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New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill

New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill

Hone Harawira, MP for Te Tai Tokerau
Thursday 9 December 2010

First of all, let me say that the Maori Party is not fundamentally opposed to government taking steps to ensure the security of our country, nor are we opposed to the use of technology to enhance that security.

Furthermore, the Maori Party supports the principles of transparency, accountability, integrity, respect and confidentiality.

But in terms of this bills proposal to widen the powers of the SIS, I have grave doubts about the way in which a secret organisation goes about snooping on ordinary law-abiding citizens.

I express particular concern on behalf of the many Maori in this country who are actively campaigning for recognition of tino rangatiratanga, as well as those citizens who care about the integrity of this nation - for the very reason that they have been improperly targeted by the SIS in the past, and will undoubtedly attract further attention from the pie-in-the-briefcase brigade in the future, and for those with a short memory, I recall the following incidents for the edification of the members of this house ...

The SIS publicly releasing a list of "radicals and subversives" during the 1981 Springbok Tour, to try to hamstring the anti-tour movement;

SIS agents caught in an illegal search of the house of Christchurch anti-globalisation activist Aziz Choudry;

The SIS issuing a security risk certificate against Ahmed Zaoui and having the poor bugger held in jail without trial, until they were forced to withdraw the certificate when they couldn't substantiate their claims;

SIS involvement in gathering the information which led to the botched terrorism raids on the nation of Tuhoe, and the laying of terrorism charges against Tuhoe citizens which have since been thrown out;

And then just last month, for some unknown reason, Professor Jane Kelsey, vocal critic of the SIS' role in New Zealand politics, all of a sudden gets stopped at the airport trying to get into Australia to promote a book challenging the credibility of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Given the public embarrassment that the SIS has subjected this nation to over the last 20 years with some of their keystone cops routines, and their harassment of law abiding citizens, I would have thought parliament would be wanting greater scrutiny over the SIS rather than simply r ubber-stamping their cell-phone snoopery.

But here we are considering giving these guys even greater powers?

And when I think of who is actually watching-the-watchers, I am mindful that although there is a committee set up to oversee the SIS, the operations are not themselves subject to public scrutiny.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party is happy to support this bill at first reading if it is going to be brought before a select committee for public debate and scrutiny, because we want people who have concerns about the SIS' past and current activities to tell the committee so government can hear exactly what their precious SIS gets up to, but we are not keen to support it if those submissions are all going to be held behind closed doors.

ENDS

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