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New terrorism spend ignores real threats

30 January 2002

New terrorism spend ignores real threats

Green MP Keith Locke is worried that much of the new funding for counter-terrorism is going to intelligence services.

"The Greens are not against that part of the money going to police and customs for better border control, but it is a waste to spend so much on the SIS and the Government Communications Security Bureau," said Mr Locke, who is the party's spokesperson on intelligence services.

"These secret and unaccountable agencies are getting an extra $12.6 million, or more than 10 per cent over their present budgets."

Mr Locke said that unlike our border control agencies our secret spy networks have a very poor track record in either identifying or preventing threats to national security.

He said the main threat we face at our borders is the daily biosecurity risk and work in this area could well use extra funding.

"We have to be careful not to get carried away by supposed terrorist threats and give these secret agencies more license to spy on those whose only crime is to dissent with the government. The interrogation of a Wellington man earlier this month because he wrote a letter to a newspaper criticising the SAS is case in point.

"The Greens don't believe any further money should be spent on the SIS until there is thorough parliamentary scrutiny of what it is currently doing, and whether anything it does achieve could be better done in other ways," said Mr Locke.

"These agencies are totally unaccountable both in terms of their performance or in terms of economic management. Currently we as parliamentarians don't have a clue what this new money will do or where it will go."

Mr Locke said he was particularly disappointed at the ease which Government could find extra cash for spy networks but was crying poverty when it came to much smaller amounts to increase our contribution to the international refugee crisis.

ENDS

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