NZ’s spying is damaging relations with our Pacific neighbours

New Zealand’s relationships with its Pacific neighbours have been damaged by the latest revelations that the GCSB has been spying on Cabinet Ministers and top level Government officials in the Solomon Islands, the Green Party said today.

“Our relationships with Pacific countries are hugely important and the Government now needs to fix the damage it’s done by spying,” said Green Party security and intelligence spokesperson Kennedy Graham.

“When it first became known that the GCSB was spying on the Pacific, our Government said that it wouldn’t damage our relationships with our neighbours. That’s now clearly untrue, with a former chief of staff to the Solomon Islands Prime Minister saying he is ‘shocked’.

“This clearly has nothing to do with terrorism, because the spying targets were mostly senior officials within the Solomon Islands government, including the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.

“Serious questions need to be answered around why the GCSB took such an interest in the Solomon Islands. Is it because of the PACER Plus trade deal being negotiated?

“We need to be sure that the New Zealand Government didn’t use spying to gain an unfair advantage in trade negotiations, in a similar way to how it has played hardball when negotiating trade deals with other Pacific nations such as Tonga and Samoa.

“It is also disturbing that the GCSB spied on anti-corruption campaigners in the Solomon Islands, who rely on confidential sources to do their important work.

“Pacific countries are our friends and neighbours. Spying on friends is not the Kiwi way,” Dr Graham said.

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