The Green Party will not support new spy legislation proposed by the Government yesterday.
The New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill will bring spy legislation under one single Act, breaching the traditional demarcation between the Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB) and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS). It will expand the powers of the GCSB, allowing it to spy on New Zealanders.
“The Bill declares its purpose to be the protection of New Zealand as a free, open and democratic society; it then proceeds systematically to erode New Zealanders’ rights to privacy in the name of national security,” said Green Party spokesperson Kennedy Graham.
“We are concerned the GCSB will be rewarded with new powers after having been found illegally spying on New Zealanders for the past nine years. We remain unconvinced that an agency, which has made so many serious errors of judgment in the past, can be relied upon to respect New Zealanders’ right to privacy with expanded powers,” said Dr Graham.
“There has been a long-standing recognition of the need for a clear distinction between the work of the SIS and the GCSB to protect the privacy rights of our citizens. Under this Bill, the two agencies will work more closely together than ever before.
“We are also not satisfied with the proposed measures for oversight, which do not go far enough to ensure the accountability of organisations with truly extraordinary powers.
“It’s disappointing to hear that John Key has already jumped the gun and said that he is not interested in expanding the membership of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee to be truly representative.
“The criteria for who is on the Committee should not be subject to the Prime Minister’s whim or approval. There are better ways of deciding who should be on the committee than leaving it up to political persuasion, or the government.
“The Bill creates a new offence, to prosecute people who reveal classified information, raising questions about the Government’s commitment to improving transparency.
“Revelations about illegal spying activities around the world have made it clear that now, more than ever, we need strong protections for whistle-blowers who expose governmental wrongdoing,” said Dr Graham.