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

23 January 2014 27 comments

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new-zealand-national-party_3382 adapted 2014

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

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

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

In no particular order;

“The Hobbit Law”

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

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

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

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

Charter Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrorism Suppression Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

That future arrived on 15 October 2007.

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armed paramilitary police

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search and Surveillance Act

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Act

Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there are a couple of intriguing twists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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

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References

Statistics New Zealand: 2013 Census QuickStats

Fairfax media: Controversial Hobbit law passes

Radio NZ: Government defends Hobbit subsidies

Dominion Post: The Hobbit hits $1billion mark

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

NZ Herald:  Norman – Key ‘acting like Muldoon’

The Press: No mandate for charter schools

ACT Party: Education Policy

Stanford University: CREDO Report on Charter Schools

Radio NZ: Treasury papers reveal reservations on charter schools

Labour Party:  Charter school applicants put on notice

Wikipedia: 2011 Election Results

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

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

NZ Herald: Terrorism Act ‘unworkable’

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

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

TV3: More surveillance powers for Govt and police

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

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

Additional

NZ Herald: Banks wrongly held back charter school information

Fairfax media: Facts about Terrorism Suppression Act

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Peter Dunne – willing seller & buyer

22 August 2013 2 comments

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NZ spy agencies need urgent review

Source: Marlborough Express – NZ spy agencies need urgent review

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Peter Dunne and John Key are knocking back a couple of 100 year old scotches from Dear Leader’s private stock. They’re both pissed, and Key looks at Dunne and asks,

“Peter, would you bend over my Prime Ministerial desk and let met shag you from behind, if I paid you a million bucks?”

Peter Dunne – knowing that Key can afford a million dollars from his “Uncle Scrooge” petty cash tin, and considering how useful that money would be for next year’s election campaign replies,

“Why, yes, I would, John.”

Key grins slyly and carries on,

“Peter, what if I paid you half a million? Would that still be ok with you for a bit of rear-rogering?”

Dunne is a bit deflated. Half a million is not as much as a full million… but still, it’s better than nothing to fund his campaign.

He replies,

“Sure, John. Half a million would be ok, I guess,” and stands up to undo his belt.

“What about fifty bucks?” asks Key, downing the last of his glass of $50K-per-bottle scotch.

Dunne, fuming, screams at him,

“What?! Fifty bucks?!?! What do you take me for?!!!”

Key cooly replies,

“Oh, I think we both know what you are. We’re just haggling for the price, now…”

(With apologies – I know it’s an old joke…)

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From the Horses mouth…

21 August 2013 9 comments

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Sometimes I wonder if politicians realise what spews from their mouths, as in the case of Justice Minister, Judith Collins, at the Privileges Committee today,

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judith_collins

“It was quite a chilling experience to realise that ministers’ and staff’s emails, and their right to privacy, were treated with what I would say was a contemptuous attitude”

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Indeed.

As  most  New Zealanders will be chilled to realise that our emails and right to privacy will be treated with a contemptuous attitude, once the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and
GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill are both passed through Parliament.

But evidently –  as Ms Collins will be voting for the GCSB and TICS bills   – the privacy of New Zealand citizens is nowhere as important as that of government Ministers.

Now that, I find chilling.

 

 

 

 

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References

MSN News:  Quotes from the privileges committee

Image: Otago Daily Times

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A Question to Dear Leader…

21 August 2013 1 comment

Dear Leader seems mightily het up about some dastardly, nefarious activity targeted at our country…

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from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>
date:     Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 7:25 PM
subject:     letters to the editor

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The Editor
OTAGO DAILY TIMES
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Sir/Madam,

Our illustrious Dear Leader, the Rt Hon John Key, seems somewhat vexed by cyber threats originating from overseas and directed at our “clean and green” nation. He said in Parliament on 21 August,

“There will be times where a serious cyber intrusion is detected against a New Zealander and the GCSB will then need to look at content – that’s why the law allows that. But that should be the end point, not the starting point.”

If the threats to our “100% Pure” country originate from overseas, one is left with a tantalising question; why is the  GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, and related  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill, designed to spy on New Zealanders?

Shouldn’t the GCSB be focusing on external “threats” rather than on us?
After all, wasn’t that  the original purpose of the GCSB when it was first formed in 1977?

-Frank Macskasy

(address and phone number supplied)

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References

TVNZ:  GCSB Bill expected to pass final reading; debate underway

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USA, Vietnam, Peter Dunne – Pot, Kettle.

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US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

Source: NZ Herald – US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

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The US Embassy in Vietnam goes on to state,

“Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline,” the embassy said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned by the decree’s provisions that appear to limit the types of information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites.”

Source: IBID

Yes, of course our American cuzzies want the Vietnamese people to allow ”  information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites”.

Then their National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ can mine that data via their PRISM,  XKeyscore, and god-only-knows what other systems are used to store data on citizens.

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XKeyscore - NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

Source: The Guardian – XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’

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The government of Vietnam is right to be concerned with what it’s citizens may put online. With British and American spy agencies trawling the planet for information, it is now a matter of national security that nations protect themselves from this illegal spying.  The internet poses a real danger to victims of this rampant,  out-of-control spying.

The sheer hypocrisy of the US Embassy when it piously states that    “Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline” is breath-taking in arrogance.

It’s like Big Brother throwing a tanty when someone refuses to share their personal information, thus thwarting the spooks who are patiently waiting to hoover up the data.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties, led by the Greens, have succeeded in stalling the passing of the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill for two weeks.

Their ‘filibustering’ has successfully stalled the passing of the Bill, as this Radio NZ report explains,

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Legislation covering the Government Communications Security Bureau won’t pass all the way through Parliament this week as had been hoped by the Government.

The bill is now in its committee stages, where MPs debate it clause by clause.  The opposition has employed delaying tactics since Question Time on Tuesday afternoon.  An urgent debate on the Fonterra contamination scare delayed the debate further.

The Government will have to wait at least two weeks to pass the controversial legislation.

Source: Radio NZ – GCSB bill won’t pass this week

This gives opponants to the GCSB and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bills an opportunity to grow opposition and to educate the public what is at stake.

As for Peter Dunne, who is complaining about protesters targetting his home – my sympathy for him is zero.

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Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

Source: Dominion Post – Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

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Protester, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati is 100% quite right when she says that their presence is to  “to give him a taste of what it feels like to have your privacy intruded on“.

Mr Dunn doesn’t like being surveilled?

Neither do we.

Do the right thing, Mr Dunne – vote the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill down.

It’s the decent thing to do.

You still have time.

Don’t be John Key’s errand boy.

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What would George Orwell – author of ‘1984’ – have made of all this, I wonder?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 August 2013.

 

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“Freedoms traded for security are rarely recovered”

10 August 2013 1 comment

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spying

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

Ok. Sorted.

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

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

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Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

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

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To requote Guy McCallum,

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

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

And backed up by ACT on Campus President Taylor Warwood ,

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

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

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

Mr McCallum and Mr Warwood understand this perfectly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I told them that this must stop.

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

And I asked them a simple question;

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

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

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

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

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

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

And another five years later, more laws.

And five years after that…

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

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

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

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

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

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See also

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

The Critic: Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

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

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Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

8 August 2013 6 comments

We are living in scary times. This is what 1,058,638 voters got when they ticked the box for National;

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Peters says police wanted his private phone records

Source:  Radio NZ –  Peters says police wanted his private phone records

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When the Prime Minister  and his office can unleash the police onto an opposition party Leader, then we are in deep trouble. This is the sort of tactics Robert Mugabe  employed in Zimbabwe against opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai (see: Zimbabwe police turn up heat against harassed opposition).

It’s bad enough that the Police wanted access to Peters’ phone records.

But to liaise with the politician’s office – when police investigations should be apolitical and non-partisan – speaks to an unhealthy relationship between the Prime Minister and Police. We’ve already seen Key appoint an old “school chum” as director of the GCSB (Ian Fletcher).  Police raiding media offices.  The Prime Minister’s office gaining access to phone, email, and security-card logs from another member of Parliament and a journalist. And Police seizing info from telcos without a warrant (see: Police seize Cuppagate texts).

If Helen Clark’s office had pulled  stunts like this, every National party  politician and right wing blogger  would be over this like flies on a fresh cow-patty.

More and more, National is disregarding conventions regarding the separation of State power, and over-riding civil rights and privacy.  Key and his party apparatchiks will target anyone; other politicians; journalists; welfare beneficiaries.

Who will be next?

Imagine the extent of their power once the GCSB and TICS Bills are passed through the House. Imagine the abuse of political power once the GCSB will be spying on us all.

We’ll never know.  It will all be legal. And secret.

Borat would feel right at home.

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – The peaceful protest march had arrived at Parliament without incident, and people were in good spirits.

The way that democracy is under threat in New Zealand (see: Defence rates investigative journalists as threat), this protester had a point;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (41)

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The numbers swelled on Parliament’s grassy grounds;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (42)

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Protest organiser, Ariana, welcomed people and explained why the GCSB Bill (and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill) were a threat to our free, open, and democratic way of life in this country;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (43)

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A simple appeal from a New Zealander to the government; please don’t spy on me;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (44)

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Question – when did we arrive at a state in our affairs when we have to plead for privacy from our own government?

When you think about it, the image below is spot-on. It is more than a little pervy for the State to be spying on it’s citizens and reading all manner of intimate emails, and other electronic communications;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (45)

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Young people who wanted their message seen;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (56)

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The flags of Mana and The Greens, fluttering in the unseasonably warm July breeze;

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Mick’s telescope, set up to peer up at the Ninth Floor of the Beehive;

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Were there really on “500” people attending, as the media (except TVNZ) claimed? Look for yourself;

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Is that a  statue of Lenin holding the red flag?!

And another shot of the rally numbers ;

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That looks a tad more than “500” to me. My guesstimate – between 3,000 to 5,000 people.

Green Party co-Leader addressed the rally. He said that when National MPs sneer at you, remember that they are frightened of you.

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With a wry grin, and semi-seriously, Russell  also suggested that everyone submit OIA requests to the GCSB asking how many had attended the rallies around the country. He said it might be fun to tie them up so they could not spy on us.

He finished of by repeating that “we should reject mass surveillance and reject this Bill“.

Billy McKee, from the Green Cross, then addressed the rally, vowing that he would lead an occupation to oppose this Bill;

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Organiser, Ariana, interviewed by a TV1 News team;

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Ploughshares Aotearoa Peace campaigner, Adrian Leason, who along with two other activists,  entered the Waihopai spy base and deflated one of the domes, addressed the rally;

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He encouraged concerned citizens everywhere to “disarm the plastic covers on the spybase” and put the facility out of operation. He said the Waihopai base spied on the United Nations, including diplomats and staff.

Adrian told the rally that Warner Bros had requested the GCSB to spy on Kim Dotcom. He said that worrying about the loss of our privacy was only “one piece of the bigger puzzle”.

His address was warmly received by the rally.

Civil liberties campaigner/Tech Liberty co-founder, Thomas Beagle,  followed;

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Thomas said that the GCSB bill was about “mass surveillance”  and expanding the power of the State,

“It’s about spying on everyone, no matter what they’ve done, no matter what they’re going to do. This sort of mass surveillance changes the balance of power in our society away from the people and towards the state.

I believe in the right to privacy, I believe in the right to sit in my house and call my friends on the phone without the Government listening.

I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of association, for people not being scared into silence because they are being watched by Government spies.”

[Blogger’s note: actual quote taken from msm.]

The next speaker was veteran peace and social justice campaigner, Valerie Morse;

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Valerie read out a long list of legislation that successive governments had passed over the last decade that had, in some way, taken away some aspect of our civil liberties;  increased the power of the State; or elevated the primacy of corporate power over our own rights.

She condemned the GCSB’s close links to American spy agencies, saying that we “do not need our every movement logged by the NSA“.

Valerie said that the greatest struggle was to protect our freedoms. She said,

“Enough, we will not take any more. The struggle goes on for a free society.”

It was an amazing turnout for Wellington, Valerie said; “we are winning!”

Following Valerie, CTU President, Helen Kelly addressed the rally;

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Helen said that this government was becoming a bully. She said, “Don’t buy into ‘nothing to fear so have nothing to hide. We all have things we want to hide and keep to ourselves“. That was called privacy, she said.

Helen reminded the rally that this government has been abusing its power by persecuting beneficiaries and has only recently tried to access a journalist’s records in the Peter Dunne case,

“Peter Dunne – who did not want his emails read!”

Following Helen was Rimutaka Labour MP, Chris Hipkins;

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Chris said that there was a fundamental principle that we all have a right to privacy. He criticised Ohariu MP, Peter Dunne as “wrong to sell his vote“.

Chris then announced the following policy statement,

“We will work to have it repealed!”

Chris’s policy pledge echoes that of Labour MP, David Cunliffe, who announced at an anti GCSB Bill  public meeting in Auckland on Friday 26 July,

“The Labour Party has a proud tradition of taking on evil and inequitous legislation whether it’s apartheid or nuclear weapons or other things of that nature. Our leader has committed to a thourough review of this legislation and based upon what’ve have heard tonight, I personally, and I’m sure my caucus colleagues, will be of the view that this legislation must not, will not, and cannot stand!”

See previous blogpost: David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

This is another clear indication that Labour is committed to repealing this damnable piece of legislation, should it lead the next government.

We will hold them to that promise.

In which case, what does it profit National, and it’s smile and wave leader, to pass unpopular legislation, knowing that it will not survive a change of government?

In Kiwi parlance, the Nats are  on a hiding to nowhere.

Time to give it up, Mr Key.

Brief vid of Wellington street march

Source: Youtube – Chris Russell

Blogger’s Postscript

Ironically, it is Peter Dunne who will not release his email correspondence between himself and Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, insisting on his privacy – or “Parliamentary privilege”, as he calls it.

Dunne insists on maintaining his privacy (whilst voting away ours). When Inquiry head, David Henry, requested Parliamentary Service access to Andrea Vance’s internal office telephone records, he was indignant,

“They went far too far. It’s now clear he didn’t have the authority to do what he claimed to do. The fact that a journalist’s records were sought without her approval is a significant impingement on her rights and freedoms.”

I hope Parliament’s air-conditioning is working properly. The stench of hypocrisy must be over-powering.

Meanwhile, from South Korea, Dear Leader Key responded to Saturday’s nationwide street marches,

“I accept there are some that will always feel a bit nervous about privacy and their own rights, but I can give you the best assurance I can that we’re very careful and cautious about what we do as a state. But in the end we do have to protect the interests in New Zealanders.”

Source: NZ Herald – Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

The public though – or at least a considerable majority – do not trust Key as much as he would believe,

A 3News Reid Research poll released on Thursday night asked 1000 voters who they believed – 52 per cent said Dotcom, 34 per cent said John Key, and the rest didn’t know or didn’t care.

Source: MSN News – Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

If I were Key, I would not be so smug and arrogant as to think that we trust him to “protect the interests in New Zealanders”.

Spying on New Zealanders is not “protecting our interests”. More likely, it suggests how much he fears us.

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

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More images

Facebook: Alastair Foster

Media References

MSN News: Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

Dominion Post: Thousands join rally against GSCB

NZ herald: Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

TV3: Protesters turn out to oppose GCSB bill

TVNZ: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets

Radio NZ: Protests in Auckland, Wellington against security bill

Newstalk ZB: Anti-GCSB feelings growing – Norman

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

30 July 2013 1 comment

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Wellingtonians (and from further afield) met  downtown in Cuba Mall, to protest National’s planned GCSB Bill.

Placards ranged from professionally printed;

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– to the artistic and decorative;

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To a simple, single, word;

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Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman, walking in the midst of other marchers,

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This shy young lad, eleven years old, made his own protest placard from scratch, downloading and pasting images from the internet. This was his first protest march;

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A message that should strike anxiety the the fear of god into the hearts of politicians; losing votes when they piss people off;

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27-july-gcsb-bill-spying-peter-dunne-parliament-wellintgton-new-zealandKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Who says that young people aren’t interested in politics or political issues any more?

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More young folk, with a very wise message to our elected representatives, Alex with his home-made placard;

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Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

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At the intersection of Lambton Quay, Bowen St, and Whitmore St, one of the protest march organisers, Ariana (with loud-hailer), led an impromptu sit-down;

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Valerie, taking pics of the event;

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After about five or ten minutes, as the march was moving again to the gates of Parliament, this lone chap decided to yell out “retards” and other expletives at the protesters. His name is Eddie;

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Eddie

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I went up to Eddie and asked his why he called the protesters “retards”.

Eddie was upset that buses had stopped moving up Lambton Quay and he was worried that the chicken he had bought at the supermarket would develop salmonella. He said the protesters should be marching along the footpath and not the road. I asked Eddie how 3,000 to 5,000 people could fit onto a footpath.

He had no response.  He said the protest should have taken place when people weren’t at work. I suggested to him that a protest march of this size would be less of a nuisance to traffic on a Saturday afternoon than had been held during the week. I then asked him if he knew what the issues surrounding the GCSB Bill were, and that maybe it was important enough to warrant a temporary, minor inconvenience.

At first Eddie denied knowing anything about the issue. When asked again, he admitted knowing that the GCSB’s powers were to be expanded “to spy on us all”.

When I asked him if that was an important issue of public concern he muttered something and walked off.

I hope he enjoys his chicken.

Meanwhile, those with more pressing issues on their minds had reached the entrance to  Parliament – only to find that the main gate had been locked. Only two side-gates, which were barely wide enough to allow passage for one or two people at a time, were open.

Undeterred, those who were fit, young, and with enthusiastic energy went over the gates as well as around;

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Not quite the storming of the Bastille – but their hearts were in the right place;

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A note to the smart-arse news-editors on TV3 who quipped that protesters climbed over the main gate “even though there was another gate open right next to them” – mis-representing an event does not inspire confidence in your ability to be accurate and fair in your reporting.

Try getting 3,000-plus people through a small gap in any meaningful period of time. The entrance-way in question is to the right of the main gate in the image below;

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Very disappointing that TV3 chose to make such a cheap shot.

As people squeezed through the side entrances, others continued to climb the barrier. The symbolism was obvious;

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This young woman – with the sign “We are NZ!!! Not USA!” – climbed the gate and grinned with satisfaction;

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Once through (or over) the gates, New Zealand citizens made their way up the road through Parliament grounds;

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More people arrived. In this shot, you can clearly see the bottleneck at the front gates;

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Parliament’s grounds were once again in the possession of the People.

To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Between 3,000 to 5,000 people (not the “500” estimated by the Dominion Post, NZ Herald, and TV3) took part in a march in Wellington on a bright, warm Saturday afternoon.

People assembled in Cuba Mall near the Bucket fountain, and when we arrived there were already at least a thousand people in attendence.

This shot looks south; the crowd extends all the way to the Cuba Mall/Ghuznee Street intersection;

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com   - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

Cuba Mall – looking south

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The rest of the crowd, looking northward, from my same vantage point (on the Bucket Fountain’s wall);

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Cuba Mall was effectively packed with people who had joined the protest march. Only TV1 got the numbers right (see: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets)

There were people from all walks of life; all ages; all races; all demographics. Families like this one;

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L-R: Rebecca, Karl, Charley, and Alida

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I was reliably informed that Rebecca’s tongue-poking was directed at Dear Leader, and not at myself. But one cannot be 100% certain…

Many of the signs carried messages on both sides, like Mick’s;

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People’s messages were often witty and well thought out;

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Dillon and Tanya

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Other’s got straight to the point – stop stealing our human right to privacy;

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Paul and Bev from the  Ohariu electorate  both expressed their disgust at Peter Dunne’s behaviour. Neither would be voting for him again, they both said;

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Their signs had messages on both sides as well – typical ingenuity from New Zealander’s famed “no 8 fencing wire” can-do attitude;

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Dunne must be either brave or foolish to be alienating his voters in this fashion.

Shortly after we arrived, the march took off, headed to Parliament. By this time, numbers had swelled and more people would join as the march moved along Wellington’s streets;

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Politicians should take note – the protesters weren’t just radicals, activists, and suchlike – these were ordinary New Zealanders who rarely take to the streets.

What some placards lacked in political rhetoric and ideology, they more than made up in straight Kiwi talk;

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And some folk  have just had a gutsful of this increasingly autocratic government and want a chance to change things at the ballot box;

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Many of the placards were obviously home-made, by ordinary citizens. Not exactly the “rent a mob” that Key and other Tories have claimed in the past, whenever they dismiss protest movements;

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And some were downright creative in their style and message;

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Home-made or pre-printed, the messages were crystal clear; people do not want the GCSB spying on us;

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And some were pretty ‘earthy’ in their wording – but I think most fair minded folk can empathise with the passion behind the message;

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More creativity;

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Even  businesspeople  like  Helen and Chelfyn were out on the street to protest. They found a simple, but novel way to  spoof the threat of many eyes watching us,

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To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

2013 – The Year We Became a Policed Surveillance State

30 July 2013 2 comments

Mark 2013AD  in our history books. It is the year that we became a Policed Surveillance State…

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Dear Leader is Watching

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Peter Dunne has capitulated to John Key’s “compromises”, and will give National his support to pass the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill.

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Dunne backs expanded spy powers

Source: Fairfax Media – Dunne backs expanded spy powers

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Peter Dunne’s sell-out should bring no joy to civil libertarians and to those New Zealanders who understand the full implications of these two proposed laws.

Every New Zealander will now potentially be under surveillance. Everyone.

The passing of these two Bills is not the end of the story, however. National also has another plan in store for us,

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Kindy kids to have ID numbers

Source: NZ Herald – Kindy kids to have ID numbers

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The numbering of children will begin with beneficiary families. That’s how it usually begins; with those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and who have been so completely dehumanised by constant vilification and finger-pointing that the Middle Classes no longer consider them as human. Certainly not people they feel empathy with.

Such is the purpose of  well-designed, repetitive, propaganda. The Big Lie.

Of course, once New Zealanders are accustomed to the numbering and surveillance of beneficiary children – National will eventually expand the programme to include all children from all families. Everyone will become a number.

The numbering of  our children – coming to all Kiwi families Real Soon.

Quasi-fascists and naive right-wing bloggers such as that witless, lying fool, Cameron Slater, are positively wetting themselves with delirious joy that New Zealand is a step further to being a Policed Surveillance State.

This could only have come about because of Key’s popularity with the Right Wing and the lumpen-proletariat/middle classes. (XYZ Factor anyone?! Out-House Improvement?? Survivor Eketahuna?!!?)

Had Labour tried to pass these two Bills, the Right would be fainting  from apoplexy-inspired coronary attacks and the media headlines would be written in gory, blood-red headlines damning the rise of the ‘Big Brother’ State.

God knows the fuss over shower-heads raised the level of hysteria to heights not seen since the 1950s “red scare”.

But because our high-polling, smile & wave, Prime Minister is fronting this massive expansion of  State power, only the Left and a few other isolated voices are vocal in their objection.

Interestingly – but unsurprisingly –  several of Slater’s own commentators expressed unease at National’s expansion of the GCSB’s powers. One poster made this unerringly accurate observation,

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comment on GCSB Bill - whaleoil blog

Source: Whaleoil – Peter Dunne has found his stones, will support GCSB bill

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Slater’s readers seem brighter than the sleaze-meister himself.

So much for Rightwing rhetoric about getting the State out of our lives and reducing the role of government…

But Cows4me has made a valid point (one which Slater doesn’t – or can’t – answer).

The GCSB and telco Bills are being passed by a government “friendly” to rightwingers. So nothing to fear, as Slater and some of his brain-numb sycophants keep telling themselves.

Except…

Every three years, we have these little events called “elections”.

And every so often, the public – bless their cotton socks – tire of rightwing economic orthodoxy and vote for a left-wing government to clean up the social mess created by National policies. As happened in November 1999.

Allowing the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens, and employing the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill, gives an awful lot of power to Prime Ministers – including left-wing Prime Ministers.

Rightwing bloggers like Slater and David Farrar often receive leaks from various Parliamentary sources.

The same applies to left-wing bloggers.

Now imagine that a left-wing government is elected in 2014 (still a strong possibility despite some shonkey polls)…

Imagine that rightwing bloggers go into hyper-drive with their sledging of the new government…

And imagine that a Minister in the new government becomes pissed off with something that Slater or Farrar or some other RWNJ blogger writes…

The Minister has a chat with the PM… the PM has a quiet word with the new head of the GCSB… the GCSB checks the internet activities of Right Wing blogger Mr X… and discovers that Mr X has been secretly chatting up young ladies on Facebook. Which is something that Mr X’s wife might take a dim view of.

And lo! A left-wing blogger is leaked this information and posts some very strong hints about Mr X’s proclivities and activities on his/her own blog… (In fact, there might even be a new blogsite created, by an anonymous left-wing blogger, for just this very purpose.)

If I were Slater or Farrar or any of their rightwing fellow-bloggers, I would not be so chirpy at the GCSB being given such vast new powers. In fact, I’d be hoping that my past and current life  is squeaky-clean.

Same goes for commentators on right-wing blogs who hide behide the anonymity of pseudonyms. A GCSB operative checking IP numbers and relying on their new powers granted under the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment would soon reveal their true identities.

Imagine then, if you will, that it was discovered that a commentator was posting from a work station. How would his/her employer feel if they were informed that their employee was indulging in blogging activity during work hours?

Unlikely, you might think?

Not really. Government ministers already leak information to bloggers.

And Paula Bennett certainly didn’t think twice before releasing private details of two solo-mothers in 2009,

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No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

Source: NZ Herald – No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

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Politics just got a whole lot more “interesting”.

Welcome to New Zealand, the Policed Surveillance State of the 21st century.

Next step,

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ID Card

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Followed by,

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barcoded humans

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Unlikely?

That’s what was promised about the GCSB when it was first set up in 1977 by Rob Muldoon: it would never be allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens.

People trusted Muldoon then.

As people trust Key now.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 July 2013.

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Congratulations Ohariu voters…

23 July 2013 5 comments

… your MP has declared his support for legislation that will turn New Zealand into a Policed Surveillance State,

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Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

Source: NBR – Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

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Is this what you expected of your MP?!

If not, drop him a line and tell him that Big Brother is not on your Christmas “wish list”.

peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz

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The real reason for the GCSB Bill.

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

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

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Campbell live GCSB 10 July 2013

Click to view

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, the bill is being passed under urgency.

But why? Shouldn’t we get this right?

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

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

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

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

We’ll come to the missing pieces shortly.

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

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

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

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

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

Scoop wrote,

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

Acknowledgement: Kim Dotcom Part Two

Conspiracy fantasy?

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

October 2010

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No decision yet in Hobbit talks - Key

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

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July 2011

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PM's 'special' movie studio meeting

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

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October 2012

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Key - Dotcom won't be discussed during Hollywood visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed

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

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

On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,

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

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

(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)

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

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

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

[…]

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

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3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed

As I wrote in April,

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

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

On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,

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

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

(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)

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

  • the Crown’s case against Kim Dotcom

  • Illegal downloads/Intellectual Property rights

  • MPAA concerns

  • Hollywood big business

  • Trans Pacific Partnership

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

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

The final piece follows.

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4.

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

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

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

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

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

This is correct.

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

Everyone.

Not just criminals.

Not just left-wing  radicals.

Not just Maori nationalists.

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

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

The targets are all New Zealanders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Campbell asked in his programme,

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

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

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

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Previous related blogpost

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

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

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

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The “man ban”…

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

As Labour leader David Shearer pointed out,

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

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

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

Indeed.

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

As Andrew Geddis pointed on on The Pundit,

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

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

This was not handled correctly from Day One.

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

I was not disappointed.

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

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

There was no grand announcement on this policy.

We Just Did It.

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

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

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

My suggestion to Labour – Just Do It anyway.

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

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

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Animal testing…

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

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

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

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

Let me be totally blunt on this issue;

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

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

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GCSB Bill – Key, Shearer, Dunne, & Peters

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

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

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

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

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

To this end the ACT Party upholds the following principles:

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

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

Acknowledgement: ACT Principles

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

Peter Dunne

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

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

Winston Peters

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

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

“This bill does not work.”

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

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

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

The questions that demand answers are;

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

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And compulsory military training

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I want to say goodbye - gunman's last wish

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

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

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

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

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