public opinion wary of extending the GCSB’s surveillance powers. The Bill became law on 26 August 2013.

The Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Act was followed by the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act (TICS), made law on 11 November 2013.

The TICS law made it mandatory for all electronic communications companies (telcos) to comply with spy  agencies demands to  intercept and decrypt phone calls, txt-messages, and emails.

The excuse for this piece of intrusive legislation from Communications Minister, Amy Adams;

“ The fundamental reason that I have sought to introduce this bill is to safeguard New Zealand public safety and security. ”

The Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act was, in turn, followed by the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill (split into several Bills after it’s Second Reading in Parliament on  9 December 2014).

This Bill, covering  three existing laws, allowed the  SIS  to conduct surveillance on terrorist suspects without requiring a judicial a warrant for up to 24 hours; to conduct secret video surveillance on private property; gave SIS access to Customs Department data in relation to suspected terrorism, and allowed the  Minister of Internal Affairs increased  powers to arbitrarily suspend or  cancel a passport.

The Labour Party were so opposed to this law change  that they voted for it. (NZ First, the Maori Party, and the Greens,  to their credit, voted against it.)

Then Dear Leader  Key used the usual “defending Kiwis against terrorist” bogeyman to justify the State’s growing surveillance powers;

“ The threats faced by New Zealand have grown and it is important that we have the ability to respond to that. The Government has a responsibility to protect New Zealanders at home and abroad…”

Simultaneously in 2014, the IRD signed an agreement to share data with the Police;

Taxpayer information is required to administer New Zealand’s tax system effectively. This information can be supplied by taxpayers, or it can be collected by Inland Revenue during an audit.

Broadly, the government’s current legislative position is that this information is not shared with other government departments on the basis that it is ‘tax secret’.

However, there are instances where sharing taxpayer information relating to serious crime could bring offenders to justice, support the goals of other government departments, and offer the State broad efficiencies.

Up until that point, the IRD expected everyone who earned money – whether from legal or illegal mean – to pay tax. This meant that, for example, sex workers prior to 2003 would be expected to pay tax on their earnings regardless of the fact it was an illegal activity.

The tax department didn’t care where or how the money was earned – they just wanted their “fare share”.

After 2014, the IRD abandoned that policy, and data-sharing with Police was implemented. It means that taxing other illegal activities such as the production and sale of cannabis, is no longer feasible. This has unintentional consequences – such as the hoarding of cash; use of firearms to protect that cash; and violence.

This is part of an on-going wider process of government departments sharing private information with each other.

The Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Act, Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act, and Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill all follow on from previous extensions of State power, notably  the  Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

This poorly thought-out law was Labour’s contribution to George Bush’s ill-conceived “War on Terror”.

Throughout National’s three terms in office, it has extended Police powers; widened the scope for the GCSB and SIS to spy on New Zealanders; and created a vast data-sharing network amongst it’s bureaucracy.

MSD, NGOs, and Demands for Data

To date, New Zealanders have been mostly apathetic as the government build up it’s ability to spy and store personal information on us. Most of the government’s “targets” have been so-called “terrorists”, immigrants, criminals, student-debt defaulters, and those on welfare benefits or living in state houses.

Most of Middle New Zealand find it difficult to identify with these elements of our society.

Recently, however, Radio NZ has been running a series of stories and interviews on a disturbing development regarding state aquisition of personal information.

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On 2 March, on Radio NZ’s Nine To Noon programme, Kathryn Ryan interviewed Brenda Pilott, the chairperson  of ComVoices (an umbrella organisation for NGOs).

At issue was the disturbing revelation that the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), presumably under direction from National ministers,  was forcing NGOs to collect and pass  private information about their clients back to the Ministry,  in return for on-going funding. This proviso was to be written into new contracts set to take effect in July this year after negotiations had concluded after Easter.

>Kathryn Ryan interviews Brenda Pilott – 2 March<

Accordingly to Comvoices, NGOs were expected  to pass on;

  • names of clients
  • birth dates
  • ethnicity
  • other personal details such as dependent children’s names

NGOs that refused to share this information with MSD would forego funding. The result would be predictable;

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According to Brenda Pilot, the Ministry’s excuse to demand this data was;

“ They want to be able to find out what services are effective. And that this will provide information over time that will  allow sensible decisions to be made about government funding and where to apply that funding.”

Ms Pilot voiced concerns that private, identifiable  information would be used for tracking individuals who used NGO services. She said that vulnerable people needing to use services such as counselling, Women’s Refuge, Rape Crisis, etc, would be reluctant to engage those organisations and would “walk away”. Ms Pilot was concerned that passing personal, identifiable data to MSD would force NGOs to violate Privacy Laws.

Ms Pilot said that the Privacy Commissioner was also concerned at MSD’s intentions to obtain such data, and was investigating. She said the Commissioner would most likely report on the issue by the end of this month.

On 3 March, Radio NZ reported; grave concerns held by at least one NGO, Women’s Refuge;

Women’s Refuge chief executive Ang Jury said agencies would have to abide by the contract change if they wanted to keep their funding.

“If agencies choose not to share this information they won’t be contracting with the ministry. That’s pretty much where it sits.”

Dr Jury said it was not an ideal situation for the refuge but they were not in a position to say no.

“This is not something that we would happily go out and say, ‘yes, this is exactly what we want to do’.

“If it is going to happen, our job now is to make sure we get the sort of safeguards built around that information that we need to keep our women and children safe,” she said.

At least one privacy lawyer doubted the legality of MSD’s demands;

Privacy lawyer Kathryn Dalziel said the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) looked to be on shaky ground.

“This is a potential breach of privacy because they don’t appear to have identified, anywhere, the purposes for which they are collecting that information.

“There doesn’t seem to be any transparency around it … I also don’t think it’s fair,” she said.

“Principle 2 of the Privacy Act says that if you want to collect information from third party, you have to have a good reason.

“You also have to have … lawful and reasonable purposes for collecting that information in the first place. Now, none of that has been done.”

However, what really raised fears was Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive, Murray Edridge’s responses to Kathryn Ryan’s  questions. His answers not only failed to reassure, but raised serious concerns as to MSD’s intentions regarding the storage and end-use of personalised, identifiable data.

>Ministry responds to privacy concerns – 3 March<

Edridge parroted the usual monetarist rhetoric of  “the New Zealand public demands that government spend it’s money well”.

When Ms Ryan  put it to Edridge that MSD was attempting to track NGO service-users, he denied it;

“ No we’re not tracking them. What we’re doing is we’re saying to providers, look, for us to understand the effectiveness of services, to understand where the resources are best invested, where we will decide between priorities in terms of investment we need to understand who the people are and what value they get from the services. For some time we’d had concern that investment’s been made in social services where they’re not the most effective mechanism for the people that require them, and this is part of the mechanism by which we understand the clientele better and we understand how we can serve them better and invest in services that are going to support them.”

When Ms Ryan put it to Edridge that anonymised data would work just as well, Edridge kept referring back to needing to know “who these people are“.

Moments later, Edridge contradicted himself by admitting “we know who the clients are, we know all about them“. If that wasn’t creepy enough, Ms Ryan then asked Edridge why MSD demanded further information about NGO service-users. She asked why MSD needed to know who was approaching  (for example) Women’s Refuge for assistance..

Edridge’s response was further contradictory and throughout the twelve minute interview he could provide no satisfactory answer why MSD was requiring personalised data from NGOs. At one point he attempted to cloud the issue by stating that MSD required “demographic information”.

Ms Ryan dismissed that claim by remind Edridge that MSD was seeking names, addresses, ethnicities, children’s names and that was not simply “demographic information”.

When Ms Ryan suggested that NGO service-users might not want their details passed on to MSD or other ministeries, Edridge could only respond,

“ Well, we need to know where to get the money in the right place.”

Four days later, Rape Crisis draw a line in the sand and announced it would  flat out decline to sign contracts with MSD  in return for  passing private information about service-users in exchange for on-going funding.

>Rape Crisis reject “data-for-funding” contracts – 7 March<

By 16 March, pressure on MSD and Minister Tolley was such that the ministry caved, and was forced to step back from demanding personalised data from some NGOs dealing with sexual violence.

>Temporary reprieve over ‘private data for funding’ contracts – 16 March<

The “reprieve”, however, was only temporary, and would last for only one year until MSD “works out how to securely collect and store their clients’ private data”. It also did not apply to all NGOs.

The Creep of Big Brother and the Daddy State

Up till this point, data-collection has centered on those who come in contact with the Justice system; WINZ beneficiaries; and Housing NZ tenants. These are generally New Zealanders who are usually the most deprived and vulnerable socially and financially, and rely on State assistance to survive.

A person seeking help from WINZ and Housing NZ is forced to supply both ministeries their private data. To refuse means no help. Next stop; the street;

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A citizen in contact with the Justice system has even less option to refuse to provide private data.

MSD’s demand for personalised data from NGO service-users marks a new stage in National’s slow advancement in building a data-base on every person in the country.

NGO service users may not necessarily be unemployed beneficiaries or live in state houses or have broken the law in some way – but their details will still be required to be collected and supplied to the Ministry of Social Development.

The ministry has assumed the de facto role of collecting and storing data on New Zealanders who – up till this point – may never have come into contact with any governmental organisation such as Housing NZ, WINZ, or Police.

The implications of this are staggering.

The net to scoop up data on as many citizens as possible, has just widened considerably.

If you think you – the reader – may never need the services of Women’s Refuge or Rape Crisis, consider for a moment that there are thousands  of NGOs operating in this country and hundreds that are funded by the State.

Victim Support is just one state-funded NGO;

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So if you’ve just become a victim of a crime; Victim Support enters your life;  the State now has your personal data on file;

  • Client: Name, address, gender, date of birth, primary ethnicity, Iwi.
  • Dependents: Name, date of birth, relationship to client.
  • Service Level: Information Programme/service name, start date and end date.”

Middle-class New Zealanders who may never have had cause to have personal data collected on them may soon be on file with various ministeries.  With data-sharing, personal information from MSD can end up throughout other ministeries. Or on the desks of ministers;

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Never mind “Nanny State” – this is the muscular arm of Daddy State flexing it’s strength to reach out to grab more and more of our private information.

And it won’t end with this.

Not until we say “Enough is enough. No more“.

Back to Showers

Remember this?

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In the lead-up to the 2008 general election, National attacked the then-Labour Government for  “Nanny Statism”.

Following on from a disastrous drought in 2007 that cost the country’s economy  over $2.8 billion (in 2008/09 dollars), the then-Labour government sought out ways and means to  conserve water. The alternative was the possibility of further water-shortages or costly storage and irrigation systems. Labour opted for conservation. This included measures to save water in residential areas.

It could be  suggested that water-saving shower heads and energy-efficient light-bulbs are the least of our concerns.  National has surpassed anything that Labour envisaged, as this government  reaches further and further into our private lives.

If there is one thing that history has taught us – governments that spy on their own people do not trust their people, and are fearful of them.

National must be very frightened of us.

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References

NZ Legislation: Search and Surveillance Act 2012

NZ Herald: New police search and surveillance law in force

Beehive: Search and Surveillance Bill becomes law

Radio NZ: Collins defends giving details to blogger

NZ Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Beehive: John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Legislation.govt.nz:  Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

NZ Herald:  Spying on NZ: More power to watch us

Dominion Post:  Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Fairfax media: Kiwis do care, prime minister

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill

Parliament: Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill

Fairfax: Spying bill passes into law

Parliament: Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill — Third Reading

Parliament: Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

NZ Herald: Foreign fighters bill passes 94 – 27

Fairfax media: Labour backs anti-terror laws, despite attacking it

IRD: Information sharing with New Zealand Police

IRD: Cross-government Information-sharing to Identify, Stop or Disrupt Serious Crime

MacNicol & Co: Tax News – IRD to share information with police

NZ Legislation: Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

Wikipedia: Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

Radio NZ: Government demands private data from NGOs

NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse: Relationships Aotearoa to close; funding models and issues in spotlight

Radio NZ: Govt on shaky ground over data-for-funding contracts, lawyers say

Radio NZ: Rape Crisis reject “data-for-funding” contracts

Radio NZ: Temporary reprieve over ‘private data for funding’ contracts

Comvoices: HomePage

Victim Support: Where does your funding come from?

NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse: MSD to require individual client level data from community agencies

NZ Herald: Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums

Dominion Post: Minister defends releasing private details

Fairfax media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

Scoop: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

NIWA: 2007 – much drier than average in many places

Beehive: Drought costs NZ $2.8 billion

Additional

Fairfax media: UN privacy expert slams government stance on privacy and ‘big data’

Other Blogs

The Standard: Social investment meets the surveillance state

Previous related blogposts

OIA Request points to beneficiary beat-up by Minister Chester Borrows

Audrey Young, Two Bains, old cars, and… cocoa?!?!

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

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

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of 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?

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

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

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 March 2017.

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Trumpwatch: Black Ops from the SIS and FBI?

6 November 2016 12 comments

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2016-us-elections-broken-parallel-universe

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Two days ago (28 October), FBI Director, James B. Comey, sent a letter to the US Congress disclosing that  the Bureau was investigating newly-discovered emails from disgraced former US Congressman, Anthony Weiner.

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FBI Director James B. Comey

FBI Director James B. Comey

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The new  material  “appeared relevant” to the Hillary Clinton private-server/email case, according to Comey. In an explanatory email to FBI employees, Comey wrote;

“This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation.  Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case.  Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.  At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.”

The political version of an atomic-bombshell came eleven days before the US Presidential Election (early voting in several states notwithstanding) on 8 November.

Interestingly, Comey himself admitted;

“Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations…”

Comey tried to justify his disclosure to Congress;

“I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record…”

But in his rambling note, he then revealed;

“…however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails…”

And then pointed out the blindingly obvious;

“I don’t want to create a misleading impression…”

Director Comey had already created “a misleading impression“. By publicly announcing the “re-opening” of the investigation and referencing a “connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation“, irreparable damage had been done to Clinton’s campaign and Trump’s presidential chances suddenly took on new life.

As former Attorney General, Eric Holder, pointed out;

“Justice Department officials are instructed to refrain from commenting publicly on the existence, let alone the substance, of pending investigative matters, except in exceptional circumstances and with explicit approval from the Department of Justice officials responsible for ultimate supervision of the matter,” the letter says. 

They are also instructed to exercise heightened restraint near the time of a primary or general election because, as official guidance from the Department instructs, public comment on a pending investigative matter may affect the electoral process and create the appearance of political interference in the fair administration of justice.”

Current US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, also opposed Comey’s decision to formally write to Congress;

Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election, but he said that he felt compelled to do otherwise.

The response from both Republicans and Democrats has been unrestrained anger. Senate minority leader Harry Reid  was unequivocal in condemning Comey’s behaviour;

“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another.

My office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan action, you may have broken the law.”

What is even more startling is that at the time that Comey made his disclosure to Congress (28 October), it was not until two days later that the FBI  obtained a warrant to actually look at the emails on Weiner’s computer.

So on what basis did Comey feel the need to advise Congress?

When Comey sent that letter, he had no way of knowing what the emails contained. For all he knew, they could have been recipes for apple pie.

In which case, Comey has single-handedly interfered in an election process by using the power of his position.

Which would be an abuse of power.

Which would be a situation that we here in New Zealand would be intimately familiar with;

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sis-brief-phil-goff-warren-tucker

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As the NBR reported over this incident in November 2014;

Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge has made a formal apology to former Labour leader Phil Goff for the way in which the SIS released “incomplete, misleading and inaccurate information” in response to an OIA request from Whale Oil Blogger Cameron Slater.

In 2011 Mr Goff said he hadn’t been briefed about alleged Israel spies being caught in the Christchurch earthquake earlier that year, a contention Prime Minister John Key and then-SIS director Warren Tucker disputed.

Dr Tucker’s briefing notes were declassified, then swiftly released to Mr Slater after he requested them under the Official Information Act.

The notes appeared to confirm Mr Goff had been briefed on the matter but Ms Gwyn’s investigation has established this was not the case.

The apology to Mr Goff is one of the recommendations in the report of inspector-general of intelligence and security Cheryl Gwyn, which stated “These errors resulted in the misplaced criticism of the then leader of the Opposition, Phil Goff. Phil Goff is owed a formal apology by the Service.”

Although Ms Gwyn found no evidence of political partisanship by the SIS, its actions did have a politically partisan effect and she found the agency had failed to take adequate steps to maintain political neutrality.

The NZ Herald reported;

Prime Minister John Key is “in denial” over a report which backs Dirty Politics allegations his staff used information from the SIS to orchestrate a smear campaign against former Labour leader Phil Goff, the Opposition says.

Inspector General of Security Intelligence Cheryl Gwyn’s report yesterday found primarily that former SIS director Warren Tucker was at fault for supplying “misleading” information about Mr Goff to the Prime Minister during a 2011 war of words between the pair.

Mr Goff claimed he had not been briefed by Dr Tucker about suspected Israeli agents in Christchurch at the time of the earthquakes earlier that year. However, based on the information supplied by Dr Tucker, Mr Key said he had been briefed.

The report found Mr Key’s former senior communications adviser Jason Ede helped attack blogger Cameron Slater obtain that misleading information from the SIS which Slater then used to embarrass Mr Goff in blog posts.

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Ms Gwyn’s report said the information supplied by Dr Tucker about the briefing was “incomplete, inaccurate and misleading” and “resulted in misplaced criticism” of Mr Goff. It also found that after learning of the information, Mr Key’s deputy chief of staff and primary point of contact with the SIS, Phil de Joux, suggested to Mr Ede the information “might prompt an OIA request”.

Mr Ede then gave that information to Slater, discussed how an Official Information Act request should be worded, and provided Slater with draft blog posts attacking Mr Goff.

Ms Gwyn’s inquiry found Mr Ede was on the phone to Slater when Slater emailed his OIA request to the SIS.

Patrick Gower from TV3 was his usual ‘delicate’ self when he expressed his assessment of the politicisation of the NZSIS  by the National government;

3 News understands the spy agency and Prime Minister John Key’s office were found to be in cahoots with Slater to get the information out.

It was sensitive information that embarrassed Mr Goff, pertaining to the issue of supposed Israeli spies Mr Goff said he didn’t know about, though he had been briefed about it.

The report deals with how the information got out, and that is through former SIS director Warren Tucker. Mr Tucker is found have been unfair and politically partisan in the way he dealt with the Prime Minister’s office to get it out, according to 3 News’ understanding of the report.

Then-head of the SIS, Warren Tucker, used his position to embarrass the Leader of the  the Labour Party, just months out from the 2011 General Election. It was done with the full knowledge of members of John Key’s staff. Our esteemed Dear Leader was probably fully aware of the plot.

No wonder the Comey Affair seemed so hauntingly familiar when news of it broke.

Because FBI Director Comey has his own political affiliations;

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fbi-director-says-hes-no-longer-a-registered-republican

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Even though he has been a registered Republican for most of his adult life, FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday that he is no longer a registered member of the GOP.

“Although our politics are different — I gather you’re a Republican — that correct?” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) asked Comey in prefacing his remarks.

Comey responded, “I have been a registered Republican for most of my adult life, not registered any longer.”

The FBI director, who previously served as deputy attorney general in George W. Bush’s administration before President Barack Obama appointed him to his current position, donated to the presidential campaigns of John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

Mr Comey – meet Mr Warren Tucker.

You two would appear to have a bit in common.

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References

Washington Post: Read the letter Comey sent to FBI employees explaining his controversial decision on the Clinton email investigation

Wikipedia: Anthony Weiner

Politico:  Polls show battleground map tightening

The Hill: Holder, ex-Justice officials question Comey’s ‘breach of protocol’

The New Yorker: James Comey Broke with Loretta Lynch and Justice Department Tradition

The Guardian: Clinton emails inquiry – FBI gets warrant as Comey told he may have broken law

NBR: SIS report equals egg all over Key’s face – Goff

NZ Herald: Dirty Politics – John Key ‘in denial’ over SIS report

TV3: SIS to say sorry for Whale Oil OIA release

Politico: FBI director says he’s no longer a registered Republican

Additional

Radio NZ: Phil Goff receives apology from SIS over release of information to Whaleoil

Other Blogs

The Standard:  Timeline – Key responsible for SIS release

Wheeler’s Corner: SIS Forced to Apologise to Phil Goff says leaked report

The Pundit: John Key – The buck doesn’t stop with me

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 November 2016.

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Coming soon: A terror alert near you!

19 March 2016 7 comments

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threat-level - nz (1)

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Setting the Stage for to Dis-information, Deception, and Distraction

Right about now, National is in very, very, VERY deep trouble.

Dairy-farmers, with associated down-stream support businesses, are facing severe economic hardship as Fonterra reduces the pay-out from $4.15 per kgMS to $3.90 per kgMS.

Dairy farmers’ debt has reached unsustainable levels;

About 10 per cent of the most indebted dairy properties owe a combined $11 to $12 billion, about 30 per cent of total dairy debt.

[…]

About 20 per cent of the most indebted farms hold  45 to 50 percent of the total debt – $15b-$38b.

The value of farms and sale numbers is falling (thereby placing many farmers into a negative gearing situation). As Rural Value’s national manager, David Paterson, said on Radio NZ;

“Unless there’s some bright light on the horizon I think there’ll be a continuation of slow sales and we’ll continue to see a reduction of farm values particularly on the dairy farm sector.”

On 18 March, Bill English admitted that real national disposable income-per-capita fell 0.4% for the year;

“You’ve got a big drop in national income, because dairy prices are down.  At the same time you’ve had surprisingly high migration numbers. So it’s not surprising that when you work the figures you get a drop in national disposable income.”

Not for the first time in his political career, English boasted that low wages were keeping a lid on inflation;

“The labour market turned out to be quite a bit more flexible than we were expecting.”

The Reserve Bank – recognising that a major economic “correction*” is looming on the horizon – has lowered the OCR from 2.50% to 2.25%. The RBNZ’s 10 March media release paints a gloomy economic picture for the foreseeable future;

The outlook for global growth has deteriorated since the December Monetary Policy Statement, due to weaker growth in China and other emerging markets, and slower growth in Europe. This is despite extraordinary monetary accommodation, and further declines in interest rates in several countries. Financial market volatility has increased, reflected in higher credit spreads. Commodity prices remain low.

Domestically, the dairy sector faces difficult challenges, but domestic growth is expected to be supported by strong inward migration, tourism, a pipeline of construction activity and accommodative monetary policy.

[…]There are many risks to the outlook. Internationally, these are to the downside and relate to the prospects for global growth, particularly around China, and the outlook for global financial markets. The main domestic risks relate to weakness in the dairy sector, the decline in inflation expectations, the possibility of continued high net immigration, and pressures in the housing market.

Retail banks, however, seem reluctant to participate in any plan to stimulate economic activity. The 25-point fall in the OCR has yet to be passed on to bank customers.

If the economy enters recession, expect inward migration to reduce, adding to a slowdown in domestic growth and rise in unemployment.

Setting the Mood

In November last year, our esteemed Dear Leader announced – almost casually – that New Zealand could be targeted by terrorists;

“I think every country in the world is potentially vulnerable, we’re probably less vulnerable than others.  We have in this instance the advantage of distance, we’re a long way away, [but] i just couldn’t say to you we’re completely immune.”

And;

“There’s no question about what their motivations are and that’s the tragedy of the Isis story is that you get some very dysfunctional people, for want of a better term, who want to associate themselves with Isis.”

However, on 8 December last year, an entirely ‘new dimension’ was added to the ISIS bogeyman with this dramatic revelation from  SIS director, Rebecca Kitteridge;

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SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge

“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of.” – Rebecca Kitteridge, 8 December 2015

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The media, rather unsurprisingly, went nuts on the story;

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NZ women going to IS areas on rise - SIS

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As Tracey Watkins and Tommy Livingstone reported for Fairfax Media;

In evidence to the committee, Kitteridge said the past 12 months had seen a significant increase in the global terrorism threat.

“When I started as director of security in May 2014 the so-called Islamic State was barely talked about in New Zealand. Now a day rarely goes by without news of some act of violent extremism associated with IS.”

The threat to New Zealand’s domestic security posed by foreign terrorist fighters and other extremists was real and continued to develop.

“The number of New Zealanders fighting alongside or supporting IS remains small but has increased.”

That included the rise in the number of New Zealand women travelling to Syria and Iraq.

In the same story, Watkins and Livingstone wrote;

Kitteridge said after the committee hearing the numbers leaving from New Zealand were small but significant – but declined to give further details.

As events were to transpire three months later, the suggestion that women were “leaving from New Zealand” was to be proved  a false assertion.

Yet, during those three months, SIS director, Rebecca Kitteridge, maintained silence on the issue and she did nothing to correct the (mistaken) belief that New Zealand women were departing from New Zealand.

This prompted the usual feeding-frenzy and rantings from the ill-informed rabid-right who vent their ignorance on right-wing fora such as Kiwiblog;

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kiwiblog comments - longknives - Jack5

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Kiwiblog editor and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, did nothing to bring reason to the discussion. Indeed, a few voices of sanity on the blog had their moderate views dismissed and voted down;

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kiwiblog comments - andrei

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Protestations

Following Kitteridge’s comments, lone voices of calm and sanity were barely reported and given much less prominence;

Hazim Arafeh, a spokesperson for he Islamic community, said he was surprised to hear women from New Zealand may have left the country to join ISIS. 

“We are not aware of New Zealand Muslim woman going over to Syria to get married. If it is happening, we still don’t know if it is a genuine case, or are they joining ISIS,” he said.

Islamic Women’s Council issued their own rejection of Kitteridge’s comments;

The national Islamic Women’s Council is not aware of any New Zealand jihadi brides heading to war torn regions to join the fight with Isis.

Council president Anjum Rahman told Paul Henry that although it was happening overseas there was no indication the same thing was happening here.

Ms Rahman said she listened carefully to Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge yesterday and she didn’t mention the women leaving were jihadi brides travelling to Syria to marry and support fighters.

“All she said was the number had been growing and because it was a war torn area that was a concern,” she said.

“We don’t know the ethnicity of these women, we don’t actually know the religious background of these woman, whether they just converted before they went, whether they converted at all, and we definitely don’t know what they’re doing while they’re over there.”

Asked if the council had information on women travelling overseas to marry and support Isis Ms Rahman said: “No. We don’t have any knowledge or indication of that happening.”

Three days later, The Wireless illustrated the  predictably dire results of the demonisation of muslim women;

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the wireless - I'm not a jihadi bride

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Hela Rahman, a 25-year-old who has been a NZ citizen for more than 20 years, says these comments aren’t backed by evidence and are causing more harm than good.

A few weeks ago, she returned from a trip visiting her family in Iraq. When she arrived at Auckland Airport she says she was instantly made to feel like she’d done something wrong.

“I was going through with my E-passport and it was automatically declined. I had to go over to the counter.”  

The Border Control officer asked Rahman why she’d been in Iraq. 

“I told her I was there to see my family. She just looked at me with an awkward uncomfortable expression. She didn’t say anything and just drew a red line through my arrival card.”

Rahman continued to the customers area where the officer, after taking a look at her card, told her to go down the far side. 

“Everyone else was being let through, even my parents. I was the only one in that lane.”

She was told to unlock her bags and was put into a holding room for a “long time” while the staff talked about her behind double-sided glass.

“The thing is, they make you feel so uncomfortable that you start questioning yourself. You start wondering if you have done something wrong,” she said.

She was asked a series of questions about why she’d gone to Iraq, what she had done there, and who had bought the flights for her.

Although Rahman had travelled to the Middle East with her mum and dad, she was the only one who was pulled aside for questioning.

“I thought my parents would be questioned too, but they weren’t. I wanted to ask ‘why me’ but I couldn’t. The opportunity never came up. I was just feeling so uncomfortable.”

Rahman spent the next few weeks confused about what had happened. Her Iraqi friends reassured her that it was just standard airport security Muslims have to face now.

That incident took place here, in good old relaxed, laid-back, give-people-a-fair-go, New Zealand.

All that was missing was requiring muslim’s to wear a red crescent stitched to their clothes to identify them in public – a practice very popular with a certain fascist regime and occupied nations,  in the the 1930s and 1940s…

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badges of suppression

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The Truth Will Out

On 16 March, of this year, the truth of the matter was revealed when Radio NZ – bless them – lodged an Official Information Act request and discovered;

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radio nz - kitteridge - SIS - NZ's 'jihadi brides' left from Australia

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“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of,” she told MPs.

Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

In response to an Official Information Act request, SIS, the domestic spy agency, said the women concerned “did not leave New Zealand.

“They were New Zealand citizens domiciled in Australia and they left from there.”

In response to charges of misleading the media and public, the Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson, denied that National and the SIS had  wilfully deceived the country;

“If you go back to the statements that were made there were no implications or ‘winks and nods’ that they were not resident in New Zealand.”

Consider Kitteridge’s statement on 8 December 2015;

“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of.”

Where else would “New Zealand women” travel from – except New Zealand – unless specifically stated otherwise?

Remember that Kitteridge owned the problem by stating, “which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of”. She made no reference to receiving the information from any Australian intelligence organisation.

A day after Radio NZ breaking the story, Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson still refused to issue an apology for National’s and the SIS’s deception;

Chris Finlayson, the Minister in charge of the SIS, told reporters today where the women left from was irrelevant.

“I would have thought the critical issue is were they New Zealand citizens, whether the left from Kingsford Smith airport or Auckland Airport is by-the-by.”

Mr Finlayson said he was due to meet with about 100 members of the Muslim community tomorrow night, and had regular discussions with that community during the process of the intelligence and security review.

“And I’m very happy to proffer an apology on behalf of Metiria Turei who started all this nonsense. I think her performance is lamentable… You just don’t go round handing out apologies willy-nilly.”

The Radio NZ report stated that “the SIS said it had no comment“.

The SIS’s mission was completed; the public was spooked. National’s planned deception had succeeded  – nothing further need be said by the spy agency.

It is also worth noting a noticeable lack of follow-up coverage on Kiwiblog by David Farrar on this issue. Perhaps the discovery that Key and Kitteridge had mis-led the New Zealand public and smeared the Muslim community in the process was not as worthy of a comment as Kitteridge’s innacurate initial comments, three months earlier?

A Happy Confluence of Purpose?

On 8 December, Audrey Young wrote in the NZ Herald;

Meanwhile, Mr Key questioned whether that a proposal he has previously rejected – attaching the Cortex cyber security programme to the Southern Cross internet cable linking New Zealand to Australia and the United States – should be revisited to give wider cyber protection to New Zealand companies.

He made the suggestion while questioning the acting director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Una Jagose, who gave a detailed speech recently about Cortex as part of a new policy of openness in the bureau.

Mr Key said he had canned the original proposal because of the potential anxiety of it being seen as mass surveillance but he asked if an argument could be made, with enough public debate for it happen to protect smaller companies.

At present, the GCSB uses Cortex to mount cyber defence on Government agencies and strategically important private companies – and only with their permission.

Ms Jagose said the “hard ground work” by the GCSB needed to be done to be more open about the GCSB’s cyber defence work.

She acknowledged the possible anxiety over “mass surveillance.”

It could safely be argued that  stories of “jihadi brides” would scare the bejeezus out of the public, in the process softening opinion to welcome extending the powers of the SIS and GCSB.

If so, this would be a cynical ploy by National and our spy agencies to manipulate public opinion to accept the unpalatable; a massive increase in state surveillance and mass-gathering of data on all New Zealanders.

They just never counted on anyone actually asking a fairly simple question; where did those so-called “jihadi brides” migrate from?

Implausible Deniability

During last year’s  Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee meeting on 8 December, where Rebecca Kitteridge uttered her now (in)famous references to “New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria“, Key made reference to “Jihadi Brides“.

Yet, on TV3’s The Nation, Key tried to evade responsibility for using the term “Jihadi brides” on 8 December;

Lisa Owen: All right. One other issue this week has been the so-called ‘jihadi brides’. Muslim leaders that we spoke to said that they were victimised and confused as a result of your comments around jihadi brides. Do you owe them an apology?

John Key: I don’t think so, and the reason for that is, I think, if you just look at the sequence of events, the first thing is that- I’m not distancing myself, but I didn’t raise the issue. The SIS directed it, and I wasn’t-

Lisa Owen: No, you used the phrase ‘jihadi brides’, Prime Minister. I’ve looked at the transcript. It was you that used that phrase, not Rebecca Kitteridge.

John Key: I didn’t coin that phrase. That phrase is used all around the world.

Lisa Owen: But you were the first one to use it.

John Key: Not around the world, I’m not. It’s a common term.

Was our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, aware that none of the so-called “Jihadi Brides” had actually departed from New Zealand, and were actually residing in Australia at the time?

Yes, according to Gerry Brownlee’s own admission in Parliament, on 17 March;

Metiria Turei (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Was he advised, prior to 8 December 2015, that the so called “jihadi brides” he referred to during the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting were all resident in Australia and did not leave from New Zealand?

Hon Gerry Brownlee (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.

Metiria Turei: So the Prime Minister can confirm that he knew that none of those women had left for Syria or Iraq from New Zealand?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, and the member needs to be aware that as New Zealand citizens it does not matter where they left from. If they pose a security risk to New Zealand on their return, then that is something we are concerned about.

This time Key cannot feign memory loss; erroneous advice;  misinterpretation, or a mistake. According to one of his own senior ministers – Key knew the facts.

For reasons of his own, he chose not to disclose that information.

Key’s Lie By His Own Words

On 17 March, Key refuted any willful attempt to mislead the public by inference that so-called “Jihadi brides” had left New Zealand. As reported on Radio NZ;

Today he denied any attempt to create a misleading impression that the 12 or so women referred to by Ms Kitteridge left from New Zealand, rather than from Australia.

We didn’t say that, it was the Director [General] that made the statement, and what she said was there were jihadi brides.

“The fact that where they leave from is irrelevant, if they’re New Zealanders, they’re New Zealanders, they may return to New Zealand and so we have to deal with those issues.

And remember the Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson, who categorically denied that National and the SIS had deliberately created a deception;

“If you go back to the statements that were made there were no implications or ‘winks and nods’ that they were not resident in New Zealand.”

Yet, that is precisely what Key said on 10 December last year, as this video clearly shows;

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Kiwi jihadi brides a reality - PM - yahoo news

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John Key: “And it’s just a reality that there are women that we know that left New Zealand, ah, and we suspect that they have gone and got married and we know that this concept of Jihadi Brides is not, it’s not my term, it’s an international term, and you pick up the World’s Section of the newspapers today, a couple of newspapers, and see them reporting on that, hundreds and hundreds of women from around the world, ah, going off and, and potentially marrying these guys before they undertake Jihadist activity.”

Reporter: “Do you think it’s strange that, that, um, that New Zealand muslims don’t… aren’t aware of any of their women going over and, and, marrying men in places like Syria?”

John Key: “Yeah, well, I mean they don’t know everybody in the community, um, and you know, they obviously have a, you know, be [unintelligible word] as anyone can on these things, but we can just tell you by what we see. Y’know, people travel out of our country, and people who turn up, through other reporting, and otherwise, in Syria or Iraq.”

Key was as crystal-clear as his garbled-style of speech permits him to be. He cannot claim he was mis-represented in the media: he stated categorically that “there are women that we know that left New Zealandpeople travel out of our country“.

At the same time, according to Minister Brownlee, Key was perfectly aware that  “jihadi brides” he referred to during the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting were all resident in Australia and did not leave from New Zealand”.

This was no “mistake” on the part of the media. Brownlee and Key stand convicted of their duplicity, by their own words.

Coming soon: A terror alert near you!

This is now the second (that we are aware of) mis-use of our spy agencies for National’s own political agenda.

Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, found that in 2011, then-Labour leader, Phil Goff, had been mis-led by  then-SIS director, Warren Tucker, at a briefing meeting.  Inaccurate information had also been provided by the SIS to right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater that was used to damage Phil Goff’s reputation.

As the Herald reported in November 2014;

Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn said this morning the inquiry found the NZSIS released “incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information in response to Mr Slater’s request, and provided some of the same incorrect information to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s office”.

Ms Gwyn said she found no evidence of political partisanship by the NZSIS but did find that the NZSIS “failed to take adequate steps to maintain political neutrality”.

Ms Gwyn said the having released misleading information both to Prime Minister John Key’s office and then to Mr Slater, Dr Tucker “had a responsibility to take positive steps to correct the interpretation”.

“He failed to do so.”

On that basis, Ms Gwyn said Mr Goff was owed an apology.

Ms Gwyn said information about a briefing Mr Goff received from Dr Tucker about suspected Israeli agents in Christchurch following the quakes was “not an accurate description of what happened at that meeting”.

According to revelations in Nicky Hager’s exposé, “Dirty Politics“, the smearing of Phil Goff was orchestrated from the Beehive’s Ninth Floor, by Jason Ede – a National Party “black ops” apparatchik.

The SIS was party to this covert plan to smear Phil Goff  and undermine his election chances in 2011.

Unsurprisingly, Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei, condemned both the SIS and our esteemed Dear Leader for willfully  deceiving the public;

“They were using information for political purposes, and that political purpose was to encourage New Zealanders to accept greater surviellance by spy agencies.

The SIS has proven time and time again they can’t be trusted with the powers that they have. They don’t follow the law that they’re required to, and John Key is using spy agencies to pursue a political agenda.”

It is now a matter of time before another dramatic “terror alert” is issued by this government, to further frighten and manipulate the country into submitting to National’s agenda to increase powers for our spy agencies.

The “terror alerts” will most likely come to nothing; no arrests will be made; no details of any thwarted “terror plot” will ever be released to the public – but the ultimate goal of fomenting fear will be achieved.

A frightened populace is a compliant populace.

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Postscript1

“Correction” = polite euphemism for shit-about-to-hit-the-fan.

Postscript2

Did the SIS/GCSB ever keep track of New Zealand women travelling to Northern Ireland, during “The Troubles”, who may have met and married men from that province?

Were they ever referred to as “IRA Brides”?

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References

Fonterra: Fonterra revises 2015/16 forecast milk price

Fairfax media: Small farmer group holds nearly $12 billion of dairy debt

Radio NZ: Dairy farm values set to keep falling

Radio NZ: Incomes dropping despite GDP growth, English admits

Fairfax media: Low wages ‘advantage’ for NZ – English

Reserve Bank: Official Cash Rate reduced to 2.25 percent

NZ Herald: Banks keep their slice of OCR cut

Fairfax media: Distance, spy network means NZ less vulnerable to attack – John Key

Fairfax media: John Key ‘scaremongering’ with details of security threats: Andrew Little

Radio NZ: NZ women going to IS areas on rise – SIS

Fairfax media: Kiwi Jihadi brides on the rise

TVNZ:  ‘The worse the attack the more excited they are’ – Kiwi women leave to be jihadi brides

NZ Herald: Q&A – Why do women want to be jihadi brides?

Otago Daily Times: ‘Jihadi bride’ fears over Kiwi women

NZ Herald: Rise in Kiwi women heading to Iraq, Syria

Kiwiblog: Kiwi jihadi brides

NZ Herald: Islamic Women’s Council – It’s news to us

The Wireless: ‘I’m not a jihadi bride’

Radio NZ:  NZ’s ‘jihadi brides’ left from Australia

Radio NZ: No apology from govt over ‘jihadi brides’ claims

NZ Herald: Rise in Kiwi women heading to Iraq, Syria

TV3: The Nation – Interview with John Key

Radio NZ: No apology from govt over ‘jihadi brides’ claims

Parliament Today: Questions & Answers – March 17 – Intelligence and Security Committee – Advice

Yahoo News: Kiwi jihadi brides a reality – PM

NZ Herald: Dirty Politics – John Key won’t apologise to Goff

NewstalkZB: Kiwi women heading off to join ISIS, Key insists

Additional

“I’ve Got Nothing to Hide” and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy (hat-tip: Nitrium)

Other blogs

Kiwipolitico: Threat Distortion as Fear Manipulation

No Right Turn: Caught fearmongering

The Daily Blog: Key wasn’t just scare mongering with Jihadi Brides – he used it to distract from Tim Groser GCSB spying

The Dim Post: The struggle

The Standard: The Jihadi Brides lie

The Standard: Nats refuse to apologise for targeting Muslim community

Previous related blogposts

Audrey Young, Two Bains, old cars, and… cocoa?!?!

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

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

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of 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?

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

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

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!

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headless-chickens

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 March 2016.

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= fs =

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

13 November 2015 6 comments

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dear-leader-is-watching

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This piece by Dita DeBoni on TVNZ’s website is worth re-posting in it’s entirety – just in case it ‘mysteriously vanishes’ into the ether. Not that I’m implying the New Zealand is now more-or-less a quasi-Police State…

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Dita DeBoni Privacy right is not a right when not 'right' - nicky hagerWhether it be information about our household digital television account, or my child’s ear infection medication, or a text message, say, sent by a Prime Minister to a highly prominent sportsman or blogger, “privacy” is often the reason trotted out for stonewalling.

Sometimes it’s legitimate. Goodness knows what might happen if a complete stranger paid my household bills for me, or felt inclined to impersonate me at the chemist.

And do we really need to know that the Prime Minister and prominent All Blacks are in cahoots over the new flag design?

Some might say yes, but I reckon I could have figured that out by the sheer number of photographs we’re subjected to day after day featuring them gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes.

It seems the main reason a journalist – or even a citizen – is denied ‘official’ information much of the time is either that releasing it is going to unleash a torrent of (metaphorical) excrement, or getting the information you’re after would be a pain in the posterior for the person being asked for it.
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The exception to this is if the police are asking.

It now seems as though certain institutions are more than happy to hand over incredibly personal financial and other information if the plod request it, even if they’ve skipped the part where they’re supposed to get the proper legal documentation to do so.

Some institutions actually wait for a formal, legitimate request before complying with police fishing expeditions.

Others, notably Westpac Bank, do not.

We know this because it emerged this week that Westpac handed over 10 months of data from three of author Nicky Hager’s accounts when police were investigating the hacking of Cameron Slater’s blog and social media accounts at the end of 2014, willingly complying with detectives who simply explained it was part of their investigation into ‘criminal offending’.

There is nothing whatsoever to suggest the criminal offending they were investigating was anything to do with Nicky Hager.

Hager began the investigation as a ‘suspect’ but became simply a ‘witness’; he is not accused of stealing anything.

He did what good journalists do on a daily basis – was given information on nefarious wrong-doing that he believed the public needed to know. Then he published it.
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He’s been treated extraordinarily for a witness in such a case – had his house raided for ten hours, had personal files uplifted, been wire-tapped, had his records requested from as many as 20 different companies and sources, and been vilified by the government.

But whether you like Nicky Hager or not, whether you agree with what he set out to do or not, there is something rotten about the way the police acted in the case – and something profoundly out of order about the way Westpac Bank rolled over and gave away Hager’s bank records and other personal information on the strength of an unsupported request by police, without even telling their client they were doing so – which is also something they are required to do.

It now emerges Nicky Hager has complained to the Privacy Commissioner about what’s happened and also wants a ‘full and frank’ disclosure from Westpac.

It will be more than anyone else has had. Westpac say they won’t comment on what they do with customer information because it’s an ‘internal policy’.

Again, you may think Nicky Hager deserved the treatment he’s had. You may not agree with him in general.

But remember that whatever treatment’s been handed out to him can be handed out to anyone with the ‘wrong’ connections, the ‘wrong’ information, and the ‘wrong’ intentions.

Privacy increasingly seems to be only your right if you are on the ‘right’ side.

 

In case anyone has missed the point, Dita DeBoni’s column is a direct warning to the citizens of this country.

When the security apparatus of the State – in this case the New Zealand Police – can access private and confidential details without a search warrant, then we have reached a truly frightening stage in our nation’s developing history.

The only place where police have had such unimpeded access to the private information of citizens has been – up until now – the province of military junta-controlled regimes; Soviet-style “people’s republics”; and various banana republic dictatorships. Think of Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Pinochet, Papa “Doc” Duvalier – it’s a very long list. (And I haven’t even gone through the entire 20th century!)

Though New Zealand is not *yet* a One Party state – which is only one national “crisis away, before a “state of emergency” is declared – we have taken a further step toward the nightmarish society envisioned by C.K. Stead in “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs“. (That nice man, Prime Minister Volkner, had such a horrid time caused by those nasty terrorists. Why couldn’t they just all get a proper job?)

It might well be that the release of Nicky Hager’s private information to the police was an inadvertent slip-up by an ill-informed Westpac employee.  Or it could be that there is now a nascent culture developing in New Zealand of fawning, unquestioning obeisance to Authority.

In a space of thirtythree years, we have gone from massive street protests and struggle against an increasingly authoritarian National government led by Robert Mudoon – to meekly accepting increasing State surveillance and seizure powers.

And in just seven years, we have gone from this;

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Showers latest target of Labour's nanny state

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– to this;

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various spy bills

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Yes, in just under a decade, National has taken New Zealand from complaining about reduced shower flows and ecologically-sound lightbulbs (!!) being “Nanny Statish” – to mass surveillance of the population; increased powers for spy agencies and police; forcing telco’s to keep client information for the State; and warrantless search and seizures.

In my youth, I visited my parents’ homeland whilst it was still under communist rule, and within the ‘sphere of influence’ of the Kremlin.

I can say, with a fair degree of confidence tinged with sadness, that New Zealand has moved closer to being a South Pacific replica of a former Soviet ‘satellite’ state. Only the Gulags are yet to be built. (Our Australian cuzzies have them already at Christmas Island and elsewhere.)

I can think of no other way to see this country. We have spy agencies monitoring New Zealanders; spying on our Pacific neighbours and trading partners; and harassing journalists who are critical of this government’s actions. Phil Goff’s political career was almost destroyed by National’s abuse of the powers of the SIS.

What else do you call a country where police can gain access to a citizen’s private information – without arresting him – and with no warrant? The term, I believe, is Police State.

If National Party supporters are “relaxed” about this, then I have this piece of advice for them; remember that governments change. Sooner or later, Labour will be in office.

And the Labour Prime Minister, with perhaps a few scores to settle, will have all the powers of search, surveillance, warrantless seizures, that John Key has gradually amassed since 2008.

Laws like these;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill (aka Customs and Excise Amendment Act 2014)

There may even be a new Minister for the GCSB and SIS. Perhaps Phil Goff. Or David Cunliffe.

Then the shoe will be on the other foot (the Left one). At that point, National and it’s supporters may start to regret the encroachment of State power into our lives.

I believe light bulbs and shower nozzles will be the least of their worries.

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References

TVNZ: Dita DeBoni – Privacy right is not a right when not ‘right’

National Party: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

NBR: Ferguson confirms ‘mass surveillance’, Key reiterates GCSB acting lawfully

NZ Herald: Warning as second part of spy bill passes

NBR: ‘Undemocratic’ Search and Surveillance Bill made law

Fairfax media: Spy bill passes into law amid wide criticism

Newstalk ZB: PM won’t confirm Pacific spying

Fairfax: Private data deserves greater respect than Westpac showed Nicky Hager

Techdirt: New Zealand Spy Agency Deleted Evidence About Its Illegal Spying On Kim Dotcom

Yahoo News: English didn’t know GCSB spied illegally

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

Other Bloggers

Kiwipolitico: Confronting executive branch excess

Kiwipolitico: Some questions about the Stephenson case

No Right Turn: An unwarranted demand for information

No Right Turn: The banality of intrusion

The Daily Blog: Police plotted to arrest and spy on Nicky Hager – the most interesting parts of 1 year on from Dirty Politics

The Daily Blog: What mainstream haven’t mentioned about Westpac corporate narking on Nicky Hager

The Daily Blog: News release on behalf of Nicky Hager concerning privacy breach by Westpac

The Daily Blog: Why what the Police are doing to Nicky Hager is so extraordinary

The Standard: Technology and the law – and going after Hager

The Standard: Angry at Westpac

The Standard: Dirty Politics was in the public interest

The Standard: “A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

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

Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 November 2015.

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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 – Time to milk a tragedy again, by our Dear Leader

17 December 2014 4 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Tue, Dec 16, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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Once again, predictably, our esteemed Prime Minister has exploited a tragic situation for his own political ends.

I refer to his comments on Radio NZ, on 16 December, where he referred to the lone gunman in Sydney as the product of an “ISIS outreach programme”.

There is no evidence whatsoever of any ISIS or any other organisational involvement. Thus far, the gunman appears to have been a narcissistic, deranged individual facing criminal sex-related charges in Australia.

Then Key justified the increase of SIS/GCSB surveillance powers by referencing this lone gunman.

Though good gun-control laws help, no amount of legislation will ever fully curb determined, lone nutters, as David Gray in Aramoana in 1990 showed. Or Martin Bryant in Port Arthur in 1996.

If this is his justification for turning our country into a Police surveillance state, then we have been grievously misled.Shame on Key for exploiting this tragedy and mis-stating the facts for political opportunity.

I would have thought he had learnt his lesson from his Pike River Mine involvement and broken promises.

-Frank Macskasy

 

[address & phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ:  A tragedy for the Australian families – Key


 

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No more anarchy

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Letter to the editor – through a mirror, crack’d?

10 December 2014 Leave a comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <editor@star-times.co.nz>
date: Wed, Dec 10, 2014
subject: Letters to the editor 

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times
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I think the Greens will have no problems distancing themselves from the Labour-National Grand Coalition after both major parties voted to  increase the powers of the SIS.

I would not be at all surprised if the Green Party builds on this issue and receives a boost in poll ratings as a reward.

Then again, maybe I’m hopelessly naive and don’t realise that 21st Century New Zealand loves the idea of a Surveillance State (to protect us from Muslim jihadists; uppity brown people; Kim Dotcom; communist Greenies; martians, pod people, Uncle Tom Cobbly…)

In fact, somewhere along the line, I slipped through a tear in quantum realities and ended up in a Parallel Universe where the Rise of the Surveillance State is proceeding with hardly a murmur.

Clearly,  this is not the country I grew up in.

It is a hopelessly-apathetic; easily-led; twisted variant.
-Frank Macskasy

 

[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Libcom: 1982 – The death of Neil Roberts

 


 

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When the teflon is stripped away…

1 December 2014 6 comments

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teflon man

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To re-cap something I wrote on 13 September, regarding a hard-hitting interview between “The Nation’s” Lisa Owen and John Key;

For possibly the first time since Stephen Sackur interviewed Key on Hard Talk in May, 2011, this [ TV3’s Lisa Owen on “The Nation”, and our esteemed  Prime Minister] was a moment when our Prime Minister faced serious hard questioning and was not allowed to wriggle his way out with nonsensical, glib answers.

Since Nicky Hager’s revelations and the sacking of Judith Collins, Key’s preternatural teflon-shield has been stripped away. He is now just another politician, and if by some miracle he successfully leads the next government post 20 September, he will find  his interactions with journalists becoming harder and harder.

It may not be what he says that lowers his esteem in the public eye. It will be the way he says it.

Lisa Owen was simply the first.

Ms Owen was definitely not the only one, and on 25 November, this extraordinary hard-hitting interview between Radio NZ’s Mary Wilson and John Key took place,

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Prime Minister is insisting his office is in the clear - John Key - checkpoint - radio nz - 25 november2014

Alternative link

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Other interviews have taken place, to varying degrees of intensity. From this tepid piece by self-professed National Party-sympathiser, and TV personality, Mike Hosking, on “Seven Sharp“;

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Prime Minister  - John Key - seven sharp - mike hosking - tvnz - 25 november2014

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To an actual, more incisive interview from a professional, and non-partisan journalist, John Campbell; (Interview starts at 8.10)

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Key - John Campbel - 25 november 2014

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As the scandals, gaffes, lies, and other political shenanigans emerge in the coming months, Key can expect a more torrid time with the media.  With his teflon stripped away, the media’s preternatural deference to Dear Leader has evaporated.

The interviews and questions will become harder (except from National sycophants such as Hosking and Paul Henry) and his answers less accepted. He will be challenged more often and the public will awake from their slumber to realise with dawning disgust, that on 20 September, they elected a lying charlatan.

Key should be praying that there are no by-elections between now and the 2017 General Election. Not counting Maori Party support, National’s majority in the House is still slim.

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Postscript: The PM really should stop wearing the anti-violence-toward-women White Ribbon and just go back to the Silver Fern corporate-logo he usually wears.

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Key - white ribbon - silver fern

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Does he think the White Ribbon will garner him more sympathy and support from the public?

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References

Radio NZ:  John Key refuses to accept Slater link

TVNZ: Seven Sharp

TV 3: Campbell Live

Previous related blogposts

 


 

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Hagerbook

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 November 2014

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Letter to the editor – From a warm beach in Hawaii, With Love

7 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: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Tue, Oct 7, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

 

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The editor
Sunday Star Times

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John Key has delegated responsibility and oversight of the SIS and GCSB to Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson saying,

 

“Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.”

 

The last person supposedly responsible for “exercising ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB” seemed to be “on holiday in Hawaii” when sensitive information was released by the SIS to a certain right wing blogger – or unaware that one of our spy agencies was illegally spying on New Zealand citizens.

 

It is reassuring to know that someone, at last,  in this government will be “exercising ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB”

 

That will be a welcome change.

 

That will leave Mr Key with plenty of time to fulfill his role as Minister for Tourism – from a warm beach in Hawaii.

 

-Frank Macskasy

 

[name & address supplied]

 

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References

NZ Herald: John Key unveils new Cabinet line-up

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 25 August 2014

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 25 August 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Our political commentators speak about the recent boost in National’s polling, the strengthening New Zealand economy, and the upcoming elections.

Click to listen on icon below;

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen (alternative link): Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (24′ 58″ )

Listen to Matthew Hooton’s take on the Prime Minister’s comments that “someone else” in the “Prime Minister’s Office” was briefed  by the SIS. His analysis is damning.

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Letter to the Editor – Key’s credibility, blown in the wind…

 

 

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from:        Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:             Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>
date:         Sat, Aug 23, 2014
subject:    Letter to the editor

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The editor
Otago Daily Times

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And the questions for John Key remain;

1. What will he do about Judith Collins who leaked private information on a civil servant to far-right blogger, Cameron Slater, which resulted in hate speech and death threats against that person?

2. Why did Cameron Slater get OIAs so quickly?

3. If he’s not responsible for SIS briefings – who is? And how does this sit with National’s ideology of taking responsibility?

As they say, once he starts explaining, he’s lost the argument.

I’m now wondering what Whaledump has in store for the same day as National’s campaign launch? If Whaledump is as clever as I think s/he is, they will have saved the best for last…

Regardless, it’s game over for Key.

National will drop to low/mid 40s, and they will lose the election.

In fact, I think they already lost. If Key has some spare time between now and September 20, he’ll be drafting his concession speech.
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-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the Editor – The Marianna’s Trench or Pluto?! WTF was Key holidaying?!

22 August 2014 4 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           Sunday News <editor@sunday-news.co.nz>
date:      Fri, Aug 22, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Sunday News
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He says he doesn’t know about Judith Collins releasing private details of a civil servant to right wing blogger, Cameron Slater. That civil servant subsequently suffered death threats and a hate campaign after Slater wrote a hate-piece on him in his blog.

He says he had no idea what his press secretary, Jason Ede, was up to, in his dealings with the same blogger. That’s despite Ede’s office having been only two doors away from Key’s own office.

He says he didn’t know about the SIS releasing sensitive information to the same blogger, in only a few days, despite Key being the sole Minister responsible for that security agency. He says he was holidaying in Hawaii at the time.

Hawaii is not the bottom of the Marianna’s Trench or Pluto – do they not have phones in Hawaii?

What, exactly, does Key do with his time? Evidently our Prime Minister has no inkling what his ministers or staff are getting up to. Which makes his claims for “transparency” and “no surprises” a farce.

Either Key is the most poorly informed Prime Minister in the history of this country, or he is not being upfront with us.

Either way, I question whether he is fit to be Prime Minister.

-Frank Macskasy

 

[address and phone number supplied]

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the Editor – Just what is the Prime Minister’s role?!

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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FROM:    Frank Macskasy
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:    Fri, 22 Aug 2014 
TO:      The Listener <letters@listener.co.nz.

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The editor
The Listener

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John Key says he knew nothing about the activities of his
one-time media consultant, Jason Ede.

John Key says he knew nothing about Judith Collins
disclosing personal details of a civil servant to right wing
blogger, Cameron Slater.

John Key says that he knew nothing about sensitive SIS
information passed on to Cameron Slater, through an OIA
request - despite Key being the sole Minister in charge of
the SIS.

Key says he was in Hawaii at the time, on holiday. Obviously
there are no phone in Hawaii.

If Key doesn't know what is happening within his government
and in his own Prime Minister's Dept, then why is he the PM?
Why is he paid in excess of $400,000 plus perks? 

What, precisely, is his role?

He is either the most uninformed Prime Minister in history -
or he is not being 100% upfront with the public. Either way,
he is clearly not fit to be PM.




-Frank Macskasy

 

[address and phone number supplied]

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

22 August 2014 6 comments

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L-R- David Farrar, John Key, Cameron Slater

L-R- David Farrar, John Key, Cameron Slater

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The release of Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Secrets” has unleashed more of a political firestorm than many had anticipated. (Or, perhaps some did.)

The glare of publicity has been shone like a laser-beam into the darkest, most noisome recesses of right wing politics in this country. Defeatist cynics (like Mike Hosking) have shrugged and said, “well, we knew it was like this”.

No, we did not. We may have suspected; we may have heard fragments; we may have seen indications. But very few knew precisely how dirty our politics had gotten.

As someone who has been politically active – first on  the centre-right; then centre-left; and now even further to the left – I had my suspicions as to the abuse of power. But nothing concrete upon which to base my suspicions,

Hager has built those concrete foundations and nothing short of a seismic event will shake them to bits.

National’s entire hierarchy, from it’s most inner sanctum Politburo, to it’s apparatchiks and fellow-travellers, is now facing the grimmest reality that their dirty laundry has been hung out for all to see. Only the most obsessively-partisan  of National’s supporters will ignore Nicky Hager’s findings. (Just as Muldoon and other authoritarian leaders had their die-hard supporters.)

The recent media stories has raised some interesting points to consider…

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1. The Timing of the Book Launch

Key has called the timing of the launch of Nicky Hager’s book “cynically timed” for the election;

“This is a cynically timed attack book from a well-known left-wing conspiracy theorist. It makes all sorts of unfounded allegations and voters will see it for what it is.”

Rubbish. When else would you launch a book that relates to a critical political situation? After the election? When it’s too late for people to access relevant information to base their decision upon who to vote for?

In which case, should Nicky Hager  have released his earlier expose, “Seeds of Distrust“, which was highly critical of the then-Labour government? After the 2002 election?

And should party Leader’s televised debates and other election campaigns be conducted post-election also?

That’s how ridiculous Key’s proposition is.

But let’s be crystal clear here. Key’s concern isn’t related to “cynicism” of the timing. His concerns relate solely to the damage it will cause his Party and his re-election chances. Otherwise, Nicky Hager’s book is no better or worse timed than the release of this book, by pro-National, conservative NZ Herald columnist, John Roughan;

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portrait of a prime minister

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Roughan’s hagiography was launched this year, on 26 June.  Three months before the election.

Was that cynical timing to promote the the Teflon Man’s  public image?

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2. John Key has not read the book

Key says he has not read the book, and refuses to do so.

He has summarily dismissed Nicky Hager’s book as,

“Mr Hager’s making claims he can’t back up and they’re not factually correct.”

And on TVNZ,

“He should knock his socks off and release anything he wants because most of the assumptions are now dissolving before his eyes.”

And on Interest.co.nz;

“All I know is that Nicky Hager is a left wing conspiracy theorist and makes stuff up.”

So, without reading Nicky Hager’s book or launching an investigation into his claims, Key has condemned and dismissed it out of hand.

But when it comes to the allegations of wrong-doing by “Justice” Minister, Judith Collins, Key is only too happy to support her – even though he has not read the book (so he claims). On Collins, he says,

See TV3 video here. @ 7.28

Journo: “Are you satisfied that Judith Collins didn’t leak Bronwyn Pullar’s name?”

Key: “Well that’s the assurance that she’s given me and I accept her at her word.

Journo: “Do you feel you have go back and check that now given what’s in the book?”

Key: “No, I don’t think so.”

Key “… if that’s what the minister said then that’s what she has said, I accept her at her word.”

This is a Prime Minister who dismisses allegations of ministerial abuse of power – without even considering those allegations? How does work?!

This is not the first time Key has refused to read information regarding one of his Ministers accused of wrong-doing;

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PM reaffirms support for John Banks

“I haven’t read that police report and I’m not going to because I don’t need to … It’s not my job to do a forensic analysis. What I can tell you is, the law doesn’t work.” – John Key,  16 September 2012

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PM under pressure over Hauiti

But the Prime Minister says he does not, and rejects suggestions that Ms Hauiti is getting away with it. He told reporters he has not asked how much money is involved.

“That’s actually not a matter for me.That’s a matter for Parliamentary Services and her. She made it quite to me that she was standing down from Parliament and that was on the back of the advice she’d had from the party, which took a pretty dim view to her making a mistake.” – John Key, 24 July 2014

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Key won’t investigate Collins claims

Prime Minister John Key says he probably won’t look into allegations made about senior cabinet minister Judith Collins in Nicky Hager’s new book.

An entire chapter of Dirty Politics is dedicated the relationship between Ms Collins and WhaleOil blogger Slater, who are close friends.

Mr Hager alleges Ms Collins fed a “continuous supply of material to Slater”, including press releases, political gossip, tip-offs and serious leaks. – TV3, 15 August 2014

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Key is using a CIA strategy from the early 1960s called “plausible deniability” – with a peculiar Kiwi twist. Basically, it works  like this; confronted with a scandal, Key refuses to read a report; then tells the media he is unable to act to address the scandal because he doesn’t have “those details” (see below; IP Address Linked to National). Then the Teflon man walks away.

Basically, he has given himself an “out” to wipe his hands of a problem and not have to deal with it.

Quite a piece of ‘work’, our esteemed Dear Leader.

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3. IP Address Linked to National

Key cannot even get his ‘spin’ story straight.

See TV3 video here. Note @  2.33:

Journo #1: “The IP Address went back to your office.”

Key: “Nah, I don’t think that’s right. It’s nothing to do with our office.”

Journo #2: “There was an IP Address that went back to your office and to the National Party, National.Org.Nz.”

Key: “Well, look, I don’t have those details. But what I can tell you is, that Mr Slater has made it quite clear, it’s nothing to do with the National Party…”

So first of all, Key tried to deny that the IP Addresses of  Jason Ede were not connected with trawling through Labour’s computer.

When pressed by a second journalist, Key denied knowledge of the IP Address evidence.

Questions for Mr Key;

  • Instead of flatly denying the existence of the IP Address evidence, why does Key not mount an investigation into the claims?
  • How can he deny evidence that Ede has accessed a Labour Party computer when he admits “I don’t have those details“? How can someone deny an action he has no knowledge of?
  • If he doesn’t “have those details” – when will he seek to learn what those details are?
  • Why is Key relying on blogger Cameron Slater “that Mr Slater has made it quite clear, it’s nothing to do with the National Party”? Is Key unable to make that assertion himself?

The answer is: He has contradicted himself. Key is lying and clumsily attempting to cover Jason Ede’s (and his own) arse.

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4. The Labour Party Computer accessed by PM’s political advisor, Jason Ede

The Prime Minister’s ‘spin’  on National Party “political advisor, Jason Ede, accessing Labour’s computer files without permission is that if the computer was not suitably protected, therefore it was open to the public.

Which is kind of like saying if your back door is unlocked, anyone should be about to walk into your home and help themselves to your property. Because Ede and Slater did not just “have a look around” the files – they downloaded and took files – as he admitted in an interview with TV3’s “The Nation” host, Lisa Owen; on 16 August;

Lisa Owen: “So you’re denying categorically that you were working with Jason Ede and that you were both in that computer, downloading material?”

Cameron Slater: “I was in the computer, downloading material. I will not and cannot speak for somebody else. That’s up to them to answer those questions.”

Slater told Lisa Owen,

“Well, I don’t speak for the National Party. I couldn’t possibly speak for it, but I was certainly into the back end of the Labour Party’s website. If they couldn’t manage security of their website, their credit card details and their financial information about their membership, well, then they weren’t really fit for government at the time. But there was certainly no hacking involved in that and quite unlike Nicky Hager’s scurrilous little book, there’s no illegal acts that were taking place at that time.”

So Slater is saying that a political party that can’t manage a computer system is not fit to govern.

Like… this?

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novopay logo

 

Novopay fix costs to hit 43 million

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You were saying, Cam?

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5. Interesting Question & Answer from Key, re, Jason Ede

See TV3 video here. Note @  19.53:

A journo asks Key if he has spoken to Jason Ede, one of the principle characters in Nicky Hager’s book.

Key replies, “No, I haven’t.”

One would think that the publication of a book  that has seized public attention and made serious allegations against the National Government would warrant the Prime Minister to pick up the phone; dial Ede’s number, and ask him for a chat. The phrase, “Now, would be good” springs to mind.

So why didn’t Key talk to Ede?

And if he hasn’t spoken to Ede, how does he know that Nicky Hager’s allegations regarding Ede are false?

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6. Key’s relationship with Slater

Nicki Hager’s revelations have put this story from earlier in the year into a whole new perspective;

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PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater

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According to Nicky Hager,  the SIS decided to release a document to Slater within twentyfour hours, after an OIA request;

Mr Hager’s book alleges the PM’s office used its knowledge of secret SIS documents to tip off Mr Slater to attack the Labour leader in the 2011 election campaign.

Mr Goff accused Mr Key of lying about knowing about an Official Information ACT request to the SIS.

Mr Goff said Mr Slater’s OIA request was answered within a day, which was unheard of, while other media had to wait.

As someone who has lodged several OIA requests with this government, I can testify that not one single request has ever been actioned within a day. Not one.
They usually take anywhere from three to four weeks – some longer.
So for an OIA request for information to be met within a week is… miraculous in a biblical sense.

And why did other media have to wait for the same information? Why was Slater given this information so quickly?

And more to the point – how did he know to ask for it?

As Nicky Hager wrote, on page 40 of his book;

“Documents like the SIS briefing notes are not usually released to the public, under the Official Information Law or otherwise. Someone had over-ruled the usual practice  and then fast-tracked  the release. The released documents were stamped as being declassified  on 26 July 2011, the same day that Slater sent  off his request. Where was the time for decision-making and consultation?”

If – as it seems – Key used his ministerial position as the Minister in Charge of the SIS to facilitate this OIA information release – then what we have here is what many New Zealanders have feared since the GCSB Amendment was passed last year; the abuse of a state security apparatus by a politician for purely selfish, destructive, venal-political purposes.

For the first time (?) in modern history a political party in our country – through a  willing agent – has used state power to destroy the career (and election chances) of a political rival. This was a planned, systematic, subversion of our democratic process – the system for whom thousands died for in two World Wars. And for which we remember each year for their supreme sacrifice.

This should frighten all New Zealanders who are in possession of a sound mind.

 

 

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7. National-aligned NZ Columnist not impressed with Slater-Collins-Ede Cabal

When National’s own pet columnist, John Armstrong, gives credence to Nicky Hager’s book, then the National Party and it’s cadres are in deep, deep, doo-doos. His column on 16 August took a swipe at National and it’s Teflon Man leader. In part, he made these astute observations;

“National’s tactic has been to keep the focus on Mr Hager and persuade people he had hidden motives for writing the book – rather than being drawn into arguments about its damning contents.

Mr Key’s damage-control operation was designed to both defuse and confuse.

However, the Prime Minister looked and sounded distinctly uncomfortable when questioned by reporters on Thursday afternoon.

He conceded nothing and repeatedly answered questions by saying the book’s allegations had ”nothing to do with National”.

When it was pointed out to him that National was clearly implicated, he made excuses, saying he had not been briefed on the detail.

If Mr Key’s answers sounded glib there was good reason.

The vilification of Mr Hager by Mr Key and Steven Joyce, National’s election campaign supremo and the one designated to front for National when there is trouble, is a charade.

Their dilemma is that they have to rubbish the book as being wrong on every score when they know much if not all of it, is accurate, simply because the contents come straight out of the mouths of Mr Slater, Mr Ede and other National Party figures and associates.”

Nailed it, John. And when you look at the  TV3 video, it rapidly becomes apparent that Key is lying his head off – even as Associate  Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, beams lovingly at his Dear Leader in the background. (Honestly, it looks like the guy was going to rush up to Key and give him a huge smooch on the cheek! Though Key certainly looked like he needed a cuddle and hot milo.)

Armstrong suggests that “Mr Ede might yet have take one for the team and resign, as evidence that National has cleaned out its Augean stables”.

That would be my guess as well. Ede is Dead Man Walking.

On the other hand, Collins is safe. The Nats are too close to an election to dump her as a minister. Plus there are suggestions that she does have something over Key, which is why he never fired her sorry arse over the Oravida Scandal. Or Katie Bradford dust-up. Or any other mess she has been publicly involved in.

She is the female embodiment of a certain other  National Prime Minister from the mid 1970s to mid 1980s.

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8. Media collusion implicated?

The Donghua Liu Affair (which I am still investigating) implicates certain media as colluding with the National Government.

On page 128 of Nicky Hager’s book, an event took place where TV3 journos asked David Cunliffe;

Journos: “Have you ever met Donghua Liu?

Cunliffe: “I don’t recall meeting him, no.”

Journos: “Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?

Cunliffe: “No, I did not.”

Journos: “Did you advocate on his behalf at all?

Cunliffe: “Nope.

Journos: “Were you aware of official advice advising against granting permanent resident?

Cunliffe: “Not to my recollection.”

The very next day, the National Government supplied a copy of a letter Cunliffe had written to Immigration NZ, in April 2003 – eleven years ago – to the media. The letter had been released the following day after Cunliffe had replied to those questions. By 2.29PM, the Herald had an on-line story published by staff reporter, Jared Savage.

So, if the journos recieved the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu-Immigration  letter on the 18th of June – what prompted them to ask leading questions, the previous day,  that effectively trapped Cunliffe into providing answers to something that had transpired over a decade ago?

There are strong indications that many in the media have been forced to rely on bloggers for news-stories. As staffing levels are cut back to maximise profits and shareholder returns, remaining journalists are under increasing pressure to use short-cuts to find stories. Bloggers like “Whale Oil” provide a free, easy source of “news” – especially when said “news” is derived from information that has been leaked from Jason Ede and Judith Collins.

This creates two consequences.

Firstly, being reliant on a far-right blogger who also happens to be a covert mouthpiece for the government creates inherent problems surrounding ethics, privacy, agendas, lack of accountability, and an abuse of ministerial power if information is wrongly used.

Remember that many government departments hold vast amounts of information over us. Paula Bennett used private data in 2009 to silence two critics, Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston.

Leaked emails referred to in “Dirty Politics” indicate that Collins  released the name and details of one public servant, which was then used by Slater to carry out a vendetta against him. The civil servant suffered abuse and death threats as a result.

When mainstream media support such a blogger (and I’m sure the relationship is a two way street), they are aiding and abetting nefarious people with nefarious agendas.  This runs counter to the ethics that the media purports to live by.

If those ethics no longer count, legal protections for media institutions (eg; protection of sources) should be stripped from legislation. It is because of supposedly strict ethics which the MSM hold to, that they are accorded privileges the rest of us do not enjoy.

Secondly, a two-way relationship with a psychopath with a penchant for verbal/written abuse, sleaze, lies, publishing threats of violence, and wrecking peoples’ lives – is not something that should sit well with professional journalists. Eventually, as with the political relationship between Slater and Ede, and Slate and Collins, the truth about such working relationships becomes public.

What journalist who is serious about his/her career wants to be associated with a quasi-fascist, on-line thug such as Cameron Slater (and his equally nasty mates).

There is an old saying about “supping with the devil…”

If the media has found itself reliant on the likes of Slater (who is clearly a conduit for the National government), then the media runs the risk of becoming a mouthpiece for the government.

This is a growing danger as staffing levels continue to fall in media companies and older, more experience staff retire (or are hired as PR by corporates, institutions, government, and government bodies), leaving younger, inexperienced journalists to fill an ever-growing vacuum of institutional and historic knowledge.

Mainstream media should learn a valuable lesson from Nicky Hager’s expose. Using someone like Slater as a news-source has consequences.

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9.  When TVNZ became an organ of the government propaganda machine

One of the worst ever media responses to a story like this came from TVNZ’s “Seven Sharp” on 14 August. It was… awful.

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Seven Sharp - 14 august 2014 - nicky hager - steven joyce - dirty politics

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(Hat-tip: Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury)

I encourage people to watch the opening segment, where Mike “interviews” Minister Steven Joyce, and then interogates and derides author, Nicky Hager.

Any pretence that Mike Hosking is an “unbiased journalist” has been firmly dispatched. The man is a mouthpiece for the National government and his behaviour and line of questioning proved it.

Nicky Hager’s investigations have uncovered practices that can only be described as an abuse of power by this government.

Did Hosking ask challenging questions to the Minister? Answer: no.

Did Hosking put specific examples requiring explanations to the Minister? Answer: no.

Was Hosking’s line of questioning relevant to the book and offer insights to the viewer? Answer: no.

Hosking then asked hard questions from Nicky Hager, who to his credit realised that he was being set up as the “fall guy” for the story.

This was not journalism. Not even close. It was superficial, Fox-style partisan politics masquerading as “informed debate”. Again, not even close.

The only television I have seen in my life that came close to Hosking’s slanted, pro-government performance was during my visits to Eastern European countries in my lates teens/early twenties. In those times, Eastern Europe was ruled by well-policed, undemocratic, One Party “communist” regimes. Television “news” was little more than a mouthpiece for the government – no questions asked. There was never even an attempt at balance.

Hosking would have fitted in perfectly.

As far as I am concerned, Hosking’s “talent” lies elsewhere, but not in journalism. Perhaps a PR/spin-man for a cereal company or arms manufacturer or bordello run by the Chow Brothers (he’s already sold his soul, so the other bodily bits should be equally saleable).

As for TVNZ, it requires a thorough clean-out by an incoming Labour-led government and people like Hosking marched out the front door, escorted by Security.

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10. Conclusion

Somewhere, since 1984, we have taken a terrible road to a future which I cannot recognise except as a more subtle version of the country that my parents fled in 1956.

Truly folks, this is not the New Zealand I grew up in. .


 

References

Scoop media: Dirty Politics: Nicky Hager’s new book on the Key Government launched at Unity

Wikipedia: Seeds of Distrust

TV3 News: Nicky Hager book shows National’s ‘dirty politics’

Oxford Dictionary: “hagiography

MSN News: John Key trashes Nicky Hager’s book

TVNZ: PM challenges Nicky Hager to release emails

Interest.co.nz: Key defiant over Hager book and defends both Ede and Collins

TV3 News: Video – John Key talks Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics

NZ Herald:  PM reaffirms support for John Banks

Radio NZ: PM under pressure over Hauiti

TV3 News: Key won’t investigate Collins claims

Scoop media:  Lisa Owen Interviews Whale Oil Blogger Cameron Slater

NZCity:  Novopay fix costs to hit $43 million

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet:  New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

Otago Daily Times:  Opinion – National ignores incriminating material

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Fairfax media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

TV3 News: Nicky Hager book – Cameron Slater defends Judith Collins

Previous related blogposts

David Farrar – A Question for you please?

Dear John – Time to answer a few questions! – Hone Harawira

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar – *Update*

Pay Walls – the last gasp of a failed media business-model?


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 August 2014

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Online Voting – no longer a viable option post-2013

15 June 2014 6 comments

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dear-leader-is-watching

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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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Cancelled passports and freedom fighters – what is John Key up to?

20 February 2014 Leave a comment

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milking it

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John Key yesterday ( 10 February) admitted that his government had unilaterally cancelled the passports of  “a small group” of New Zealanders, fighting alongside anti-  al-Assad forces in Syria. According to Key, others have had their passports cancelled so as to prevent them reaching Syria.

Key’s actions raise several questions.

Firstly. Cancelling a New Zealander’s passport essentially renders that person stateless; unable to travel; unable to return home; and liable to arrest. Such a move leaves New Zealanders in an untenable  position.

Secondly, it may also be illegal.

Unilaterally cancelling a New Zealander’s pass, without that person being convicted in a Court of Law, deprives that person of the right to travel. A citizen’s right to travel is a basic human right and up to now, only authoritarian governments have controlled such movements.

John Key has effectively lined up with the likes of North Korea and the former Soviet-bloc, in controlling the movements of New Zealanders who have broken no law, and been convicted of no offence.

Thirdly, John Key justifies his actions by stating,

“They obviously don’t put their hand up and say they’re going to be freedom fighters in Syria when they leave. They present a different set of reasons why they might be leaving the country. We have the capacity to cancel a passport if we believe somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible.”

How patronising of our esteemed Prime Minister that he has taken it upon himself to determine whether or not “somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible“.

Considering that – up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – successive New Zealand governments have not hesitated to committing New Zealand troops into war-zones, it it a bit late in the day for a Prime Minister to be worrying about “somebody  going into a war zone  to fight in a way we don’t think is a sensible step for them”. Tell that to the  18,500 troops killed in World War One; 12,000 killed in World War Two; 33 in the Korean War; 37 in Vietnam, and others since then.

Fourthly, the sheer hypocrisy of Key’s actions and comments defy belief. Not once has he, nor his predecessors, commented on those New Zealanders who have join and actively served on foreign armies.

Such as New Zealanders serving in the Australian Army;

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Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies

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Note the comment in the above story,

“The NZ Defence Force, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday that it employs a similar “lateral recruitment” process to attract soldiers from around the world. A spokesman said it was “fairly standard practice” for international armies to trade staff…”

And New Zealanders serving in the British Army;

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Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army

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The above story also refers to other New Zealanders serving in other armies,

“He is the fifth New Zealand-born soldier to die in action in Afghanistan.

Two were serving with Australian forces, one with US, and one with New Zealand troops.”

Plus New Zealanders joining the Israeli Army;

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Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army

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Or the curious case of Tony Resnick, who departed New Zealand under a cloud, and ended up in the Israeli Army.

So there is nothing particularly unusual about New Zealanders taking it upon themselves to enlist in the armies of other nations. Quite a few even end up on battlefields where some are killed

Has John Key ever cancelled their passports?

Is Key  also worried about New Zealanders returning from foreign Army involvement?

“From time to time, we need to track the activities of New Zealanders, we need to be sure of their whereabouts and we certainly need to be clear that if they return to New Zealand, whether they pose a threat to other New Zealanders if they have become radicalised.”

Key has also been reluctant to disclose how many New Zealanders have been affected by this potentially illegal decision. He said “a small group“.

Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, has said in a NZ Herald story that he was aware of only two brothers who had been affected – and the cancellation had not been instigated by the GCSB or SIS,

“According to my sources, their parents are the ones who called up and asked for them to be stopped,” he said, accusing Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

Ali Akil also added,

“John Key has suggested very few people have [gone to Syria], and mentioned they have gone there to fight against the Assad regime which is actually something that we should honour them for, not strip them of their rights for,” he told Morning Report.

He questioned why Mr Key would “criminalise” those who decide to fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which is known to have used chemical weapons against civilians.

“The New Zealand Government has actually sent our own New Zealand soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan to liberate them from dictators, or so we were told. Isn’t it ridiculous to now criminalise those who choose to do exactly the same thing in Syria?”

It is rather strange for Key to be harassing freedom fighters who are wanting to topple one of the worst dictatorships in the Middle East, as it was only last year that Key condemned the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against it’s own people. In fact, Key was reportedly critical of the UN Security Council not doing enough;

Key, who made a stinging attack on the Security Council in his address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, said the resolution did not go as far as New Zealand would have liked in holding the Assad regime to account.

“But it does do the most important job which is set out a programme for how chemical weapons will be collected up in Syria, destruction of those chemical weapons and hopefully a process for ensuring Syrians are kept safe form weapons that should never be deployed from anybody.”

He stated in no uncertain terms;

“This organisation would not also have been a powerless bystander to the Syrian tragedy for over two years if the lack of agreement among the Security Council’s Permanent Members had not shielded the Assad regime.”

Mr Key called for the Security Council to take strong action by passing against Syria for its use of chemical weapons.

“These are war crimes.”

“War crimes”!?!?

New Zealanders want to fight a regime that has committed war crimes – and Key repays their willingness to oppose this evil by stripping them of their pass ports, and in other cases, actively preventing them from leaving the country?!

Especially when, on 30 August last year, Key himself voiced support for the United Nations using force against the Syrian regime,

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PM won't rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria

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He quite clearly said,

“We think that’s the right thing to do but we wouldn’t hold our breath that that would receive the unanimous support that would be required.”

Do I detect the rank, rotting odour of hypocrisy (again) from our Prime Minister?

There is more to this issue than some young men wanting to join a fight to rid the world of a despotic dictator and his bloody regime (and this blogger will not shed a tear with the inevitable demise of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his criminal stooges).

Key obviously has a hidden reason for releasing this information, and I doubt very much if it relates one bit to any so-called concerns for the well-being of these young men.

Key has his own agenda:

1.

It is no coincidence that Key’s press conference and dramatic revelations are taking place during  an election year. I remind the reader of a blogpost I wrote on 30 June, last year;

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  .”

It is an old, tried-and-tested, simple plan; spook the public using a variant of a reds-under-the-bed bogey-man “threat”, and watch them run into the ballot booth to tick the ‘National’ box.

It worked in 1981, when Muldoon portrayed the anti-Tour protestors as “commies” and a threat to the “Kiwi way of life”.

2.

Will up-coming Edward Snowden revelations refer to New Zealand, including material that is absolutely damaging to John Key’s government?

And is the so-called threat of New Zealanders being ‘radicalised’  in a Middle East conflict, and returning home to wage an implied “Jihad”, a scare-tactic to justify whatever shonkey or illegal activities that the GCSB/SIS/government has been engaging in?

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Is this yet another distraction during election year (see #1 above), with more to come?

Because – and here is the point –  governments very rarely (if ever) disclose what the SIS and GCSB have been up to.

So – what was the motivation of standing up at a media conference, in front of the entire nation, and telling everyone what our security/intelligence agencies have been engaged in?

There is much, much more to this than Key has let on.

And it has bugger all to do with Al Quaeda bogeymen or a bunch of idealistic young men who want a dictator gone.  Remember – this is John Key we’re talking about.

What was it that  Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, said about John Key? He accused…

“… Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

It didn’t take long for this immigrant to our country to suss our Prime Minister, did it?

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References

NZ Herald: Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies

The Telegraph:  Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army

The Jewish Agency for Israel: Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army

NZ Herald: At home with the Mossad men

Radio NZ: Govt cancels passports for would-be fighters

Radio NZ: Prime Minister rejects accusations of racism

NZ Herald: We’ll watch returning fighters, says Key

NZ Herald: Kiwi fighters being misinformed, says Syrian

Fairfax media: Key: Syria deal doesn’t go as far as I’d like

NZ Herald: John Key’s scathing attack on UN failings

NZ Herald: PM won’t rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria

NZ Radio: Syria action ‘may be outside law’

Previous related blogposts

Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 February 2014.

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

2 August 2013 12 comments

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anzac_320

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Just to let any spooks who may be monitoring my blogging activities;

  1. I don’t know who “Anonymous NZ” is – but they have my 101% support.
  2. Expect public resistance to state surveillance to grow.
  3. I encourage all GCSB and SIS operatives here in NZ (and abroad) to take Edward Snowden’s lead and to disclose information to the media.

All around the world, people are waking up to the growth of secret surveillance and other State power. And they don’t like it. Not one bit.

So, Mr and Ms X from the GCSB, SIS, NZ Defence Force, Police, etc – whose side will you be on?

It seems that someone within the NZ Defence Force has had their conscience pricked. They can no longer stomach the deceit and threat to democracy that is going on within our military;

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Ex-Defence boss - Journalists not the 'enemy'

Source: NZ Herald – Ex-Defence boss: Journalists not the ‘enemy

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Whoever leaked the NZDF Security Manual is nothing less than a hero of the people. This person – whoever she or he is – has an allegiance and loyalty far greater than to a state organisation – Mr/Ms X is loyal to their fellow New Zealanders.

Heroes like Bradley Manning and  Edward Snowden.

I implore workers at our spy agencies, and NZDF; draw aside the curtains of secrecy. The sunlight of public attention, as they say, is the best disinfectant of all. Let that leak become a torrent of information.

If history has demonstrated anything, it is that State power is fleeting and cannot withstand the will of the people. Whether it is the dismantling of the apartheid regime in South Africa; the fall of repressive dictatorships in Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya; or the collapse of the USSR – state power cannot endure where it does not have the respect of the people.

To the workers at the GCSB, SIS, et al,  – tear down this “house of cards”;  show the people whose side you are on. Will you prop up a  self-serving government of manipulative liars that fears and distrusts the people?

Or will you let your conscience guide you to do the decent thing.

Otherwise – why did we bother to fight nazism all those many years ago? What was the point of many sacrifices made to preserve our freedoms from the power of the State?

Why indeed.

Our grandparents fought oppression with guns, bombs, and bullets.

Today, we must rely on something else, even more powerful. Our consciences.

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Pita Sharples, Spooks, Maggie Barry, and Bully-boy Brownlee

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Pita Sharples – gone

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Pita Sharples quits Maori Party leadership

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Pita Sharples quits Maori Party leadership

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Pita Sharples has effectively taken responsibility for the Maori Party’s poor showing (third place) at the  recent Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election.  That result was an indictment on the Maori Party’s decision to support an increasingly shakey government that is losing support in more accurate polling.

The internal leadership struggles between himself and Te Ururoa Flavell has also taken it’s toll on the 71 year old,

“It’s clear that the leadership issue…has taken a toll on the Maori Party and our people deserve a united Maori Party.”

Acknowledgement: Domninion Post – Sharples quits Maori Party leadership

It’s also something that is focusing closer scrutiny upon an increasingly unstable government. The toll thus far;

  • Hekia Parata – lost part of her port-folio. In essence, a partial sacking.
  • Aaron Gilmore – forced to resign from Parliament.
  • John Banks – facing charges in Court. If found guilty, he will hve to resign.
  • Peter Dunne – Party de-registered; lost his ministerial portfolios; and becoming increasingly oppositional to National’s policies.
  • Pita Sharples – standing down as Maori-Party co-leader

An early election this year (or early next year) is becoming more likely with each passing crisis.

Not a good time for National.

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The spooks have a new Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security…

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On 1 July, John Key announced that Paul Neazor would be replaced in his role as  Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (for the SIS and GCSB) by former-Judge  Andrew McGechan.

Key says that McGechan’s role will be on an  “interim” basis, instead of the usual three years, as the  GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill is currently being considered  by a Parliament Select Committee.

However, with Peter Dunne wavering on this issue; with mounting public opposition; and god-only-knows which way Winston Peters will jump; the passing of the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill is by no means guaranteed.

In which case, National has two options remaining,

1.

The office of the Inspector-General must be expanded; properly staffed;  and appropriately funded. At present, the  Inspector-General’s role is a part-time position, with no permanent staffing. Our Inspector General is faced with oversight of two intelligence agencies with a combined staff of around 520. In effect he is out-numbered, out-resourced, and consequently, out-manouvered.

By contrast, our Aussie cuzzy’s  version of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has approximately 20 people working full time for the Inspectorate (see IGIS Annual Report 2011-12  Part three: Management and accountability )

This, I believe is the real problem surrounding our security-intelligence agencies – not the legislation needing “tightening up”.  The legislation is tight enough as it is.

It just needs to be obeyed.

2.

The Labour Party’s call for a full public commission of inquiry on this matter cannot be ignored any longer.  If Key wants cross-party support and public buy-in to secuirity/intelligence issues, then it must be open to all political parties and the public to contribute to the debate.

As matters stand now, if National forces through  unpopular, undemocratic,  and ultimately counter-productive laws – an incoming government will be bound to amend or repeal it entirely. This is grossly wasteful use of the Parliamentary process and taxpayer’s money.

This blogger hopes that the  GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill is set aside.  Aside from National ministers and a few misguided rightwing bloggers, there is very little support for this proposed legislation.

Additional

Parliament: External oversight of intelligence agencies: a comparison

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Egg; Face; Maggie Barry

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Ex-radio host-come-National politician – known for her acerbic and often nasty tongue in Parliament’s debating chamber – has copious amounts of egg on her face.

Ever the loyal, obedient National Party foot-soldier for towing the OPL (Official Party Line), she loudly parroted her party’s opposition to the Auckland rail link. She expressed her “well wishes” to  Len Brown after he won the 2010 Mayoralty race with this graceless message,

The morning after National’s resounding victory she sent a strong message to Auckland mayor Len Brown, saying there would be a CBD rail link before a second harbour crossing “over our dead bodies”.

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Maggie Barry’s line in sand

Charming.

But political Karma being what it is,  National’s change of heart on this issue had made her look foolish. Her senior fellow politicians have now endorsed Len Brown and Auckland Council’s plans for the Auckland rail link,

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Auckland Mayor celebrates Government's agreement to support rail loop

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Auckland Mayor celebrates Government’s agreement to support rail loop

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Ms Barry, not quite bringing herself able to tow the new OPL, endorsed only certain  aspects of Auckland Council’s transport plans,

North Shore National MP Maggie Barry said there was a “flurry of excitement” about the suggestion the North Shore could get another link to the city.

“It is essential and long overdue, and it would make a phenomenal difference to the North Shore.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Key to give Auckland a crossing

I suspect there’s enough egg on Ms Barry’s face to cook up a decent size omelette.

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Bully-boy Brownlee

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Not content with creating the Auckland super city without first putting it to Auckland ratepayers through a referendum

Not content with pushing more laws through Parliament under “Urgency” than probably any other government in New Zealand’s history…

Not content with dis-establishing Environment Canterbury in March 2010; replacing it with un-elected Commissioners; whose decisions cannot be appealed to the Environment Court…

Not content with usurping the authority of the Christchurch City Council with the creation of CERA…

Not content with being given sweeping political power in the Christchurch re-build, via the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act which  effectively gives unbridled power to National Ministers  for five years…

Not content with expanding the surveillance powers of the GCSB, where no one will be safe from being spied upon by the State…

Not content with moving to take control of Christchurch

Gerry Brownlee is now putting none-too-subtle pressure on Auckland City to sell its assets to help pay for the Auckland rail loop,

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City's shares eyed for rail

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – City’s shares eyed for rail

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Acting more reminiscent of a feudal Baron ruling over his fiefdom, Brownlee is treating Mayor Len Brown as a vassal, forcing Auckland City to obey National’s diktats.

I wonder what Aucklanders think of this kind of high-handed Ministerial control being exerted over their city – all the way from Wellington?

It must be demeaning for Aucklanders to realise that their elected local representatives are being treated like puppets, and that real power is being exerted from the Beehive?

So much for the quaint notion of democracy.

So much for Aucklanders being in charge of their own destiny.

So much for the  “partnership” that our mendacious Prime Minister promised, three years ago,

The Government will work in partnership with the new Auckland council to improve the city’s transport systems, Prime Minister John Key says.

He said today the Government shared Mayor Len Brown’s vision of getting Auckland moving and it was a government priority as well.

“The Government will work in partnership with the new Auckland City Council on what comes next, and contribute its fair share to the continuing goal of improving transport,” Mr Key said at his post-cabinet press conference.

Acknowledgement : NZ Herald – Govt will work with council on Auckland’s transport

Having a Minister of the Crown attempting to bully Auckland to sell it’s assets in not a “partnership”.  And just because National has engaged in an act of wilful economic sabotage by it’s agenda of partial asset-sales – is no reason to expect others to follow that lunatic policy.

Gerry Brownlee should take note. He is playing with political fire, and a million votes in Auckland may come raining down on his (and other National MPs’) head.

If I know Kiwis as well as I think I do, they will not take kindly to being bossed around. (The Americans found this out, to their cost, when the Lange-led Labour government passed our nuclear-free legislation.)

How much does Brownlee really want to piss that many voters off?

Tread carefully, bully-boy.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 July 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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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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National’s disdain for our credulity

Continued from: National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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

“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

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When Dear Leader’s comments regarding “weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems” hit our  TV screens, our entire household’s immediate reaction was to burst out into derisive laughter.

Surely, there is no f*****g way that this idiot could get away with justifying increasing the GCSB’s power’s to spy on us by claiming that foreign spies were engaged in acts of espionage to “acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems”?!?!

Aside from the fact that we are a Nuclear Free Nation – enshrined in law – what other “weapons of mass destruction” is he referring to; chemical weapons? Bacteriological weapons? Super-Duper Hyper-Atomic Disintergrating Death Rays?!?!

No wonder  the news-readers on TV1 and TV3 had barely concealed facial expressions  that indicated, “Yeah, we don’t believe this bullshit either – but we’re paid to read you this crap, so go make a cuppa coffee or sandwich or feed the cat or something constructive, ‘cos there’s five more minutes of this masterbatory fantasy…”

If New Zealanders buy into this bovine faecal matter, then we are a nation that is truly thicker than I thought possible. Mind you, it seems that at least eight people outside of the National Nuthouse Brigade who are willing to go along with this outrageous exercise in bullshitry,

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NZ First offers support for spy law changes

Acknowledgement:  Radio NZ – NZ First offers support for spy law changes (16 April 2013)

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Unbelievable.

Also surprising is that ACT has gone along with this exercise in the growth of State surveillance power.

Isn’t ACT supposedly the Party that advocates smaller government and less intrusion in our lives?

Having the the vast array of electronic gadgetry that the GCSB posesses, with a budget of over $100 million a year (see: Judge who watches the watchers), giving the Bureau even more power to surveil us and intrude into our lives seems a pretty funny way for a supposedly neo-liberal Party to be pushing for smaller government?!

But I guess that kind of inconsistancy is what keeps ACT under 2%, and right-wingers as a source of jokes for comedians.

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https://i1.wp.com/static.stuff.co.nz/1365553304/568/8531568.jpg

Waihopai Spy Base – soon to be reading your emails; listening in on your phone conversations; and looking out for anything “subversive” in your household – like being a Greenpeace or Forest & Bird member.

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It seems extraordinary that Dear Leader wants to extend the GCSB’s powers, when they are already unable to comply with their current legal obligations.

The Bureau wasn’t even able to supply Key’s “go-fer” girl, Rebecca Kitteridge, with documents she demanded as part of her so-called  ‘investigation’,

But in the report, Ms Kitteridge states that there were “many basic documents that I have been unable to find, and that others at the GCSB have struggled to find for me”.

[…]

But what she says is that she couldn’t find some files, and nor could GCSB staff. Mr Key however says it is wrong to assume files were deliberately withheld.

“What she’s saying is they struggled at times to access information – that will indicate there will be areas of where it was filed incorrectly, or it wasn’t kept on file, or it wasn’t kept at all,” says Mr Key.

“She has access to all of the information that is there. If it’s not there, then obviously she cannot access it. There may be reasons for that – others may want to present a different view, but she’s the person who’s been charged with the responsibility to go in there, has had Crown Law and the full support of the new director behind her.”

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key rejects GSCB cover-up

Key’s gobbledegook explanation doesn’t ring true. He may get away with talking to primary school kids like that, but for the rest of us – he’s talking crap.

And this bit is hilarious,

Mr Key says he appointed Mr Fletcher to improve the day-to-day running of the GCSB to prevent mishaps like this from happening, saying the agency needs “significant bulking up in the management”.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Key wants  “significant bulking up in the management”?!

But… but… but… hasn’t National doesn’t spend the last four years cutting the State sector? National has slashed thousands of “back room” and “management” jobs from everywhere from Housing NZ to DoC to the military… but now Key wants to “significant bulking up in the management”?!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; these monkeys in the National “government” haven’t a clue what they’re doing.

Does Key really expect us to buy this horse manure,

Mr Key also rejects claims the Government is planning to change the law to give the GCSB the right to assist police and the Security Intelligence Service in spying on New Zealanders. He says the changes are just a “clarification” of the current law, and the GCSB’s powers “in a lot of ways don’t change”.

Acknowledgement: IBID

He is being a disengenuous dolt when he expects us to swallow the line that the GCSB’s powers “in a lot of ways don’t change”.

Of course they change, you grinning fool. That’s what this is all about.

Key uses the excuse that by not extending the GCSB’s powers that somehow that would leave us open to all kinds of threats; terrorism, cyber attacks, alien invasion…

“As prime minister I am simply not willing to do that. To do nothing would be an easy course of action politically, but it would be an irresponsible one.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax media – Sweeping GCSB changes announced

Funnily enough, New Zealand has survived quite nicely without givcing the GCSB powers to spy on us. We already have the Police and SIS with more legal powers of surveillance than most Kiwis realise.

It’s getting rather crowded with the number of State agencies allowed to peek into our private lives.

Key insists that part of the deal with NZ First is that in return for supporting the Bureau’s extension of their powers, that there will be more  “safeguards” and “oversight” of the spy agency,

“I think GCSB should be able to provide agency support for NZ SIS under the right conditions, and with the right oversight.”

Acknowledgement: NZ City – PM denies inconsistency over GCSB woes

Funny…

Up until now, the GCSB has supposedly had plenty of over-sight.

The Prime Minister is responsible for the GCSB. It one of his portfolio’s,

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John Key minister in charge of the GCSB - government communications security bureau

Acknowledgement: Parliament – Current MPs, John Key

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So… How’s that been working out so far?

Continued at: National’s disdain for taking responsibility

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.

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References

NZ Herald: PM’s hacking claims a distraction – Labour (16 April 2013)

Dominion Post: Key sexing up intelligence, says Shearer (16 April 2013)

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National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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Continued from: National’s disdain for the law

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NZ is prepared for an oil spill

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Protestors vs The Power of The State…

In the late 1970s, one of the very first protest activities I became involved in was highlighting the imprisonment of Soviet dissidents in the now-defunct USSR. (This was of intense interest to me because of my Eastern European heritage.)

The Soviet Union had approximately ten thousand political prisoners locked up in “Corrective Labour Colonies”, “psychiatric” institutions, and various prisons. (Most of which were located in the Moldavian region and not the archetypal Siberian labour camp that Westerners thought characterised the Soviet political penal system.)

Two of the charges commonly laid against Soviet dissidents were “anti Soviet agitation and propaganda” and “slandering the Soviet system.” Either charge could land a hapless political activist in prison for five, seven, ten, or more years.

The heavy sentences were handed down not just to isolate dissidents from their colleagues and the public – but to serve as a dire warning to anyone else who might ‘buck the system’.

That could never happen here in New Zealand, right?

Right?

Wrong.

It is happening here, and now, in our own country.

After the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico,  in April 2010, it was  little wonder that East Coast locals and environmental activists joined together to protest against deep-sea drilling of their coast.

East Coasters – and the rest of the country – have  had a clear warning of the potential danger of an environmental catastrophe that might strike the region. One that we are simply unprepared for, as the grounding of the MV Rena showed, eighteen months later.

Public disquiet and anger was such that by November 2011,  Key was prepared to be secretive about his meetings and discussions with oil companies,

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Acknowledgement: TV3 -Key keeps meeting with Anadarko boss quiet

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In normal circumstances it would seem unusual that a Prime Minister would keep such a top-level meeting secret. One would think that it should be quite a coup to have  a visiting CEO of such a large corporation visiting New Zealand. Especially where there is Big Money to be made.

Remember Key’s recent big trips to Hollywood? South America? China?

Recently, on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 3 April, Energy Minister and Dear Leader Mini-Me, Simon Bridges announced a new law 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”.

He said, in part,

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

Bridges even admitted that vested interests were involved in the law-change,

JESSICA Did mining companies complain to the Government?

SIMON Oh, there have been complaints. Look, I’ve talked with a range of businesses.

JESSICA So isn’t this just basically a sot to mineral companies and mining companies?

SIMON No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think what’s also true is this is best practice. You look at Australia, you look at other countries, they already do this. We’re also, I think, here filling a gap in the sense that to the Territorial Sea – that’s 12 miles out – you already have these sorts of provisions. Even the Exclusive Economic Zone, as I say, a massive area – 4 million-odd square kilometres – there are some provisions for oil rigs and so on. But for these moving vessels, where it was very dangerous and we thought so, that’s where we’re acting.

JESSICA Was this prompted by the Elvis Teddy case?

SIMON Look, that’s certainly part of the genesis of this.

Acknowledgement: IBID

The hypocrisy and self-serving nature of the proposal to criminalise protest action was best exemplified when Bridges assured viewers that he “passionately” supported people’s right to protest,

JESSICA Don’t you think a lot of New Zealanders would agree, though, that people have a right to protest? Even if I’m not out there with a placard, you still support people’s right to be able to do it.

SIMON Absolutely, and I think, you know, that goes to the heart of being a democracy. I believe that passionately. My point is there are a huge variety of ways which New Zealanders can protest about anything. I would never want to stop that, but what they can’t do is dangerously, recklessly interfere with other people’s rights to go about their business.

Acknowledgement: IBID

And yet, when Bridges talks about the right to protest, he is adamant that “what they can’t do is dangerously, recklessly interfere with other people’s rights to go about their business”.

I would submit to the Minister that  proposed legislative changes are directed at the wrong party. It is oil companies that should be prevented from undertaking activicties that would  “dangerously, recklessly interfere with other people’s rights to go about their business” should another blowout send millions of barrels of oil washing across our East Coast.

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MV Rena and Deepwater Horizon oil slicks

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Unfortunately I cannot submit anything to the Minister. No one can. (Except oil companies.)

It  is a startling fact: the proposed law change to criminalise sea-borne protests will not go before a Parliamentary Select Committee. It will be passed through Parliament as a Supplementary Order Paper, meaning that it will avoid Select Committee scrutiny or a Public consultation process.

This blogger cannot emphasise how repugnant this proposed law-change is – nor how much it brings to mind the abuse of State power, as happened in the Soviet/Eastern Europe bloc.

This is how National wants to rule; by decree from the Executive.

Replace “Cabinet”  with “Politburo”, and you begin to get an understanding of what I’m describing  here.

It does away with the Parliamentary process; it avoids scrutiny by a Select Committee; and it eliminates any opportunity for the public to be involved by making submissions.

This is bad law-making.

This is anti-democratic.

This is naked authoritarianism.

This has the hallmarks of a government that distrusts and fears it’s own people and views public inclusion with disdain.

Never mind Labour’s so-called  “Nanny State” that National complained about in 2007 and 2008 – this has all the hallmarks of a quasi-fascist state.

This is a desperate, shabby thing that Simon Bridges and his Party are doing.

It is so wrong that I am in disbelief that it is happening.

Continued at: National’s disdain for taking responsibility
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Addendum – Update

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Legislation cracking down on mining protests passes third reading

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Legislation cracking down on mining protests passes third reading

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In just under two weeks, National has rammed this legislative amendment through the House, with the assistance of two grubby MPs who should not even be in Parliament.

Nek Step: National passes legislation banning all protest activity in public places. Key reassures New Zealanders that protest activity will still be legal in the privacy of peoples’ own homes. (Though for assemblies of three or more people, a Police-SIS-ODESC-GSCB  permit will be required.)

Law abiding New Zealanders will having nothing to fear, Dear Leader Key reasurres us, as long as those New Zealanders do nothing.

Continued at: National’s disdain for our credulity

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 April 2013.

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Previous related blogposts

Corporate Welfare under National

Anadarko: Key playing with fire

Petrobras withdraws – sanity prevails

On the smell of an oily rag

References

NZ Herald: Protester law avoids public submissions and Bill of Rights vetting  (3 April 2013)

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: The Conspirators

The Daily Blog: The Guts and the Authority: Curbing the Powers of the GCSB

The Daily Blog: Worse Than We Thought: Rebecca Kitteridge and the New “Community” of Spooks

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National’s disdain for the law

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Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss - and mate - Ian Fletcher

Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss – and mate – Ian Fletcher

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 ’Fixing’ the Law when it’s ‘broken’…

As some folk are aware, I have a somewhat “colourful” past. As a young bloke I got carried away with stupid activities; bad driving habits (I saw the speed limit as a ‘recommendation’); heavy boozing; partying; and got on the wrong side of the law. One singular act of stupidity caught up with me over three decades later.

It was only in my mid-twenties and onwards that I started to grow up and – with the help of a few folk – managed to turn my wayward craziness into more productive activities. (Curiously, at the same time I found my political views  moving from centre-right to centre-left… Correlation? Dunno.)

Something I eventually  learned was that the law was there for a reason and the Universe did not revolve around my selfish desires. The law would not change for me – I had to make that change within myself.

Imagine my surprise then, that I have now discovered that the law can be changed for those committing illegal acts,

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Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

Acknowledgement: Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

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So let’s see if I have this right…

  • The GCSB acted illegally by spying on 88 New Zealanders/permanent residents,
  • John Key accepts that they acted outside the law
  • Instead of holding the Bureau accountable, the law will be changed to accomodate their illegality – in effect rewarding them, as Green co-leader, Russell Norman said?

My oh my… So that’s how the system works for those in power? They don’t have to be held accountable – the law can be  amended to sweep their wrong-doing under the carpet!?

I don’t know what the  1,058,638 voters who voted for National think of this. Especially when one of National’s main policy platforms during the 2011 election was the usual “tough on crime”  rhetoric,

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Not so “strong on crime” after all, I guess. Not when it involves a government agency for which  Dear Leader Key himself holds direct responsibility.

I know that New Zealanders have a fetishistic respect for Authority, but isn’t this going several steps too far?

Do we really want the entire GCSB apparatus (paid from our taxes) spying on us?

Do we really want to be taking a step closer to Big Brother watching our every move?

And if National Party supporters are comfortable reading this – before you shrug your shoulders dismissively, just consider for a moment  that the same increased powers of State surveillance will  also be wielded by the next Labour-led government.  How does that grab ya?

Break the law?

No problemo.

We’ll just change it.

John Key has stated,

I think GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Really?!?! Like… “the right oversight” that the  Prime Minister had over the GCSB since 2008? Is that the kind of  “right oversight” that he’s referring to?

Now why is it, I wonder, that his reassurances that the  “GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight” – does not fill me with much confidence?

In fact, why is it that nothing Key sez or does gives me any confidence whatsoever?

Because I’ll share this with the reader for free; if Key couldn’t provide the  ” right oversight ” for the GCSB at it is now – why should we trust it with further enhancing their powers?!?!

The reality appears that National’s plan to legitamise the Bureau’s spying on New Zealanders shows a disdain for the law that, up till now, has only been evident in despotic regimes such as Zimbabwe. This is a dangerous road for any goverment to take.

When an arm of the State breaks the law, the correct response is not to pass laws which legitamises that law-breaking.

It frightens the hell out of me that, in the year 2013AD, this is where New Zealand has arrived. And isn’t it scary when bloggers have to point this out to all and sundry?!

All the previous assurances in the last forty years, from successive governments, that the power of the State will be firmly controlled and monitored – has ultimately proved to be futile. And now the minister for revenue and hairstyling, Peter Dunne, wants to extend information sharing between the IRD and other government agencies, promising us,

Client privacy and confidentiality is paramount in this process.

Acknowledgement: Law Society – IRD and MSD information sharing to be expanded

By the way. Whoever writes these Press Releases should changed the wording,

“Protecting people’s rights to privacy and confidentiality are critical,” Ms Collins says.”

Acknowledgement: The Beehive – Tax info-sharing may help fight crime

So if John Key gets his way, and the GCSB is allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, what’s next? (Because in a few year’s time, the government will want more power for XYZ reasons. Governments are never content with the powers they are given.)

What will follow next? A  “special police force” attached to a more powerful SIS/GCSB entity?

Laws to detain dissidents who might oppose corporate investors or protest at visiting ‘dignitaries’ from other countries where human rights is an arcane, alien concept?

Or even laws which threaten to impose hefty fines and/or jail terms for those who dare protest corporate power?

Like this…

 

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Addendum

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NZ First offers support for spy law changes

Acknowledgement:  Radio NZ – NZ First offers support for spy law changes (16 April 2013)

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Trust NZ First to prop up National’s anti-democratic laws. Wouldn’t it be  exquisite irony if the GCSB and SIS have both spied on Winston Peters and recorded some of his shenanigans…

Continued at: National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 April 2013.

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Previous related blogposts

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do.

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

References

Beehive:  Tax info-sharing may help fight crime (9 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Govt proposes IRD share info with police (9 April 2013)

Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald: GCSB needs more oversight – Key (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  John Armstrong: GCSB trickery and deception revealed (11 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  PM out to turn tables on rivals over GCSB (13 April 2013)

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: The Conspirators

The Daily Blog: The Guts and the Authority: Curbing the Powers of the GCSB

The Daily Blog: Worse Than We Thought: Rebecca Kitteridge and the New “Community” of Spooks

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It’s official: Key’s mind is someone elses’ responsibilty

5 October 2012 4 comments

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And now something  from the political Twilight Zone of weirdness. Herein is reproduced, in full, a recent column-piece by NZ Herald political commentator, John Armstrong,

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Finally, some answers. What’s more, some answers about who knew what and when; some answers which should leave the Prime Minister’s face as red as his favoured pinot noir.

Despite John Key’s insistent denials, it now seems to be the case that he actually was briefed by the GCSB on its eavesdropping on Kim Dotcom at a session in February which outlined the spy agency’s wider roles and capabilities.

Key cannot remember. Neither can Ian Fletcher, the GCSB director. But others present confirmed there was brief mention of the Dotcom saga. Key has had to accept their word.

He knows that he consequently emerges battered from this affair; that the Opposition parties have landed their strongest hit on him since he became Prime Minister. He will roll with the punches, however. He has little choice. Opposition parties are claiming the episode demonstrates the real level of incompetence within Key’s Government.

Any incompetence in this case, however, should be sheeted home to the bureau. It has taken more than two weeks to provide Key with basic information. Its inertia has dumped Key right in it. His demands that it move with greater speed appear to have gone unheeded.

Essentially, there has been a culture clash between the slow, methodical GCSB and the frantic world of politics.

As a result, Key has called in Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge to sort out the GCSB. He clearly no longer trusts the bureau.

Key is likely to feel obliged to apologise to Parliament for the inaccuracy of some of his statements to the House. But the worst looks to be over for National.

By John Armstrong

Source

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Any incompetence in this case, however, should be sheeted home to the bureau. It has taken more than two weeks to provide Key with basic information. Its inertia has dumped Key right in it. His demands that it move with greater speed appear to have gone unheeded.”

Mr Armstrong – you must be joking?!?! Are you for real? Do you really think that it is the responsibility of civil servants to ensure that the Prime Ministers’ memory is in good working order???

Since when has the Prime Minister’s brain-fade been the responsibility of others?!

Key should have realised that the GCSB had been  illegally involved in spying on Kim Dotcom  during the Feb 29 briefing – only 40 days after the massive, Police ninja-raid on the Coatsville mansion. Surely, when the PM saw Dotcom’s image on the GCSB report, alarm bells would’ve rung in his mind??

At the very least, one would’ve thought that Key might’ve turned to his Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson, and queried the matter?

Sorry, Mr Armstrong – but trying to deflect blame for what Key can/can’t remember is just a step too far. If Key’s mental stability relies on others, then he is in bad shape and not fit to be PM.

Key’s ministerial responsibility for overseeing the SIS and GCSB appears similar to his ministerial responsibility as Minister of Tourism; The Prime Minister has left the country.

Perhaps the most ludicrous of Armstrong’s comments is when he suggests,

But the worst looks to be over for National.”

On Planet Key, maybe, Mr Armstrong.

But we do things differently, here on Planet Earth.

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Spy VS Politician

29 September 2012 23 comments

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You have reached the office of Planet Key. All our agents are busy undermining your rights and selling your assets. Goodbye.” – Kim Dotcom on Twitter, 24 September 2012

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1. Firstly, some relevant background;

A. Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ)

What is OFCANZ? 
OFCANZ is the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand. It was established on 1 July 2008 to combat serious organised crime. 
 
Is OFCANZ part of New Zealand Police? 
OFCANZ is a discrete agency that is hosted within New Zealand Police. It takes a whole-of-government approach, working with information and resources from a range of agencies.
 
Is the Serious Fraud Office part of OFCANZ? 
No. The Serious Fraud Office investigates serious and complex fraud, especially commercial fraud.  OFCANZ will concentrate on fraud that relates to organised crime. The two agencies will continue to collaborate where appropriate as sometimes these two types of financial crime can overlap.
 
Who will do OFCANZ work? 
Staff for operational activities will be drawn from OFCANZ, Police and other agencies through secondments and taskforces. 
 
How will OFCANZ work be prioritised and assigned? 
OFCANZ activity is ultimately the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police; the Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)
Once the Commissioner tasks OFCANZ to work on the focus areas, the intelligence process will identify targets within those focus areas. Taskforces will operate against the targets, and use a variety of methods to investigate and disrupt the targets’ activities.

Source: OFCANZ

B. Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)

When the GCSB was established in 1977, oversight in the sense of both operational supervision and policy guidance, in addition to a general overview of the Bureau’s management was provided by a Committee of Controlling Officials (CCO) chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department. In December 1983 the existence of this Committee was published in the Directory of Official Information. In 1989 the CCO was disestablished and the responsibility for oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau was assumed by the new Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC).

Source: GCSB – Oversight

Points A and B explain the connection between the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) and the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ).

OFCANZ was  in charge of the Dotcom case and subsequent raid on the Coatsville Mansion.

‘Oversight and policy guidance‘ of the GCSB is the responsibility of ODESC,

“The Police Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC).”

ODESC is chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department.

C. Key’s letter To Judge Paul Neazor

Prime Minister

17 September 2012

Hon Paul Neazor CNZM, QC
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

Dear Inspector-General,

KIM DOTCOM AND ORS V ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS ISSUE

As I have been briefed today by the Director of GCSB, and as I understand you have now been made aware, the GCSB has discovered that it acted unlawfully in intercepting the communications of certain individuals connected with the above case, apparently acting in the erroneous belief that they were foreign persons when in fact they held New Zealand residency status.

I would be grateful if you would undertake without delay an inquiry into the circumstances of this matter and provide me with a report which identifies:

The facts of the case;

An assessment ofthe circumstances including any errors by the Bureau and its officers; and

Any measures which you consider necessary in order to prevent a recurrence.

I look forward to receiving your report as soon as possible.

Yoursrs sincerely
Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister

D. To which Judge Neazor replied with this report,  ten days later,

INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY
THE HON D.P. NEAZOR CNZM

27 September 2012

The Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament Building
WELLINGTON

Dear Prime Minister

KIM DOTCOM AND OTHERS v ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS

This report relates to your request on 17 September that I should enquire into action by the GCSB affecting Kim Dotcom and others including making an assessment of errors. The Bureau has reported to you that there appears to have been a breach of statutory restrictions applicable to the collection work of the GCSB.

Background:

Kim Dotcom is in dispute with United States authorities about the accumulation of sums of money, the gathering of which may have given rise to allegations of criminal activity in the United States which the authorities there wish to pursue. That pursuit may well involve an attempt by Court proceedings to extradite Kim Dotcom and others to the United States, involving questions of discovery of documents and arrest of persons, Kim Dotcom and others.

New Zealand Police involvement in the event:

A specialist group of New Zealand Police Officers has been involved in assisting the United States authorities and investigating a couple of related New Zealand matters. As part of the New Zealand Police assistance, communications passed between the Police group and GCSB. Those communications were related to a proposal to arrest Kim Dotcom and associated persons. lt was believed by Police Officers that these persons could present potential danger to officers and others involved if the attempted arrest was made. With that belief it was important for the Police to know what action Dotcom and associated people might plan to take and where; i.e. they sought intelligence about possible events. The documents show that information was collected about Dotcom and his associates by the Bureau (largely about their movements or possible movements at relevant times) and passed on to the Police. In my view, considered on its own, the passing on as such could have been lawful but the collection in the circumstances was not. The documents I have seen which record the events do not disclose any interest or inquiry by GCSB about the facts or events of Dotcom’s disputed activity; just where he might be and who might be with him.

Involvement of the GCSB Mechanism:

Like other countries, New Zealand has Government agencies whose task is, covertly if necessary, to collect and report on information which is relevant to security. information is obtained by various appropriate techniques which it is unnecessary to set out. The relevant New Zealand agencies are the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. Only the latter is involved in this event. The mandate of each agency is set out in an Act of Parliament which is designed to control the range of the agency’s enquiry and how it works, Each agency’s work is not at large; it is limited by its controlling Act.

GCSB Gathering and Retaining Information and Dealing with Crime: For present purposes GCSB has the specific functions of gathering foreign intelligence, in accordance with the foreign intelligence requirements of the Government of New Zealand:

(i) by intercepting communications under the authority of the GCSB Act 2003;

(ii) by collecting information in any other lawful manner.

Another of the Bureau’s functions is to provide advice and assistance to any public authority in New Zealand on any matter that is relevant to the functions of the public authority or other entity and to a purpose specified in the Act e.g. to pursue the GCSB’s objective of the provision of foreign intelligence that the Government in New Zealand requires, to protect the safety of any person, and in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime. The Bureau has other specified functions, but these are what is presently relevant.

The Bureau is specifically empowered to retain any intercepted communication if its content relates to the Bureaus’ objective or functions.

lt may for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime in New Zealand or in any other country, retain information that comes into its possession and may communicate that information to members of the New Zealand Police. Hence my view that passing information to the Police could be lawful.

Foreign Element:

This is the significant factor in the present case.

The Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only. That theme runs through the whole Act. All of the provisions authorising collection of intelligence and communications are related to what is “foreign” – “foreign inte//igence” (s.7 (i) (a) and (b)), (s.8 (i) (a)) “foreign communications” (s.8) and prohibition against targeting domestic communications (ss. 13, 14, 16 and 19).

A descriptive process is used in the GCSB Act. Examples are-

“foreign communications means communications that contain, or may reasonably be expected to contain, foreign intelligence”.

“foreign intelligence means information about the capabilities, intentions, or activities of a foreign organisation or a foreign person “.

”foreign person means an individual who is neither a New Zealand Citizen nor a permanent resident…”.

“permanent resident means a person who is, or who is deemed to be, the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act 2009. “

The first inquiry as to whether a person is to be regarded as “foreign” under this Act is related to citizenship or permanent residence. lf the person concerned does not have one of those statuses, he or she is foreign for the purpose of the GCSB Act and his or her communications are not protected. If the person is a citizen of New Zealand or a permanent resident his or her communications are protected. People in the permanent residence category were originally described in the GCSB Act as the holder of a residence permit but are now described by a concept called a “residence class visa”.

The Immigration material I have seen in respect of Dotcom shows that he was granted a residence visa offshore under the Immigration Act 1987, Investor Plus category, in November 2010. At that point in time he did not meet the deinition of ‘permanent residence’ under the GCSB Act as it then was.

However, before he arrived in New Zealand the new Immigration Act 2009 came into force on 29 November 2010 and deemed him to hold a residence class visa from that point in time. He met the definition of ‘permanent resident’ for the purposes of the GCSB Act accordingly.

Although Dotcom’s status is subject to monetary and residential conditions for a period of three years short of actually being deported l\/lr Dotcom retains his immigration residence status and remains a permanent resident for the purposes of the GCSB Act.

It was on my understanding not recognised that Dotcom as the holder of a resident visa under a particular category provided for by the Immigration Act was therefore a ‘permanent resident’ (and thus a protected person) under the GCSB Act.

Potential for confusion:

Dotcom is not on my understanding a New Zealand citizen – he is Finnish or German. He is however one of a category of people who is treated in New Zealand as if he ought to have protection against collection of his information. This result has come about by reference to and application of the Immigration Act. That he (and others) has protection of their communications under the GCSB Act is simply an effect of what has happened under the Immigration Act, so long as the relevant words apply to him.

As this matter went along what was discovered in the case of Dotcom and associated people was that resident status had been obtained on their behalf under the Immigration Act 1987 and carried forward under the later 2009 Act. It was understood incorrectly by the GCSB that a further step in the immigration process would have to be taken before Dotcom and associates had protection against interception of communications.

Leaving aside possible confusion arising from the effect of the permit to be in New Zealand Dotcom and party had, the application made by the Police to GCSB was a proper one: the request was made on the basis that the information sought was foreign intelligence contributing to the function of the New Zealand Police and supporting the prevention or detection of crime. The GCSB acting on it was proper.

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.

Complete avoidance of a recurrence will only come about if the system is such that those requesting assistance from the Bureau about non citizens check with Immigration the immigration status of people who may become targets to be sure of what their immigration status in fact is (not may be) in terms of the GCSB Act definitions and tell the Bureau what they have ascertained. It is important to realise that what the GCSB may do is governed finally by the GCSB Act, not the Immigration Act. Because the law allows the covert collection of information about only some people in New Zealand, the events demonstrate that it is important to be sure at all times of the proposed target’s legal status in the country.

Summary:

– In my view the only issue of illegality arises in this matter from confusion in this instance between the case of a person transferring funds and the general category of residents .

– The GCSB is controlled by its governing Act in what it may do. That Act makes it clear that the Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only, but that includes the function of assisting the Police by gathering foreign intelligence for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime.

– A foreign person for the purpose of the GCSB Act is someone who is neither a New Zealand citizen nor (now) the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act.

– People who hold a residence class visa under the Immigration Act have protection against the collection of information under the GCSB Act even if they are not classified as a citizen.

– In this case it was recognised that Dotcom was not a New Zealand citizen. He was classed as the holder of a residence class visa in a particular category but it was not apparent to the Police or GCSB that he thereby fell into a protected category. Because he should have been regarded as in such a category, collection was not allowed under the GCSB Act and in that way illegal.

– Collection had in fact stopped before it was recognised that he did fall within a protected category..

– The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.

Recommendation to prevent recurrence:

16. Since occasions for the Police to seek assistance from GCSB in matters of safety or security will assuredly arise again under the GCSB Act as it stands, what is needed is assurance available to GCSB that the subject of the information sought is not protected by the terms of the GCSB Act, i.e.

that the person concerned is not a New Zealand citizen, that he or she is not a permanent resident and is not the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act. There will need to be alertness that:

(i) the wording of the provisions of the GCSB Act are controlling;

(ii) since the relevant wording of either Act may change it would be useful for the applicant for assistance to advise what factors as to status they rely on, and what words in the GCSB Act they rely on for their application.

Yours sincerely
D P Nealzor
Inspector-General

(Source: Scoop.co.nz)

2. Three Subsequent Questions;

A. Evidence given under oath by Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, head of the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand

It has been established that,

Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison told the High Court at Auckland yesterday that Mr Wormald had said in evidence on August 9 there was no surveillance of Dotcom undertaken by anyone other than New Zealand police to his knowledge.

However, the GCSB were engaged by police to monitor Dotcom for at least a month before his arrest in January and attended a meeting with police and Crown Law before the raids. “

See: Dotcom’s lawyers question police statements

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Source

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During the exchange between QC Paul Davison and Detective Inspector  Wormald, in the video clip above, the latter stated,

DAVISON: was there any other surveillance being undertaken here in New Zealand, to your knowledge?

WORMALD: No there wasn’t.”

Detective Inspector  Wormald,  head of  the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ),  and planner and over-seer of the Coatsville mansion raid,   would have been privy to all matters relating to the Dotcom Case, and would most certainly have known the source of  ‘intelligence’ – the GCSB.

See: Raid planner continues Dotcom evidence

GCSB agents even attended a December meeting about the raid.

(See:  Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government)

It is inconceivable that Detective Inspector  Wormald had no idea where information was coming from. (Because quite simply, if he didn’t know – wouldn’t he have asked, to ensure the information was valid?)

As outlined above, Detective Inspector  Wormald is head of OFCANZ, which is linked to ODESC, which has  oversight and policy guidance of the GCSB.

Kim Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison said,

There are very grave and significant implications arising from this recent discovery. We had evidence from an officer on oath and we have some other material which makes it look to be inconsistent with that.”

No wonder Mr Davison was concerned.

Which means that Detective Inspector  Wormald perjured  himself whilst in the Witness Stand.

Which raises the first question: How much of the Dotcom case is similarly ‘tainted’, and have police officers perjured or hidden any other evidence?

B. Oversight of GCSB

The Prime Minister has stated that he was overseas at the time  GCSB requested a Ministerial Certificate from Bill English to block  information about the Bureau’s involvement in the Dotcom case (to cover up their actions from Court and media scrutiny).

The certificate was signed by Deputy PM Bill English,  acting Prime Minister, whilst John Key was overseas. The certificate was requested by the GCSB after Mr Dotcom’s lawyer requested from Crown Law all information relating to the case that was intercepted by the GCSB and provided to police.

However, the GCSB monitoring of  Dotcom took place from 16 December 2011 to 20 Jan 2012.

See: Memorandum for Directions Hearing (para 12)

Key was definitely in the country – in part –  whilst the GCSB was spying on Dotcom. (See: Prime Minister John Key’s Address in Reply Debate – 21st December, 2011)

At some point between 21 December and 27 January, Key holidayed in Hawaii. (See:  John Key Video Journal No.50)

On 27 January 2012, Key attended the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting and  joint meeting of senior Cabinet Ministers. (See: PM to visit Australia with Ministers)

Second question: Was surveillance of Dotcom discussed at any meeting around that time period by the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC)? If not, why not? Considering that ODESC is responsible for “oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau, if the Dotcom cases and cross-organisational liaison did not merit discussion – what then,  is ODESC overseeing?

C. Reason for GCSB involvement

The last question, and perhaps one that has only briefly been touched upon: why did the  Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) feel the need to request assistance from the GCSB in the first place?

According to documents, the rationale given was that the GCSB monitored Kim Dotcom’s communications  for the purposes of establishing his location for the impending raid,

“The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

It seems incredible that NZ Police are unable to keep track of suspects they are surveilling without requesting assistance from a spy organisation such as the GCSB (or SIS?). It beggars belief that Police required surveillance assistance when,

  • Dotcom and his entourage lived in one of the biggest mansions in Auckland
  • Dotcom drove bright, flashy, very expensive cars
  • Dotcom was quite a big bloke himself and would’ve stuck out like an Afro-American at a White Supremacists tea-party
  • Dotcom made no effort to evade authorities
  • The raid was executed at 6.47am in the morning – more than likely that the occupants of the Coatsville mansion were still indoors – if not still in bed.

There appears to be no rational reason for a spy agency to have been involved – at least not for the stated purpose  of “where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time“.

It was pretty bloody obvious where Kim Dotcom; his wife; his employees; and probably the family pets were, on that early morning on 20 January 2012,

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If the NZ Police are unable to locate and keep track of  a businessman who makes no effort to conceal himself; where no efforts are being made to evade anyone (indeed, he probably wasn’t even aware of being under surveillance);  then that raises serious concerns at the ability of the New Zealand police force.

Third question:  Why was the GCSB involved?

None of these questions are answered – nor even raised – in Judge Neazor’s report on this matter. In fact, reading his four page report offers very little insights as to how and why this incident came about. Neazor confirms that,

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

So there we have it: “confusion“.

Neazor’s “report” is so poor in facts and explanations that a further wider ranging investigation is warranted. In fact, his “report” cries out for further inquiries to be made.

What the public have been given is superficial, meaningless, pap.

Key’s apology is pointless if questions remain unanswered and suspicions abound that  Neazor’s report is essentially  a “white wash”. As Key himself said,

I’ve asked the Bureau [GCSB]  about why they failed  at that point to identify  the problem. I’m not entirely sure I’ve had a completely satisfactory answer…”

See: PM apologises to Kim Dotcom

Indeed, Prime Minister.

The public is also ” not entirely sure we’ve had a completely satisfactory answer “.

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Other Blogs

The Standard: What does Key have to gain by lying?

Tumeke: Was our new Governor-General involved in authorizing illegal spying of Kim Dotcom?

Tumeke: 4 Kim Dotcom questions: How could the GCSB miss a half million dollar fireworks display?

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

Tumeke: No one believes you John Key – The GCSB knew spying on Dotcom was illegal

Gordon Campbell: On the failures of the Neazor report

Past Prime-Ministerial-I-Don’t-Knows

NZ Herald: Key admits mistake over shares (23 Sept 2008)

Fairfax Media: PM signed papers relating to BMWs (22 February 2011)

NZ Herald: Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster (9 April 2011)

TV3: PM’s credit downgrade claim under fire (10 October 2011)

TV3: Who knew what about Kim Dotcom (2 May 2012)

Fairfax Media: Master of Keyvasive action (18 September 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Additional

Time: WATCH: The Hollywood-Style Police Raid on Kim Dotcom’s Mansion (9 August 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on illegal spying on Dotcom (24 Sept 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Kim Dotcom hints at suing Govt (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Dotcom case makes world headlines (25 Sept 2012)

Radio NZ: Minister stonewalls over police Dotcom evidence (26 Sept 2012)

Parliamentary Hansards: Questions for Oral Answer (26 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on the back foot as Opposition leaders twist knife (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: PM apologises to Dotcom over ‘basic errors‘ (27 Sept 2012)

Scoop.co.nz:  Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Greens ask police to investigate GCSB (28 Sept 2012)

TV3: No need for GCSB inquiry – Key (28 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Police had queried if spying was illegal (29 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government (29 Sept 2012)

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