Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Govt inquiry into spy agency should include MBIE

Greenpeace calls for Govt inquiry into spy agency to include MBIE

Friday, March 16: Greenpeace has asked the State Services Commission to expand its investigation into the use of Thompson and Clark by a government agency to include Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment, after OIA requests revealed the Ministry has also worked with the controversial private investigations firm.

This follows last week’s announcement by the State Services Commission (SSC) that it will be launching an inquiry into crown insurer, Southern Response, for using Thompson and Clark (TCIL) to spy on Christchurch earthquake complainants.

Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director, Russel Norman, says the investigations methods used by TCIL are a "cancer to democracy".

"Thompson and Clark are known for their Orwellian and oppressive spying on the advocacy groups who are a fundamental part of civil society. Previous governments have warned against using this company for very good reason, and it’s completely inappropriate for tax-payer funded agencies to still be working with them," he says.

Multitudes of documents received under the Official Information Act (OIA) reveal that the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) has had a close relationship with TCIL for more than four years, and has worked with them to protect the oil industry and counteract the advocacy work of environmental groups like Greenpeace.

The documents and emails that have been released are a fraction of the full picture - MBIE declined a number of requests for certain correspondence with TCIL on the grounds that over 2,000 documents exist.

Norman says there is a clear trail of "teamwork" between TCIL, MBIE, and oil and mining companies.

"The documents we’ve seen show a highly collegial relationship between MBIE and TCIL that includes references to their drinking sessions and other social personal activities. At times it’s difficult to tell where MBIE ends and TCIL begins in these exchanges," he says.

"It is clear that MBIE has also been assisting the spy agency to obtain commercial contracts by passing on contact details for mining companies that will be arriving in New Zealand in order for TCIL to pitch their services to them.

"This is a taxpayer funded Government regulator that we expect to do its job professionally and impartially. Instead, what we’ve seen feels like MBIE has been acting as little more than an agent for oil companies and their contractors."

Last August, a reverse sting operation by Greenpeace revealed that TCIL had been spying on staff and volunteers, at times on a daily basis, for years. Staff had been watched, followed to their homes, photographed, and monitored.

The environmental organisation sued TCIL for invasion of privacy, and the case is ongoing.

Norman says the release of these latest OIA documents show there are even more layers to the story.

"We now know that TCIL has been passing information about peaceful climate activists to MBIE during this time. The exact detail is difficult to ascertain from the heavily redacted OIAs, but it’s plainly more than information obtained from public sources," he says.

"The methods used by TCIL are a cancer to in our democracy as they primarily target citizens that engage in peaceful advocacy. The chilling effect of being under constant and intrusive surveillance for simply campaigning on important issues such as climate change, fundamentally corrodes what it means to live in a free and democratic society.

"We look forward to an SSC inquiry into just how deeply this unacceptable behaviour seeps into our public services sector, and we hope that the new Government will act quickly to restore the public’s trust."


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Lest We Forget: ANZAC Day - WWI 100 Year Anniversary

The Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO, will represent the people of New Zealand at the 2018 Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli. On Anzac Day, Dame Patsy will speak at the Joint New Zealand and Australian Dawn Service in Anzac Cove, and at the New Zealand Commemorative Service at Chunuk Bair later that morning... More>>


HiveMind: Fair Enough? How Should New Zealanders Be Taxed?

Have Your Say - Scoop and PEP invite you to share your issues, ideas and perspectives on the NZ tax system with other New Zealanders using Scoop’s HiveMind tool. This Tax HiveMind is intended to complement and feed into the review being run by the Government-appointed Tax Working Group (TWG), which is looking at the fairness, balance and structure of the tax system with a 10-year time horizon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Thompson + Clark & Russia’s World Cup

Daily, the coalition government keeps running into examples of the toxic legacy left behind by National – and just as regularly, even the simple fixes are proving stubbornly difficult to enact. Take the case of the security firm Thompson + Clark ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The GCSB’s Security Hang-Up With Russia

So our GCSB has chimed in, alongside its British, Australian and US allies, with warnings about a “fresh wave” of Russian cyber attacks, although the warning has been curiously framed. More>>


PM's Europe Trip: CHOGM & Bilateral Meetings

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Europe for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and meetings with counterparts in Paris and Berlin. More>>


Addressing Climate Change: No New Offshore Exploration Permits

The Coalition Government is taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. More>>


Road Safety Summit: Actions To Improve Identified

The Local Government Road Safety Summit held last week identified actions that will lead to lasting changes to road safety in New Zealand, says Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter. More>>





Featured InfoPages