Gordon Campbell on the Police surveillance bailout 20 Sep 2011
- David Parker Stand Up: Judith Collins inquiry, John Key News
- SFO charges MightyRiverPower engineer with $2 mln fraud Business
- Law is the closest we get to applying philosophy News
- Commitment to lifting wages good for New Zealand News
- Sykes: There's Only One Poll That Counts News
- Cunliffe: Letter to John Key and Commission of Inquiry TOR News
- CERA to be rolled into DPMC ahead of rebuild wind-down Business
- PM announces further details of inquiry News
- Tackling the race ruckus News
- New Zealand’s ethical deficit News
It would be easier to respect the law if – repeatedly – the Police and SIS didn’t seem so willing to break it whenever it suits them, while relying on the politicians to come along and clean up the mess they leave behind.
Ordinary citizens don’t have that luxury. They have to respect the law that exists. Yet that isn’t the sort of thing that seems to bother Mr Plod unduly, or our Spy vs Spy operatives. Perhaps they have more important things in mind.
Currently, the Police are in the spotlight for their use of covert – and illegal, as the Supreme Court has now ruled (Supremem Court Judgment [PDF]) – video surveillance of the accused in the Urewera cases. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, the charges against thirteen of the seventeen Urewera accused have been thrown out. (The nub of the matter was that the Police had installed motion sensor video gear on private property to covertly record what transpired there.)
The government has now decided to rush through legislation to allow the Police to essentially become the arbiters of when covert video surveillance on private property is legal – by dialling back the situation to the day before the Supreme Court ruling, and until such time next year as the government can permanently bestow such powers on the Police via the controversial omnibus bill of search and surveillance measures now before Parliament.
According to Prime Minister John Key, some 40 pending court cases and 50 police investigations would otherwise be in jeopardy. For that reason, the temporary law change would also be retroactive, and would thus sanitise the police actions in all the pending cases and investigations.
Incredible. The Police had been warned by the Law Commission back in 2007 that it was on shaky ground with such forms of surveillance – and could not rely on their interpretation of the Evidence Act to wing it safely. Why then, were they pressing on with the cases and investigations in question, when they knew the definitive answer was yet to be delivered by the Supreme Court? Did they, in fact, push forward knowing that each added case would make it that much more likely that the politicians would have to bail them out, if they should end up losing their gamble on the legality of the procedures in question?
The reality is that we’ve been here before, well before the Law Commission warnings in 2007. In 1996, the SIS thought it had the power to burgle the home of anti-globalisation campaigner Aziz Choudry – but the courts then found the SIS actions to be illegal, and the government of the day dutifully changed the law. The Police, mindful of the outcome of the Choudry case, should have taken extra care to ensure it was not breaking the law this time, especially after the Law Commission had added its 2007 warning.
One can only conclude that neither the SIS nor the Police have much respect for the law. There seems to be no accountability when they break the law in such cases, or misinterpret it, or screw up. Perhaps this is because they know they can hold the politicians hostage, and get the law changed after the fact.
In essence, they get rewarded for breaking the law, by having extra powers enshrined in fresh legislation. Who guards the guardians indeed – and why should ordinary citizens respect the law when the guardians in question seem to regard the law as an irritant that can be bent to their convenience ?
Morning Report : Bark, But No Bite. Years ago, when Metro magazine did its parody of RNZ’s Morning Report, it depicted the programme’s stalwart presenter Geoff Robinson as an Old English Sheepdog – ie, as a hairy bundle of woofing decency and goodwill to all men.
Perhaps for that reason, the RNZ producers have customarily seen the wisdom of balance, and have routinely twinned the Old English with a succession of Dobermans and Rottweillers down the years such as Lindsay Perigo, Kim Hill, and Sean Plunket – with the occasional Afghan hound thrown in, in the form of Mike Hosking. How then, to fathom the current team on Morning Report, which appears to have teamed the reliable Old English Sheepdog with a fairly skittish and excitable Red Setter?
The decision seems particularly puzzling because Morning Report is RNZ’s flagship current affairs show – and given the failed state that TVNZ has become, that makes Morning Report the last bastion of quality public broadcasting in this country. The programme’s current lack of gravitas should therefore be of concern to every New Zealander – and especially when it is not due to any lack of suitable talent from within RNZ’s own ranks. Occasional host Susie Ferguson for instance, has filled the role of sharper, more incisive interviewer to good effect, and has relevant overseas experience (with the BBC) to boot.
If one was looking for someone regularly able to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire, it is also hard to ignore Checkpoint’s long time host, Mary Wilson. I know, some people find Wilson a bit of a pitbull in an enclosed space. Yet that edge – and related ability to quickly penetrate the smokescreen thrown up by politicians and officials who have been media-trained within an inch of their lives to conceal information – is absolutely necessary in current affairs interviewing. Right now, it is lacking in Morning Report’s current pair of all too amiable hosts – both of whom seem more than willing to go bounding after whatever rabbits their interviewees offer up, by way of diversion.
1 Sep 2014 Politics
Roy Morgan Research The Worm turns down for John Key The Roy Morgan Reactor is back! John Key struggled to coax The Worm above the... more
1 Sep 2014 Business News
Article - BusinessDesk NZ terms of trade sets new 40-year high as cheaper imports offset falling exports Sept. 1... more
29 Aug 2014 Business News
Fonterra credit rating cut by S&P over Beingmate deal, Fitch affirms rating Aug. 29 (BusinessDesk) - Fonterra Cooperative... more
1 Sep 2014 Lifestyle
NZ Symphony Orchestra 1 September 2014 - NZSO Media Release for immediate release The ‘best trumpet player in the ... more
29 Aug 2014 Lifestyle
Aarhus Festival Death Lines - a Memento Mori Collection Performances from five cities around the world –... more
14 Aug 2014 Property
New Zealand house sales fell in July as winter cooled the appetite of house hunters while a drop in properties selling for $400,000... more
7 Aug 2014 Property
Aug. 7 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand property values rose at the slowest annual pace in 13 months in July as rising interest rates,... more
20 Aug 2014 Migration
Statistics NZ puts out detailed data on different ethnic groups, down to the 108 people from the Isle of Man. Did you know there are... more
28 Aug 2014 Travel & Tourism
Aug. 28 (BusinessDesk) - Jetstar, the discount unit of Australian airline Qantas Airways, lost ground in New Zealand, while claiming... more
1 Sep 2014 World Rowing Championships
The New Zealand Rowing Team has wrapped up a successful campaign in Amsterdam at the 2014 edition of the World Rowing... more
1 Sep 2014 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on John Key’s ‘blame it on Judith’ strategy Right now, Prime Minister John Key seems intent... more
29 Aug 2014 Column
As regular readers of this column already know, I am a bit of a fan when it comes to change. Evaluating your life, deciding how you... more
20 Aug 2014 People
We're expecting big things from Harman Grubisa, the new label from Auckland-based friends Madeleine Harman (right) and Jessica... more
22 Aug 2014 Recruitment
The loss of up to 100 jobs at Croxley stationery in Auckland is devastating news for their families and the local Avondale... more