Transcript: Helen Kelly – Stop the GCSB Bill Meeting – 19/08/2013

CTU President Helen Kelly addresses the audience at Stop the GCSB Meeting, Auckland Town Hall, Monday 19th August 2013

Kia ora koutou, it is fantastic to see you all here tonight.

This law represents an unwarranted attack by the state on its own citizens, no more, or no less [audience claps].

It disregards all of our rights to operate freely within the law from unreasonable search and to correspond with each other without interference. 

 It miss understands our need for basic right of privacy – and it is no coincidence that as electronic developments allow more freedom for people to communicate by passing the normal mass means such as the media, mammoth efforts are being made to stop that from happening.  And the concept that those with nothing to hide, is being used in a dishonest and accusatory way, to stop people like you and me from objecting.

Well we in the trade union movement have stuff to hide.

We have plans, strategies, disagreements, debates, bargaining positions, workers’ secrets and personal stuff to hide, and this makes us an important part of a robust democracy [audience claps].

And the states job is not to attack us in doing that work but to protect us, and allow us to do it [audience claps].

The state’s job is to allow us to thrive and to provide otherwise disenfranchised working people with a voice without interference – that is the state’s role. To allow us to do our job including helping us to hide stuff in the growing age of electronic communications [audience claps].

Many social activists challenge the dominant economic narrative, the one that for example accepts massive inequality as a reasonable proposition.  Have, been being spied on, we’re no doubt being spied on already, but this Bill explicitly provides for it, provided the Prime Minister considers our work against the economic interests.  It expanding the right to spy on this basis is completely inexcusable.

And workers are already, under this Government, finding themselves the victim of the nothing to hide mantra, to subjugate them at work.  Their privacy is being increasingly invaded by spy cameras watching their every move, such as those installed by the Port of Auckland into every crane and carrying machine on the wharf to humiliate those wharfies after their return to work when the Port failed to outsource them to cheaper labour. 

Workers are increasingly being drug tested without cause, and the Government is actually encouraging employers to drug test beneficiaries that they are considering employing. 

Searchers of bags, scanning finger prints to checkin and checkout of work, requiring sick notes after one day’s, a single day off work – and recently a case of an Air New Zealand flight attendant having her bank records ordered up by the court to find out what she was doing on a sick day.

Already the disregard for workers’ privacy is massive and this law is another attack on that.   And something needs to be done, in terms of the human condition, the desire to retain our privacy and to have some boundaries [are]. 

Already the autonomy of workers is being [degradated] and it’s designed to humiliate workers and remind them where they are in the chain of importance.

And now this – an attack on all of us – an attack of all of our privacy, from a Government that wants us to live in fear of each other rather than in hope of things better [audience claps].

And finally I want to address the hypocrisy of this and the way the Government, the way the Government is behaving. 

Firstly we heard the Prime Minister say the other day that we should trust him not to misuse this law – well why should we?  Not only is this an unreasonable request but the record shows his and his Government’s disregard for peoples’ rights over all. 

The heavy handed investigations into the Dunne-Vance leak, the leaking of beneficiary records when they complained about Winz, the return to Board of Trustees of letters teachers wrote to the Ministry of Education in their private capacity – nothing that they do indicates that we can trust them. 

The secret deals with multi-national companies to remove basic human rights, such as freedom of association, and the continuing implementing of laws that reduce appeal rights of citizen – and the unexplained vigour of the prosecution of Kim Dot Com, which remains unexplained despite its high profile.

But also the hypocrisy of politicians like Peter Dunne. 

He is implicit [audience claps].

He is implicit in laws that remove human rights, left right and centre, and then he asserts that he has a right to privacy and somehow his emails should be sacrosanct [audience claps].

On this record, to ask us, to trust this law, and to trust this Government, is the height of arrogance.

Like you, we are furious about this law change, as much for what it represents as for what it will do.  

It is part of a slow pattern of legislations the breaches the most basic of human rights, and makes our society less fair, less democratic, less equal, and it should be resisted.

Thank you.

Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Helen Kelly


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