Democracy dying under Key | The Jackal

9 Aug 2013

Democracy dying under Key

Today, Stuff reported:

A top lawyer has branded Prime Minister John Key's attack on the Law Society over its comments about new spying laws as "desperate."

Key appeared to question the society's impartiality after its strong criticism of the proposed Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) bill after Auckland barrister Rodney Harrison QC spoke out on the legislation on behalf of the society.

Key told a Newstalk ZB talkshow this morning that "the person that ran the case . . . one of the people involved" was "Zaoui's lawyer", a reference to Harrison who was lead counsel for Algerian refugee politician Ahmed Zaoui in 2002. Zaoui spent time in Auckland prisons after he was branded a national security threat when he applied for refugee status in New Zealand.

Actually, the Law Society encompasses all lawyers and can be considered to be making statements on their behalf. In my opinion, that's how their submission should be viewed by the government.

Furthermore, the Ahmed Zaoui case was ruled in his favour, meaning that Key isn't only wrong to imply that the Law Society is biased, he is also wrong to single out Zaoui's lawyer as somehow being anti-government. Rodney Harrison QC was simply representing his client.

The Law Society's submission to the Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee was the work of two committees of leading public lawyers, Harrison said.

These included Mai Chen, Austic Forbes, Matthew Palmer, Grant Illingworth and Philip Joseph.

"The submissions were the combined work of us all," Harrison said.

"I was simply chosen to present the submissions. It seems to me to be unfortunate that the prime minister is personalising the debate and choosing to suggest that I am acting as an individual with ulterior motives, rather than debate the issue."

Obviously Key has personalised things because he has essentially lost the GCSB debate. With the vast majority of submissions and so many respected organisations being against the proposed law changes, the government is clearly in the wrong.

Nearly all those New Zealanders who have been polled are also against the government increasing spying powers, but unfortunately they aren't being listened to by an ideologically blinded government that has lost touch.

But what is of perhaps more consequence is that the general public didn't have a chance to vote in the general election for or against this stupid legislation, which makes all the rushing through of such unpopular policy entirely undemocratic!

National, Act and United Future have lost the debate and instead of being childish about it they should just accept that there is no mandate for them to pass this unpopular legislation, legislation that arguably breaches international laws.

You can read the Law Society's submission on the GCSB amendment bill here (PDF.