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$19,000 Spooks PR Effort A Waste Of Good Trees

23 May 2001

Government wastes $19,000 on PR exercise to justify spooks

The Green Party has criticised the Government for spending over $19,000 on the “Securing our Nation’s Safety” publication in order to justify increasing State surveillance of New Zealanders’ private lives and business activities.

In reply to a written question from Rod Donald, Prime Minister Helen Clark said the publication cost $18,938 to produce the 2000 copies of the 44 page booklet and $530 to distribute them.

“’Securing Our Nation’s Safety’ is a cynical public relations exercise to justify extending the tentacles of the surveillance state even further into our personal lives and business activities,” said Green MP Rod Donald.

“It’s doubly insulting that we had to pay for the Government’s propaganda out of our taxes.

“While the booklet contains some interesting information it reveals far less about the activities of the Government security by agencies than Nicky Hager’s book, ‘Secret Power’.

“If the Government genuinely wanted to inform New Zealanders about what organisations like the SIS and the GCSB get up to then they should have given the money to Nicky Hager or Anti Bases Coalition researcher Murray Horton to produce a far more comprehensive, truthful and compelling analysis of the roles, responsibilities and relevance of the SIS and the GCSB.

“Instead our taxes have been spent on former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer waxing lyrical about Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and John Le Carre in one breath and then in the next claiming ‘there are also isolated extremists in New Zealand who advocate using violence to impress on others their own political, ethnic or religious viewpoints.’ without providing any evidence that this is the case.

“If Palmer’s statement is true then surely these extremists as well as ‘individuals and groups in New Zealand with links to overseas organisations that are committed to acts of terrorism, violence and intimidation’ which he also refers to would have been arrested and prosecuted rather than left to roam free?

“As a Member of Parliament the greatest insult of all is the claim that parliament is supreme in terms of security and intelligent matters. The truth is quite the opposite. Parliament gave away its powers to scrutinise the spy agencies when it established the Intelligence and Security Committee under statute.

“The publication is equally insulting to the likes of anti free trade activist Aziz Choudry whose case against the Government following the SIS’s bungled break in of his home was highlighted by Palmer as an example of the legal protection afforded to citizens who believe they have been wronged.

“All in all the publication is a waste of good trees. The truth about the Spooks is still hiding in the woods,” Rod Donald said.

EBDS

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