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I was targeted by terrorists and I don’t need the GCSB

I was targeted by terrorists and I don’t need the GCSB

by Bunny McDiarmid
August 20, 2013

I have been targeted by terrorists.

I am one of the very few people who has been subjected to a terrorist attack in New Zealand.

And I am absolutely opposed to John Key’s GCSB bill. It is an invasion of privacy that allows the Government to spy on people like you and me, and it's a step to far.

I was crew on board the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 when French secret service agents, sanctioned by their government, laid bombs against her hull in the middle of the night whilst we all slept. One of our crew died in the subsequent explosions. It was a supposedly ‘friendly’ government that did this in Auckland Harbour, and their intention was to stop us from a peaceful protest at sea against nuclear testing in French Polynesia.

Today, as he trotted out his glib lines trying to justify the snooper’s charter, John Key said that those people opposed to the bill – that’s nine in ten of us, according to the polling on Campbell Live last night – would ‘run for the hills’ if there was a terrorist attack in New Zealand.

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Well, John, you’re wrong. There has been a terrorist attack in New Zealand. I was one of those targeted. And I didn’t run for the hills then, and I’m not now. And, let me be absolutely clear: I am completely opposed to your GCSB bill.

Getting the balance between protecting the privacy of the individual, the citizens and the interests of national security helps ensure a healthy democracy. But there is a fundamental shift of focus for the GCSB, from being primarily a foreign intelligence organisation to one that spies on New Zealanders, with little rationale or oversight being required. People like you and I are now seen as a threat. And the GCSB can also collect information about any of us on behalf of ‘friendly’ (that word again) intelligence agencies in the US, UK or France.

The ease with which government power can be abused is well known. The slide into a more intrusive and watched society where special interests can take precedence over the common good and where dissent is marginalised, is often hardly noticed until it is too late.

We New Zealanders need to have open, transparent debates about the direction of our economy, the protection of our environment and what kind of society we want to live in. Passing legislation, like this GCSB bill, undermines our democracy and will make these debates all the harder to have.

Who is or will be seen as the threat amongst us? Those that demand a cleaner, smarter future for New Zealand’s economy? Those that take their right to protest at sea in defense of our unspoiled coastlines against deep sea oil drilling? Those that simply disagree? The whistleblowers amongst us? And in whose interests will they be spying? You and I who have a common and collective interest in passing on a decent place and living to our kids or the ‘friendly’ foreign agencies, governments and businesses who are looking out for their national interests?

Look, John. We don’t want your GCSB bill. And we won’t be running for the hills.

Pretty soon, we’ll be running for the polls.


Bunny McDiarmid is a long-time Greenpeacer who started off as a deckhand on board the original Rainbow Warrior, then became campaign leader for the Pacific and is now the executive director of Greenpeace New Zealand.

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