The PM’s response to the revelations of the damning inquiry by SIS Inspector-General Cheryl Gwyn, (which confirms much of what was in Dirty Politics) comes as no surprise. But while the battle is raging at parliament over the Prime Ministers lack of apology for this latest abuse of power, both sides of the house are busy supporting another spy bill.
A bill expanding the powers of security and intelligence services last night passed its first reading in Parliament just hours after an urgent debate was conducted on the former activities of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS). The Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill was introduced under urgency, and will allow the SIS to conduct surveillance on private properties without a warrant for up to 48 hours.
This Bill is yet another example of the type of legislation that the NZ Law Commissioner warned us against in 1991 (ten years before 9/11) when he said that, “The danger is that States will over-react… [I]t is possible to imagine government officials doing more to destroy democracy in the name of counter-terrorism than is presently likely to be achieved by terrorists themselves.” [NZLC R22 Wellington 1991].