Government should put the brakes on new surveillance laws

The Green Party is calling on the Government to put the brakes on changes to surveillance and passport laws in the wake of a leaked copy of the Government’s foreign fighter legislation revealing serious flaws in the drafting, and sections that potentially breach New Zealand international legal obligations.

“John Key is proposing radical changes, that could see innocent New Zealanders left stateless or spied on in their own homes without a warrant, and he wants to ram the law through in record time under urgency,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“The legislation should follow the accepted parliamentary process, and experts and others should have the chance to analyse the law and understand its full implications, which on first blush appear to be many. 

“It is arrogant to assume that the Prime Minister and his legislative drafters have got such controversial legislation perfectly written on first draft. The public should have their chance to have a say.

“There are serious holes in the law. For example it is silent on if evidence obtained from a 48 hour warrantless surveillance can be used in court, if no warrant is subsequently approved.

“The proposed laws could see New Zealanders have their passports cancelled while they are overseas, leaving them stateless. That is potentially a breach of our international obligations under the United Nations.

“Also the sunset clause is much longer than John Key originally led the public to believe, meaning we could be stuck with internationally unlawful laws for years to come.

“It is important to remember that our spies and police can botch this stuff up terribly. The one time our terror laws were used, in the Ahmed Zaoui case, the authorities were proven to be wrong.  

“The Zaoui case should act as an alarm bell against extending powers to agencies who have been proven to be incompetent in using them.

“Many innocent New Zealanders could be at risk from the Government using these new powers and getting it wrong.  

“There are serious problems with the proposed law that need to be changed. Instead John Key is arrogantly ramming the legislation through without the public getting a proper say.”