In her Herald on Sunday column this week Heather Du Plessis-Allan suggested some silly people came along to last Thursday’s anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) protests and ruined everything, and now the country will never want to talk about free trade ever again – because, well – bad protesters. I imagine a ‘good protester’ to Du Plessis-Allan is someone who quietly marches waving an inoffensive placard, in an inoffensive way, accompanied by an inoffensive chant, asking to have an inoffensive conversation, with some inoffensive people – someone, who even Mike Hosking’s so-called “regular New Zealanders” could give their inoffensive nod of approval too.
Guess what guys, the revolution was never meant to be inoffensive, nor something easily slotted in between a pedicure and picking the kids up at three. Protesting, by its nature, is an inconvenience. If it doesn’t make the viewer uncomfortable it is not doing its job. Also protesting, or the right to protest, is a democratic right in our country – we literally go to war in other countries to afford their peoples the same rights. Let that sink in for a minute. While the boys and girls of our Fourth Estate reduce serious issues to ‘silly protesters’ and ‘traffic inconveniences’ – we send men and women to potentially die in foreign lands to give or to restore to a foreign citizen, their right to protest and inconvenience their governments. The very same rights it would seem that some people here would rather we didn’t have.
I don’t want to watch, or read, or hear another talking head whine about protesting “riff-raff” and “rent-a-crowd”. I want to watch, read, and hear them instead discuss the issues being protested, for, or against. Let’s not forget some media personalities are paid very well to do this, so why are they still struggling with the fundamentals of our democracy and getting away with it? Let alone being paid for that struggle? If Hosking for example can’t figure it out, please someone dear god explain it to him, and please let that someone not be Toni Street. Every time we allow important conversations to be derailed by lowest common denominator sound bites churned out to even lower common denominator audiences, we do New Zealand a disservice. We do our kids a disservice.
Not just content with sticking the knife into ‘bad protesters’ for giving protesting a bad image and turning people off talking about the TPPA, Du Plessis-Allan claims their actions single-handedly sent “ordinary people” – which I can only assume is Du Plessis-Allan ‘speak’ for Hosking’s “regular New Zealanders” – into the moderate and welcoming arms of the TPPA proponents. Really? Do we have evidence of this? Or is this something Du Plessis-Allan made up because she had a 500 word limit to fulfil? If so-called “ordinary” New Zealanders don’t understand the TPPA as she alleges and a bunch of protesters can scare them off, then that’s not the fault of the protester, that’s her fault, she is the journalist after all.
What has she done the past eight years to elucidate the masses? She derides and ridicules protesters for their ignorance in the face of a knowledge vacuum, but lets her so-called “ordinary people” and Hosking’s “real New Zealanders” off the hook, despite their own very obvious ignorance due to the same information void. The TPPA came out of the last decade when the United States wished to join the four country Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP) – so it has literally been a thing since January 2008. Why are we so ignorant to this agreement eight years on? Why are people fearful of not just it but many of its clauses? Can our broadcasters really say they’ve done their very best to give people not just credible, but also the factual information they would need to have to take a well-rounded position on it? I don’t think so.
It seems a major goal in the TPPA debate for some time now has being to avoid pushing for answers on contentious provisions in the agreement from the negotiating Executive, and instead drill non-negotiating opposition parties on their stance. Demanding to know if they are anti-free trade for example, because they, inexplicably it seems to some media, dare to question parts of the agreement while supporting others. For some, it’s like the media are fighting the fire in the letterbox while behind them the house burns. No wonder people are scared and effectively screaming at their screens, and now screaming into our screens, at the journalistic equivalent of the horror movie victim not heeding our warnings to ‘look behind’ them. If people for, against and everything between, are still ignorant of this agreement this late in the game, some feeling anxious, desperate and fearful, then someone’s not doing their job – or someone else is doing their job too a little too well.
On Radio New Zealand last week, ex Labour Party politician and Speaker of the House, Margaret Wilson, now Professor of Law and Public Policy at University of Waikato said this of the protesters and their perceived ignorance,
“Why they’re bothering is that somehow or another people feel they have to express to their government their feelings about both [the] process [of the TPPA], and [the] content in many ways as well, because they haven’t had any other opportunity to do so. In New Zealand’s constitutional arrangement, [protest] is the way in which the people, the only way really, substantially, [that people can] communicate directly [with the Executive].”
Du Plessis-Allan though bless her, hopes middle New Zealand will stay strong in the face of inconvenient protests and inner city traffic jams, and no matter how tedious, carry on the apparently newly started, but nevertheless important TPPA conversation. It’s almost like Du Plessis-Allan has only just realised the importance of it, let alone known that some of us have being desperately screaming out for us to have this conversation for some time. See what I did there Heather?
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy
Like it or not dear reader, the thousands of protesters who turned up last Thursday, and the many people who wish they could have, are not the people who need their actions questioned right now.
Viva la revolution.
The Standard has a posted an updated listing today of John Key’s lies. There’s a lot of them.
One lie that doesn’t often make these lists is what I believe to be the biggest lie of all: his 1991 statement to the Equiticorp inquiry.
In July 1990 New Zealand’s newly formed Serious Fraud Office were charged with investigating the shambles that was Equiticorp and it’s now infamous founder Alan Hawkins. Unraveling a ledger entry called ‘H-Fee’ ultimately saw Australia’s SFO equivalent, the now defunct National Crime Authority, assist with the Equiticorp investigation. While the SFO pursued Hawkins over Equiticorp, the NCA went after Australian based Elders IXL and it’s founder John Elliot over the ‘H-Fee’ entries. It was alleged that $67 million (NZ$76) in fraudulent foreign exchange transactions were made in two payments to Equiticorp to pay back Hawkins for his assistance in Elliot’s 1986 takeover battle for steelmaking giant BHP.
Two years early on 26 August 1988, setting in motion the second (A$27 million) of the ‘H-Fee’ payments, Elders IXL executive Ken Jarrett had met with Elders Merchant Finance manager Peter Camm and head of foreign exchange, Paul Richards in Wellington. The transaction was completed on 7 September 1988.
One week before been elected Prime Minister of New Zealand in November 2008, Key was asked about the truthfulness of this statement. He said it was 100% truthful, 100% correct and anything else was “a smear campaign by a desperate left”.
Is it a smear if an accusation is true?
When the NCA brought charges against Elliot and other Elders IXL executives, Peter Camm and Paul Richards were also facing fraud charges. In May 1991, now working at Bankers Trust, Key was asked to corroborate a part of Richards statement, namely a lunch he claimed that two had on 31 August 1988.
Richards was alleging it was the 31st and not the 26th that he and Camm had met with Jarrett that August. The trader was adamant of the date and told investigators he could recall the “lunch” and it’s “date”, as it was a “farewell” for “John Key” who was leaving the firm to go to Bankers Trust. Key agreed with Richards recollection of events and made a statement to the investigation reflecting that.
Except Key worked with New York based currency raider Andrew Krieger while they were both at Bankers Trust. This relationship has been confirmed by Key’s then boss, Gavin Walker. Walker has said of the relationship, that it was more or less in Key’s job description to look after Krieger, saying on Key’s first day with Bankers Trust he gave Key a list of their top clients, of which Krieger was one of them. Key himself has said he will never forget his first call with Krieger, where he asked Key about New Zealand’s GDP and it’s monetary supply.
For Key to have worked with Krieger, of which there is no doubt, then he would have had to have left Elders Merchant Finance in August 1987, and not 1988 as told to investigators, as Krieger resigned from Bankers Trust in February 1988. By June 1988 he had retired from the currency markets altogether, not returning to them until 1990. Readers may also recall Key told a reporter in 2007 he had indeed left Elders Merchant Finance in 1987 but called that a mistake when his 1991 Equiticorp statement surfaced a year later.
If Key wishes the New Zealand public to believe he was telling the truth to them in 2008 when as a wanna be prime minister, he assured them his 1991 Equiticorp statement was 100% true and correct, then he needs to explain to us how he, in late 1988, supposedly began working so closely with a world infamous currency trader who was no longer working in the currency markets. He also needs to explain how Walker, now Chair of the Board of Guardians of the New Zealand Superfund, could have his recollection so wrong as well.
What authorities need to know is, knowingly misleading a Serious Fraud Office investigation carries a maximum fine of $15,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment. Not too mention the possibly criminal issue of Key and Richards conspiring to mislead an investigation.
While some might question whether or not Key lying in his youth has any bearing on the man today, the facts are some 55,000 Equiticorp shareholders were defrauded of over $400 million dollars.
If Key was willing to lie to protect those involved in facilitating some of that fraud, does he continue to lie today to protect himself?
In his book ‘Dirty Collars’ ex SFO head Charles Sturt says this of the vast powers bestowed on his department,
“while a person may be compelled to answer questions, these answers may only be used in evidence if the accused subsequently gives evidence inconsistent with their previous statements”
John Key, did you lie to the Serious Fraud Office?
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Every time I read a story about Key lying I cringe. I cringe because the caliber of this man was there, ready for the exposing back in 2008.
One week before the election Key’s 1991 statement to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into failed corporate high-flier Equiticorp surfaced. Key had been interviewed by investigators and went on to corroborate the information an ex-colleague had given to the inquiry. This colleague/friend was facing fraud charges and Key’s statement, parts of which are now a matter of public record, confirmed the two had met for lunch on a particular date, and during that lunch meeting another event (of interest to the investigators) allegedly happened. Despite there been an issue with the date, but both men where steadfast they were remembering it correctly because the date was “Key’s farewell”. Key, they alleged was leaving one company for another and they were celebrating his last day.
However this timeline conflicts with media reports from February 2008 that discuss at length Key’s working relationship with infamous currency trader Andrew Krieger at this new firm. Key’s ex boss, Gavin Walker, discussed at length this relationship, as did Key himself, telling journalists’ he could recall his first phone call with Krieger, where the New York based trader asked him about New Zealand’s GDP and monetary supply. Walker told John Roughan, for his book “John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister”, he gave Key a list of top clients on Key’s first day, of which Krieger was one of them. Krieger himself though resigned from the firm some six months before Key told SFO investigators he started with the firm. Krieger, not only resigned from the firm six months before, he removed himself from the currency markets altogether two months before Key’s SFO statement alleges he started with Krieger’s firm.
What is most disturbing about all this is not that Labour’s Mike William’s was pilloried for trying to uncover information about the SFO Equiticorp investigation, accused of dirty politics, although that was pretty disgusting in itself; rather, instead of investigating the discrepancies in Key’s statement, his SFO statement was used as ‘proof’ he was telling the ‘truth’.
I ask you New Zealand, if Key’s SFO statement is not a fabrication, then his relationship with Andrew Krieger is, and if his relationship with Andrew Krieger is true, the his statement to the SFO a lie.
Either way, John Key is a liar. It’s hightime someone called him out on it.
Yours sincerely, Enough.
(Originally appeared as a comment on TheStandard)
I wrote yesterday about how well documented it is that Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key worked with currency trader Andrew Krieger while they were both at Bankers Trust in the mid 1980s.
A week before the 2008 election, a 1991 statement Key gave to the then new established Serious Fraud Office surfaced. In it we learned Key had told investigators he could recall a date crucial to the investigation because it was the same date as his last day with Elders Merchant Finance – he was going to Auckland to take a position with Bankers Trust – this is supposedly the time when he started with Krieger. Except this timeframe is an impossibility. Krieger resigned from Bankers Trust some six months before the date in question.
Key has either lied to media when they were doing background bios on him in 2008 about working with Krieger, or, and more likely, Key conspired to lie to the Serious Fraud Office to assist his ex Elders colleague Paul Richards who was facing fraud charges.
Gavin Walker who was Key’s boss at Bankers Trust, talked at length with media in 2008 about the relationship Key had with Krieger, going so far as to say managing that relationship was more or less in Key’s job description. Walker is now Chair of the Board of Guardians of the New Zealand Super Fund. Did he lie to media about Key working with Krieger? Because lying and misleading is the implication if Key maintains his SFO statement is true and correct – as he did in the lead up to the 2008 General Election.
As for Richards, he soon followed Key to Bankers Trust and may or may not have been still working there when he was first interviewed by the SFO in November 1990. If he was, did he and Key conspire to the mislead the SFO investigators? Constructing an elaborate back story of a ‘farewell lunch’ that never took place? The date of this lunch conflicted with the recollections of Richard’s co-accused. Richards is now head of UBS Head of FX Distribution in the US. He is a regular finance and foreign exchange commentator on television and news in the US and is a current and past (2012) member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve.
For the record, the investigation all those years ago was into the failed high flying company Equiticorp. Over 55,000 shareholders were defrauded of over $400 million, of which the would be New Zealand PM was willing to lie to investigators to protect his friend and colleague who had helped commit $67 million of that fraud.
A week before the 2008 election Key was asked about his statement and assured Radio New Zealand listens he did not lie to the SFO, maintaining his statement was 100% true and correct and claimed any talk of the contrary was nothing but left wing smears, attack politics from desperate opponents.
Today opposition leader, Labour’s Andrew Little called Key a liar over the PM’s knowledge of ex-Northland MP Mike Sabin’s police investigation – add another lie to Key’s growing pile of untruths and obfuscations but I think Key’s 1991 SFO statement may be his longest standing and most damaging lie yet.
See related story: What’s that behind your back? Toilet Paper?
‘Policing the 1981 Springbok tour, cartoon’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/policing-the-tour-cartoon, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 15-Jul-2013
Some felt that the New Zealand Rugby Football Union should have to pay the bill for policing the tour out of the profits they made from the matches. The police spent an estimated $15 million on ‘Operation Rugby’.
Policeman: ‘Kiwi Joe Taxpayer, you are hereby warned that you will be charged with the unknown cost of police overtime, transportation and accommodation, the uncertain cost of supplying umpteen giant hopper bins of gravel, the as-yet-uncalculated cost of installing umpteen rolls of barbed wire, the yet-to-be-estimated cost of—’
Taxpayer:’Why me? What about them?’
Alexander Turnbull Library
Cartoonist: Nevile Lodge, from Evening Post 8 September 1981
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any reuse of this image.
Kia ora ka tou, congratulations on being here tonight, I’m really glad to be here too.
I’m really the last speaker – so what a lot of things that needed to be said have been said already and I’m going to give a bit more context about the GCSB and what the issues are about – I’m going to give you some context – because some things that needed to be said have been said already – I’m going to give some context about this GCSB and what the bigger, wider, issues.
So setting aside for a moment the issue of spying on New Zealanders – I want to say what the GCSB does most of the time – because it mostly spies on other countries. It mostly spies on other countries, and a large part of its work is not spying for New Zealand, it’s spying for the United States, and all that work that it does, is never ever seen by New Zealanders, and it is in effect like an outpost of the NSA in the South Pacific – even though they would never like people to say this.
It is a very strange, and a very un New Zealand kind of New Zealand organisation, the most un-New Zealand organisation that we have in our Government sector [audience claps].
And I want to, I’ll give you some examples of this, because the main reason we should be worrying about the GCSB for other people, not ourselves actually.
In the 1950’s and 60s it was in the deep of the Cold War and it was spying mainly on Russia.
It spied on China in 1980s. It was helping the British spy on Argentina – helping the British spy on Egypt. It continued to spy on China. We spied on France; we spied on Vietnam and the Philippines, South Africa and many more countries, other countries, for the US during the 1980s.
In the 2000s, we moved into this thing whole thing to spy on Spanish speaking countries of Latin America. Why?
We’d already moved into spying on Iran; you can guess why – and after September 11– GCSB officers have been flying away on regular shifts to work out of US headquarters in Afghanistan, alongside their military trained colleagues, to spy on the ‘enemy’ – except it’s not an ‘enemy’ New Zealanders were told about – to help kill them with raids and bombs and drones, in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
And if you think – what this means of course that if you think New Zealand’s interests and foreign policies and values are identical to that of the United States and Britain and then this seems like a good idea – but if our interests aren’t exactly the same – then years after we’ve stopped being a colony – acting like a colony which still does the work of these countries – is a very strange place for New Zealand to be [audience claps].
And it’s all totally secret, there is no public input at all. So it’s very important there is this controversy going on now, ‘cause this is a rare opportunity, for us to not just be thinking about the GCSB Bill but thinking about the GCSB [audience claps].
Now, the other thing I want to say is about, lots have been said; I want to say a little bit about spying on New Zealanders. I want to talk about how far and how wide it has gone – but also how far and how wide it hasn’t gone first. And I say this because there will be, when this Bill passes, whenever legislation is passed that is too wide and too poorly thought out and it’s too secret [to] what they’re doing and there is not enough controls and the wrong people are making the decisions – there will be people targeted like you been hearing about tonight who are the wrong people who don’t deserve to be victims – they’ll be casualties to this piece of legislation when it does through the way it does, and it looks like it will do.
But also I’m in the position where I got; I get contacted by large numbers of people who worry that they are being spied on, because they hear about things like this. And one of the great, one of the sad things about having unnecessary spy laws and unnecessary powers is they don’t just create real harm they create much more wide spread fear.
And so the thing I want to say tonight, even though it sounds a little bit counter the meeting, is that most people in this room are not going to be spied on by the GCSB and most people out there throughout society – and there will be [people who are] – but part of us trying to reduce the harm and the hurt of something like this, is not to spread unnecessary fear – because they attack peoples sense of self and their confidence and their ability to be involved in politics [audience claps].
Now like the other speakers here – I think this is obviously a really bad piece of law. It’s an unnecessary piece of law. It’s being justified, sometimes with absurdly weak excuses – and there is almost an invitation to future scandals which will come along when we discover what went wrong with it.
But I’d like to also just before we run out of time put [it]in a larger context because what’s going with this GCSB Bill is just the tip of an iceberg of what is happening – it is not happening in isolation – what we’re really talking about is that we’ve moved into the digital age. We’ve moved into a time where people live much more of their lives online.
They store their lives online. They communicate online. Compared to using a telephone a generation ago – people’s privacy and their selves are vastly more exposed than they were in the past – and at the same times as people have exposed themselves more digital technology has given previously unimaginable powers to intrude into that.
And it doesn’t matter whether you swipe your card in the supermarket ‘cause you think you’re going to save some money and it registers what you brought and who you are every time you do that, or whether it’s the GCSB or things in between – there’s been a huge growth in the ability of people to have their live surveilled.
On top of that, different kinds of mass surveillance tools have come out. The ‘War on Terror’ which allowed a vast expansion, resources, the GCSB doubled in size, it’s overseas allies more than did that, and just like the American intelligence agencies which moved from spying on the Russians to spying on Americans – surprise, surprise we discovered the same thing had happened here – that they moved those great big Cold War resources to use against domestic targets as well.
So that’s the context in which we see what’s going on, and it’s all happened invisibly and secretly and the GCSB Bill we should realise is not the end of the world and the only issue on it, it’s like a jump, on a curve which has being going up and up over the last couple of decades – and that’s, so that’s, my main message tonight – whether or not they pass this Bill, which they probably will in the next few days, that can’t be the end of the fight, in fact bringing the GCSB into the light and having the attention on it has to be the beginning of ongoing action, and there is one other thing that we should feel inspired about at the moment and this is another tremendous part of the digital age and that’s the Wikileaks example [audience claps].
And that’s the example which is going to keep, this is the example, this is the idea that one of the ways that ordinary people can control centralisation and excesses and abuses of power is by leaking information, by fighting back in that way, and what Edward Snowden is doing at the moment is something that just doesn’t happen every year, it doesn’t even happen every decade – he is exactly the right person, at exactly the right time at that point in our history, who is illuminating something incredibly important and the energy which we have built up in New Zealand about the GCSB Bill combined with Edward Snowden living in his house hidden, in Moscow now, is the perfect opportunity for us to change things.
So I would argue this is the time not to be despairing if the GCSB Bill goes through but be setting up new internet privacy organisations in New Zealand and to be working together and to be looking at that broadly with a picture and start to change it, and I feel optimistic about this because I believe, the basis of my life is, if ordinary people know about things then they will care about them and they will work to change them. If you don’t feel as optimistic as me, look around this room, please look around the room, and see how many people there are here with you and keep caring and keep working to change it.
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Nicky Hager
Kia ora mai ano tatou katoa. Kia ora tatou e hui tahi nei i roto i tenei whare rangatira o Tamaki-makau-rau. Tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora tatou katoa. *
Look, ah, mine’s going to be a little bit different, don’t be offended folks, when I get into my korero.
I noticed it at the last public meeting on the Bill that we held in Mt Albert, and I noticed it here again tonight that our audience is mainly middle class, mainly Pakeha, people with jobs, home, life security and the time to ponder the issues of the day – issues such as this [audience claps].
I don’t say that to be offensive, I simply say it to highlight the difference, and the disparity in the lives that we lead in this country [audience claps].
Because regardless of whether people are Maori, Pasifika, Pakeha or of any other ethnic origin – poor people, hungry people, people without jobs, people without security, beneficiaries, just don’t have the time or the inclination or the energy – to worry about things like global spy networks and the gathering of metadata [audience claps].
And chances are most of them don’t even know about or care about Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden or Julian Assange or Wikileaks or even Whaihopai – and it’s not because they don’t care about spying, far from it – beneficiaries’ care about spying alright, they experience it every day, they suffer from it, their families are affected, by their families destroyed by it, they are frustrated by it, and their spirits are broken by it, by the grinding, ruthlessness of it all.
Sure it’s not the James Bond sort of stuff that we all hear about , nor is it the macho, gun slinging fiasco, like when the Keystone clowns broke into the Kim Dot Com mansion – but it is still spying.
Beneficiaries in this country are already spied upon. Their life details checked, cross checked, amended, deleted, debated, destroyed – how do you say published starting with a ‘D’ – [audience laughs] – distributed [audience claps].
Without their knowledge, and without their consent – by a network of computers, by Work and Income, Housing New Zealand, the Accident Compensation [Commission] Corporation, Child Youth and Family, Inland Revenue, the Justice Department, the Department of Corrections, the Police, and no doubt a few other departments and agencies I’ve forgotten to list.
And yet who marches for their rights?
Who stands up for them?
How many, how many Queen Counsels – kia ora Rodney [Harrison QC] – New Zealander’s of the Year, law professors, human rights advocates, political leaders, or even New Zealand residents of German extraction [audience laughs].
Will stand up for the rights of the poor, and the down trodden, right here in Aotearoa [audience claps].
Are we here tonight simply to express our indignation at the loss of our own precious freedoms?
I will happily stand alongside all those around the country who oppose moves to expand Government’s capacities to spy on its own citizens.
But let me gently remind those of us comfortable enough to be able to be upset by such moves – that those moves began sometime ago, and that many of you gathered here tonight may have harrumphed with righteous indignation, and possible even nodded in support, when those laws were passed to allow our own Government to intrude upon and to spy into the lives of our fellow citizens.
This is something that affects us all.
Just over thirty-two years ago I attended a HART meeting just after the Police had bludgeoned many of our friends at Molesworth Street in Wellington.
When I was asked to join with everyone else in condemning the actions of the Police, I said I’m sorry for those who have been hurt but in a way I was kind of glad that middle New Zealand was finally feeling what Maori and Pacific Island had been feeling for decades [audience claps].
And tonight as we gather to express our disappointment and our anger at the state and intruding upon our lives, please bare with me when I say again, that hopefully middle New Zealand finally stands up and gets what Maori and Pacific Island people have been fighting for decades [audience claps].
In 1981 we stood together united with by view, that the blow to freedom of anyone is a blow to freedom of us all. Now I can tell by the number of the grey beards out there tonight – there’s quite few of you who are here tonight.
It’s the same thing – it is the same thing.
Apartheid over there, racism over here -G[C]SB and the global spy network and its impacts on us here – right here in Aotearoa.
As we stand here united in our opposition to the GSCB Bill and in our, our commitment to rolling back this vicious piece of legislation, I hope that unity lasts until we roll back every piece of legislation that criminalises people for daring to try to survive in a deeply unequal world.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoua.
* Greetings again to us all. Greetings to us meeting together in this chiefly house of Auckland. Greetings to you, greetings to you, greetings to us all
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Hone Harawira
Kia ora, tena koutou katoa, and good evening.
Thanks to John Minto and those people who have organised this evening and for you to have come out tonight, and for the chance to speak to you about a very critical issue for our country.
The issue we face is not whether we have security agencies or not – New Zealanders are after all realists, they know we live in an imperfect, often evil world. We need to have security agencies such as the GCSB.
We need leadership on these issues of national security that we can trust – and to ensure we get that trust, we first need laws that we can trust [audience claps].
The real issues are how much new power are we giving the GCSB? Second how do we have an effective oversight of that agency, and third how do we avoid relying on one person, the Prime Minister, to safe guard our civil liberties? New Zealand First’s proposal on the Bill addresses all these questions.
When the legislation came up, we took the Prime Minister at his word, as did my colleagues behind me – he said he wanted broad Parliamentary support for this legislation, and we believed that broad Parliamentary support is critical for such legislation because the security and safety of our citizens should be every politicians number one concern [audience claps].
And we have all offered a constructive way forward, for a robust, workable oversight of this law and the GCSB – but sadly the Prime Minister has acted in bad faith. There was only the pretence of building a wider agreement, but the moment he got the one vote he needed, from you know who [audience laughs].
Well you weren’t trusting John Banks we’re you [audience laughs]?
Once he got the one vote, it was a done deal; any thought of seeking broader Parliamentary support vanished.
And the tragedy is that despite the fact that a lot of these people went through Auckland Law School, not one National MP has dissented from the current GCSB Bill [audience heckles].
Not one MP.
Now George Orwell had a phrase for that – “group think” [audience claps].
They’re telling the country if ‘you’re not with us, you’re against us’, ‘if you’ve got something to hide’ – [audience laughs].
That’s what they’re saying, the law’s justified. Doesn’t matter what you’re hiding, that it might be private, it’s still their concern. – now what an odious view the Government and its cling-on’s take of their fellow New Zealanders.
The proposed law will be clearly explained tonight and has been by those who understand better its gambit – but the real issues are these –
First, the GCSB was an international spy agency; it will now become also a domestic spy agency.
Second, the GCSB’s intelligence powers and functions were constrained; they will now be seriously widened.
Third this organisation could previously not legally spy on New Zealanders, New Zealand organisations, or New Zealand businesses – now it can.
Fourth, under existing law all manner of domestic information data is off limits for the GCSB – now it is not.
And fifth, today a warrants’ checking agency has to explain the particular, or general threat to national security posed by an individual – now if accessing metadata, no such explanation is required.
And six, no such explanation is required, if private communicating parties should have contemplated that their communication could be accessed by a third party.
This sounds complex but, in fact, it reads like an excuse for hacking, let alone troll security agencies.
What’s worryingly clear though ladies and gentlemen, is that Mr Key does not understand the law that he’s talking about [audience claps].
It was clear as daylight on that Campbell show, that he didn’t understand the law – and it will be clear to all those who have being on the committee looking at this matter that this man has no experience on this issue and is not concerned about its complexities and it’s dangers [audience claps].
He does not understand the law, and let me say this, if he did, and he believed what he was saying was true, why does he plan to make a Parliamentary statement in the Bill’s, in the Bill’s Third Reading, as guidance to the courts.
Here was I thinking our judges had New Zealand case law as a precedent, Commonwealth and other precedents to guide them – now they have John Key’s guidance by way of a speech [audience laughs].
This is thoroughly bad law. It’s an admission by the Prime Minister that his law is clear and present danger to the freedoms and values of the people of this country.
I want to close by saying; we will not support legislation that makes our Prime Minister all powerful [audience claps].
Even if you thought John Key was as trust worthy, benign, and as innocent as Mother Theresa [audience laughs].
You would be mad to put so much unbridled power into the hands of one person, who has such a flimsy understanding of hard fought civil liberties [audience claps].
Finally, finally – when Mr Key said he had no knowledge of Kim Dot Com, or the raid, he was not telling the truth [audience claps].
His constant denials are false, and his supporters need to know, that soon he will be found out, and when that day happens, they will bitterly regret their trust in him.
We ask the Prime Minister and his colleagues, even at this eleventh hour, to think again.
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Winston Peters
Tena koutou katoa, it is fantastic to be here and may I acknowledge the organisers of this fantastic public meeting – what a great job you’ve done [audience claps].
This just isn’t about the GCSB Bill – though it is about the GSCB Bill – but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about the quality the relationship between a people and their Government. A people should not live in fear of their Government – a Government should be a servant of their people [audience claps].
We can make Government once again a servant of the people, together we will, and can make history.
This is about the quality of our relationships with each other. How can we have proper human relationships with each other, if we have no private space where, in which we can communicate honestly, our opinions to each other without living in fear that those communications could be intercepted and used against us?
How can we have proper human relationships [audience claps]?
And this is about the quality of our democracy. Democracy is not just a popularity contest once every three years – Vladimir Putin can run one of them [audience laughs].
Democracy is about some fundamental rights like – the freedom of expression – the right to live free from state surveillance. Democracy is more than just voting once every three years Mr Key [audience claps].
And this debate, indeed this struggle which we are engaged in, is also about the quality of our relationship with the rest of the world. We don’t wish to be the second rate follow up, the second deputy sheriff, to the great United States of America [audience claps].
When Hollywood says we don’t like Mr Dot Com to the US Government and the US Government says to Mr John Key, well we don’t therefore like Dot Com either, Mr John Key’s answer should not be, “you want me to jump? How high [audience claps]?”
We want to have an independent foreign policy; we want to be a respected country in the world. We want to be a nation state known for its belief’s and its values [audience claps].
Instead across Europe, and the, across civilised world the United States is now being viewed with suspicion, and fear, and as member of the Five Eyes Network , we are now being seen in as part of that – and I don’t think we want to be seen as part of the global surveillance state [audience claps].
There reason we can have this meeting here tonight is because those who came before us fought for our democratic rights and our democratic freedoms – that is the only reason that we can have this meeting here tonight. And I think we need to acknowledge the people who have come before us [audience claps].
I seems now very apposite that John Minto was one of the organisers.
But these democratic rights and freedoms that we have, that go back centuries – these democratic rights and freedoms were not giving as a charity by those who had power, to the people – they were taken. They were taken from people just like you. They were taken by people whose stood up for something and had their voice heard.
So tonight what I would ask of you is that – we don’t know what is going to happen this week in the house, maybe y/know we’ll get lucky and find in amongst those [forty-nine] fifty –nine National Party members of Parliament, one of them will have a conscience, y/never know [audience laughs].
But whatever happens tonight, remember, the democratic rights and freedoms you have right now are a result of the people that came before and before us and fought for those democratic rights and freedoms. And our job, our job here tonight and over the next year, is to play our part in the chain of history and make sure we restore our basic democratic rights and freedoms and over turn this bloody law.
Download transcript pdf: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Russell Norman
Kia ora katou, it is so great to be here with you all tonight, turning out for an issue that strikes at the very heart of our freedoms and rights as New Zealanders.
Let me start by saying, in case you missed it, that we in Labour oppose this Bill utterly [audience claps].
We are fighting, and have fought it all the way, to stop this Bill with you, with the other political parties, because this Bill will make bad law.
It fails to get the basic balance right between the need to keep our country safe and our fundamental rights to privacy – and those rights are something I am absolutely committed to protecting as the leader of a future Government [audience claps].
Because some, some people might say this issue doesn’t matter to New Zealanders – in fact there was a poll the other, about 4 months ago that said thirty-two percent of New Zealanders said that they had full trust, sorry ‘only’ thirty-two percent of New Zealanders said they had full trust in our intelligence agencies, we have to revise that in light of John Campbell’s latest poll.
And that’s why a Labour led Government will commission a full, independent inquiry across our entire intelligence network and of the basis of that replace the current law [audience claps].
We need to restore that trust that people have, and this review should not be just about the GCSB, it has to be about the SIS, and the Police, and the Defence Forces, and how they actually work together, because we do know before the GCSB issue came up that there was new legislation being proposed for the SIS as well – and the idea was to bring the SIS and GCSB even closer together – that’s been shelved because of what’s going on now [audience claps].
So we will work with the other political parties including those here, and it’s been a privilege to work with them over the last few months, to set the terms of reference for that inquiry – and we will talk to you, to make sure that we have the right changes made for this law in the future.
This Government isn’t listening; it’s ramming this Bill through, not because of any urgent changes are actually needed – but because it wants to get this issue off the political agenda.
Y/know I actually asked John Key if he had any evidence that New Zealand would be at risk if his legislation wasn’t rushed through, would there be a greater threat somehow without this Bill? And he couldn’t come up with a case for why these changes are so urgent.
This Bill is being rushed through, put together in an ad-hoc, Mickey Mouse way – that even the Prime Minister is unsure about it, what it will actually do. One day he said that the new law won’t let our spy’s look at the content of New Zealander’s emails , the next day he writes a to the Herald saying,
“actually they will be able to do that, but I’ll put a stop to it by putting conditions in the warrant I give the GCSB,”
– it’s a just a matter of trust really isn’t it.
“Hey she’ll be right. It will be okay,”
Well if that’s the case? Why not put it in the legislation [audience claps]?
So tomorrow in the House, Labour will propose an amendment to put that promise, of not looking into the contents of New Zealander’s emails into law. And we’ll see if Mr Key stands by his word and support’s it – because the whole trust thing hasn’t worked out that well so far [audience laughs].
We’ve had to drag the truth out on every issue, on each of the debacles that have continued to go down the tracks. From Dot Com – actually I want to just acknowledge Kim Dot Com and say we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him – looking at our legislation [audience claps].
From Dot Com, from appointing your mate as the Head of the GCSB, to illegal spying, to snooping around in journalists emails – it took weeks, and weeks until we got to the bottom, in each of those cases, to what was going on. Now as New Zealanders we deserve much better than that. They need to know there is proper oversight of our intelligence agencies, and right know too much power lies in one person’s hands.
The Prime Minister appoints the Head of the GCSB, currently his mate, Prime Minister heads the Committee overseeing the agency, sets the agenda of that Committee, and has the casting vote – so during the inquiry we had, I asked because he was the, the committee overseeing the agency sets the agenda of that committee, and has the casting vote.
So during the inquiry we had I asked, because he was, the, the proposal was that the GCSB was going to be helping out the SIS, the Police, the Defence Forces – perhaps we could hear from the Police, and the SIS about exactly what they were going to be doing, why the need the GCSB. That was refused, it was voted down by the committee. So you can see what sort of role that committee has.
But the Prime Minister also appoints the Commissioner of Warrants who issues the spying warrants, appoints the agency’s watchdog, the Inspector General – there’s nobody else providing those checks and balances and that is utterly unacceptable [audience claps].
New Zealanders are looking for leadership on this issue.
We went to the Government to see if we could find some way forward but it wasn’t interested. Instead I was told Peter Dunne was willing to give his vote, and get them across the line [audience heckles].
A ‘willing buyer’ and a ‘willing seller’ as Dunne so eloquently put it. So the Government has got the numbers to slip it across the line – on a profoundly important issue and that’s simply not good enough. If we truly want to restore public confidence in our intelligence agencies we have to move beyond the fog of scandal and actually work together.
We could do much better than this Bill.
Some of the best safe guards in the world could be put in our legislation – we could actually have some of the world leading legislation here – we have that opportunity, we have that chance. But we’ve squandered it. It requires a commitment to do what is in the best interest of New Zealanders rather than what’s politically expedient [audience claps].
Labour will provide that commitment and that’s the promise I bring to you tonight.
Thank you very much.
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – David Shearer
Nga mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa he mokopuna ahau o nga iwi o Ngati Porou, Nga Puhi, Te Rarawa hoki, no reira tena koutou katoa *
Kia ora everyone my name is Marama Davidson and I am speaking to you tonight as a social justice advocate who also happens to be a Maori woman and a mother [audience claps].
State spying is nothing new for Maori or indigenous peoples around the world [audience claps].
The way that state spying powers have been used to trample on innocent people around the world has always being an injustice. This Bill, this threat to our privacy and democratic freedoms did not just start today.
Other groups often targeted by state surveillance include environmental groups, human rights and social justice activists, peace activists, those fighting for independence from oppressive rule, and certainly indigenous rights groups [audience claps].
So I am thankful tonight for an opportunity to remind us of this historical injustice in relation to further state powers being granted in that same direction.
I urge all New Zealanders, to consider that this abuse has never been good and it won’t be good for any of us now as the tentacles of power extend their reach over more of us.
Some of the laws that we already have – never mind any new ones being proposed – are an offense to the rule of law in every way that they have being enacted when it comes to targeting groups.
The Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 and the Suppression of Rebellion Act 1863 were made arbitrarily and to smooth Colonial oppression over Maori.
In 2007 the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Act was post ‘Operation 8’, as the wonderful Jane [Kelsey] has alluded to, where the Police acted unlawfully, unjustifiably and unreasonably during those armed raids. They impacted on innocent children and whanau in Urewera.
The GCSB Bills is just more of the same rubbish rushed legislation and should not be seen in isolation of the ongoing smearing of particular groups, communities and organisations. Continuing – continuing with this Colonial history in the GCSB debate, Dr Leonie Peihama reminds us of the shameful invasion of Parihaka in 1881 [audience claps].
Her ancestors were branded rebels; land stolen to advance Colonial invasion and people unlawfully imprisoned for seeking justice. Te Whiti O Rongomai, Tohu Kakahi and the families of the Parihaka community faced whatever the equivalent monitoring and surveillance of the day was then, despite their peaceful actions and intentions.
It is too easy to dismiss the historical blight as just that but unjustified targeting, monitoring and surveillance has continued to today.
This very hall you are all sitting in right now is on the land of Ngati Whatua and the Mana Whenua iwi of Tamaki Makaurau [audience claps].
Bastion Point Takaparawhau itself is a glaring point of legislative harassment. We recall people in our living memory also, such as Maori leaders Syd and Hana Jackson who suffered ongoing harassment from Government. Today there are two many of our social justice fighters who have been subject to unfair and discriminatory state surveillance – as a country we have not stood next to them and demanded the return of their democratic freedoms – but I am mightily glad we are all here now [audience claps].
I mentioned indigenous rights groups, as the global market economy seeks to gain power, [T]TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement), over the planet’s resources the uprising of indigenous peoples around the world becomes so important.
As the custodians of land and water, indigenous people, alongside environmental groups, and just concerned citizens are seeking an end to the unsustainable exploitation of our living systems and to have their sovereignty affirmed. In doing this, we are affording protection to the planet for all peoples [audience claps].
But this stand has again cost many our democratic freedoms when it comes to spying and Government harassment.
For example Filipino young people are facing an education system that is geared towards multi-national corporations and denies their indigenous heritage and identities – when indigenous youth voiced these concerns they faced various harassment, including surveillance. The Canadian Government continues to monitor the activities of aboriginal people who resist incursions on their indigenous rights and territories. The ‘Idle No More’ movement was borne last year in response to omnibus legislation which effectively removes indigenous peoples’ rights over their own lands.
Canada’s Government and its spy agency closely monitored the activities of that movement – what is even funnier – is the spy agency tried to claim it was doing so, not over fear of protest getting out of hand but to protect the activists from potential violence. Question mark? Hundreds of years of history simply laughs at that assertion.
But it is no laughing matter.
Whether or not you even agree with the stances of such groups who have been targeted, they all have a democratic right to express themselves and associate them without fear of unreasonable search and seizure.
So how can New Zealand remain independent and truly be a leading Pacific force?
I like Seeby’s [Woodhouse] list where we have being number ones.
This morning I released a blog about my children being part of street protests – given that my own parents met as protesting teenagers on the 1970s steps of Parliament this is a natural progression for me and mine. My youngest four year old child often accompanies me on such campaigns – there’s one Maori woman here tonight – I’m going to take this.
I wonder if we are giving John Key a good enough head start to get her search warrant written up because you can bet your life I am committed to teaching her to stand up, not just for her rights, but for the rights of others [audience claps].
The real threat to our national security is not someone like her.
I can’t wait for the day when as New Zealanders we actually fill this hall with politicians, lawyers, families, communities and activists, and say something like,
“No one is leaving here until we have a solid understanding that the wellbeing of New Zealander children is the absolute priority across all decisions made [audience claps].”
We could become actual leaders of the world if we were to resolve the issue of rights instead of jumping to spy on everyone. We could be true protectors of the security of our nation if we stopped with the assault on our democratic freedoms for a start.
If we were to show the planet we are assisting the global change that is needed for stronger communities, and supporting families to be the best contributors they can be, this would hold us in good stead. There are legacies for our children waiting to be manifested by us but our leadership is bland and not courageous at all.
It is the current leadership which is the biggest threat to our national security.
Download transcript pdf: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Marama Davidson
* Warm greetings to all of you, I am a descendent of the iwi of Ngati Porou Nga Puhi and Te Rarawa, therefore greetings to you all.
Kia ora koutou, aren’t you magnificent [to audience] [claps].
Tonight I want to focus – I’m going to be bit of a lawyer, it’s my day job – I want to focus on one aspect of the Bill in particular, Section [C], Section 8c, which involves the GCSB giving assistance to the Police, the Defence Force and the SIS.
The Sunday Times Star in its editorial last weekend – isn’t it great that media has got it – said quote,
“that section seems to give the bureau open slather to do what it wants on behalf of the other agencies.”
Section 8c can bite whoever it likes and allows the GCSB to access our mobile networks and to collect all our phone calls, texts and data. Now we’re supposed to not worry about that because the Police or the SIS need warrants to do that.
Now those of us who know anything about the Urewera Raids and the cases that followed [audience claps].
Shows how easily interception warrants are granted by judges – and that even when they are granted the Police exceed the terms of those warrants because it’s common practice to do so.
Indeed – and I can say this because I have seen the evidence, none of you know this sweep was in that case; and you would be horrified to know how many people were caught in that web.
That’s the Police.
If we move onto the SIS the warrants are even worse. Under the SIS Act its functions are to obtain, correlate and evaluate intelligence relevant to security, and to communicate that intelligence to such persons and in such manner as the Director believes to be in the interests of security. So what is this beast called security?
Section 2 of the Act, at is amended in the late 1990s, includes “the protection of New Zealand from activities within or relating to New Zealand that impact adversely on New Zealand’s international well-being or on New Zealand’s economic well-being.”
So the basis of an SIS warrant is that you or I are engaged in activities that are deemed by those who issue these warrants to be contrary to the international well-being or economic well-being of New Zealand – now if that is not an empty box into which Prime Minister Mr Key and his cronies can put in anything they want – I don’t know what is.
Now let me link this to the particular campaign that I’ve being working on at present to stop the conclusion of a mega-deal called the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement [audience claps].
Which is driven by and for the US and its corporations.
I want to highlight two connections – the first is the Government believes the TPPA is in New Zealand’s national interests and so I have no doubt Mr Grosner and Mr Key and others believe that our attempts to stop it are impacting adversely on New Zealand’s economic well-being – we are therefore open slather for an SIS warrant.
Now many of you will also know that they insist on keeping their side of these negotiations secret at the same time as they desperately want to know what we’re doing to try to stop them. But it is not only the SIS that can get a warrant, under the GCSB Bill, the GCSB will be spying on all our international colleagues who are working on this international campaign.
You will know we had leaked chapters – leaked chapters come from somewhere inside and somewhere around the world – and they want to know where those came from, who they came from, how we analysed it. They will want to know will there be any more, they will want to know if we are talking to negotiators of other countries that might be pursuing interests different from New Zealand’s – aka Fonterra [audience claps].
They will want to know whether we are advising any other negotiators in other countries, or indeed any other lobbies, about what New Zealand’s positions likely to be so they are forearmed in trying to bat back some of the more offensive demands from our end.
This is major problem not just for us but for those who work in other countries for whom doing this work is high risk. There are security laws, including in the US that can get some of those working on these issues into serious trouble.
But the second aspect of this agreement is that it will extend the laws that are available, to be able to spy through the networks.
Now in the beginning of these negotiations, we tended to view the likes of Google and Yahoo and Facebook as our friends as opposed to Hollywood and Microsoft and co. who were the bad guys – we’ll their still the bad guys – but since it was revealed the others have now being working to assist the national security agency to digitally eavesdrop through the PRISM project, they are not our friends either. So we’ve being looking more closely at what they have being doing.
What they say they want through this Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and their lobby net called the Internet Association, is a single set of rules for a global digital information market place that has no impediments or offline barriers – by which they mean data protections, privacy laws, civil liberties – anything else that is going to get in the way of their commercial market place, because they have effectively reduced us, as users of their technologies, to quote Deutsche World, “depersonalise buying and selling of individuals as if we were online chattels [audience claps].”
But having established that network, what they do is make themselves a convenient one-stop shopping space for the NSA and other security agencies, including the GCSB.
And so what they are seeking in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is an extension of the rules that are available to them, where if we tried to put impediments in their way, not only can the US sue our Governments but those mega-companies can sue our Government s and seek massive damages because we have had the effrontery to try to protect our rights to determined our future.
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Professor Jane Kelsey
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.
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Helen Kelly
Well I’m not a politician so I will leave the politics to the politicians; and I will not try and give you a legal analysis of the GCSB Bill there are other people like Rodney (Harrison QC) who are far better placed to do that than me. What I would like to tell you about is my own experiences as a working journalist because I think it offers some insights into why caution might be in order when it comes to introducing new spying legislation.
I’ve been reporting on issues and events associated with this so-called ‘War on Terrorism’ since the attacks of 11th September 2001. Part of that reporting has seen me, like my colleague Nicky (Hager), looking into what New Zealand’s role really has been in the ‘War on Terrorism’. And what I started to notice after a few years was that some people in the Government and the Defence Force weren’t all that happy with my work. First there were murmurs, discontent, rumbles, then it extended to rumours, bad-mouthing, and occasionally to complaints – none of them sustained.
On one occasion two years ago, direct threats were made to my safety and that of my sources by a senior serving Defence Force Officer; not pleasant but not entirely surprising – journalism after all is not a popularity contest. However it went further than that, that same Officer who threatened me openly boasted to me that he had information about my movements.
He knew when I was coming and going from New Zealand, he knew he said when I was in Afghanistan. And evidence in a recent defamation action I was involved with last month confirmed that the Defence Force did indeed know when I was arriving in Afghanistan and it confirmed that they’d been monitoring my movements there rather closely.
How did they do that? We don’t yet know all the facts but what we do know thanks to recent story in the Sunday Star Times was that the Defence Force asked its allies in Afghanistan to provide them with copies of my telephone ‘metadata’ – presumably so that they could get a clearer picture of what or where I was and who I was speaking to.
We also learnt that for the past decade or so senior Officers in the Defence Force have categorised, quote, certain investigative journalists, unquote – as ‘subversive threats’ to our nation – I think it’s fair to say two of those quote investigative journalists are here tonight. So what sorts of information have we been revealing?
There was information that contradicted some of the things that our Government and Defence Force have told you. Information they didn’t want you to know. Information like how our Special Forces had detained dozens of people in Afghanistan and without recording their names or other details transferred them to US Forces who abused, mistreated and tortured them.
And in Nicky’s cased it was revealing in the way in which our military and intelligence staff had been assisting the Americans in the ‘War on Terrorism’. Doing things like, helping plan drones strikes in Pakistan. This information was politically [in]convenient, it was embarrassing, but it was not information that put lives at risk or which undermined our ‘national security’ in any meaningful sense of the word.
For me it’s disturbing to think that all a journalists’ needs to do to be lumped in with terrorists and foreign intelligence organisations is try to do what any journalist worthy of the name is suppose to do – hold the powers to be to account [audience claps].
And it made me wonder, what might this document, that revealed journalists, quote, as subversive, unquote, what might this document tell us about the mindset of our security and intelligence officials, if this is the sort of mindset prevailing in the upper echelons of our Defence Force. Did they also see journalists as ‘subversive’? Might the new powers being sort by the GCSB potentially be used to monitor journalists? Or to try to locate our sources for stories that have embarrassed or inconvenienced those in power?
Now a decade ago I would have said there were no chance of that – these days’ I’m not so sure.
On some of the interpretations of the GCS[Bill], and again I am not an expert, but it seems clear that an unnecessarily wide range of information can be gathered from a wide range of people, for a wide range of reasons, and stored, analysed and shared with agencies here and abroad.
If, as this happened in the United States, journalists phone records were accessed in an attempt to find sources, the affect on ‘media freedom’ here would be chilling. Many sources would no longer take the risk of speaking to us – and who could blame them. The Prime Minister and his Government are asking us to trust them on such matters. The Prime Minister said recently,
“Were not the ones spying on journalists, were the ones defending them [audience laughs].
Well excuse my cynicism, I don’t believe him, and I know another journalist in Wellington who doesn’t either.
On the basis of my experience with a number of senior Government officials and Military officials, on the basis of this Government’s attempt to pass this piece of legislation without sufficient discussion, public debate, and on the basis of their frequent attempts to denigrate or marginalise dissenters in this country – like Mike Joy, or Nicky Hager, or the Human Rights Commission – I find it hard to trust them.
My view for what it’s worth, we need a thorough, transparent and impartial review of the work of our security and intelligence agencies and of our Defence Force before any new legislation is passed [audience claps].
Before we trust our security and intelligence officials with greater powers to monitor our electronic communications, in a day and age, when most of our lives are stored online, let them demonstrate that they are worthy of that trust. Let them explain to us what they did and are continuing to do in the so called ‘War on Terrorism’, and how they used the powers they were given after the ‘War on Terrorism’ began and ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction [audience claps] – we’ve heard that line before.
Let’s ensure the laws in which our security and intelligence agencies operate are drafted as carefully, clearly and transparently as possible.
Let’s ensure there is rigorous and effective oversight of these agencies and not just someone rubber stamping their actions. There are good men and women in our Defence Force – there’s no question about that – and one would like to say the same for our intelligence agencies, but let us ensure their skills and commitment are not misused.
Let us ensure that any powers given to these agencies are in the interests of the New Zealand public and not just the interest of the powers that be in Wellington or in Washington.
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Jon Stephenson
[Intro no video] – speakers who follow to shine with their brilliance and passion, but I get to do the tough boring stuff.
Now I’m doing this because as you all know the GCSB Bill, I’ll call it the ‘Bill’ for short, has been put forward as not really increasing the overall powers of the GCSB compared with the present law and as you heard a moment ago, on television last week John Key tried to assure the public that it was, quoting, “totally incorrect that the Government effectively through GCSB will be able to wholesale spy on New Zealanders.”
Now those claims are wrong and misleading – and I want to take you through the wholesale spying powers in the short time I have available.
In a nutshell Mr Key is wrong in law in claiming that New Zealanders have nothing to fear. He is wrong in his limited analysis and he overlooks the fact that the statutory intelligence gathering powers of the GCSB are being expanded at the same time as the functions are.
Now there are three features, and I’m sorry if this is a bit dense, but I’ll do my best. There are three features that come together to bear out my claim there is a major increase in spying powers here. One is the definition of infrastructure, the next is the increase in functions of the GCSB, and the third is the increased powers of collection of information, information gathering and interception.
Now the present Act limits the GCSB to gathering and analysis of foreign intelligence – that’s defined the way you would expect to be defined – to be about the capabilities and activities of foreign organisations and foreign people. So the present Act contains a prohibition on spying to obtain intelligence from New Zealanders – now the Bill abolishes the restraint on GCSB activities to foreign intelligence – and it confers three considerably expanded functions.
As to Mr Key’s denial, that that’s an expansion of power, I say this, if you start off with one limited function in the present Act, you abolish the limits and then replace it with three new functions, isn’t that an increase? I thought John Key was suppose to be good at numbers [audience laughs].
So just quickly, dealing with those three major features – first the crucial new definition of ‘infrastructure’ – this is a technical definition but it is wide enough to cover all kinds of electronic data systems starting with your phone, your computer, your internet service provider, and any telecommunications network – so not only is an ‘information infrastructure’ any one of those – it is also defined to include the ‘content’ on each of those, now that’s key.
So it’s not just going into the mechanics of it, the content is included in this definition of infrastructure, which plugs into the powers.
So then you’ve got the three new functions – am only going to deal with the first two of these – first there is 8a would give the GCSB a much wider cyber security protection function, but they have intelligence gathering powers under things protection. And on television John Key compared this function to having a superior version of Norton Anti-Virus [audience laughs].
Yeah right! How do I get to uninstall the GCSB from my computer [audience laughs] [claps].
On television last week, Mr Key also claimed that under this 8a cyber security functions, content could not be accessed. When the ‘Herald’ pointed out his error, he panicked and he issued a later written statement saying “we’ll anyway; I’m not going to approve cyber security warrants under this first function” [which would seek New Zealanders consent] he said “in the first instance”.
Now just stop and ponder for a moment the implications of how unprincipled that is.
He’s being, he’s pushing this legislation through; it’s been pointed out to him that this 8a cyber security function does not give New Zealanders any protection and what does he say?
“Oh that’s alright, when I look at these warrant applications I won’t grant them.”
[I’ll leave ‘content’ out] – Despite the fact the law will say the GCSB is entitled to such a warrant? He’s just going to amend the law – behind closed doors or we’ve got to believe that he will?
Under 8b there is a new intelligence gathering and analysis function which is to be conferred. This is worded very broadly because it plugs into the definition of ‘infrastructure’. What I want you to understand about these functions is that they’re not restricted to targeted intelligence gathering, that is to say – wholesale spying on New Zealanders or anyone else.
There are two new powers; one is called an ‘interception warrant’ which existed but is now widened and there is a new ‘access authorisation’. Now this can be granted to the GCSB authorising the accessing of one or more specified information infrastructures or classes of infrastructure.
So they can just specify for example, they will intercept all communications, content included, coming from a particular overseas country or on a particular server.
What’s more, when and if, the Bill becomes law the GCSB does not have to make out any particular threat to national security to get a warrant. By contrast with the SIS which has to make out a security threat – the GCSB will not have to do that.
Now I just want to close then by saying this – the Prime Minister’s belated attempt to reassure New Zealanders they we’re not sleepwalking into a total surveillance society is flawed and it ultimately fails to convince.
John Key might care what kind of economy he wants to leave behind when he departs office but the sad fact is he does not care about the kind of society the rest of us will be landed with [audience claps].
And lastly Mister Time Keeper, the Bill currently stands to voted into law by a majority of one – now that could be any Government MP at all – but it turns out to be, likely to be, the vote of Mister Peter ‘Willing Buyer/Willing Sellout’ Dunne [audience heckles][claps].
Now this is a travesty – the entire process stinks to high heaven. Is it really too much to hope for that there is one independently minded MP of the present Parliamentary majority who has the clarity to say no.
Download pdf transcript: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Dr Rodney Harrison QC