Thursday, 25 July 2013


25 July 2013
The agreement I reached with the Prime Minister over the fate of the GCSB Bill has received an entirely predictable reaction. So let me respond to the main criticisms in the most detached way that I can.
First is the claim that I have “performed a U-turn on a (a) flip-flop”. Colourful language certainly, but incorrect factually. I supported the Bill’s introduction, but indicated misgivings I wanted resolved before supporting it further. They have now been addressed to my satisfaction, so I can continue to support the legislation. Hardly a flip-flop or U-turn, but simply doing what a good legislator should – working to improve important legislation.
Then there is the claim that the changed accountability regime I have negotiated does not address my “repeated assertion that only the domestic Security Intelligence Service should be allowed to spy on Kiwis.” In fact, it does through the provisions making it clear that the GCSB can only operate domestically where it is doing so on behalf of the Police or the SIS, that there now will have to be annual public disclosure of both the number of occasions where this occurs, and the number of warrants issued, and that GCSB cannot become involved on behalf of other government agencies without the expressed prior approval of Parliament. None of those protections are in the current law, so these changes are a real strengthening of accountability processes.
Next is the argument that “there is still no mechanism in the new laws to ensure our private communications are not fed into any kind of global surveillance programme, like the NSA’s PRISM.” There is truth in that claim, but the legislation was never intended to deal with that situation, focusing instead on domestic arrangements. I think there is a legitimate debate to be had on this point, given current global revelations, and that an argument can be made for much international protocols governing intelligence sharing, but that is way beyond the scope of what GCSB does within New Zealand. But it is a separate debate, well worth having.
It is also alleged that “the changes do little to dilute the considerable influence the (P)rime (M)inister has on the oversight functions of the intelligence agencies.” In fact, there will be far greater accountability beyond the control of the Prime Minister. The enhanced role of the Inspector-General and the new advisory panel, the requirement for GCSB to operate to a set of principles including adherence to the Bill of Rights, the new annual reporting procedures including public hearings of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and the five yearly reviews of both GCSB and SIS, will all ensure that GSCB in particular and intelligence agencies generally will be operating far more transparently and with greater accountability than has ever been the case before, something that should be widely welcomed.
There is the claim that my approach to this issue has really been both a cynical ploy to curry public and political favour in the wake of the unrelated events of my Ministerial resignation and UnitedFuture’s (temporary) party deregistration, and represent the trading of “principles for pragmatics”. Dramatic journalism certainly, but both claims are incorrect nonetheless. Unlike some others, I do not operate that way. Rather, my approach has been about addressing the areas of the Bill I was concerned about – improving the oversight and accountability provisions of the GCSB; introducing more transparency into the operations of our security agencies, and clarifying the scope of GCSB’s involvement on the domestic scene. All those objectives have been achieved in the changes I have negotiated.
The suggestion that I appeared “for a time” to be “something of a privacy champion” overlooks history. I have been a privacy champion for over 20 years – indeed, in the early 1990s I drafted what became our Privacy Act, and have retained a close interest in privacy issues ever since. Indeed, it was on the principle of the protection of the privacy of communications that I resigned as a Minister. That is why I have negotiated a comprehensive work programme to update the definition of private communications (including the treatment of metadata) across a range of legislation in this area, including the GCSB and SIS Acts, the Crimes Act, and the Search and Surveillance Act. The need to do so was raised by many submissions on the current Bill, but no-one I consulted was able to provide an immediate solution, and all agreed that a more detailed work programme was needed, which is what I have ensured will happen as a priority.
For me, politics has always about the art of the achievable. In this instance, I have achieved real change which will ensure that situations like the Dotcom case, which gave rise to the Kitteridge Report which led to this legislation, will never occur again, and that is good.
However, the wider debate about the role of our intelligence services is an important but separate issue which we, as an open society, should not shy away from.   

 

12 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. So you read the Herald but not the submissions on the Bill? clap clap. I could further berate but I would much rather educate: http://www.ted.com/talks/bruce_schneier.html Yep our country's unicorn defenses are working great against the zombies terrorists. Alongside the widespread poor management of private data by government agencies and with no accountability or submission transparency. Sure this is just path of the course, the committee design of the horse. Why should NZ expect more intelligence from politics, when most media is only concerned with the antics.

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  3. No politian should have the power to change our very way of life when all those that voted for him could fit in a fricken bus !

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  4. I've been voting for him for roughly 20 years Mick, but I promise you if he passes this bill he won't get any more votes from me.

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  5. How does he sleep at night ?!?!?
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    Unethical, untrustworthy, shapeshifter.
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  6. Dunne sold out the privacy of 4 million New Zealanders to protect his own !

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  7. "...like the NSA’s PRISM.” There is truth in that claim."

    And your excuse is that that doesn't matter? You're creating a situation in which those organisations have easy and legal access to a far broader range of our personal information than they do now without putting safeguards in place?

    That's like putting the foxes in with the chickens and saying that we don't need to do anything to protect the chickens until the foxes start eating them! Shame on you.

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  8. There's no justification for this whatsoever. This is not what you were elected for. I hope you're prepared for your imminent retirement. It's a pity that this will be what you're forever seen as a reviled character in history for.

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  9. The reality is that we already have in NZ, naturalised foreign immigrants, who are sympathetic to radical causes and justify acts of terror from their spiritual teachings. We need a security service that can identify and monitor these NZ citizens and neutralise their intent before they can act. We see these heinous crimes happening in Britain and the US. It is only a matter of time before we see the same thing attempted here. I see Peter working towards both empowering the services to do their job for the sake of our safety, and at the same time to establish suitable accountability.

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    1. I call bullshit on that one. There's no reason for terrorists to target NZ, and frankly NZ shouldn't be engaging in behaviour (like the National led govt kissing the behinds of their american masters) that would cause us to be seen as the enemy.

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  10. I strongly support an independent comprehensive review of our Intelligence Agencies, the kind of work they currently do and what their role should be in our society.

    As it stands there are too many unanswered questions regarding this legislation including why there is such a rush to push this through Parliament.

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  11. Peter Dunne, your support for this bill has meant you have single handly betrayed the trust of all New Zealander's. However, there is still time for you to do the right thing and vote against the bill. If you do, you'll have the support of all NZ's who oppose the bill (the majority) and will establish yourself as a man of integrity, of strong principles, and as someone who just might get back into parliament next year. If not. well your are done, Dunne.

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