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SIS No. 2 Bill Worsens Situation

“The NZ SIS Amendment Bill No. 2, while posing as a response to critics of the current legislation, actually worsens the situation for unions and non governmental organisations,” Trade Union Federation Secretary, Michael Gilchrist, said today.

The Bill, which is likely to be passed in the house this afternoon, re-states the definition of security while providing for more extensive reporting of SIS activities - but only after the fact.

“All the features of the old definition concerning “New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being” are retained while the new sections tend, if anything, to widen the net.

“We are, in New Zealand, all foreign influenced, for example, whether we desire to be or not. And anything which the SIS wants to investigate must, by definition, be clandestine or deceptive,” Mr Gilchrist said, referring to the two new elements in the definition.
“The SIS could, if it wished, investigate the New Zealand cricket team under this definition of security.

“Organisations such as our own, together with pressure groups and individuals with any kind of international or economic focus, have to assume that we are under surveillance. This assumption - together with the surveillance itself - interferes with our functioning and effectiveness in a number of ways.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Intelligence and Security Committee want to continue and extend this situation. The appointment of a new Director General of the SIS, (Richard Woods, former NZ Ambassador to France), whose expertise lies in the area of international and economic affairs, further emphasises this development.

“We are particularly disappointed that the Labour Party members of the committee have ignored requests from all parts of the union movement to drop this aspect of the definition. That recommendation has also come from the Privacy Commissioner, Bruce Slane, who might be thought to speak with some authority on this matter.”

Two weeks out from the APEC leaders meeting, Mr Gilchrist said he expected the SIS to make full use of its expanded remit.

“The SIS is being placed very clearly at the service of globalisation - not, paradoxically, at the service of national security. We would expect any activists concerned with the influence of trans-national corporations, for example, to become prime targets for the SIS. This will especially be the case with regard to the APEC issues of trade and investment liberalisation. But it will also affect issues that loom large in the future such as food production, food contamination and genetic modification,” Mr Gilchrist said.

“This Bill reinforces the shift in the role of the SIS from protecting the national interest to protecting corporate interests, particularly the trans-national corporate interests which are so influential in the NZ economy. That shift was at the heart of the Privacy Commissioner’s objection to the expanded definition of security and we very much share that concern,” he said.

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