Saturday, August 17, 2013

10 Questions for the PM

I know that the GCSB is all but a Dunne deal but as one of those concerned voters who is not an expert in the area (like 99.99% of all voters) I still have some lingering questions. Is there a journalist out there who wants to ask these questions on our behalf? I acknowledge that some of these questions have been asked. But I'd like to see them asked again.

1. What is the motivation for rushing this legislation through? ie. Why is there no time for an enquiry? Why are there not more discussions to ensure bi-partisan support for a piece of legislation that has such huge constitutional significance? [A little history lesson: When the Criminal Proceedure Bill went through which overhauled the justice system, the then Justice Minister Simon Power sought extensive consultation with the Opposition which was carried on by Minister Judith Collins].

Is it a- because the GCSB messed up in 88 cases and they are trying to close of legal liabilities b-because the Govt has made promises to foreign governments to cooperate c-have we been asked by foreign govt to enact these legislastions (+TCIS) if yes, then what was the nature of those negotiations ie what do we get in return?

2. John Key said that these powers were needed to thwart future terrorist attacks like the Boston bombing. Why with all the powers that the intelligence agencies of the United States has, were they not able to prevent those attacks?

3. The threats to New Zealand are classified. Fair enough. The operations of GCSB are also classified. Fair enough too. The oversight of the agency rests with the Prime Minister. Ok, acceptable. On what basis then, are New Zealanders meant to hand over these powers – blind trust in John Key and ALL future Prime Ministers?

4. For whatever reason whether it was confusion or honest mistake or deliberate disregard of the law, the GCSB has made mistakes, what steps is the Government taking to reform the organization to prevent future mistakes/confusion/disregard for the law or is that classified too?

5. In what ways are the GCSB systems superior to other Government agencies which will ensure they will not go down the same path as ACC, MSD, Immigration NZ, CYFs etc etc in terms of our private information that the GCSB inevitably will collect? If so, will they be sharing those secrets with other agencies if not, why not?

6. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. What happens if you DO have something to hide which is not illegal? We hide things from our family, friends, co-workers all the time. Why would we want the Government know about our personal life or is John Key saying that we have no right to hold have anything personal anymore?

7. We retrospectively changed the legislation when the Police conducted video surveillance that was contrary to the law, we are now changing the legislation because the GCSB has done something contrary to the law (whether by mistake/confusion/disregard). How can the public have confidence in the rule of law when the perception is that law doesn’t apply to those who enforce the law?

8. The Prime Minister has claimed that the Law Society, the Human Rights Commission, Dame Salmond, the Privacy Commissioner, the former head of GCSB, Constitutional expert Sir Geoffrey Palmer are wrong on their analysis and he is right. The advice on which he has formed that opinion is presumably classified. In the absence of that, if the public cannot have confidence in the above people/institutions on this matter, can they have confidence on them on any other matter and if not, is the Prime Minister suggesting that we take his word on every matter and would he find that notion acceptable if anyone else other than himself was Prime Minister? Would he have that faith in any other Prime Minister? What about in a Labour led government?

9. Who was the willing seller and who was the buyer in the Dunne/Key GCSB deal? What was sold and what was bought?

10. The legislation does not prevent the information from being shared with foreign agencies. The PM has provided no explicit assurances that it will not be shared. New Zealanders are fundamentally opposed to that, given the recent revelations on how the information is stored and used. Presumably however, in exchange for this information sharing we are getting something in return. What is it? (This is related to Q1)

I personally believe that the PM has backed himself into a corner where he now cannot back down without looking foolish. This is the part where in an argument a party will realize they are wrong but to save face will continue the same argument. It happens. But I feel the time has come where the shaming of the PM is less important than stopping this law from passing. Hysterical name calling of the PM will only strengthen his resolve. We need to give him an out. He needs an out that would be reason for this to not go through other than all the reasons that are already out there regarding why it shouldn’t. It needs to be something else. I suggest that all of the smart and intelligent people out there are need to sit down and think about how we can give the PM an out that will make him stop and reconsider without losing his dignity.

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