Passing the bill that lets the spooks get on with it should be done and dusted – but maybe not

Peter Dunne, the leader of a party that no longer officially exists, says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll support a bill that would allow the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to spy on New Zealanders.

The authorities who decide these things are still counting the numbers of people who have signed on as UnitedFuture members.

Meanwhile your splendid government is anxious to safeguard you against the constant threat of terrorists.

It is hoping to rush a bill through Parliament to allow the GCSB to get on with the job of tapping phones, eavesdropping, snooping, prying and so on that is essential to keep us safe.

Dunne’s vote in Parliament could be crucial if the Maori Party votes against the bill.

As is well known here in the Eketahuna Club, Dunne was forced to resign as a minister two weeks ago after being accused of leaking a report on the GCSB.

This experience seems to have soured him against the government he once served as Revenue Minister because he has told TV3 he had concerns about the spy agency.

Alf missed the interview on telly, but he heard an account of it here at Radio NZ.

“I suspect for a lot of New Zealanders, the question they will ask themselves in this whole debate is just how certain they can be of their freedom, how certain they can be that they aren’t inadvertently caught up in something much wider. And I think the challenge is to give the greatest level of confidence you can to people that their circumstances are being protected and their rights and freedoms are not being abused.”

Peter Dunne said he would decide how he would vote when the bill comes back from the select committee.

This tells us Dunne is either indecisive, trying to gain attention or both.

He should know how to vote because he was full of it when he was explaining why he withheld information from the inquiry into the leaking of the Kitteridge report on the GCSB.

He said he could offer no credible explanation for his actions at the same time as he was saying he was resolved not to surrender some 86 emails between himself and a female Fairfax reporter.

He is not willing to release them because “once we start saying private correspondence is public property we go down a very slippery slope.”

He went on to express his strong belief that citizens, be they constituents, members of the public or journalists, should be able to communicate with their elected representatives in confidence “and we tamper with that right at our collective peril”.

The legislation on which he is musing will give the GCSB much greater powers to legally tap into our phone calls and emails, and otherwise eavesdrop, snoop and pry in the interests of all decent and law-abiding citizens.

If he has not lost his enthusiasm for protecting the privacy of correspondence and so on, he should not have to think too hard about which way to vote.

In fact he shouldn’t have to think about it at all.

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