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Letter to the editor – John Key should lead by example

17 October 2014 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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

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The editor
THE  LISTENER

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

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

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

* torture techniques such as water-boarding

* abuse of prisoners, eg, Abu Ghraib

* detention without due legal process at Guantanamo Bay

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

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

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

“Explain to us how we are any better?”

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

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

-Frank Macskasy

[Address & phone number supplied]

 

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References

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

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Budget 2013: How NOT to deal with Student loan defaulters

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barbed_wire_fence_by_archaeopteryx_stocks1

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1. Prelude

In my parent’s home nation in Eastern Europe, during the era of the Soviet Bloc, the citizens of Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovalia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Albania were denied the right to travel freely to the West. (Mainly because 90% would not have returned.)

Travel outside of the Eastern bloc was severely curtailed. Those trying to cross borders to the West, without appropriate documentation, if caught, faced lengthy prison sentences.

Such was life under authoritarian regimes that used extreme measures to control their citizens.

In 1989, those regimes fell, and freedom returned to Eastern Europe. People were permitted to travel freely without fear of hindrance or arrest.

2. Welcome to the People’s Republic of New Zealand, Inc.

In 2013, New Zealand’s National government announced plans to adopt similar extreme measures. Powers of hindrance and arrest are to be issued to our Border security. Travel will be curtailed for a few.

During Bill English’s Budget speech today (16 May), the Finance Minister made one of the most extraordinary revelations that I have ever heard from a New Zealand politician;

Introducing the ability to arrest non-compliant borrowers who are about to leave New Zealand

Making it a criminal offence to knowingly default on an overseas-based repayment obligation will allow Inland Revenue to request an arrest warrant to prevent the most non-compliant borrowers from leaving New Zealand. Similar provisions already exist under the Child Support Act. This will be included in a bill later this year.

Acknowledgment:  IRD – Budget 2013 announcements

It is extraordinary because a loan defaulter is not a matter under the Crimes Act. It is what is known as a Civil matter.

If, for example, you, the reader, default on your mortgage, rent, or hire purchase, the Lender does not involve the Police. Instead, they apply to the Courts for a remedy.

The Tenancy Tribunal and Small Claims Court are examples where litigants can take their cases before a Court, and make their claims. Police are not involved. In the Tenancy Tribunal, there aren’t even any lawyers (generally).

For National to intend issuing arrest warrants, for student loan defaulters, takes the matter of a civil contract into the realm of the Crimes Act.

One wonder if  banks, finance companies,  and landlords will eventually apply for similar powers?

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"Open up please, Mrs Jones. Your rent is two weeks in arrears!"

“Open up please, Mrs Jones. Your rent is two weeks in arrears!”

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The worst aspect – indeed, the dumbest aspect – of this new measure is that it appears no one in  National has thought through the consequences of such a harsh,  autocratic policy.

This law – if enacted – will not stop people leaving New Zealand. It will stop people returning to New Zealand.

Because the law involves ex-students with loans  who have moved overseas; who have defaulted on their loan repayments whilst overseas; return to New Zealand (perhaps for a funeral, holiday, or visit family) – and only then are arrested at an airport as they try to board a plane to fly out of the country again.

Under such circumstances; what loan-defaulting New Zealander will bother coming back to this country? Ever?

Well done, National. You have just provided a further reason (if any was really required) for expat Kiwis to remain – expat. In terms of economic policy, this wasn’t an exercise in rationality – it was an exile in perpetuity.

The message that Key and English have sent to every New Zealander, who owes money to the State, is: don’t come home. The police will  be waiting.

So not only have we lost any chance that ex-pat loan defaulters might one day return and pay back their debt – but we’ve lost their expertise and any fortune they might bring back with them.

The sheer lunacy of such an ill-conconceived policy beggars belief.

But then again, maybe not. This was the government that was so cash-strapped last year, that they raided the meagre earnings of paper boys and girls;

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'Paper boy tax' on small earnings stuns Labour

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – Budget 2012: ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour

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This is a mean, desperate government we have, folks.

Make no mistake, they will do whatever it takes to get back into some form of  surplus by new year’s election. Because if they don’t – they are dog tucker  for sure.

Which is why I’m not holding my breath for Bill English’s “Big Announcement” in two weeks regarding the problem of hungry kids, and initiating a food-in-schools programme. Expect a massive disappointment on this matter.

Meanwhile, our Border Security will no longer be focused on searching for contraband, dangerous goods, or potential weapons being carried onboard airport. They will now be Border Guards tasked with keeping New Zealanders from travelling. Or escaping any other way…

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Our New Border Guards in New Zealand

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One wonders who will  next  be barred from travelling to and from New Zealand?

Consider also,  when we take this insane proposal and place it alongside  other laws, and proposed law-changes,

  •  the so-called Terrorism Suppression Act,
  • the Search and Surveillance Act,
  • the Crown Minerals Amendment Act which suppresses protest at sea and threatens protesters with large fines and terms of imprisonment,
  • the IRD sharing sensitive information with other government departments,
  • illegal spying by the GCSB – with no legal consequences for those in authority,
  • and instead,  extension of the surveillance powers of that same GCSB,

– we can see that our country has taken a path that we hoped, and feared, would never happen to us.

Well, it has happened and it is happening.

We are slowly but surely drifting ever closer to a police state.

3. An Open Letter to Labour, The Greens, Mana, and New Zealand First

As a citizen of this country, it is my deepest, sincerest hope that an incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-New Zealand First?)
coalition government will, upon taking office, make an urgent review of the spying powers of our “intelligence community”.

I submit that we have drifted from an open, free society, to one that is highly surveilled; copious data files kept on us;  and where police and  intelligence groups are straying far beyond their lawful mandates.

I also submit the following,

  1. We do not need the so-called “Terrorism Suppression Act” or “Search and Surveillance Act”.  The Police, with their normal powers, are quite adequate to deal with crimes.   They serve no useful purpose and instead give powers to the State which serve only as a prelude to even more Orwellian laws. It is time to take  several, big, steps back. These laws should be repealed forthwith.
  2. The Crown Minerals Amendment Act must be repealed forthwith. It is draconian legislation which serves the interests of corporations and threatens the right of New Zealand citizens to protest activity that is counter to the welfare of our nation and environment. This is a brazen attack of democracy and would be perfectly at home in a Third World dictatorship.
  3. Do not permit the IRD to share information with other government departments. There is no need to create a vast monolithic State apparatus that collects information on us and in the process, invades our privacy.  Allowing the IRD to share information with, say, the Police, will simply serve to drive certain activities further underground.
  4. Any extension of the GCSB’s surveillance powers should be undone and returned to it’s original purpose. (Or even get rid of it altogether. Precisely why are we spying for the Americans anyway?)
  5. We desperately need a more effective, well-resourced, oversight mechanism for the SIS, GCSB, and Police. Our Australian neighbours are more serious in the way they over-see their spy agencies and we need to look to them for guidance. If there is one thing that the current Prime Minister has illustrated with crystal clarity – we can no longer trust one person to hold the responsibility for these agencies. At some time in the future, we could have a worse Prime Minister, with even more incompetant or nefarious intent. We must prepare for that day.

Some might say, “if you have nothing to fear, you won’t mind being watched by the State”. If true, my fellow New Zealanders, we might as well put cameras into every home and workplace in the country. After all, if we have nothing to fear…

I would turn it around and say, “if the State has no cause to believe we are about to rob a bank or sell heroin to schoolkids, then it won’t mind keeping out of our private lives”.

Previous governments (including this current one) have gradually extended the power and surveillance capabilities of the State.

It is time to wind back that Orwellian clock and re-set the values which we used to hold for personal privacy, and allow State intrusion only for real (not imagined) criminal activities.

We don’t need to be monitored. We don’t need files kept on us all.

We are not a nation of 4.4 million criminals.

You don’t need to fear us.

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No more anarchy

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First they came for Maori “radicals”…

21 October 2012 16 comments

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First they came for the “Maori radicals”, and I didn’t speak out, because I wasn’t  maori or a “radical”…

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Full story

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Then they came for the alleged cyber-pirate from Germany, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a cyber-pirate or German,

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Full story

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Then they came for the botanists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a botanist,

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Full story

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Then they came for me, and no one else spoke out, because they didn’t give a shit either…

[Acknowledgement to Martin Niemöller ,1892–1984]

The raids on the Ureweras (and elsewhere in NZ on the same day); Kim Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion; and Graeme Platt’s homes all had one thing in common; a gross mis-use of para-military power in a country that has not seen such events since the Land Wars in the 1800s.

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If middle-class New Zealanders believed  that the Urewera terror raids (the terror being caused by black-garbed “ninja police”  on a sleepy little backwater village) was a one-off exercise,   then that belief was greatly misplaced.

The State attempted to depict Tame Iti and his colleagues as  homegrown “terrorists”, planning some mysterious, spectacularly catastrophic, event involving catapulting a bus on to US President Bush.  (I kid you not. See: Protest highlights terror raid case)

But no terrorism charges were ever laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, and the 18 defendents were eventually ‘whittled down’  to just four (one died awaiting trial). Those four were convicted on more mundane firearms charges.

Hardly the stuff of  Al Queda operations planning mass-destruction.

Since then, we have witnessed no  less extraordinary  events  in January this year, when more para-military  “ninja-police” in vehicles and helicopters, armed with high-powered automatic weapons, raided a mansion in Coatsville.

There has never been a satisfactory explanation given as to why such a high degree of force was necessary.

Recently, on 11 October, the home of botanist Graeme Platt (71) was raided by six carloads of police and Ministry of Primary Industry officials. Evidently the police and officials were searching for a tree ?! (Terrorist trees?)

It is rapidly becoming evident that something mad and sinister is happening to our once easy-going, laid-back society.

Gone are the days of  “she’ll be right, mate“. When is the last time you heard that phrase?

Now it’s more like a growing intrusion of State power.

Once upon a time, the growth of police power was justified by our politicians  as the fight against drugs and organised crime.

Since the early 2000s, that justification has been redefined as the fight against “terrorism”.

This is not just about the covert monitoring of New Zealand citizens and residents. We are now witnessing the open use of raw, naked,  State power, in the form of the Armed Offenders Squad and the Special Tactics Group ( formerly known as the Anti-Terrorist Squad) bursting into people’s homes.

These paramilitary forces – once used solely against drug rings or homocidal nutters with small armouries – are now being employed more and more in situations which seem hard to justify or understand.

It has been said that the raids on the Ureweras (and elsewhere in NZ, on that day) and Kim Dotcom, was carried out to impress our American cuzzies in the United States. Evidently, the boys in blue at Police National HQ wanted to show the FBI, Hollywood, White House, and anyone else who happened to be watching that we were ‘serious players’ when it came to dealing with terrorists and other assorted evil-doers.

In their eagerness to impress the Yanks, it  became readily apparent  that our politicians, police, and miscellaneous bureacrats have moved New Zealand to become a  mini-America clone; gun-happy and willing to use over-the-top force with or without justification.

The dawn raid on a botanist’s home, by six carloads of government officials and police,  in search of a damned tree, should be a clear wake-up call for all New Zealanders. The choice we face is fairly simple and clear-cut;

  1. We keep going the way we are; with excessive State power being used and mis-used; more surveillance in our daily  lives;  armed police raids on the flimsiest excuses; until none of us are safe and we end up living in a country that is unrecognisable and alien to our parents.
  2. We take stock of where we are with our laws and culture of State power, and declare that enough is enough.

The use of force shown in the last few years, I submit to the reader, should be sufficient to turn the stomach of all but the most ardent supporter of the fascist state. Unless New Zealanders are looking forward to living in a police State, it is my contention that, as stated in Option #2 above, enough is enough.

It should be the priority of an incoming government in 2014 (or earlier) that a full review of legislation such as the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002,  Surveillance Act 2012, and any similar laws, should be undertaken.

It is my contention that these two laws should be repealed forthwith, as they are abhorrent in any society that professes to respect freedom. It is further my contention that such laws serve no useful purpose except to create a mindset and culture in our Government  that there is no limit to the exercise of state power through the use of force against citizens who may come to the attention of police and bureacrats.

To those people who might be fearful in ridding ourselves of these laws, it should be remembered that no one has ever been charged under terrorism legislation and that the used of armed police in dawn raids has yet to be  justified.

We are simply giving the State – and it’s myriad of officials, bureacrats, police, spies, etc – the power to act with little restraint, as if they are authorities beyond public control.

Such a state of affairs, my fellow New Zealanders, is what it looks like; the germination of a police state.

In case the reader believes I am over-reacting, consider that the raid on Graeme Platt’s home was not looking for bombs, guns, subversive literature, Al Qaeda operatives, etc.

They were looking for a tree.

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Sources

NZ Herald: ‘Plant Nazis’ hunt for outlawed trees

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill

Parliament: Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Other blogs

Tumeke: NZ Police reassure country that they are the only gang trying to infiltrate the force

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September 11, Keystone Cops, and “toy soldiers”…

22 March 2012 2 comments

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When the world changed irrevocably on 11 September 2001,  at 8.46am (local time), that seismic shift reached our country as well.  As the USA declared it’s “War on Terror” (more accurately, “War of Terror”, as ‘Borat’ suggested in his eponymous movie), New Zealand moved in lock-step and adopted stringent airport security procedures; locked up a  refugee as a “security risk“, though never charged or convicted of anything; and enacted a draconian anti-terrorist law.

In the backdrop of a global post-11 September hysteria,  early-morning raids in October 2007 involved more than three hundred police conducted searches in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Christchurch using warrants  under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

The Solicitor-General, David Collins,  subsequently refused to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 – saying the law was “almost impossible to apply in a coherent manner“. Only  firearms charges remained.

Finally, of the original 18, four stood trial this year. Of the firearms charges, roughly half were proven and the remaining dismissed. The Jury could not agree on the charge of “participating in an organised criminal group“,

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Full Story

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So what have we ended up with?

All for some rather ordinary firearms charges – and even those were not all proven.

Jeezus H. What a monumental waste of resources, time, and money. The police could  just as easily and simply sent a couple of the local ‘Bobbies’ (who probably knew everyone around the Ureweras anyway); pulled Tame and his mates up; told them all to knock off playing ‘toy soldiers’; and meet up at the local pub for a drink instead.Sorted.Cost; $10 in petrol.

I’ll depart from my normal partisanship and say that neither Labour nor the Nats come out of this smelling of roses.

This sh*t makes the Keystone cops look gooood…

I live in eternal hope that this expensive fiasco has been a salient lesson to our elected representatives, and those who manage our police force. American style terrorism hysteria is never a good starting point to investigate a possible crime and mount prosecutions.

The impression many people will get out of this is that the police were overly  “gung ho” and both Labour and National politicians lost their capacity for common sense.

Cost to tax-payers: $6 million and mounting.

Cost to society: a waste.

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Other Blog posts

Chris Trotter: Failing The Crown

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