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Sinister Add-Ons To Terrorism, Boat People Bills

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks agreed last night with the Auckland Council for Civil Liberties that the Labour/Alliance Government is using hysteria about foreigner dangers to slide through unnecessary threats to New Zealanders' freedoms and the rule of law.

He told the Annual General Meeting of the Auckland Council they were often regarded as just mouthpieces for the left, but their strong protests to the Government should be supported by all New Zealanders concerned about potential political abuse of new powers.

Stephen Franks said he was not interested in any ACCL campaign to make it easier for boatloads of illegal Afghanis to stay and exploit our corrupting welfare system, but the other risks are very real. The Government Bills had dangers that should worry every New Zealanders who knows a bit of history - how easily powers are abused.

"The Transnational Organised Crime Bill would have made Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis, into a criminal.

"The Government can ban an organisation or confiscate anyone's property simply on a foreign government's claim of association with someone charged (but not convicted) with terrorism overseas. It doesn't require conviction or even evidence.

"Business people should be worried about the precedent for confiscation of property without even a right to know what the evidence is against you.

"Tamils are worried about the potential Government toadying to the authorities in Sri Lanka but Chinese kiwis should be just as worried that mainland China could use the new laws to press for expropriation or imprisonment in New Zealand of groups that favour Taiwanese independence.

"Everyone should be concerned at the prospect of automatic translation into New Zealand law of dictates from politicised United Nations bodies comprised of people who may even be contemptuous of our values.

"The news media should be up in arms about a proposed new Crimes Act section 105A that could send any official or even an MP to prison for 7 years for `corruptly ... [disclosing] any information, acquired by him or her in his or her official capacity, to obtain, directly or indirectly, an advantage ... for himself or herself, or any other person'.

"It will be no defence that the information was obtained lawfully. There is no definition of `corrupt'. There is nothing to ensure that Government Ministers could not claim that it was intended to cover political advantage, or even a ratings or readership advantage for the media who help an official to blow the whistle.

"The Government claimed a commitment to free speech when it passed the Protected Disclosures ("whistle blowers") bill two years ago. Since then its moves have shown a complete lack of care about law with potential to suppress free speech.

"These laws go far beyond anything required by the Government to show its staunchness to the UN and the US. They may want to offset their reneging on real defence commitments and foolishness in acting as an open back door undermining Australia's attempts to defend against a flood of illegal immigrants. But it should not be at the cost of our liberties," Stephen Franks said.


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