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Border Security Bill Unnecessary and Undesirable

Media Release.

Border Security Bill Unnecessary and Undesirable

The Border Security Bill currently before parliament is both unnecessary and undesirable, according to David Small, who appears before the select committee considering the bill today.

Dr Small, a senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury and Advisory Board member of ARENA, said that the bill was yet another piece of legislation being foist upon New Zealand as part of the US-declared and defined "war on terrorism".

"The war on terrorism is an unwinnable war that is being used to undermine hard-won civil liberties in return for no significant improvement in security", he said.

He said that the Bill contains a number of provisions that undermine the role of the judiciary and bolster the powers of indviduals and agencies with no transparency or proper public accountability.

"We have learned so much in the last few years about the undesirable consequences of relying on our own and overseas intelligence agencies that we should be reducing their influence, not increasing it as this Bill seeks to do", said Dr Small.

He added that every time new legislation is introduced to increase the influence of intelligence agencies, public opposition is treated with scorn and derision. Yet, time and again, those fears are realised. The latest example, he said, was the woeful "intelligence" provided by the NZSIS in the Zaoui affair.

Dr Small told the Select Committee that, if the Bill was passed, one of its likely immediate effects would be to undermine the efforts of many New Zealand groups seeking to organise international conferences. This would deprive New Zealanders of the opportunity to hear and meet important people from around the world.

He said that he expected that intelligence agencies would feel very comfortable with the Bill (especially with the submissions being heard in Room 007) but that many people had grave concerns about it.

ARENA (Action, Research & Education Network of Aotearoa)

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