I think the key point to take away from this Jon Johansson post on Public Address is that the GCSB and its involvement in the 5-eyes program is very important to New Zealand on a diplomatic level. That’s why there’s usually cross-party support (between National and Labour, at least) on intelligence issues. It signals our strategic allies that there’s certainty around the relationship.
But today we have new, highly controversial legislation, passed last night (
with Attorney General Chris Finlayson helpfully explaining that anyone opposed to the expansion of the state’s power to spy on its citizens was a Nazi) and our allies have no certainty beyond the outcome of the upcoming election.
Key couldn’t reach a compromise with Shearer, presumably because he didn’t want to hand Shearer a political win. We’ll probably never know what happened between them. There seem to have been secret negotiations, revealed when Shearer complained in Parliament that there hadn’t been negotiations, Key replied there had, but they were secret, and Shearer got upset because the negotiations were supposed to be secret.
Anway, if Labour wins the next election there will be a review of our intelligence agencies. There will be new legislation. The Green Party will be involved. There’s no way for our allies to predict the outcome of that, or what might be disclosed in such a scenario.
From my perspective an inquiry and review into our newly empowered (and secretly merged) intelligence apparatus is great outcome. We (ie New Zealand) need an intelligence capability, but I have no confidence in the current agencies. Do they deliver any service of value to the taxpayers who fund them? Do we even fund them? The Prime Minister refuses to comment on allegations that the GCSB is funded by the United States government. If so, has the government just granted additional powers to spy on the New Zealand public to an intelligence agency funded by another country? It’d be nice to get answers to these sort of questions.
Correction: I’ve been sent a draft Hansard. Finlayson didn’t say this, but was still a horrible, sneering asshole